Eight free Windows 7 tools you gotta try

Our Windows blogger recently found these utilities, which have made his PC environment that much more capable

The smartphone marketing phrase "there's an app for that" got me thinking -- isn't there an application for pretty much anything and everything I need on my PC? And aren't those apps typically free? Yes, pretty much.

Here are eight of my recent Windows tools discoveries. Let other readers know the ones you've found in the comments section below.

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Windows 7 tool No. 1: Evernote

This tool is one that even Mac users will appreciate. I've been using Evernote for the past few weeks to take notes. I brought it to Microsoft's campus for the recent MVP Summit, for example, and CEO Steve Ballmer's keynote even included a reference to note-taking applications. OneNote is the main Microsoft app for that purpose, so it's funny that a Microsoft guy like me has taken up the Evernote flag.

I first discovered Evernote for my Android smartphone and found it let me easily add recorded sound, pictures, and videos to my notes, then sync them to my laptop back at the hotel and to my PC at home. In fact, you can capture pretty much anything you see or hear in the notes, then access the notes from nearly every computer, smartphone, and tablet on the market: Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, Android, and so on. And your notes are searchable. Great job!

Windows 7 tool No. 2: Easy Duplicate File Finder

How many copies of the same picture, file, or video do you have on your PC? In my case, I must have two or three copies of some items, but I have no idea where the extras are. I'm also afraid if delete it in one place, I'll later discover that was my only copy of that particular file -- so I keep adding copies. I also have copies on one external drive after another because I gotta have backups. Easy Duplicate File Finder helps locate all those duplicates quickly and lets you resolve them easily and safely.

Although it's not free, you might consider instead DataStor's $99 Professional Desktop Protection 2010, which both backs up and deduplicates those files on your desktop and any external connected drives.

Windows 7 tool No. 3: FastStone Photo Resizer

When I move pictures off my camera, I know I could (and should) rename them, but I don't do so a lot of the time. With FastStone Photo Resizer, I can rename and resize pictures. Plus, I can add watermarks and text, as well as crop, rotate, and change the color depth of my photos.

If you simply want to rename files, you might try File Renamer Basic instead.

Windows 7 tool No. 4: Desktops

Created by Microsoft engineers, Desktops lets you take better advantage of your monitors by providing as many as four virtual desktops to work with.

In addition, you might like some of the other tools that co-creator Mark Russinovich has developed, including ZoomIt (for an easy zoom teaching application) and BgInfo (to show details about the system right on the desktop with an overlay of text).

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