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55. Free tools abound on web

By Mark Alberstat

The Operating System, word processors, financial programs and games that run on your computer cost hundreds of dollars.

There is, however, a free lunch sometimes. The following is a list of some free software that you may find useful. A list of links to the programs mentioned is included at the end of this column.

PC Aligner is a neat little tool that any novice computer user can easily understand. This small download lets you move your Windows background image around your desktop instead of the unimaginative centre or tiled options that Microsoft gives you. If you are using a relatively small image for your background but don't want it to clutter a collection of icons on the left side of your screen, why not move the image to the top right corner? There is a Windows XP and 2000 version, as well as an older version that works under XP or 98.

Easy Thumbnails is a free program that helps you organize the hundreds of images you have on your computer. This utility allows users to create thumbnail images, or scaled up or down copies, from a wide range of image formats. If you have ever created a website with a thumbnail of a picture that can be clicked on to show the full-size image, you will instantly recognize the beauty of this program.

Google seems to be everywhere these days, and those clever folks at Google Labs developed the Google Toolbar. This download attaches to your Internet Explorer to help in your web searches, filling in of forms and blocking annoying pop-ups. They even have a link to the Googlebar, an open-source version developed for Firefox and Mozilla.

MoveOnBoot is another free file that some clever programmer wrote to solve the problem of users wanting to delete files that are in use by Windows or locked by an application. The simple interface allows users to select files they want moved or deleted the next time the system boots. This type of application isn't for everyone, but those who know their way around an operating system will find it handy.

If you are a Mac user with a penchant for keeping track of things, Blackhole has created Burn, a free download for users with OS X 10.2. This software can keep track of everything from your daily coffee expenses to the rest of your hectic life.

These free programs, and many other files like them, are out on the Internet for your use. Many programs are released as shareware, which has certain features turned off or the program can only be used for a certain amount of time. Search the web for programs that you may want and you could come up with gems that are not only free but invaluable.

PC Aligner:

Easy Thumbnails:

Google Toolbar:



The Mousepad runs every two weeks. It's a service of Chebucto Community Net, a community-owned Internet provider. If you have a question about computing, email If we use your question in a column, we'll send you a free mousepad.


The Mousepad Index


Originally published 13 March 2005


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