Five free Windows utilities you should download

These killer tools promise to make your computing life easier and more productive, and they won't cost you a cent.

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
2 min read

You know me: I love a good freebie. Today I've got five of them for you, all Windows utilities that solve specific problems and/or make life a little easier. Best of all, not one of them will sell out.

Nepotism alert: Some of the links below lead to related posts on my Business Hacks blog--a great (IMHO) source for tools like these as well as everyday tips and tricks for making your workday work better. If you love me like you say you do, you'll bookmark it and visit daily.

IObit's compact, portable Advanced Uninstaller makes easy work of removing unwanted programs. And it's free! IObit
1. Advanced Uninstaller  A perfect addition to any flash drive, this no-installation-required uninstaller does a fine job removing all traces of unwanted software. My favorite feature? Batch uninstall. Just tick the apps you want to ditch, and AU does the rest.

2. Dual Display Mouse Manager  Last year I finally pulled the trigger on a second monitor. Best. Purchase. Ever. My only complaint is that I frequently overshoot the "border" between monitors when I mouse to the edge of either one. Dual Display Mouse Manager senses my cursor's proximity to that transition point and automatically slows it down. It's a small convenience, but an essential one for anyone rocking two (or more) monitors.

3. Dexpot  No room in the budget for a second monitor? No problem: Dexpot endows your single screen with two or more virtual desktops. This popular freebie's been around for a while, but the latest version adds a killer plug-in for Windows 7 users: SevenDex, which pops up thumbnail views of your desktops when you mouse over the Dexpot taskbar icon. Sounds like a minor amenity, but trust me: it's a huge perk.

4. Universal Viewer  One of those utilities that really should be built into Windows, Universal Viewer lets you view the contents of just about any file. That's great for those times when someone sends you a weirdo file attachment and you don't have the program needed to read it. And like the aforementioned Advanced Uninstaller, UV is portable (no installation required), so it runs nicely from a flash drive.

5. Wizmouse  Oh, Microsoft. After all these years, Windows still isn't smart enough to detect where my cursor is pointed and make the mouse wheel work there. Instead, it works only in the window that has "focus," meaning the currently selected window. That's ludicrous! Fortunately, there's WizMouse, which activates the scroll wheel in whatever window is under your cursor, plain and simple. I started using this about a year ago; I can no longer compute without it.

OK, that's my list. Any freebie utilities you'd care to recommend? Hit the comments and list your faves.