Win 9x - Freebies go the OS one better

TWEAK UI Microsoft's programmers knew that intermediate and advanced users would want more control over the Windows interface than the basic operating system provided. So they created Tweak UI, one of the best all-around Windows fixers. This utility has plenty of useful options to please power users and determined tinkerers. For an indication of some of the things it can do, see page 130, December 2000.

WEBSHOTS DESKTOP You spend many hours peering at your computer screen every day, so why settle for a static or boring view? You can spruce things up with Webshots Desktop, a combination wallpaper manager and slide-show screen saver. Webshots Desktop can automatically change your wallpaper at preset intervals and resize any image to fill the screen on the fly. The screen saver provides an array of transition effects between the pictures in your collection, and it features password protection.

Too frivolous for you? Perhaps you'd prefer to superimpose a no-nonsense calendar grid (with past and future months if desired) on your desktop wallpaper. Free registration at the Webshots Web site ( entitles you to download stunning images to your computer and purchase poster versions of some photographs. You can share your photos with friends and family by adding your picture collection, using a simple drag-and-drop feature. The built-in photo manager allows you to create logical groupings for your images and preview them in thumbnail form.

EDITPAD For skimming ReadMe files, editing simple HTML code, or jotting down notes, a simple text processor can be a handy tool. Unfortunately, Notepad - the text editor that comes with Windows - lacks a search-and-replace feature, can't cope with files larger than 45KB, and has other flaws.

You can find many freeware replacements, but few are as elegant and functional as EditPad. EditPad lets you customise your font style, font colours, and background colours, and it supports multiple open documents (in one or multiple windows). It also has a helpful toolbar; a fully-featured find-and-replace command that works on one or more documents simultaneously; and tools for converting between spaces and tabs, changing case, and jumping to a specified line number.

EditPad is a variant of freeware that its developer calls postcardware: the only payment he requires is that you send him a postcard if you decide to use the product.

POWERDESK Good software isn't just about piling on features; it's also about design. Spend a few minutes working with Ontrack's PowerDesk file manager, and you'll find an elegance of workmanship that Windows Explorer cannot match. You'll discover, for example, how much easier it is to access drives from a simple bar at the top of the window than by scrolling through ranks of folders in the tree pane. It's also nice to be able to access common files and folders in your Favorites menu without having to wade through the undergrowth of all your Internet shortcuts. (What was Microsoft think-ing?) Imagine the time you'll save by having two folders that open in a single window tiled any way you want and that stay the way you laid them out (Windows forces you to drag and resize multiple windows every time you need to manage files in multiple folders). If you use the QuickView viewer that comes with Windows, you can integrate that pane into the window as well. The list goes on and on. Ontrack offers a more robust version (PowerDesk Pro) for only $US20, but the freeware version will suit many people just fine.

NOTIFY CD PLAYER Don't be fooled by the boring name - this handy software should be called Nifty CD Player. The simple, elegant utility plays audio (or mixed data/audio) CDs from an unobtrusive tray icon. You can extract the relevant information for your CD from the online CDDB database or submit the information yourself. Play tracks in order or randomly, and see information about the current CD, including track name, time remaining, and track number. In the title bar of the active application, Notify CD Player will display the information you like in the font of your choice. You'll find customisation options that you would expect to see in a shareware application costing $20 or more. But this one's free.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
IDG News Service staff
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?