Throughout our publishing year, Windows Secrets contributors recommend utilities — some from Microsoft, others from third-party vendors — that help improve our Windows experience.
To wrap up the year, here’s a list of utilities mentioned in the Windows Secrets newsletter. Feel free to pass the list along to friends, family, and coworkers who live in Windows.
As we noted when we published the Oct. 4, 2012, “ultimate utilities list,” most of these apps have been around for years and have proven to be useful, safe, and reliable. However, given the endless variety of Windows configurations, there’s no guarantee that a specific utility won’t have unanticipated effects. If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a hundred times: run a full system backup before using any application — Windows cleaners, for example — or making any significant settings tweaks to your system.
Speaking of cleaners, there are very few system cleaners recommended in the editorial pages of Windows Secrets. In fact, Piriform’s CCleaner is possibly the only system cleaner we’ve consistently mentioned. (You can make recommendations or comment about products on this list in the Windows Secrets Lounge. Just click the link at the bottom of this story.)
These days, most utilities have both free and paid versions. Free products are typically limited to personal use or have fewer features. They might also be supported by ads or unrelated software offers — those annoying “potentially unwanted programs” (PUPs). For tips on safely downloading free utilities and other apps, see our June 13 Top Story, “Avoiding those unwanted free applications.” This is a