The Internet is full of small programs that are supposed 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 But it’s not always easy to see clearly in this digital jungle of useless bloatware, outdated versions and malicious counterfeits that offer to download RAM. We therefore offer you a selection of five reliable and really useful programs that some of you will probably already know, but all of which can help you on a daily basis, or at least provide you with valuable assistance in certain painful situations.
Everything: a dazzling search like on macOS
If there is one element that PC enthusiasts can envy in the macOS camp, it is the incredible Spotlight search system which allows you to find any file with disconcerting speed. The majority of Windows users are still content with Windows Explorer’s native search — a maddeningly slow gas plant, not to mention the fact that it too often fails to locate the document you want.
But fortunately, this is not a fatality thanks to Everything, a utility that could radically change the way you use your machine. The concept couldn’t be simpler. Just let this little open source program index your storage space, and you’re done; you can now locate any file in less time than it takes Windows Explorer to figure out what is 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 bunch of other useful features to narrow down your search. And unlike native Windows search, this software won’t insult you by offering you a Bing search result instead!
Suffice to say that if you spend your days railing against the native Windows search, this little orange magnifying glass could quickly become your best friend; on our side, we would be unable to function without it. To try it is to adopt it !
You can download Everything for free from its publisher Voidtools.
The language pack which provides the French translation is available at this address.
PowerToys: the little-known nugget
Here is a tool unfairly shunned by a good part of the users: the PowerToys suite. 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 side, there are three tools that we use very regularly. The first, Always on topallows you to pin a window so that it always appears in the foreground. A perfect complement for the notes of the Pense-Bête application, which have the annoying habit of disappearing under a pile of windows.
The second, keyboard manageris a real blessing that makes it easy to reassign keyboard keys, and without going through a complicated tool for novices like AutoHotKey. It is even possible to change already existing shortcuts and to choose in which programs these changes should apply. You paid for every key on your keyboard, it’s high time to make them all profitable!
Our top three is completed by PowerRename. It’s a tool that will do wonders for those who regularly work with large sets of oddly-named files. It allows to easily rename several elements at once, without curling the rupture of the tendon by dint of 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 elements, PowerToys also includes 9 additional utilities which may all be useful depending on your uses. Some make it easier to find, resize images on the fly, customize window docking areas, build color palettes, and much more! The full list is available here.
PowerToys are available as a Windows application at this address.
SpaceSniffer: superfluous files better watch out
This is a problem that awaits all users at the turn, including the best 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 superfluous files yourself.
But this approach is both painful and time-consuming. And in some cases, it is even very difficult to trace the largest files. For all these reasons, many developers have designed utilities to free up space. But very few are as intuitive and capable as our personal favourite, SpaceSniffer.
Like everything above, this software is dauntingly simple. Just launch it and choose the disk or disks to analyze. From there, the machine will have to be given 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 it in a very intelligent way. At a glance, we can therefore immediately identify the problematic elements.
All that remains is to navigate through this rather old-fashioned, but extremely functional and intuitive interface to get rid of the elements that pollute 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’s 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 deciding whether a program, an archive or a file poses a security risk.
When in doubt, the most advanced users can resort to a virtual computer thanks to programs like VMWare or VirtualBox. This allows the suspicious file to be opened in a kind of digital quarantine where a possible malicious program would not risk compromising the computer.
But those who don’t want to bother setting up a virtual machine can also use virtualization using a little software called Sandboxie. This utility allows you to virtualize any process on the fly; in summary, 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 it is not the most intuitive, which is not ideal for absolute neophytes. But for all other users, it’s the kind of software that is very useful to have in your computer toolkit, for example when it comes to opening a dubious attachment.
Sandboxie is available here. Note that it is preferable to favor the installation of the “Classic” version for neophytes.
Recuva: the last bastion
Mistakenly deleting a photo with 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 habits to sing the praises of Piriform, but we must recognize that the editor of CCleaner has done a good job with Recuva, its data recovery software. On our side, it has already allowed us to exhume personal files that would otherwise have been lost forever following a too hasty emptying of the trash.
It is obviously very, very far from the most expensive solutions and specialized professional services. As much to say it right away: you should not expect to recover months of deleted files as if nothing had 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 more risky if the file was deleted from an SSD.
But you can hardly expect more from an easy-to-use software that has a free version, knowing that data recovery is big business. It is no coincidence that professional solutions are billed at staggering rates.
In the event 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 huge sigh of relief.
You can download Recuva from the CCleaner website.