Sunday, December 5, 2010

Five Best Windows 7 Tweaking Applications

Five Best Windows 7 Tweaking ApplicationsWindows 7 has been well received both critically and on the street. And while Lifehacker readers love Windows 7, a well-built OS isn't a perfect OS. Check out these five applications that tweak Windows 7 and customize it to your heart's content.
A stock Windows 7 installation a fairly pleasant place to work, judging from our readers' reports. Even so, a little tweaking of its behavior, looks, and other features lets you optimize and personalize that desktop. Check out these five great tools for doing so.

God Mode (Windows, Free)

Five Best Windows 7 Tweaking ApplicationsThe "God Mode" in Windows 7 isn't quite like a video game God Mode—alas, no infinite laptop battery life or unlimited bandwidth—but it is a pretty nifty hack, and doesn't require any new installations. Create a new folder on your Windows desktop, save it with the name God-Mode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}, though you can substitute whatever name you want for "God-Mode." The folder will change icons, and when you click on it, you'll see every configuration option available in the control panel. That's the real power of the Windows 7 God Mode—it takes all the toggles you have to dig through the control panel menus and sub-menus to get to, and puts them right in one master list. It's worth trying out God Mode just to see settings you may not have even been aware of.

Regedit (Windows, Free)

Five Best Windows 7 Tweaking ApplicationsThe Windows registry is a treasure trove of tweak-friendly variables and values. You shouldn't muck around in it blindly, but by reading up on specific variables, you can tweak all manner of things that slightly irk you. Stroll through #registry here at Lifehacker to read up on all sorts of neat tricks, like how to speed up the Windows 7 taskbar, customize the login buttons, and tweak Aero peek . While you're learning about the registry, you'll want to check out our guide to the registry and registry cleaning. If you're not comfortable directly editing your Windows registry, we'd advise you to check out some of the other Windows tweaking applications in the Hive Five. Many of the settings they provide are just a neat graphic interface for the variables hidden in the bowels of the registry.

Windows 7 Manager

Five Best Windows 7 Tweaking ApplicationsWindows 7 Manager doesn't do anything that you can't do with various pieces of freeware or registry tweaks, but it does roll together dozens of functions into a unified, simplified interface. Not only can you tweak the GUI of Windows 7 but you can also tweak your boot routines, find duplicate files, securely erase files, retrieve and backup software keys, and more. Windows 7 Manager comes with a 15 day trial, so you can pit it against the free options in today's Hive before shelling out your hard-earned cash.

Rainmeter (Windows, Free)

Five Best Windows 7 Tweaking ApplicationsRainmeter is a skinning application for Windows, but that doesn't quite do it justice. You can do nearly anything with data using Rainmeter, from embedding the weather into your desktop to massaging the entire way you interact with your OS into something new. The best testament to the versatility and outright coolness of Rainmeter is wandering through the #rainmeter tag here at Lifehacker, and checking out all the unique desktops and tweaks readers have shared with us—also worth a peek is the best desktops of 2009, many of them featuring Rainmeter. If you look at your Windows desktop and go beyond thinking, "I wish the taskbar had different spacing," and more toward, "I wish my Windows interface looked like something totally new and Star Trek-flavored," then Rainmeter is for you.

Ultimate Windows Tweaker (Windows, Free)

Five Best Windows 7 Tweaking ApplicationsFor those of you that remember and loved the TweakUI utility from Microsoft, Ultimate Windows Tweaker is a freeware tool that takes the concept of the old TweakUI and supercharges it for Windows Vista and 7. You can tweak hundreds of settings and variables—system tray icons, the menu pop-up speed, security settings for the control panel, and a lot of other things you can't normally get to. It's a 380 KB, stand-alone portable application, so if you're curious to see just how many things you can tweak, it's no hassle at all to take it for a spin.
What are the first apps you download on a new Windows box? What's the software you just can't live without? This is the best software for XP and Vista that we know of.

Web Browsing


Mozilla Firefox

The premier free, open-source browser. Tabs, pop-up blocking, themes, and extensions. Considered by many to be the world's best browser.
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Video Player, Torrents, Podcasting



Beautiful interface. Plays any video type (much more than windows media player). Subscribe to video RSS, download, and watch all in one. Torrent support. Search and download from YouTube and others.
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IM - Instant Messaging



Connect to multiple IM accounts simultaneously in a single app, including: AOL IM, Yahoo, MSN, ICQ, Jabber, and Google Talk. 100% free and open source.
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Video Converter- MP4, iPhone, Android

video converter

Miro Video Converter

Convert any type of video to mp4 or theora. Convert any video for use with iPhone, iPod, Android, etc. Very clean, easy to use interface.
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Download helpers



A Firefox extension that skips unnecessary clicks and wait times on Rapidshare, Megaupload, Mediafire, zShare, and more.
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Talk with anybody in the world for free using Skype. Buy some credits and you can call any phone number in the world, cheap.
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Mozilla Thunderbird

Powerful spam filtering, solid interface, and all the features you need. Way better than Outlook Express.
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Yahoo Widgets

An army of cool, tiny applications at your fingertips. Such as: weather, alarm clock, todo lists, notepads, games, dictionaries and more. Very handy
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Peer-to-Peer Filesharing



A simple, fast Bittorrent client that will download your files without slowing down your computer.
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The world's most popular search and download filesharing program. Works great for music and video.
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The community-based filesharing client. Still one of the best ways to find rare music online.
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Video Playback



Plays more video files than most players: Quicktime, AVI, DIVX, OGG, and more. Pretty good interface.
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Combined Community Codec Pack (CCCP)

Lets you play almost every major video format inside Windows Media Player (or many other video players). Also includes an ad-free alternative to Quicktime.
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media player classic

Real Alternative Lite

A lightweight, ad-free version of RealPlayer.
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DVD Ripping / Video Conversion

media coder

Media Coder

Great tool for ripping CDs, DVDs, etc and converting between tons of video formats.
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Word Processing / Office Suites

open office

Big, full featured suite of tools for word processing and spreadsheets. Compatible with--and a free replacement for--Microsoft Office. A souped up version, Star Office, comes free with Google Pack.
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A word processor. Leaner and quicker than OpenOffice. Compatible with Microsoft Word documents and OpenDocument Format.
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Photo and Graphics



The best photo album for Windows. Lets you share photos too.


Photo editing application that rivals Photoshop in features.
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The best music player for Windows. Rip and burn CDs and download podcasts too.
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Ableton Live

For anyone who ever wanted to make a remix, DJ a party, or play with beats. A great manual, good tutorials and a super slick interface make Live so easy to learn. Free demo (hint: use Audacity for saving).
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The most popular RSS reader for Windows. Everything you want from an RSS reader.
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Solid cross-platform RSS client.
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Military-grade anonymous web browsing. Vidalia (a front-end for TOR) keeps you anonymous on the web using open source software and military-grade techniques. To use with Firefox see: TorButton.
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Todo Lists



Effortless todo list and project management software. This is web software, but it is hands down better than any competing desktop app.


What Basecamp is for teams, Backpack is for individuals.

Customer Management



Simple customer relationship management--really simple. Another great piece of web software.



Google Earth

The 3D map of the world that just gets better and better...and creepier. Total must-have.
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Sound Recording



Simple sound recording and editing tool.
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A popular FTP program for Windows.
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Excellent FTP program. 100% free and open source.
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The most popular Windows IRC client.
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More Web Browsers



A fast web browser packed with great features. Some people swear by it.
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Windows Alternatives


Ubuntu Linux

Sick of endless spyware and viruses? If Windows is a hassle, Ubuntu may be your way out. Try it without installing anything-- just pop in the CD and restart your computer.
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