We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message

Five free downloads to improve Windows 7

Tweak the OS to suit you

There's no doubt Microsoft's latest operating system, Windows 7, is an improvement on its predecessor, Windows Vista. However, it may not totally suit your tastes or requirements. If that's the case, here's five free downloads to help you change the OS to suit you.

SMART Utility 2.0

Disabling unnecessary Windows 7 services can help improve your PCs boot time, free up system resources and make you more secure. But which services can you turn off? It's important to choose carefully, because disabling the wrong one can cripple your PC to the point where it won't even reboot.

The SMART (Service Management And RealEasy Tweaking) Utility for Windows 7 helps you make better decisions by providing more details on services, and four pre-selected service profiles that you can choose at the click of a button.

7plus 2.2.0

7plus is an amazing tool that can extend Windows with a host of useful extra features. (And despite the name, many features work with XP and Vista, as well as Windows 7.)

The program allows you to upload files, screengrabs and clipboard content to an FTP server, for instance, with a single keypress.

It enhances Explorer with an IE-like Favourites bar (on Vista or Windows 7), so you can return to commonly-used folders with a click.

WindowBlinds 7.2

If you're one of the many people who like to customise your desktop, you'll feel somewhat naked when you sit in front of this vanilla version of Windows, like when you first purchase or use a PC at work. To be fair, Windows 7 offers a fair better visual experience than previous editions.

Just about every element of the desktop can be configured, other than the usual components such as the wallpaper, fonts and size of your icons. WindowBlinds 7 goes much further than downloading a theme. It puts you in full control over your own customisation. On a basic level, you can just download a theme and install. There are hundreds of pre-designed themes which might suit your requirements. Alternatively, download a theme and customise this to your requirements. You can also create a theme from scratch if you know what you are doing.

Windows 7 Folder Background Changer 1.1

The Windows 7 Folder Background Changer is a simple tool that will quickly set a background image for the Explorer folder that you specify. (And don't be fooled by its name. The program works with both Vista and Windows 7.)

Windows 7 Little Tweaker 1.2

Windows 7 Little Tweaker is a tiny tool that gives easy access to some useful Windows 7 (32-bit only) settings. In a couple of clicks you may add "Copy To" or "Move To" options to the right-click menu for files and folders, for instance, simplifying file management tasks.

Another option allows Windows to automatically end processes that have locked up.

 

Five of the best program uninstallers

Make sure all traces of software are removed from your system

Removing unused programs from your hard drive bring several benefits. As well as clearing unnecessary entries from the Start menu to help make it easier to navigate, software removal also frees up hard drive space and can help to improve system performance. The uninstaller provided with Windows is functional, but it can also be very slow and is somewhat lacking in features. However, here's five free tools that build on the functions of Windows own uninstaller, ensuring a program can be completely removed from your system.

ZSoft Uninstaller 2.5

ZSoft Uninstaller is a powerful tool that makes it easier to completely uninstall applications, without leaving remnants scattered around your hard drive and Registry.

The program will initially present you with a full list of your installed software, just like the standard Windows applet.

IObit Uninstaller 1.1

IObit Uninstaller is a multi-talented uninstall tool that can completely remove applications from your hard drive, with none of the usual Registry clutter and junk files that are often left behind.

The cleanup process has two stages. First, you launch the unwanted application's uninstaller and let it do its work. And second, IObit Uninstaller's "Powerful Scan" option checks your Registry and hard drive for remnants that the program might have been left behind. These are then displayed for your approval, and you're able to delete anything the program has discovered in a click.

MyUninstaller 1.73

MyUninstaller is a simple, portable and lightweight alternative to the standard Windows "Uninstall a Program" Control Panel applet.

It provides much more information about the various programs you've installed, everything from their installation folder and source, to the author's web site (if available).

Revo Uninstaller Free 1.92

Revo Uninstaller provides a number of ways to track down and list programs you no longer need and a simple means of removing them. In standard mode, available programs are listed ready for removal, but a search facility is also available for those with lots of applications installed. In Hunter mode, program shortcuts can be simply dragged and dropped onto a target area to remove them, or by dragging the target onto an unwanted program's icons or titlebar.

Comodo Programs Manager 1.2

COMODO Programs Manager offers a number of useful installation tools in one package: it's designed to replace the Program and Features Control Panel, enabling you to manage programs, Windows components and updates from one screen; it's also capable of managing and removing hardware drivers too.

IDG UK Sites

Best Christmas 2014 UK tech deals, Boxing Day 2014 UK tech deals & January sales 2015 UK tech...

IDG UK Sites

Apple's 2014 highlights: the most significant Apple news of 2014

IDG UK Sites

2015 creative trends: 20 leading designers & artists reveal the biggest influences & changes coming)......

IDG UK Sites

Ultimate iOS 8 Tips: 35 awesome and advanced tips for using iOS 8 on iPhone and iPad