Freeware outdoes Windows’ built-in system tools

Scott dunn By Scott Dunn

Most standard Windows maintenance tasks can be accomplished using the utilities included with the OS itself — but that doesn’t mean those tools are your best option.

Whether you’re looking for an easier way to browse the image files in a folder, create a restore point, revert to XP’s Classic Start Menu, or customize your file associations, there’s a (free) app for that.

PC users have no shortage of things to complain about. But we can thank our lucky stars for one thing: free software that’s constantly being created, revised, and improved. I unearthed a handful of new or recently revised system tools that make your computing life a whole lot easier without costing you a red cent.

Skim through graphics and PDF files in a jiffy

If you can get past the program’s clumsy name, the Scientific and Technical Documentation Utility (STDU) Explorer is a file manager that beats Windows Explorer by providing superior preview and thumbnail options. The program is designed especially for previewing and managing such image-file formats as .psd, .bmp, .png, .gif, .jpg, and .wmf. You can also use STDU Explorer to view Acrobat PDF files and DjVu books.

The file manager lets you skim quickly through folders chock-full of image and PDF files. Finding the one you need is facilitated by STDU Explorer’s thumbnail previews, which you can enlarge, shrink, or otherwise customize on the fly. (See Figure 1.)

STDU explorer thumbnail resizer
Figure 1. Use STDU Explorer’s slider control to resize file thumbnails on the fly.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2010-02-11: