The Internet is full of small programs designed to make life easier for users. But it’s not always easy to see clearly in this digital jungle of useless bloatware, outdated versions and malicious fakes that offer to download RAM. We therefore offer you a selection of five reliable and really useful programs that some of you probably already know, but all of which can help you on a daily basis, or at least give you valuable assistance in certain painful situations.
Everything: a dazzling search like on macOS
If there’s one element that PC enthusiasts can envy in the macOS camp, it’s the incredible Spotlight search system, which allows you to find any file with alarming speed. The majority of Windows users are still satisfied with Windows Explorer’s native search – a maddeningly slow throttle, not to mention the fact that it too often fails to find the document you want.
But luckily, this is not a fatal accident thanks to Everything, a tool that can radically change the way you use your machine. The concept couldn’t be simpler. Just let this little open source program index your storage and you’re done; you can now find any file in less time than it takes Windows Explorer to figure out what’s expected of it.
Everything offers bookmarks and multiple viewing modes to efficiently browse results. It also supports classic parameters like OR or AND, as well as a lot of other useful functions to narrow your search. And unlike native Windows search, this software won’t insult you by offering you a Bing search result instead!
Suffice it to say, if you spend your days railing against the native Windows search, this little orange magnifying glass can quickly become your best friend; on our side, we would not be able to function without it. To try it is to adopt it!
You can download Alt for free from its publisher Voidtools.
that language pack which provides the French translation is available at this address.
PowerToys: the little-known nugget
Here’s a tool that many users unfairly avoid: the PowerToys package. This is a set of small utilities that make a big difference in everyday life by allowing you to customize Windows. The advantage is that they are directly integrated into the OS and are therefore natively translated into French.
On our site, there are three tools that we use very regularly. The first, Always on top, allows you to pin a window so that it always appears in the foreground. A perfect complement to the notes from the Pense-Bête application, which has the annoying habit of disappearing under a pile of windows.
The second, Keyboard Manager, is a real boon that makes it easy to reassign keyboard keys, and without going through a complicated tool for beginners like AutoHotKey. It is even possible to change already existing shortcuts and choose in which programs these changes should apply. You’ve paid for every key on your keyboard, it’s high time you made them all profitable!
Our top three is completed by PowerRename. It’s a tool that will work wonders for those who regularly work with large sets of oddly named files. It makes it easy to rename several elements at once without breaking the tendon by repeating the same operation for hours. The icing on the cake, it allows you to do this selectively using regular expressions.
In addition to these three items, PowerToys also includes 9 additional utilities, all of which may be useful depending on your applications. Some make it easier to find, resize images on the fly, customize window docking areas, build color palettes, and more! The full list is available here.
PowerToys is available as a Windows application at this address.
SpaceSniffer: redundant files should be better taken care of
This is a problem that awaits all users at the turn, including the most organized: when you work regularly on the same machine, free space can start to run out. Rather than letting the poor hard drive suffocate, the solution may be to perform a manual cleanup by deleting redundant files yourself.
But this approach is both painful and time-consuming. And in some cases it is even very difficult to track the largest files. For all these reasons, many developers have designed utilities that help free up space. But very few are as intuitive and capable as our personal favorite, SpaceSniffer.
Like everything above, this software is incredibly simple. Just launch it and select the disk(s) to be analyzed. From there, the machine must have time to map the support in question; after a few minutes at most, it will offer you an interactive map of your storage space.
The window is automatically divided into rectangles whose size is directly proportional to the size of the folder or file in question. The software also takes care of automatically prioritizing all these elements, and it does so in a very intelligent way. In an instant, we can therefore immediately identify the problematic elements.
All you have to do is navigate through this rather old-fashioned but extremely functional and intuitive interface to get rid of the elements polluting your machine. A great little piece of software that will save you time and space.
You can download SpaceSniffer at this address.
Sandboxie: virtualization made easy for everyone
It is well known: the first line of defense between a malicious program and its target is the user behind the keyboard. But sometimes even the most vigilant internet users will have a hard time determining whether a program, archive or file poses a security risk.
When in doubt, the most advanced users can resort to a virtual computer thanks to programs such as VMWare or VirtualBox. This makes it possible to open the suspicious file in a kind of digital quarantine, where a potentially malicious program does not risk compromising the computer.
But those who don’t want to set up a virtual machine can also use virtualization using a small piece of software called Sandboxie. This tool allows you to virtualize any process on the fly; in short, this means that when in doubt, you can easily launch any program or open any file in a closed and secure environment.
The interface is in English and is not the most intuitive, which is not ideal for absolute neophytes. But for all other users, it is the kind of software that is very useful to have in your computer toolkit, for example when it comes to opening a questionable attachment.
Sandboxie is available here. Note that it is preferable to install the “classic” version for neophytes.
Recuva: the last bastion
Mistakenly deleting a photo of great sentimental value, a work document or any other important file can have serious consequences in our age where our lives are largely digital.
It is not in our habit to praise Piriform, but we must admit that the editor of CCleaner has done a good job with Recuva, its data recovery software. On our end, it has already allowed us to dig up personal files that would otherwise have been lost forever after emptying the trash too quickly.
It is of course very, very far from the most expensive solutions and specialized professional services. So much for saying it right away: don’t expect to recover months of deleted files as if nothing happened to them. In fact, there is no guarantee that you will be able to recover your file intact even if it was deleted a few seconds before. Also note that recovery is much riskier if the file was deleted from an SSD.
But you can hardly expect more from a user-friendly software that has a free version, knowing that data recovery is big business. It is no coincidence that professional solutions are billed at staggering prices.
In case of a problem, we therefore recommend that you try your luck with Recuva. At worst, it will be a sword in the water; at best, you can breathe a sigh of relief.
You can download Recuva from CCleaner’s website.