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The 20 best free Windows Vista downloads

Free Vista tweaking and customisation tools


The following half-dozen downloads don't fit neatly into any category, so we put them in our everything else-type classification. They're just what the doctor ordered if you want to handle attachments in Windows Vista Mail, capture Vista screens (including shadows), save battery life on a Vista laptop, and more.

15. Windows Help Program for Windows Vista

In Windows Vista, Microsoft introduced one often-overlooked change that has proved to be a significant annoyance for people who use older Windows programs: the new operating system won't read Help files saved in HLP format. So what do you do if you have a program that uses HLP files, or if you download informational files in HLP format from the internet? You use this program. Download it, and it will let you read HLP files from the unfriendly confines of a Vista OS. Not an earth-shaking download, certainly, but a highly practical one nevertheless.

Download Windows Help Program for Windows Vista

16. ISO Recorder

Here's one of those one-trick-pony downloads, that does its thing exceedingly well. ISO Recorder lets you burn ISO files to CD or DVD. An ISO file is single, large file that - when burned to a CD or DVD - contains many files, a file system and data, and that can be used to install an operating system. For example, Windows Vista betas were made available as ISO files; if you wanted to install the beta, you had to download the ISO file, burn it to DVD, and then boot from the DVD to install the unfinished version of Vista. In some instances ISO files can be used for other purposes, such as creating music or video, but ISO Recorder won't create images of audio or video CDs. The program can create ISO files as well as burn them. It integrates itself directly into Windows Explorer. Right-click an ISO file, and then follow the instructions to burn it to CD or DVD.

Download ISO Recorder

17. Windows Mail Attachment Extractor for Vista

If you use Vista's Windows Mail program, and you often need to save files attached to email messages, give this program a try. It simplifies the task of saving and managing email attachments. You can, among other things, have the program extract only pictures, and you can then save those pictures in a specific directory every time. Or you can have it automatically extract document files into a specific directory. The program will also create a report of what it's done for you. If you don't need to manage a large number of attachments, don't bother with Windows Mail Attachment Extractor for Vista. But if you field a lot of them and want to extract them from a single folder, this program will help.

Download Windows Mail Attachment Extractor for Vista

18. Window Clippings

For capturing screenshots in Vista, Windows Clippings is just the ticket. It's available in free and for-pay ($10 - about £5) versions, it's simple to use, it can save to an array of formats, and it includes a particularly important feature for capturing Vista screens - the ability to capture window shadows. To use it, press the Print Screen key, click the window you want to capture, and then double-click. You can instruct the program to prompt you each time to tell it where you want to save a file, or you can designate a specific folder to receive all screenshots. For basic screen captures, the free version works fine. But if you want to capture a mouse pointer, snag specific areas of your screen, or use a timer for taking screenshots, you'll have to pay.

Download Window Clippings

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