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These tools provide a ton of value for the money (free)!

— For Apple macOS (aka Mac OS X) —

Audio and Visual Tools

  • HandBrake – converts video from nearly any format to a selection of modern, widely supported codecs. Can also rip DVDs.

Network Tools

  • NetSpot – discovers nearby Wi-Fi hotspots and for each, shows SSID, channel, band, encryption, and signal strength.
    • inSSIDer for Mac Beta – Alternative for those who prefer the inSSIDer interface with its nice graphical chart and don’t mind the beta status.

Battery and Temperature Management Tools

  • coconutBattery – shows info about the battery in your Mac and connected iOS device (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch).
  • gfxCardStatus – restrict MacBook to using the built-in graphics card, instead of the discrete (power-hungry) graphics card, to save battery power.
  • HWSensors (aka HWMonitor) – displays info from hardware sensors, including CPU temperature sensors.
  • Macs Fan Control – allows you to manually control the CPU fan (or set back to automatic)

— For Microsoft Windows —

Disk Management Tools

  • ImgBurn – Solid, lightweight burning program to read (to image) and write to CD, DVD, HD DVD, and Blu-ray discs. Interface is not very intuitive but there are a lot of online tutorials. (I no longer recommend the unreliable CDBurnerXP because it started trashing 75% of my blank DVDs and claiming they were bad.)
  • EaseUS Partition Master Free – re-size partitions without destroying data.
  • Macrium Reflect Free – supports live disk (or “on the fly”) cloning and includes a boot repair tool. Supports cloning to SSD drives.
  • Rufus – creates bootable USB flash drive for Windows and Linux.

File Management Tools

  • CCleaner – Multi-function tool: clean files (delete temp files, duplicated files, cookies, browsing history, and other unnecessary files), clean registry (delete orphaned, unused entries), analyze drive space usage, and secure wipe hard drive (has free space only wipe option). Some alternatives are:
    • EasyCleaner – File and registry cleaning: better than CCleaner with file cleaning but not as good with registry cleaning.
    • WinDirStat – Drive space usage: shows how much space on your hard drive is used by each directory.
    • WinEraser – Secure erase: securely remove data from your hard drive by overwriting it several times.
  • Unlocker – An explorer extension that lets you unlock files so you can move or delete them when Windows can’t.
  • Pandora Recovery – find and recover deleted files. You need to install this before you need it.

Audio and Visual Tools

  • VLC Media Player – plays most multimedia files as well as DVDs, Audio CDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols.
  • Audacity – easy-to-use, multi-track audio editor and recorder.
  • Audiograbber – Digitally rip audio tracks from a music CD and mic/line inputs.
  • Combined Community Codec Pack (CCCP) – All the audio and video codecs that your Windows PC could need to play anything.
  • CCCP Insurgent – Show which codecs (video and audio) are required to play a movie file. Some alternatives are:
    • Gspot – Alternative to CCCP Insurgent.
    • MediaInfo – Alternative to CCCP Insurgent.
    • GraphEdit – Part of Microsoft DirectShow SDK and is a visual tool for building and testing filter graphs for DirectShow.
  • MP3Gain – analyzes and adjusts gain on MP3 files directly (without decoding and re-encoding) so that they have the same volume.
  • MPTrim – remove silence or unwanted parts from MP3 files directly (without decoding and re-encoding).

Network Tools

  • inSSIDer Home ( is the last free version) – discovers every 802.11a/b/g/n wireless hotspot’s MAC address, encryption, signal strength and channel.
  • Spiceworks – Scans your local network and catalogs all connected machines.
  • PuTTY – a Telnet/SSH Client with xterm terminal emulator, including command line tools like SCP.
  • Wireshark (Previously known as Ethereal) – Network protocol analyzer and packet sniffer.

File Viewer Tools

  • Calibre – Read and convert all the major e-book formats (including EPUB, MOBI, and PDF).
  • GNU Emacs – extensible, customizable text editor and more.
  • PDF995 – Creates PDF files by simply printing.
  • Ghostscript – Interpreter and viewer for PostScript language.

Battery and Temperature Management Tools

  • HWMonitor – Monitors voltages, temperatures and fans speed for CPU, system, graphics card, and S.M.A.R.T. hard drives.
    • Core Temp – Monitors only processor temperature (down to individual cores) and cpu power usage. More accurate CPU temperature readings than HWMonitor.
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