Scrub Software, Snap Links Open, Kill Germs

Like people, PCs can get the winter blahs, working hard on those long, dark evenings. Their drives fatten with unnecessary data, while we users get tired of repetitive clicking. Give everybody a minivacation with these three freebies: a utility to jettison unnecessary files, a Firefox add-on that should cut back on clicks, and, just for kicks, a colorful game demo.

Tone Up Software

Over time, programs balloon with unnecessary junk. CCleaner gives apps the once-over and tells you what excess material it can shed.

Unlike many cleaning programs, Pirisoft's CCleaner doesn't stop at the obvious (browser caches, temporary files, the Recycle Bin); it also scrubs out temporary files from a long list of programs by Adobe, Microsoft, Mozilla, Nero, Norton, and other companies. You can exclude folders from the cleaning, and you can tag others outside the default profile for emptying. The sheer volume of expendable files might surprise you.

This freebie has a few useful extras, too, such as an uninstaller and a Registry scanner. It's like spring cleaning-regardless of the actual season.

Search Results: Snap to It!

Everybody wants lots of search results, but clicking each one gets dull fast. If you're using Firefox, you can deal with those results all at once with the free Snap Links extension, which lets you draw a box around a group of links and either open or save them. It's as simple as a right-click-and-drag: In my tests with various search engines and PCWorld.com search re­-sults, it worked swimmingly.

By default, Snap Links opens all your chosen links in new tabs in the original window. But author Pedro Fonseca makes sure to give you choices. Holding down when you start drawing your magic box produces a menu of options. You can open the links in a new window (or several), bookmark them, or save the results to the Clipboard. Fight click tedium by making any of these the default for handling selected links.

Fight Disease the Fun Way

Flu shots. Hand sanitizer. Nasty zinc tablets. Health precautions are a drag. But with the game Nanotron, you can line up ranks of goofy-looking germs and shoot them down, arcade-style, to stop their merciless advance through Patient B-145A's liver.

In the free demo you can enjoy ten levels of play. Armed with a bat, you bounce a red ball off the invading germs, destroying some and mutating others into more useful forms. (The makers at Orbital Cows Entertainment describe the game play as a cross between arcade classics Breakout and Space Invaders.) In addition, different types of germs drop various power-ups and power-downs-an extra ball, a germ-damaging nano-pill, a bat-shortening pill, and so forth-to keep things lively.

When you win the demo, your name goes on the scoreboard, just as it does in the arcade. To continue the fight for Patient B-145A, pay $20 for the full version to unlock the challenges of the next 50 levels. Dare your friends to top your high score-just make sure they use hand sanitizer before touching your keyboard.

Did you have an interesting experience with one of these programs? Is your favorite file missing from PC World's Downloads library? E-mail your comments toLaura Blackwell. Messages containing attached files will be deleted unread.

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