29 April 2007

#18. Small, Powerful, and Free

This week the Jonathan’s Tool Bar & Grill menu is all tapas – a collection of tasty appetizer-size morsels instead of a heavy meal. Here are a few great utilities that solve some little problems, and that I appreciate more every time I use them.


I’m sitting at my desk with Shania Twain blaring from my computer when the phone rings. Must I fumble for the elusive Windows volume icon in the system tray, click it, then drag a slider to lower the volume before answering the call? Not anymore.

A brilliantly simple little utility, VoluMouse, puts a volume slider under the mouse wheel in the task bar. Just hover the mouse anywhere over the Windows task bar and roll the wheel to boost or reduce the volume. Shania’s whine drops immediately to a whisper, and I can take the call.

You can download VoluMouse and many other handy utilities at http://www.nirsoft.net/. If you like any of them, I encourage you to send some money to the author, Nir Sofer.


Where the @#$% is that file I was working on at the end of last week? What did I call it?

Documeron remembers its name and where to find it. This program keeps track of all the files you open. Hover over its system tray icon, and a list of recent files pops up. Click one and it opens in its native application. Right-click to perform file operations (open, delete, copy, move, print, etc.).

Click the Documeron icon to open the full window, where you can filter the file list by date or file type and perform file operations.

Documeron is free from http://documeron.mutexdevelopments.com/.

A similar utility, ActualDoc, offers more functions, such as search, a viewer pane, bookmarking, and basic editing. However, the interface is rather complicated, and my preferences for file locations and types did not persist to the next session. The Standard version is free but limited, so I recommend a free trial of the Professional version (€19.95) at http://www.flexigensoft.com/.


When I’m on a typing roll, my fingers really fly – and there’s no telling where they’ll land. But Web sites and some applications don’t check your spelling. That’s when the free TinySpell comes in handy. TinySpell sits in the system tray, waiting to pounce on your every little mistake. When it detects a typo, the tray icon turns color and beeps. Click the icon for a list of correctly spelled words and pick the right one, and TinySpell replaces it on screen. (The dictionary contains over 110,000 words in American English.)

I use TinySpell less these days, since my favorite browser, Firefox 2, incorporated spell-checking of its own. TinySpell has some drawbacks for fast, bad typists like me: I’m often well past the misspelled word by the time the beep sounds – too late to pick a correction – and anyway the incessant beeps become annoying. (You can turn it off, but then you’ll miss errors.)

TinySpell+, the $7 upgrade, is much better. You can go back and fix the last error, even if you have typed some words since then. It can also flag capitalization problems, ignore Internet addresses, and more.

TinySpell is a gem for sloppy typists, especially those who don’t use Firefox. TinySpell is available from http://tinyspell.m6.net/.

New Versions of Old Favorites

Just in time for Mothers’ Day, upgrades of some great programs have recently appeared, all featuring Vista support:

  • WinPatrol – I reviewed this great security application in #11 (February 10), and now it’s even better. http://www.winpatrol.com/.
  • SecureZip – PKware, the original publishers of PKZip, have just started offering this file encryption utility for free. I have not reviewed it yet, but it has received favorable mentions elsewhere. http://www.securezip.com/.
  • IrfanView – This is probably the best-known free image viewer and editor, and for good reason… and new version 4 brings more improvements. http://www.irfanview.com/.
  • TraxTime – My favorite punch clock application, which I have been using for many years, recently moved up to version 5. I plan a thorough review in the near future. It’s shareware from http://www.traxtime.com/.

Thanks for dropping in to the Tool Bar & Grill. Feel free to share your thoughts by clicking “comments” below or dropping me a line to jonathanstoolbar@gmail.com. And be sure to stop by again next week!

No comments:

Post a Comment