Tips & Tweaks: Tools to Boost Your Productivity

"I liked the roundup of sites you did a couple of weeks ago," my editor said. He was referring to the "End-of-Summer Grab Bag" column that he'd originally called a hodgepodge. There's even a PC World Forum on it.

"You mean the hodgepodge?" I replied, trying to aggravate him.

It went right over his head. "I dunno about that," he said, sounding confused, "but how about doing the same thing with some of your favorite tools?"

Easy enough. And if you have any to add, drop me a line.

Super-Duper Productivity Helpers

FinePrint: This cool little program shows me what I'm going to print--from any application--before it gets to my printer. I can delete superfluous Web pages before printing, add a digital watermark or page numbers, change the print order, and print several pages on a single sheet of paper. It's worth its $50 price tag. Don't believe me? Grab a free trial version from us and see for yourself.

As-U-Type: I find this tool essential. As-U-Type checks my spelling everywhere--in browser address fields, instant message chats, dialog boxes, e-mail messages--and automatically corrects my many mistakes. You'll need to lay out some money for this gem: exactly $40. You can download it from us.

UrlRun: This freebie checks the clipboard for a URL, repairs broken URLs by cleaning up spaces and line breaks, and launches the link in Internet Explorer. Download it from the developer.

Dig This: My wife and I get a kick out of catching movie bloopers. They're usually continuity errors; say, a scene where the level of wine in a glass changes from full to empty and back again. I found a site that's dedicated to just that, and I think you'll get a kick out of its mistake compilations.

Super-Smart File Copying

Total Copy: I've been using this freebie for years. With Total Copy you can copy or move numerous files faster than Windows can and even pause the action. And it doesn't stop cold if it can't copy a locked file. Total Copy appears when you click your right-mouse button while highlighting a bunch of files in Windows Explorer. Grab a copy from the Total Copy site.

Ycopy: This tool lets me copy all the folders from one drive to another. It's not elegant--but you can get it for free and it does the job.

FileBoss: I need to tell you right away that FileBoss costs $50. Despite the high price tag, FileBoss is ideal for folks who manipulate files more than a few times a week. The tool does just about anything I need to do to massage files. Besides the usual stuff, it tackles esoteric jobs such as converting spaces in file names to underscores and changing file extensions across multiple folders. Grab the trial version and use it for a couple of days to see what I mean.

Dig This: Someone at Microsoft let a pair of training videos get onto the Net. The two 20-minute videos star Ricky Gervais, the clueless boss from the UK's The Office TV series. The videos were on YouTube for a while, but were removed; for the time being, you can watch them on Google Video.

System Cleaners

CleanCache: In September's Tool of the Month portion of my Hassle-Free PC, "Ten Sure-Fire Fixes for a Problem PC," I said I used CleanCache to remove files from dozens of places, including the Internet cache and the Temp folder. I still like the program and continue to use it; you can download it from us for free.

CCleaner: A buddy, Carey Holzman (cohost of the Computer America show), tells me that CCleaner is better--and also a freebie. You can get CCleaner from us, too.

Disk Cleaner: A reader, Dan M. wrote to say he wasn't happy with CleanCache. Instead, he uses Disk Cleaner: "It does to do the same job, it's also freeware, and has all of the cleanup options that CleanCache has. The big BUT is that everything is shown on one screen, so you know exactly what is going to happen when you select Clean."

Dig This: Microsoft's been busy churning out the funny videos for a while now. Here's another one, about a new program called "Microsoft shares your pain." Not to be outdone, IBM has released three short videos on "The Art of the Sale."

Steve Bass writes PC World's monthly "Hassle-Free PC" column and is the author of PC Annoyances, 2nd Edition: How to Fix the Most Annoying Things About Your Personal Computer, available from O'Reilly. He also writes PC World's daily Tips & Tweaks blog. Sign up to have Steve's newsletter e-mailed to you each week. Comments or questions? Send Steve e-mail.

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