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Five Freeware Gems I Use Every Day

copernic2.jpgWhenever I migrate to a new PC (it happens more often than you might think), I immediately install the following five programs. I can't live without them, and neither should you.
  • Copernic Desktop Search I don't know why desktop-search utilities have all but vanished, but thank goodness Copernic is still around. It's essential for digging up files, e-mails, and the like with a minimum of effort. And as David recently reported, Copernic beats Google Desktop hands-down.
  • IrfanView Paint.NET is the go-to choice if you need Photoshop-level image editing, but for basic stuff like cropping and resizing photos and changing their file formats, you can't beat IrfanView (a fast, easy image editor I can't believe I haven't spotlighted before).
  • FolderShare Newly updated and better than ever, Microsoft's free Windows Live FolderShare makes it a snap to keep folders in sync across multiple PCs (like the one at work and the one at home).
  • Meebo One of my Top Web Services of 2007, Meebo offers Web-based instant messaging to just about any system: AIM, GTalk, Yahoo, whatever Microsoft is calling its IM service this week, and so on. And because it runs in your browser, there's nothing to install.
  • Launchy When I want to run, say, Excel, I hit Alt-Space, type "Exc," and hit Enter -- a process that takes me about two seconds. Contrast that with searching the desktop, Start menu, etc. for the Excel icon and you'll see why I love this launcher. Anything that keeps me from having to reach for the mouse is worth its weight in gold (even if it is just code).
What freeware favorites are on your "must" list? Hit the Comments and list 'em!
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