Friday Finds: Free Tools

WickedBlog’s Fantastic Friday Finds Logo Interested in a few tiny programs that really make a difference in your productivity? Want to save a few keystrokes? Would you like to avoid opening unnecessary programs to do what you need? Want to keep things light, so your computer’s performance stays high?

Check out this week’s Five Fantastic Friday Finds!

Rainlendar – This calendar program is used by many as their one and only. Personally, I like having a beautifully skinned monthly calendar on my desktop at all times. I probably use it a dozen times a day when I need to know (for instance) the date of next Thursday, but don’t have my full calendar program open. I also have the calendar “fetching” my ical files from Sunbird, so I know what today and tomorrow hold for me. I also use the To Do list, which also stays on my desktop. And, I’m only using a fraction of the features available. I use the “Shadow4” skin to match my desktop, but many skins are available — or you can make your own. (There is a paid version available, but I use the free one.)

Printkey 5.0 – A tiny little freebie that captures your computer screen. So you think you already have that? Can the built in version do it with a single click (rather than a key combination) and then output to any number of file formats? Like .jpg, .gif, .bmp, etc? Neither could mine, but it does now. Sweet little time saver and frustration fighter when you want to show someone what you are doing — or for use with tutorials that need a screen capture.

Miranda – An open-source IM gem. This cross platform IM server has a small footprint and is highly customizable. I’ve just started using it myself, because I’m tired of waiting so long for Yahoo! IM to launch. I also don’t like the ads. It’s not as fancy as some of the other clients, but if you want a light-weight workhorse, less than 2 megs to install vs. Yahoo! at nearly 30 megs, then ive it a spin. (This is also available in a portable edition for your thumbdrive or external hard drive.) Personally, I prefer a heftier program (GAIM), after having tried them both, but it’s not nearly as easy on your CPU as Miranda.

FileZilla – an open-source FTP tool. It’s the best, easiest to use, smallest program I’ve ever found to simply get the job done. I used to hate doing FTP stuff, and then I found FileZilla and it became simple, quick and flawless. I love the intuitive interface which makes uploading files online as easy as tucking them in a folder on my desktop. The “quicklaunch” option makes it possible to connect for upload to my most often used sites with a single click.

7-Zip – The best, most flexible compression program I’ve found to date. Simple, intuitive, and fast with a tiny footprint. It’s also open-source and Linux compatible. If you are tired of a “wizard” to tell you how to zip or unzip a .tar file, .zip file, etc… this is the tool you need. It also has a compression ratio that is superior to Winzip and PKzip. It’s a “must have” for any of my systems — now and in the future.