Out of the legion of free, shareware, and commercial utility software I have installed over the years on various versions of Windows, there are a mere handful of ultimately indispensable programs that I use almost daily. I’m going to share the five free utilities which I would pay for if I had to.
These perform what Windows built-in apps cannot do: handle screenshots perfectly; play any format of video and audio; completely uninstall apps with no orphan code; create boilerplate phrases and macros for one button execution; and guard against ransomware infections. All are free and some come with optional, more robust paid versions. Here’s why they’re so great.
PhraseExpress Eliminates Repetitive Typing
I have been using Bartel Media’s PhraseExpress since version 3. As of 2016 it is up to version 12. And just like anything Microsoft, with each iteration more and more features – too many to count and maybe use – get added in. The main purpose of PhraseExpess is to create boilerplate templates, text snippets and canned responses, all activated with simple one-to-three key combos.
One of the problems I had with the simpler early versions was the need to have to memorize all the key combos for the myriad phrases I created. Version 12 eliminates this issue by launching phrase menus that pop up from an icon in the taskbar’s notification area at the bottom left of the screen. These can be customized with titles such as Signatures, Personal, Credit Cards, and Addresses, for example. I merely click the appropriate menu and select from the ensuing cascade.
Version 12 also adopts the Microsoft Office look and feel with ribbon menus in its creation and maintenance window. Phrases you know you will using again can be created on the fly by copying them from any application. PhraseExpress uses the Windows Clipboard to paste it in to its creation panel where you can assign autotext abbreviations and hotkey associations.