PLEASE SEE THE EDIT AFTER THE INTRODUCTION.
This is a thread to showcase some of the best freeware utilities and addons around the net.
First thing is first, what is a Utility?
Ok. That's tough. I would say that a utility is anything that effects how your OS runs, effects how hardware runs, gives information about aspects of your system, or aids in dealing with files.
So... we have Firefox. Helps you browse the web, but it's not a utility. On the other hand, we have Adaware, which scans your hard disk for spywear. This is a utility. OK, I know its hard to tell, so if you have a hunch, post it and I'll look at it.
Anyway, post if you have one to add to the list. Any OS will do. Include the name of the program, the site to get it from, the Operating system(s) it runs on, and a short description of it.
Remember that it must be free software. I don't care if you can get it for free or have a keygen link or something. NO! BAD! Its not that I don't think that some of this stuff is good, or that the programs cost to much anyway, its just that I think that the free stuff is often a better slap in the face to them. So no photoshop links or anything like that. And no requests for someone to PM them to them either.
I HAVE FINALLY OFFSITED THIS LIST. IT IS NOW WRITTEN IN HTML AND MUCH EASIER TO READ. THIS LIST WILL NO LONGER BE MAINTAINED. YOU MAY CONTINUE TO SUBMIT YOUR RECOMENDATIONS TO THIS THREAD, AND THEY WILL SHOW UP ON THE FREEWARE PAGE IN THE FUTURE.
Take away the pain...
Shells (ONLY MESS WITH SHELLS IF YOU KNOW WHAT THEY ARE, KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING, AND ARE FEELING BRAVE)
Because, as AKofC said, we all know icons=ewww.
Serenade Beta 6 http://www.courtah.net/
This shell acts sort of like Fluxbox. Clicking with the mouse on the desktop brings up your menus. Has multiple desktop (VDM) support. Simple and extremely efficent. Theme support as well. Configuration is a rather advanced task, however.
A very customizeable shell. Just changing the theme seems to change how it works. Too many possibilities to make a decent description. Wildly popular, and worth looking into, especially if you like Winamp, as controls for that is often integrated into the desktop. Some themes have multiple desktop support.
Very promissing looking. This shell uses what they call 'GeoBars' to perform your basic windows tasks, which can be blened into the background to make a clean and efficent desktop. Plugins expand functionality a great deal. Multiple desktop possible with plugin. Nice thing that I notice about this one (haven't tried it yet) is that it can be made to look as much like windows (http://www.geoshell.com/index.php?op...8c6ea013ce5492) or as little like windows (http://www.geoshell.com/index.php?op...8c6ea013ce5492 ; http://www.geoshell.com/index.php?op...8c6ea013ce5492) as you want.
vista inspirat brico pack http://en.crystalxp.net/bricopack-vista-inspirat.php (thanks Hasu)
A new shell that will make your computer look and run like the next version of Windows to come out. For those who can't wait.
Because sometimes we are to chicken to mess with the shell, or we can't because we don't want to lose the functions of those little buttons on the front of the laptop)
UXThemeMultipatcher http://www.neowin.net/forum/index.php?showtopic=308905 XP ONLY!
We like our computers to be easy to use and efficent, but lets face it, we also know that asthetics are important (I.E. we like them to be purdy). There are several programs to do this, like Style XP or Windows Blinds. These programs, however, cost some cash, and take up memory when they run. We can add all those themes we see on the internet ourselves and use Windows built in theme changer to use them, but first we have to break the file protection put on themeing in Windows. That is what this program is for. Just run it, and start throwing themes into your theme folder to get a slick new look. WARNING: This program replaces a crucial Windows system file with a new, hacked, version. It is not guarenteed to work on some versions of XP (like 64 bit edition), and, in fact, it is not guarenteed to work at all. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK!
TaskSwitchXP Pro http://www.ntwind.com/taskswitchxp/
Replaces the little screen that comes up when you press alt-tab with a much nicer one that shows you what the application is doing, its full name, and adds options like 'Minimize to Tray'. Very nice program that uses little memory. A must have for any multitasker.
Virtual Dimension http://virt-dimension.sourceforge.net/
This is a virtual desktop manager for Windows. If you have never used Linux (the pager in KDE) or something else that uses virtual desktops, then give this a try. It can really not be explained how great a thing it is. What it does is give you multiple desktops, allowing you to do such things as have your explorer window open on one desktop, Firefox on another, Thunderbird on a third, and that report you should be writing on a fourth. Makes for less minimizing and maximizing. If you are one of those people who keep 20 or so windows open at the same time, then get this program now. If you are not... try it anyway. Takes from the pain of windows.
Are you man (or woman) enough to use a program called StrokeIt on your computer? This is mouse gestures for windows. Mouse gestures are when you hold down a mouse button (usually right click) and move your mouse, drawing a line on the screen, and that action performing a preset action. For example, drawing a W on the screen opens the default web browser. In explorer, gesturing left and right are move forward and move back respectivly, up is copy, down is paste, you get the idea. In a graphical enviornment, this is a great asset to increase speed and productivity.
Sidebars, and Widgets
Because we like the information to just be there.
Rainlender http://ipi.fi/~rainy/index.php?pn=projects&project=rainlendar (Thanks to Enzeru)
This is a calender and schedualer widget program for your desktop. It syncs with several popular schedualing programs, and supports calls from programs. Supports windows transparencies and is skinable. Easy on the ram for what it is too.
Rainmeter http://ipi.fi/~rainy/index.php?pn=projects&project=rainmeter (Thanks to Enzeru)
This is another program from the great Rainy. This time its a system performance monitor that sits on your desktop. This will tell you info about your CPU load, network usage, etc. It is skinable, and supports windows transparencies. Able to accept calls from other software as well.
Spyderbar http://www.tgtsoft.com/prod_spyder.php (Thanks to Hasu)
This is a sidebar that sits on your desktop and displays various pieces of information, all in one bar. Possibilities include system performance, the weather, a search bar, a clock, your email, RSS reader, and a media player control point for starters.
Samurize http://www.samurize.com/modules/news/ (thanks shautieh)
A highly customizeable sidebar that can be skinned, placed in the tray, or even in the clock area. It has the ability to display computer performance stats, network stats, and various web extras. Small memory usage as well.
Because.... well, sometimes you have to look at your data.
One of the best file compression utilities available. This bad mofo can decompress just about anything on the net. Its own compression method boasts the best numbers around, and offers encriptions and password protection, as well as file splitting/joining to place on multiple media. This program has been going neck-n-neck with WinRAR for a while now, and as much as people worship WinRAR, you can bet that this free program is worth looking into. Great program! Get it!
Wildcard File Renamer http://www.oma-penny.com/software.php
Extremely small and extremely simple software to rename files en-mass. Good if you like all your manga (this is manga site after all) to follow the same file name convention. Easily change Bleach_v01_c02_p01.png~Bleach_v01_c02_p19.png to Bleach_v01c02p01.png~Bleach_v01c02p19.png with only a few clicks. No more F2, type, enter, arrow, F2, type, enter.....
Ant Renamer http://www.antp.be/software/renamer (thanks to shautieh)
An open souce mass file renamer. Has many featurs, including enumeration, extention changes, and even names based of ID3 tags or taken from a text file! Very full featured, and with a logicly designed interface.
Folder Size http://www.rotebetasoftware.com/FolderSize.html
This program lets you scan a hard drive, or subdirectory of your hard drive and deturmine what subdirectory takes up what amount of space in the form of easy to read bar graphs. Good to tell where all you Hard Drive space went.
Eraser http://www.heidi.ie/eraser/ (thanks to Martyr3810 for the inspiration to go looking)
This is a handy-dandy little tool that will delete your files for you... and make them impossible to recover in the process. Takes longer than standard delete, but if you don't want someone to dig up that datasheet with your taxes on it that you deleted last week, then it may be worth it to you (that is all the deeper I am going to go with the implications). Has the ability to do a 1 pass, 3 pass, 7 pass, or 35 (O_O) pass over the data to make sure that no one will ever know it was there. GNU GPL and open source.
You ever notice that when you go to print something, there is that little checkbox called 'Print to File'? You ever used it and found that you really can't do anything with the file? Yeah... well, that is an old trick for use with the command line, but with USB and Network printers, it has become a pain to do. This little gem gives you that ability back, and through explorer this time. With this, you can send them raw data printer files to your printer again, just like in the old days.
So you have all of these MP3 files on your HD, and they all have the Artist Name, Track Title, Track #, Album Name, etc. Suddenly you run across one that doesn't. OH NOOOOES! Well, this solves that problem. You can enter the tag information yourself. "But my Player does that" you say. Well, does it do Vorbis and Flac? This one can. It also has FreeDB lookup (fuck those backstabing bastards at Gracenote), amazon cover importing, and support for ISO characters and Unicode.
Scanning and Protection
Because we want to get that crap off our HDs and keep it off!!!
AVG Free http://free.grisoft.com/
A complete full featured Anti-Virus scanner with schedualed updates, schedualed scans, shell integration, an e-mail scanner, and many other features. No reason to buy a anti-virus scanner with this thing around and available. Very un-intrusive as well.
Adaware Personal http://www.lavasoftusa.com/software/adaware/
One of the leading spyware scanners. It has somethings disabled, like active watching and schedualed updates and scanning unless you buy it, but it is very good at what it does.
A second wildly popular spyware scanner that is comparible to Adaware, and often rated higher. Basicly, if one scanner doesn't do the job, the other will.
A firewall program that is pretty intuitive. It asks for permission for everyprogram that wants to access the internet, so you can deny them if you wan't to, isolating spyware from sending back info (or any other program for that matter). Straightforward and lots of configuration options.
Zone Alarm http://www.zonelabs.com/ (go to download and click on the ZoneAlarm tab)
A very impressive firewall that is easy to setup, allows individual program access to the internet, network setup, and instant internet and network shutdown. Uses zones to decide access rights to your computer. Between this and AVG, your more or less covered when you surf the internet.
Because we want our memory back!
Process Explorer http://www.sysinternals.com/Utilitie...sExplorer.html
Task Manager on angle dust. This thing will tell you all the running processes, show you the memory they are taking up, the memory that they COULD take up, you memory and processor load, and the full names behind the running processes, not just the file name. It also has the ability to end processes, and it does this much better than task manager. No Not Responding crap. Bam! Your DONE! Can also end handlers within running processes. A must have.
Startup Control Pannel http://www.mlin.net/StartupCPL.shtml
The easiest way to control what runs on system startup. This program is a bit dated, so it doesn't catch everything that starts anymore. Despite that, it still rocks.
Because we want to know what is going on in there?
Everest Home Edition http://www.majorgeeks.com/download4181.html
NOOOOOOOOOO! The greatest diagnostics program I have ever seen has been discontinued and replaced by their pay product! WHY?! HOW CAN THEY DO THIS TO US?! Well, for now you can still get it from the link above. *sobs softly in the corner*
Because we can.
Really Slick ScreenSavers http://www.reallyslick.com/downloads.html (Thanks to Hasu again)
Really good looking OpenGL screensavers. Will take up a lot of system resources to run... but their purdy. For those who like to see someone waiting for them at their desk in a hypnotic trance.
Sooo many come with default installs, but we can put favorites up.
Enhancing the already user friendly.
I can't think of any Linux favorites off the top of my head, as I use a bunch and don't really realize it. I never used OSX (seen it a few times), so I don't know any for them. Post some for these two PLEASE!
Post your favorites, and they will most likely be added to the list.