There's nothing quite like unboxing a new PC or laptop. It's going to be fast, efficient and super-smooth. The world's your oyster: having chosen a computer that suits your needs, it's time to make it your own. You can customise it, tweak it and add as many functions as you wish – or you can simply strip it back to the bare minimum and focus on making it as lean and as fast as possible.
Whichever type of machine you decide you want to end up with, there are free programs that can help you achieve your goals. There are also hundreds of useful, highly focused utilities that can assist with under-the-hood settings and give you maximum control over your PC's appearance and behaviour.
Invaluable tools to keep your computer connected, protected and in touch with the world are also easy to come by. It's knowing where to look and which apps are worth having that's the hard part. Thankfully, for every piece of disappointing frippery, there's a far better and more capable alternative.
With the range of desktop, browser and multimedia extras we introduce you to over the following pages, there's no need to settle for anything less than the best system for you.
Windows is a pretty powerful operating system (OS), but it doesn't always do what you need. These utilities provide some of the missing functions.
Remove pasted-text formatting
Most of us have experienced the frustration of copying and pasting text from one document to another, only to have unwanted text formatting along for the ride. Better Paste strips formatting from text when you press Ctrl, V to paste. Pressing Ctrl, Shift, V retains the formatting.
Fix everyday frustrations
It's not always the big things going wrong that causes the most aggravation. If your Recycle Bin goes Awol or you can no longer preview images as thumbnails, you're just as likely to want a fix. [[xref:http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/downloads/index.cfm?itemid=82272&categoryid=1506|FixWin|FixWin] is an easy-to-use utility that offers fixes for common annoyances related to Windows Explorer, the internet, Windows Media Player and other system tools.
Windows Update keeps your OS up to date, but third-party programs aren't necessarily kept current in such a routine manner. [[xref:http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/downloads/index.cfm?itemid=83307&categoryid=1494|Ketarin|Ketarin] scans your installed programs and then checks for and downloads any updates to make sure you're running the latest versions.
Take Linux apps with you
You don't have to install an entirely new OS to experiment with Linux. Simply install Portable Ubuntu Remix to run Linux applications seamlessly on your Windows machine.
Turbo-charge file transfers
If you get impatient while waiting for Windows to copy large files from one folder to another, try Teracopy. This handy utility copies files significantly faster than Explorer can, and lets you pause and resume transfers, too.