Friday, January 1, 2010

Best Freeware of 2009

Why pay for software when there are so many amazing free apps?

Also, there's a site to share your favorites at a special posting site on PC Mag's blog, Your Favorite Free Software.

App Launchers

1. Circle Dock
Who says a dock has to actually... dock? To the side of the screen, that is. Circle Dock brings up a spiraling launcher interface with all the icons you want to click. Rotate it with the wheel on your mouse and change the skin to suit your desktop.

2. ObjectDock
Replace the Windows Taskbar and Quick Launch toolbar with this Mac-like animated toolbar of icons for all your programs. It comes with a few "docklets" for displaying info like the time, weather, and a Web search form.

3. Launchy
Windows | Linux
"Keystroke launcher" is a fancy way of saying "command line," but if you like to type rather than click for control—a practice that goes well beyond app launching—Launchy is your best choice.

4. Quicksilver
Mac OS
Quicksilver does more from the keyboard than just launch programs. It can act on any item you can find or drag on your Mac. Quicksilver plug-ins add even more functions.


5. Audacity [HALL OF FAME]
Windows | Mac OS | Linux
On a par with any commercial audio editor, Audacity is the free sound editor of choice. The latest beta (1.3.6) even supports MPEG-4, Dolby Digital, and Windows Media.

6. Banshee
iTunes is riffed upon again, this time in a Linux-only option that supports audio and video, Android phones, and older iPods (but not iPhones or iPod touch... for now).

7. EphPod
It does whatever iTunes does in Windows—syncing, playlists, iPod firmware updates, and much more, including moving music from an iPod to your new PC.

8. foobar2000
Basic playback of just about any audio you can imagine is foobar2000's calling card, complete with an iTunes-like interface.

9. imeem (formerly Anywhere.FM)
If iTunes were entirely in the cloud, it would be pretty close to imeem (formerly Anywhere.FM). Upload your music collection and videos to stream from any device. Digital photos, too. You can share them with friends you make on the service.

10. iTunes [HALL OF FAME]
Windows | Mac OS
Do we have to explain iTunes as the (so far) ultimate media player, coupled with online store and the primary way to get media—from music to video to games to podcasts, which plays most file formats (except, unsurprisingly, Windows Media formats)—and puts them on your iPod or iPhone? Probably not.

11. Mojo
Windows | Mac OS
When you and some friends install Mojo, you're ready for a unique sharing experience. Browsing and downloading MP3s from each other's iTunes music libraries is suddenly a very easy proposition. If it's a DRM file from the iTunes store, Mojo highlights them in red so you won't be bothered trying.

12. Songbird
Windows | Mac OS | Linux
Mozilla's knockoff of iTunes is free, open-source, and supports just about every kind of music file you can imagine. You can even download embedded MP3s on Web sites to your permanent collection. Extensions add support for iPods and Web services.

13. Screamer Radio
You can download an app or run it from the Web, but either way, Screamer Radio accesses and lets you record Internet radio in a number of streaming audio formats (Shoutcast, Icecast, Ogg Vorbis, WMA, and AAC).

14. WavePad Sound Editor
Windows | Mac OS | Linux
WavePad puts all the usual bells and whistles of audio editing and effects at your fingertips.

15. Winamp [HALL OF FAME]
Still a primo MP3 player, Winamp is both customizable (it heralded the age of "skins" on software) and comes in multiple versions, including one that works with CDs.


16. DriveImage XML
Make a replica—an image—of your entire hard drive for easy backup and restore later.

17. MozBackup
If you're a big user of Mozilla products—including Firefox, Thunderbird, and SeaMonkey, as well as Flock and Netscape—use MozBackup to store your hard-earned settings and data like bookmarks and e-mail messages.

18. MozyHome Free
Windows | Mac OS
Don't even think about backing up: MozyHome will do it for you, in the background, for up to 2GB of data (you can pay to get unlimited space). Perfect for office docs, but you'll want to pay for more storage to back up pictures, music, or videos. Soon it will sync between PCs, too.

19. SpiderOak
Windows | Mac OS | Linux
It's another 2GB of free online storage that backs up in the background, but SpiderOak goes Mozy one better by supporting Linux.

20. SyncToy v2.0
This so-called PowerToy from Microsoft has the power to make sure folders across your multiple drives or even your home network stay fully synchronized.

21. SyncBack Freeware
Set all the parameters and SyncBack will handle synchronization or backup between folders, FTP sites, or ZIP archives.


22. ScribeFire
Windows | Mac OS | Linux
This add-on for Firefox is a perfect tool for posting entries to just about any blogging software or service in existence.

23. TweetDeck
Windows | Mac OS | Linux
Don't restrict Twitter to just a column when this Adobe Air–based software can spread itself across your desktop with multiple columns. Each column can contain replies, direct messages, or whatever you specify. As with any tweet tool, the columns auto-update as new tweets arrive. TweetDeck stores all tweets that arrive while the app is running so you don't miss anything overnight.

24. Twitteriffic
Mac OS| Mobile
A small desktop footprint is the hallmark of this reverse-type Twitter app, great for reading and posting to the popular microblogging service. All the features you expect, and more, are there—even in the free version, which includes advertisements.

25. Zoundry Raven
Finally, standalone software that gives Windows Live Writer some serious competition for the pro bloggers. It handles full WYSIWYG editing on multiple blogs and can run portably from a USB flash drive to use with any Windows PC.

26. twhirl
Windows | Mac OS
A desktop interface for Twitter, twhirl requires Adobe AIR to run but makes it infinitely easier to keep up with tweets and/or twits.

Still the best way to broadcast yourself, live, across the Web. All you need is the webcam.

You could install WordPress on your servers, or go right to this commercial, hosted site and set up a professional-looking blog in no time.
Read our review of WordPress.

29. Windows Live Writer
This desktop software for blog posting is a favorite with the pros who want a WYSIWYG editor that also posts photos, maps, and other content.


30. Camino
Mac OS
Love Firefox but wish it was more ... Mac-ish? Camino solves that issue, offering "Mozilla power, Mac style." It has full support of Mac OS's Keychain, AppleScript, and all the typical Firefox goodies.

31. Flock 2
Windows | Mac OS | Linux
Flock 2 stresses the social along with surfing, integrating features like RSS reading and Twitter and media access right into the browser. Since it's based on Firefox, it can also use many of the same extensions.
Read our review of Flock 2.

32. Firefox [HALL OF FAME]
Windows | Mac OS | Linux | Mobile
Can't wait for the free update to IE8, which promises an enhanced address bar and upgraded privacy protections? In the meantime use our favorite browser. Firefox is beholden to no one and extensible to the nth degree. Upcoming versions will offer far more security and superfast JavaScript to make the browsing experience even better.
Read our review of Firefox 3, a PCMag Editors' Choice.

33. FoxReplace
Windows | Mac OS | Linux
If you work in a lot of Web forms or Web apps like Google Docs, this Firefox add-on is a must-have. It can search and replace text in Web pages quickly and easily.

34. Google Chrome
Everyone pays attention to what Google does, and when it made a Web browser, the world noticed. And for good reason: This streamlined, fast, secure software has true potential in the browser wars.

35. Internet Explorer 8 Beta [HALL OF FAME]
This is a freebie you're probably already using in some form, as IE is the most-used Web browser in the world. The latest beta adds fantastic (if overdue) features such as a stealth mode, better performance, and the ability to subscribe to "web slices" that are just parts of a full Web page.

36. Opera [HALL OF FAME]
Windows | Mac OS | Linux | Mobile
Opera can claim many "firsts"—tabs, speed dial, and more—and some say the best. It remains a fast browser with a presence available on just about any device in your digital arsenal.
Read our review of Opera 9.

37. OperaTor
Combine the portable version of Opera with the anonymizing service Tor (The Onion Router) and you get OperaTor, a bundle (including Polipo as a proxy) that keeps your surfing secret.

38. Safari
Windows | Mac OS
Fast page load times are a hallmark of this browser, the default for Mac installations and also available for Windows. Safari offered private browsing before it was cool.
Read our review of Safari 3.1 for Windows.


39. 30 Boxes
An online calendar that actually looks like a calendar. The buddies feature makes sharing schedules and to-dos a breeze.

40. Calgoo Calendar
Windows | Mac OS | Linux
Think of Calgoo as one calendar app to rule them all: The software provides desktop access to Google Calendar and 30 Boxes, and syncs data with Outlook and Apple iCal.

41. Doomi
This simple to-do list app requires Adobe Air to run, and floats on your screen or rests in the system tray—the very model of an unobtrusive application. Future plans include syncing with an online to-do list.

42. Google Calendar
Web | Mobile
With multiple views, simple sharing, and seamless integration with other Google products, Google's calendar, like most of its Web apps, stands a notch above the rest.
Read the full review of Google Calendar.

43. Lightning
Windows | Mac OS | Linux | Solaris | OS2
Mozilla's calendar add-on for Thunderbird gives the e-mail client all it needs to take on all the features of Microsoft Outlook.

44. Chandler
Windows | Mac OS | Linux
An open-source, sharable desktop to-do master, Chandler looks vaguely Outlook-esque, but it doesn't worry about communications—just tasks for those embracing the "getting things done" lifestyle.

45. Remember The Milk
Web | Mobile
This power to-do list site gives you many ways to get reminders (e-mail, SMS, IM) and even more ways to create them, from Google widgets to phone calls to IM bots.

46. Remember The Task
Windows | Mac OS | Linux
This Adobe Air–based app puts a small window on your desktop with one fantastic purpose: full-time access to your Remember The Milk task list.

47. TaskFive
Just five tasks a day? Take it as a challenge, not a limitation. TaskFive sports an elegant calendar interface, and you can enter tasks via Web, e-mail, or text message. Team to-dos will cost you, however.

48. Yahoo Calendar
An old-timer compared with many, Yahoo Calendar doesn't innovate a lot but provides solid features, shareable calendars, and synchronization with Outlook.


49. eM Client
Anyone familiar with Outlook or Thunderbird can master the basics of using eM Client freeware in no time. It already syncs with Google Calendar, and future developments will integrate social networks and IMs with your e-mail.

50. Gmail
Web | Mobile
The current bellwether in Web-based e-mail is still in perennial beta, but Google continues to innovate with additions via the Gmail Labs. The searchable and ever-increasing storage (up to 7GB now, up from 5.5GB last year) doesn't hurt. New themes make it pretty. And you can use it to IM or even send SMS text messages to friends' phones.

51. gAttach
Usually with webmail, you have to put attachments on a message after the fact. gAttach does it automatically when you select a file, or from within other apps like MS Word, all from the desktop. If you prefer Yahoo Mail, check out yAttach.

52. Google Contacts
This extension for Thunderbird does one thing you need: It synchronizes contacts between Thunderbird and Google's Gmail.

53. iContact
Accessing your Gmail contacts is all the easier with iContact; it displays the normally browser-accessible-only list on your desktop and integrates those contacts into other communications software, like Skype.

54. Simple Mail
Windows | Mac OS | Linux
If you already have Firefox open all the time, why not have one of those tabs just for mail? The Simple Mail add-on puts a POP3/IMAP client right inside the browser.

55. Thunderbird [HALL OF FAME]
Windows | Mac OS | Linux
The Internet's top e-mail client from Mozilla is (of course) extensible, but even without add-ons Thunderbird is simple-to-master software for anyone with a POP3 or IMAP e-mail account.
Read our review of Thunderbird 2.

56. Windows Live Mail
Outlook Express has morphed into the modern-day Live Mail, ready to check POP3, IMAP, and webmail accounts when you're not using it to read RSS feeds or plan your calendar.
Read our review of Windows Live Mail (Wave 3).

57. Yahoo Mail
Our webmail Editors' Choice embeds the Yahoo Messenger IM and RSS reader, works on the Web with any browser or operating system, and has more features than anyone could hope to master.
Read our review of Yahoo Mail, a Editors' Choice.

58. Zenbe
Zenbe is a multi-account, Internet-based interface to check Yahoo Mail, Gmail, AOL, Windows Live, and POP3 messages. It throws in a shareable calendar, an address book, and other tools to make it extra-useful.


59. Dabbleboard
As simple as any whiteboard in a conference room, Dabbleboard's online app brings drawing and some real-time collaboration to your group.

60. SightSpeed
Windows | Mac OS
Now owned by Logitech, SightSpeed provides one-on-one video chat with unparalleled video quality, but more than two users at a time will cost you.
Read our full review of SightSpeed 6.0, a Editors' Choice .

61. Skype
Windows | Mac OS | Linux
Easy to use for phone calls (free between Skype users, with a minimal charge to call other phones), Skype truly shines when paired with a high-end webcam so you can see your friends and family.
Read our full review of Skype.

62. Tokbox
The Tokbox service turns your AIM buddy list into a videoconferencing buddy list directly in your browser. Separate apps make it work through Facebook or on your desktop. You provide the camera.
Read our full review of TokBox AIR.

File Transfer/Download

63. CrossFTP
Windows | Mac OS | Linux
Built on Java, CrossFTP works and looks the same, no matter which OS you run. It features tabs for each connection, support for archives, and drag-and-drop transfer, and it comes in a free server version, too.

64. DownThemAll
Windows | Mac OS | Linux
Don't download just one item at a time from a Web page. As the name implies, this download manager for Firefox handles them all.

65. Filezilla
Windows | Mac OS | Linux
Slick and simple FTP that does the job, complete with drag-and-drop from local to remote or vice versa.

66. FireFTP
Windows | Mac OS | Linux
Because it's a plug-in for Firefox, FireFTP behaves like any other tab in the browser, so you don't have to launch another application to transfer files.

67. Halite
Instead of downloading an entire file, apps using the super-popular BitTorrent protocol break files into chunks and distribute them among several users. Free, open-source application Halite is a BitTorrent client focused on using as small of a memory footprint as possible.

68. net2ftp
If you sit at a computer with no FTP software but need to upload a file, stat, this Web app comes to your rescue quickly as long as you have the server, username, and password information.

69. Rightload
Send a file to preconfigured FTP servers anytime you want with a simple right click. Rightload adds just a single line to the context menu, with fly-out menus for each FTP server you want

70. uTorrent
Still the best—and smallest—BitTorrent client in existence, uTorrent will have you downloading big files in no time.

File Viewers/Converters

71. Adobe Reader [HALL OF FAME]
Windows | Mac OS | Linux | Mobile
Adobe's PDF reader is far from basic, with a number of extra features including online collaboration tools.

72. Foxit Reader
Windows | Linux | Mobile
Frequently preferred over Adobe's own reader for PDFs, Foxit has a reputation for speed. What's more, it can annotate files.

73. PeaZip
Windows | Linux
It'll create ZIPs, 7Zs, TARs, ARCs, and more; it'll open those and many other archives too, including RAR. It can do so with AES encryption of your files, and even split or join extralarge files to make them easier to transport.

74. Sumatra PDF
The perfect PDF reader for the minimalist, with a super-simple interface and fast start-up time. Sumatra is perfect to carry on a USB thumb drive.

75. Quick Media Converter (QMC)
If you're frequently converting audio or video files to different formats, keep this tool handy for (as the name suggests) quick media conversion to a number of potential formats.

76. WinRAR
We all know about compressing files with ZIP, but RAR is also quite popular; WinRAR will compress or decompress files in both.

77. YemuZip
Mac OS
Sometimes unzipping a compressed file on the Mac makes a mess. YemuZip makes archiving and decompressing a simple drag-and-drop procedure.

78. Zamzar
Upload just about any file (under 100MB) and you can convert it to just about any format that makes sense. This tool even grabs online videos from YouTube and turns them into files you can use.


79. Billeo
Install the Billeo toolbar on your Web browser and add your accounts, and you'll get fast access to assistance with online shopping, online bill payment, and reports on your spending.
Read our review of Billeo, a Editors' Choice.

80. Buxfer
Web | Mobile
Sign up (or use an existing AOL, Facebook, Google, OpenID, or Yahoo account) to get started with tracking shared expenses, so divvying up the bills at the end of the month becomes a breeze.

81. Mint
Mint manages your money by sucking in data from all your bank, credit card, and other accounts, providing you regular reports on what you're spending and how to save.
Read our review of, a Editors' Choice.

82. Wesabe
Windows | Mac OS | Web
"Part money management tool, part community," where info—your comments about your spending—is shared (anonymously) with the group so everyone can find value. Of course, Wesabe also helps track your spending and income.


83. eBay Desktop
Windows | Mac OS
This app, which requires Adobe Air, looks like eBay replicated on your desktop, but for power buyers it adds special functions, like not needing to refresh the page and a clock synchronized with eBay's own.

There's no easier place to plug in your family tree, and being a Web app makes it easy to share with the rest of the family so they can fill in the gaps.

85. Google Earth
Windows | Mac OS | Linux
If you like Google Maps online, welcome to that same kind of action on steroids. You can traverse the globe on its interlocking satellite images, or reverse it and look skyward, even travel to the past. Third-party add-ons continue to extend Google Earth's capabilities beyond what our puny terrestrial minds can imagine.
Read our review of Google Earth 4.3, a Editors' Choice.

86. Home Inventory
Windows | Mac OS
Insurance companies ask you to inventory your possessions prior to signing up for a homeowner's or renter's policy. Create a home inventory of everything you own on this site, a service of the Insurance Information Institute, and throw in digital pictures or even scanned purchase receipts to make sure what's yours is yours.

87. Penzu
Hard to believe that in the age of blogging, some people still want journals and diaries they keep to themselves. Penzu is all about making that happen, online, with privacy as the first priority.

88. Springpad
Manage your life tasks with online notebooks filled with lists, photos, notes, and maps/directions you can share with the whole family. Perfect for tracking receipts, planning meals or trips, and getting your house organized.

89. Timetoast
Ever wanted to create a timeline for your site or a presentation, but couldn't decide what tool would best display the data? Wonder no more, as Timetoast adds this useful data with an attractive flair.


90. Artweaver
If you want the freedom to paint, without the mess and without paying $359 for Corel Painter X, Artweaver is a good starter tool for artists.

91. DestroyFlickr
This Adobe Air app puts Flickr on your desktop, but with a completely different interface. Why "destroy"? In the words of app creator Jonnie Hallman, "To destroy today is to make the most of the day—destruction as a form of creation."

92. flauntR
This online photo editor integrates with just about any picture service you can imagine, including Facebook and Flickr, and offers a suite of tools to manipulate images in ways specific to social networks and mobile handsets.

93. FastStone Image Viewer
Another image browser and converter that handles almost any file type, FastStone also has companion programs like the handy Photo Resizer, complete with a fast batch processor.


GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) has provided Photoshop-like tools at no charge for over a decade.
Read our review of Gimp 2.4.7 .

95. Google SketchUp
Windows | Mac OS
If you're new to 3D but want to build worlds anyway, a free tool like SketchUp is a great place to start; the latest version includes "self-aware" 3D models so the app knows, for example, to resize a virtual staircase by adding more stairs and extend a virtual fence by adding more slats.
Read our review of Google SketchUp.

96. IrfanView
Perhaps the ultimate image viewer (with some editing tools thrown in), the latest IrfanView (version 4.20) received a nice cosmetic update. It also supports instant video and audio playback.
Read our review of IrfanView 3.85, a Editors' Choice.

97. Paint.NET
This student project–turned–freeware masterpiece puts the power of higher-end graphics editors in anyone's hands.

98. Pencil
Windows | Mac OS | Linux
For the budding Chuck Jones at home, Pencil is a free way to get started in the world of traditional 2D animation–that is, draw each frame anew.

99. Picasa
Windows | Linux
Few free programs come close to handling photos with the skill of Picasa. Organize them, do quick edits (including red-eye reduction), and share pics online or e-mail them to friends.
Read our review of Picasa 3, a Editors' Choice.

100. MobaPhoto
Portability is the key here. This lightweight photo editor (only 1.6MB) puts photographs into great-looking photo galleries, and naturally has all the usual tools to fix red-eye, crop, and resize. It'll even batch-process images.

101. Photoshop Express
It's not the full power of Photoshop on the Web, but it does offer rudimentary editing, basic photo sharing, and 2GB of storage for your photos. Partnerships with sites like Picasa and Facebook make Photoshop Express fun as well as useful.
Read our review of Photoshop Express .

102. Photosynth
Photosynth does so many unique things with photos that we gave it a Technical Excellence award. It takes multiple photos, finds where they overlap, and creates an almost 3D image; it can even make a 3D replica of an object from shots at multiple angles.

103. Picnik
Picnik is the gold standard in online image editing these days: It fixes photos without confusing users and works with a number of photo-sharing sites, and best of all, you don't have to register to get started using it—unless you want to save images online.
Read our review of Picnik.

104. Pictomio
Handling all your photos with a simple but powerful interface, Pictomio browses in many styles—including a carousel mode similar to iTunes' Coverflow, which benefits from a good 3D video card—organizes shots, and creates instant slideshows. It will even handle audio and video.

105. Splashup
You don't even need to sign up to get instant access to this Flash-based image editor with all the features (and more) that you'd find in a downloadable app.

106. SUMO Paint
Not every Web-based image editor can claim to be high-end, but SUMO can by carefully mimicking the look and feel of Photoshop, maybe a little too well. Try it before this free Flash app gets sued out of existence by Adobe.


Windows | Mac OS | Linux | Web | Mobile
AOL's Instant Messenger is the most-used network in the U.S., and the software—only the Windows version gets regular updates these days—packs in as much as possible. You can access the AIM network with just about any multi-protocol IM software.
Read our review of AIM 6.5 .

108. Dexrex
Windows | Mac OS | Mobile
This add-on records your IM conversation transcripts and stores them online for later reading and analysis. It works with AIM,Digsby, Yahoo Messenger, and many others.

109. Digsby
Brand new this year, Digsby may be the ultimate way to stay in real-time touch with friends. It incorporates multiple IM networks, social networks (including Twitter), and e-mail and Web-mail notifications. You can even send mail through Digsby. Mac OS and Linux versions are promised soon.

110. Meebo
Web | Mobile
When you want to avoid installing software but still want to chat on all the major IM networks, Meebo is your site of choice. Sign up for a Meebo account to access multiple IM networks all at once and log all conversations.
Read our review of Meebo.

Interface Enhancers

111. AccelMan File Manager
As much a file viewer as a file manager, AccelMan's multiple windows offer up info galore on each file and its contents. The app can even play back media files when you don't want to launch another player.

112. Desktops
Desktops is a virtual desktop manager in a small package; the app is only a 62K download. Personalize hotkeys for quick switches between desktops.

113. DExposE2
This app is a Windows clone of the Mac interface treat Exposé, which makes opening and closing apps and getting to the desktop a fast process. Windows XP and Vista users can also set up DExposE2 to work on multiple monitors.

114. Emerge Desktop
You think the Windows desktop looks too busy with that system tray, Taskbar, and Start button? EmergeDesktop does away with them all, replacing the Windows shell (the interface, that is) with the minuscule emergeTray. Launch apps with a right click, or couple Emerge Desktop with a launcher like ObjectDock.

115. GreenPrint
Windows | Mac OS
Stop printing that extra blank page when you need a hard copy of a Web page, or for any printout. GreenPrint saves the paper, even letting you output a PDF sans the blank sheets. A tree somewhere will thank you.
Read our review of GreenPrint .

116. muCommander
Windows | Mac OS | Linux | Mobile
muCommander is unique: It's a file manager that looks the same on all operating systems. A standard dual-pane, it also has support for archived files, FTPs, and previews files.

117. PlacesBar Tweaker
Every time you open or save a file in Windows XP, the dialog box gives you a few select options, like Desktop or My Documents, to choose from in the Places bar. You can personalize that list with this tweaker, putting your most-used folders in the lineup.

118. RBTray
RBTray does one thing and does it well: It makes it possible to minimize any application you like to the system tray as an icon, rather than as a taskbar button, without even doing a full install (RBTray can run from a thumb drive).

119. StandaloneStack
Mac OS X Leopard introduced cool towers of icons to the interface, with shortcuts to frequently accessed folders, called stacks. Now you can put stacks in Windows as well. There's even an add-on to put stacks on the RocketDock launcher.

120. Start++
A nice addition in Vista to the Windows environment was the Start Menu's search box. Start++ turbocharges it with extras like online searches with results in the menu, and its own set of widgets and plug-ins (for example, displaying the weather is an option).

121. TrayEverything
You've got a lot of applications open, but only so much space in your Taskbar... so why not minimize them directly to the system tray on the lower right-hand side of your screen? TrayEverything will do it for you.

122. UltraExplorer
Another replacement for Windows Explorer, this one sports a command-line interface to go with the dual-pane view of files, plus a preview window so you can quickly check the contents of a file before opening it.

123. Yahoo Widgets
Windows | Mac OS
The world's biggest collection of widgets—over 5,000 of the things—is yours through Yahoo. Some are more useful than others, but with the right combo your desktop can be an information powerhouse.

Local Search

124. Google Desktop
Windows | Mac OS | Linux
Put the power of Google's search engine to work on finding your own files. The software indexes in the background, while in the foreground you get to put all the Google Gadgets (widgets) you like on your desktop.
Read our review of Google Desktop 4 (beta).

125. Everything
Don't need the extras? Everything really does just one thing in its small package: It indexes your PC in real time for lightning-fast search.

126. Locate32
The Locate32 project is all about indexing the contents of your hard drives and other storage to run fast finds on local data.


127. Adobe Buzzword
This online-only word processor has one of the best-looking minimalist interfaces going, since it was built entirely with Adobe Flash, and each page looks as good as any formatted in Word.
Read our review of Adobe Buzzword .

128. blist
Web lists (aka "blists") are little databases for all your data needs. The Flash interface makes this fast for newbies and powerful enough for everyone else. You can even put your blists on your blog or social network pages.

129. EtherPad
You don't even have to sign up to create a new pad, a shareable text document stored online for you by EtherPad. Don't expect fancy formatting, but do expect real-time, color-coded editing between all collaborators.

130. Evernote
Windows | Mac OS | Mobile | Web
Take a clipping of anything you see—online or off—for later reference. Built-in OCR makes text inside images searchable.

131. GMDesk
Bring Google's Web apps to the desktop with this site-specific browser interface that requires Adobe Air. You'll have access to Gmail, Google Reader, and Google Docs just as you would in a browser, but GMDesk stays alive when your browser crashes.

132. Google Docs
Web | Mobile
If you're ready to move your work life to the cloud, Google's word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation suite is ready for you, complete with storage for all docs. It also comes with forms you can fill out to gather data from outside.
Read our review of Google Docs, a Editors' Choice.

133. Incollector
Windows | Linux
Note-taking doesn't have to hog the whole desktop, or even the whole browser window. Incollector runs in the background, letting you call up a new note page from the system tray when you want, tag it, and easily find it later.

134. Jarte
No one loves the Notepad included in Windows, and there are many replacements. Jarte goes most of them one better, being completely self-contained and portable (you can run it from a thumb drive!).

135. KompoZer
Windows | Mac OS | Linux
This free WYSIWYG Web page authoring package builds on the abandoned Nvu project. It supports CSS, file management (including FTP), and tabs for multiple pages.

136. Lotus Symphony
Windows | Mac OS | Linux
IBM's entry into the world of office suites is based on OpenOffice, and is currently in beta for Mac and Linux. It covers the three big suite tools: word processing, presentations, and spreadsheets.
Read our review of Lotus Symphony .

137. LucidChart
Why make flowcharts complicated? This Web app goes back to basics with simple, black-and-white charts that anyone can make—and better yet, anyone else can easily understand.

138. NeoOffice
Mac OS
NeoOffice comes with most of the same tools as the Mac version of OpenOffice but carries a more Apple-friendly look and feel.

139. Notepad++ [HALL OF FAME]
Notepad++ is the standard by which all replacements for Notepad—that weak little app that comes with Windows—are measured. It sports full text styles, tabs, drag-and-drop, and super-speed and is suitable for any coding or writing you can throw at it.

140. OpenOffice [HALL OF FAME]
Windows | Mac OS | Linux | Solaris
Version 3 of the freebie office suite ups the ante against Microsoft's hegemony, becoming fast and polished enough to warrant serious consideration by all, especially small businesses. It looks like MS Office 2003 (for those not in love with the Ribbon interface in Office 2007) and has all the tools—except e-mail—you'll ever need.
Read our Review of 3.0 .

141. SlideRocket
Promising more than PowerPoint and Keynote is bold, but this Web-only presentation tool seems to deliver the goods with amazing animations, support for embedded video, and 3D transitions between slides.

142. SoftMaker Office 2006
This free version is meant to entice you to upgrade to the 2008 version, but if all you need is basic text editing and a spreadsheet, you're set.

143. Springnote
Web | Mobile
Whether you want a personal notebook or a shareable group notebook, this wiki-based note-taking site could give Microsoft's OneNote a run for its money.

144. Widgenie
Sick of making meh-looking graphs in Excel? Visualize the same data through Widgenie and create a beautiful graph widget, even one with animation, that you can share online. Text clouds, artful presentations of the most popular words on a page, are always a favorite with bloggers.

145. Zoho
Web | Mobile
If there's a tool in the arsenal of office suites that Zoho doesn't include, we can't think of it. Not all the Web apps are free, but those that are—word processor, spreadsheet tool, presentation app, mail, wiki, and many more—all bring the goods.
Read our review of Zoho .

Operating Systems

146. gOS 3.0 Gadgets
With its emphasis on easy access to tools from Google, it's easy to see why some think of this lightweight Linux—renowned for powering cheap PCs from Wal-Mart—as the Google OS.

147. pure:dyne
Consider this the creative Linux distro: Boot just about any Intel PC (even MacBooks) from a Live CD with pure:dyne, and you'll get instant access to free tools for editing audio, video, and images (many already in this story).

148. Ubuntu [HALL OF FAME]
The easiest Linux to install, now in version 8.10 (aka "Intrepid Ibex"), not only is suitable for (somewhat knowledgeable) consumers, but also comes with all the software you need to be productive.
Read our review of Ubuntu 8.04 .


149. AirSnare
Turn your Wi-Fi–equipped laptop into an info sniffer. AirSnare pulls down info on computers and game consoles and just about any device on the network, even delivering devices' MAC addresses.

150. AirRadar
Mac OS
AirRadar goes beyond what the Wi-Fi utility in Mac OS X can do by showing extras like signal strength and the 802.11 network's channel.

151. Axence NetTools
Want a quick look at everything happening on your home network? NetTools scans the network, and reports back on what ports are in use and the inbound and outbound connections. You can use it to test your networking connections over TCP or UDP protocols.

152. GBridge
Set up a relatively painless VPN between computers for sharing and syncing files and folders, using your Google account as the connection point (though Gbridge is not affiliated with Google).

153. InSSIDer
Taking up where the venerable NetStumbler left off, InSSIDer is a Wi-Fi network scanner that runs under Vista and XP— even the 64-bit versions. You can use it to find out what's wrong with local 802.11 networks.

154. LogMeIn Hamachi
Windows | Mac OS | Linux
Set up a secure tunnel between two PCs using a virtual private network (VPN), just like the ones the pros use to access the server at work. Only this one is free.
Read our review of Hamachi for Windows .

155. NetSetMan
Stop using Vista's convoluted interface to change network settings. NetSetMan takes over and creates profiles for different networks you might connect with, changing your need for static or dynamic IPs, or hostnames or workgroups, on the fly. If you've got multiple network cards, NetSetMan is a huge help.

156. Network Notepad
It's more than a notepad: This software is specific to creating flowcharts of your network layout. Put in the IP address for each device and you can use the interface to quickly ping devices to confirm they're online.

157. PrinterAnywhere
Windows | Mac OS | Linux
Why print just to your printer? This utility lets you print to any printer on the Internet (through another PC with PrinterAnywhere installed), or you can open your printer to others.

RSS Readers

158. Google Reader
Web | Mobile
After three years, Google's RSS feed reader is tops, not only mimicking the best of what desktop readers can do but also mashing up nicely with other Google services, like the iGoogle home page.
Read our review of Google Reader.

159. Netvibes
A personalized start page with an emphasis on widgets and feed readers, Netvibes also aggregates podcasts for you.
Read our review of NetVibes.

160. FeedDemon
The preeminent desktop newsreader for Windows was recently overhauled to be faster and easier, while remaining extremely customizable to suit how you read feeds.
Read our review of FeedDemon, a Editors' Choice.

161. NetNewsWire
Mac OS | Mobile
FeedDemon's sibling on the Macintosh platform has updated its interface and more, and now integrates with several other Mac apps like iCal and iPhoto to help you share as well as read.

162. RSS Bandit
Directly sync this reader with your online feeds at Google Reader or NewsGator Online. You'll get fast browsing on the desktop, but still have access to your feeds over the Web using other PCs.

163. Snarfer
It won't win awards for visual innovation, but Snarfer does provide simplicity. It's arguably the best way to handle straight-up RSS info gathering and reading, and it's available in over 20 languages.


164. Dropbox
Windows | Mac OS | Linux | Web
One of the few sync/backup tools to support Linux (Fedora and Ubuntu), Dropbox always gets kudos for its design and simple setup. Online backup space is free for up to 2GB.

165. Windows Live Sync
Windows | Mac OS | Web
The replacement for FolderShare continues to do one thing and do it well: sync folders (up to 20) across multiple PCs over the Internet.

166. Windows Live Mesh
Windows | Mac OS | Mobile | Web
Microsoft's latest method for syncing folders on different PCs does FolderShare one better by including 5GB of online storage accessible from any PC, plus the ability to mesh special collaborative applications (like a group crossword puzzle!).

167. Syncplicity
Windows | Mobile | Web
Synchronize up to 10,000 files (or 2GB, whichever comes first) on up to two computers free. Sign up friends and you can add another 1GB per new user recruited.

168. Mozilla Weave
Windows | Mac OS | Linux
A product of Mozilla Labs, Weave is meant to synchronize anything and everything related to Firefox among all the computers you use, plus extend some features to others for sharing. Registration is closed as of this writing, but should be back soon.


169. CamStudio
This open-source program for capturing videos of your screen turns what you do on your desktop, as well as the audio to go with it, into a movie, suitable for future demonstrations.

170. HandBrake
Windows | Mac OS | Linux
Want to back up all those DVDs you own before they get scratched? This open-source tool does full DVD-to-MPEG-4 conversion, which you can play back later on media centers, even the Apple TV.

171. Miro
Windows | Mac OS | Linux
Miro's a video player that promises to play back just about any video media file, organize files in playlists, and incorporate BitTorrent downloading to become a de facto PC-based TiVo.

172. TipCam
Another tool for capturing videos of your desktop, TipCam lets you take big, beautiful videos (up to 800 by 600 pixels)—you can even zoom in on specifics—and upload them direct to YouTube. Frequent users can get an account to store and display up to 250MB of video.

173. VLC media player
Windows | Mac OS | Linux
VideoLAN's open-source software plays back, well, just about everything. It can also serve up streaming video and music to other PCs on your network.

The festival of free software doesn't have to end! Skim through last year's compilation of free software, or take a look at these other app collections for various other platforms.

The Best Free Software '08

Free iPhone apps

Also, top web sites of 2009,2806,7488,00.asp#PageContinue,1217,a%253D235942,00.asp

from PC magazine.

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