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Freeware: Free Computer Software
DVD Player FreewareDaum Potplayer is, as of this writing, the best freeware DVD player, and the best player for many other video and audio files as well. Potplayer is written by the original programmer of KM Player. It has dozens of useful options, including capturing single or multiple still frames, video clips and audio clips, and for choosing which "filter" (decoder) you wish to use to display the video.
Media Player Classic looks like Windows Media Player 6.4, but has additional features, including a DVD player with real-time zoom and single still frame capture. It is very compact and places a relatively low load on your PC, and thus is particularly good for those whose PCs have had difficulty with other DVD playing software.
VLC media player is a freeware multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, mp3, ogg, ...) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. It can capture and save still frames from the video you are playing. Versions are available for Windows, MacOS, Linux, and other operating systems.
DVD Copying FreewareDVD Shrink freeware can extract, decrypt, and compress DVD files, and does it for free, but without documentation or tech support. Although DVDShrink has been under legal attack, at last check it could still be downloaded at AfterDawn.
DVD Decrypter freeware will extract the files from a DVD and decrypt them, but will not compress them to fit on one recordable disc the way DVD Shrink does. It also has some capabilities that DVD Shrink lacks. It has been reported that Macrovision purchased the rights to DVD Decrypter and changed the license to prevent anyone from acquiring it--thus it may now be very difficult to find. However, at last check Video Help still has pages with good links to places where you can download DVD Decrypter, as well as similar tools such as DVDFab Decrypter.
RipIt4Me freeware, used in conjunction with DVD Decrypter (and, if necessary, DVD Shrink), helps backup recently-released copy protected DVDs with new forms of encrypting (such as ARccOS and RipGuard DVD) which those older programs cannot handle by themselves. FixVTS is also said to be helpful with some difficult to backup DVDs.
RipIt4Me user guide - user guide 2
VobBlanker is a freeware editing tool that allows you to remove unwanted VTS video titles, warnings, etc. from the DVD files you backup on your hard drive before you burn a copy disc.
ImgBurn is a freeware CD, DVD,HD-DVD, & Blu-Ray burner (recorder) that you can use to move your DVD backups from your hard drive to a recordable or rewritable disc if you do not have Nero, Roxio, or other commercial software to do so.
MPEG-4: H.264HandBrake "is an open-source, GPL-licensed, multiplatform, multithreaded DVD to MPEG-4 converter, available for MacOS X, Linux and Windows." HandBrake is freeware that uses the H.264 version of the MPEG-4 codec to compress video to much smaller file sizes than the standard DVD (MPEG-2) codec, while preserving quality.
Avidemux "is a free video editor designed for simple cutting, filtering and encoding tasks." Avidemux can do most of what Handbrake does, and can also do more, but has a steeper learning curve.
Audio FreewareAudacity is a capable, free sound sample editor.
SoundForum Synth is a freeware physical modeling music synthesizer. This stand alone instrument has polyphony and can learn your Midi Controllers.
Photo Editing FreewareIrfanview is a very good free picture viewer and editor.
Similar to Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro, Paint.net "is free image and photo editing software for computers that run Windows. It features an intuitive and innovative user interface with support for layers, unlimited undo, special effects, and a wide variety of useful and powerful tools. An active and growing online community provides friendly help, tutorials, and plugins."
Also similar to Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro, (but unlike Paint.net, available for Linux and Mac OS as well as Windows), The GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) "is a freely distributed piece of software for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. It works on many operating systems, in many languages."
Google Picasa "is software that helps you instantly find, edit and share all the pictures on your PC. Every time you open Picasa, it automatically locates all your pictures (even ones you forgot you had) and sorts them into visual albums organized by date with folder names you will recognize." Picasa also does simple photo editing chores.
3D Modeling, 3D Rendering, and 3D Animation FreewareBlender "is the free open source 3D content creation suite, available for all major operating systems under the GNU General Public License."
3D Globe and Map Display FreewareGoogle Earth is a free program (which has upgraded versions you must pay for) which acts as a 3-D virtual globe for your PC, using Landsat and other satellite imagery, Shuttle Radar Topography Mission data, aerial ortho photos & maps.
Google Earth allows the viewing of closeup images of many world cities and also displays current TeleAtlas maps of the US and Europe.
Geographic Information Service Software - GIS Freeware can be found at the Map Search, News and Links page.
Web Browsers and other Internet FreewareFirefox from Mozilla has many interesting capabilities, including numerous nice add-ons like the FireFTP file transfer client which runs inside the browser.
The Opera WWW browser is fast, has many convenient features, and is more compatible with sites designed for Internet Explorer than Firefox.
Google Chrome is a very fast WWW browser.
Microsoft Internet Explorer comes with the Windows OS.
Free Download Manager (FDM) manages your Internet downloads, and a fine example of how good freeware can be.
ZoneAlarm offers the # 1 free firewall to protect your PC from Internet intruders, as well as "Pro" solutions including ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite, ZoneAlarm Pro, ZoneAlarm AntiVirus and ZoneAlarm Anti-Spyware.
AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition from Grisoft provides non-commercial users with continuously updated computer virus protection, similar to McAfee and Norton, absolutely free. Similar free protection is offered by AVAST Home Edition, free for non-commercial home use only.
Spybot Search and Destroy will locate spyware on your PC and help you get rid of it.
Ad-Aware will find adware on your PC and help you get rid of it.
Offline Browsing-Website Harvesting FreewareHTTrack "is a free (GPL, libre/free software) and easy-to-use offline browser utility. It allows you to download a World Wide Web site from the Internet to a local directory, building recursively all directories, getting HTML, images, and other files from the server to your computer. HTTrack arranges the original site's relative link-structure. Simply open a page of the "mirrored" website in your browser, and you can browse the site from link to link, as if you were viewing it online. HTTrack can also update an existing mirrored site, and resume interrupted downloads. HTTrack is fully configurable, and has an integrated help system."
Popular Space and Astronomy Freeware:Orbiter is a freeware Space Shuttle (and other spacecraft) flight simulator. Launch the Shuttle to deploy a satellite or rendezvous with the ISS. "The emphasis is firmly on realism, and the learning curve can be steep." Free plugins allow Orbiter to simulate Mercury & Gemini missions & more. Orbiter is totally free, though author Martin Schweiger will accept donations. screenshots
Celestia 3-D sim
Virtual Moon Atlas
Alpha Centaure planetarium
Web Development FreewareAceHTML Freeware is an excellent free HTML editor. The maker, Visicom Media, has twice withdrawn support from the free version, to encourage users to purchase the pay version, but the free version has again reappeared.
You might also consider HTML-Kit ("previous version"). In fact, like all good freeware, you should download and try both before somebody takes them away.
AceFTP 3 Free is an excellent free FTP client for uploading your web pages ("adware"-- it does display one small ad). Core FTP is also clean, neat, totally-free FTP client software that promises "no popup ads, advertising or spyware and you're never asked or reminded to register."
.pdf FreewarePdf995, PdfEdit995, & Signature995 are freeware (adware, you can pay $9.95 for each program to run it without ads) .pdf file creation, conversion, and editing software.
Also try PDF Creator, a free tool to create PDFs easily from nearly any application.
Online Office ApplicationsThinkFree (which has a more polished look to its website) and Zoho offer free online office applications, with a free "powerpoint" type presentation application.
"With PrinterShare [freeware] you can print documents and photos on other people's printers as easily as on the local one connected to your machine..." OR "you can share your printer in less than a minute and let other people connected to the Internet (your friends, relative and colleagues) print paper documents on it."
System Utility FreewareGrisoft AVG Free "is the most popular free solution available at no cost to home users and provides the high level of detection capability that millions of users around the world trust to protect their computers." AVG Free computer antivirus is usually the most popular file downloaded at CNET's download.com.
Eusing Free Registry Cleaner "is a free registry repair software that allows you to safely clean and repair registry problems with a few simple mouse clicks. The Windows Registry is a crucial part of your PC's operation system... After fixing the invalid entries, your system will be more stable and run faster. For maximum safety, Eusing Free Registry Cleaner will make a backup of the repaired entries."
CCleaner does a better job of removing unnecessary junk from your hard drive (temp files, cookies, etc.) than the software built in to Windows operating systems. It also includes a registry cleaner, but Eusing's free registry cleaner (above) finds some things that CCleaner does not.
Folder Size freeware "adds a new column to the Windows Explorer details view that displays the sizes of files and folders. A service scans your hard disk in the background and caches the results." Windows Explorer, and other utilities, usually only display file sizes, not folder sizes, forcing you to click on "Properties" to find out the folder size, which can be time-consuming.
Advanced Renamer is a fine freeware program for renaming multiple files or folders at once (batch processing). It can use several different methods for calculating the new name including multimedia tools for sound and picture files. ARen is excellent for arranging personal photos and music before burning them to cd-rom or MP3 player, or for any use where you want to put all of the files in a directory into an artifical (user-selected) alphabetical order.
RMClock is a free utility which, among other things, allows you to "undervolt" your notebook PC's CPU, which can substantially extend battery life, as well as keeping your PC cooler. RM Clock will also display your current CPU speed and load in your taskbar. RMClock is from CPU.RightMark, an independent open-source project which offers other free utility software including RMMA, CPU RM, RM Gotcha, and RAM Tester.
SpeedFan, for most makes and models of PC, "can change your computer's fan speeds, read the temperatures of your motherboard and your hard disk, read voltages and fan speeds and check the status of your hard disk using S.M.A.R.T. or SCSI attributes."
I8kfanGUI, for Dell notebook PCs, "is a graphical Windows application to show the internal temperatures and to control the fan operation on the Dell Inspiron/Latitude/Precision notebook series. It's running under Windows 2000 and above operating system versions (Windows 2000/XP/Server2003/Vista)." Dell notebook PC fans tend to start running only when the CPU has become very hot, and are then shut off until it becomes very hot again. I8kfanGUI allows the user to select the temperature at which the fan will begin to run, and more, and will display your current CPU temperature in your taskbar.
Sysinternals Process Explorer is similar to Windows Task Manager (which you access by pressing CTRL-ALT-DEL), but with more capabilities, including explanations of what programs (and from what companies) are running the processes displayed.
Sysinternals Process Monitor (for newer operating systems) "is an advanced monitoring tool for Windows that shows real-time file system, Registry and process/thread activity."
If you are having problems with a hard drive, you can check it out (regardless of manufacturer) using Seagate Seatools, a free utility which is available in online (browser window) and offline (install on floppy disc or CD-ROM) versions.
Chess FreewarePawn and Mayura Chess Board are two of the best offline freeware chess games (user vs computer). For the Macintosh, try Sigma Chess Lite.
Simulator FreewareHMS Surprise Simulator is a free simulation of a three- and two-masted square-rigged sailing ship.
More FreewareFind more freeware at SourceForge.net, the world's largest Open Source software dev web site.
Find more freeware at Free(code), another Open Source software dev web site.