The Best Software You're Not Using

For Your PC

Delete Data For Good


Before you donate your old computer to charity or put it up on EBay, you should be absolutely sure that no personal or confidential data remains on the hard drive. Merely dragging your tax spreadsheet over to the Recycle Bin won't do the trick. After you've deleted all your files, you've got to wipe the free space on the drive and then rewipe it to the point where nothing is recoverable. Jetico's BCWipe 3 is one of the most effective data-mangling tools available. You can wipe your free space on demand or even set up wipe operations to launch automatically at regular intervals. $40 (free trial)

Banish Start-Up Junk

You call the shots: Use Startup Organizer to specify which applications you want to launch automatically at start-up.
You call the shots: Use Startup Organizer to specify which applications you want to launch automatically at start-up.
Tired of all those programs that pop up uninvited during start-up? Here's one way to deal with the slew of system tray items and other memory-resident applications you don't want: Startup Organizer by MetaProducts makes mincemeat out of such junk by letting you select the programs you want to load at start-up. Startup Organizer also scans your Registry for potential Trojan horses and other nasty stuff. See "50 Fixes for the Biggest PC Annoyances" for tips on how to prevent programs from smothering your desktop. $25 (free trial)

Invisible Files

You can password-protect and even encrypt data, but once a hacker knows a certain desired document is there, he or she will often stop at nothing to bust it open. If you have a reason to be paranoid, Invisible Secrets 4 by NeoByte Solutions is your gateway to the world of steganography--technology that lets you hide and encrypt smaller files inside larger ones. The result: Except for you, no one knows your secret file exists--and it's protected by a password to boot. Invisible Secrets also includes other security features, such as a hard-drive shredder and a tool to let you password-protect any program on your PC. $40 (free trial)

View Multiple Web Sites

It's a one-trick pony, but for heavy-duty surfers who open the same dozen pages multiple times daily, Grouppk's 1Tabview can be a great time-saver. As a plug-in for Internet Explorer, 1Tabview lets you define sets of Web pages that, with one click, will all open at once within the 1Tabview window. You move around the pages via tabs at the bottom of the window. This makes checking news a breeze instead of the chore that hunting through IE's Favorites can be. $10 (free trial)

Super Searches

Speicalize your searches with Copernic Agent Professional by selecting a category from your custom list.
Speicalize your searches with Copernic Agent Professional by selecting a category from your custom list.
Why use a stand-alone search program instead of Google, the reliable? Because Copernic Agent Professional 6.1 lets you automate frequent searches, save and archive results, and summarize pages to get the bare essentials. Copernic sends simultaneous requests to dozens of search sites--not including Google--and compiles the results in a sort of meta-ranking. (The company says that it had to temporarily disable its Google searches because of technical issues.) Copernic also lets you run specialized searches for e-mail addresses, book reviews, audio and video files, and more. Copernic's biggest drawback is its price: $80 for a search engine that doesn't even hit Google as part of its repertoire. But its advanced features make this application worth the cost for search fanatics. $80 (free light version)

Electronic Snapshots

While the Print Screen button on your keyboard may not get much mileage, HyperSnap-DX 5 by Hyperionics greatly enhances this feature. HyperSnap-DX runs in the background; when you see something on screen you want to grab, click the Capture button and the program takes a snapshot of any Windows program, including screens from DirectX. It can also grab more than what you see on screen, such as long Web pages. Once you've pulled the image into HyperSnap-DX, you have some basic image editing tools at your disposal. $35 (free trial)

Find, Replace, Replace

Imagine the headaches for company staff when WorldCom changed its name back to MCI and needed to redo thousands of Web pages, simply to have one word changed to another. DivlocSoft's Actual Search & Replace makes it easy to do bulk operations like this across multiple files. You can search documents for one word or several, and once you find the files you want, you can easily replace, insert, or delete text. The catch: The tool works only on HTML and text files. $30 (free trial)

Macro Creator

Say you want your server to reboot nightly, when no one's around to push the button. Or you want to automatically zip a file when you give it a certain name. Unisyn Software's AutoMate 5 makes manual chores a thing of the past. At $499, the program is pricey, but it's a lifesaver when you have to update thousands of files with the same code. AutoMate requires some trial and error before you can get it to work perfectly, though. $499 (free trial)

It's Fontastic!

You may have the Mangal font installed on your PC, but you probably have no idea what it looks like. Microsoft Office can display a font (in Word, say, click Format, Font), but it's far from perfect. Font Xplorer by Moon Software gives you a large, crisp, and easy-to-navigate listing of installed fonts. It helps you find duplicates and repair broken ones. $20 (free version)

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