2011 is gone, and this means it’s time to turn that old bucket of bolts near your desk into a new, pleasant computer. But how do you do this without installing new hardware and spending a ton of money? That’s easy! Install some new, juicy applications that give your computer a change of pace. I now present you with the 10 juiciest applications for Windows 7 you probably never knew about.
1. Logon Screen Changer
Sure, you can change your logon screen manually, but what if you’re not a computer whiz and you’re afraid to edit your registry? There are tons of problems that could occur because of this, and the Tweaks.com team knows that you’re not always in the mood to look through your computer’s guts to change something on it. All you have to do is download the application here, run it, and click the “Change Logon Screen” button. You don’t even have to break a sweat!
2. CSMenu – Go “Retro” With Your Start Menu
Windows 7 includes a very versatile Start menu, but not everyone has a taste for the shiny and flashy Aero design on it. That’s why CSMenu’s developers came up with this nifty little application that reverts the W7 Start menu back to something you used to see in Windows 2000. The newer version of the application doesn’t need any dependencies and even allows you to make the Start menu translucent. You can download the application here.
3. GMail Notifications on Your Desktop
You can literally count the amount of Gmail notification applications for Windows on two hands, so why’s this one special? Well, it includes an interface that integrates taskbar features unique to Windows 7. When you right-click the application icon, it shows you the subject line of every unread message you have, a unique feature that helps you save time and wade through what’s not important when you’re busy. You can download Gmail Notifier Plus here.
4. NeoSmart Windows 7 Repair Disc Creator
Just bought a new computer and noticed it doesn’t have a recovery disc? Tons of PC retailers, aside from loading their PCs with really crappy cheap hardware (and software), are now making the Windows recovery disks a proprietary feature you have to buy. Instead of dishing out the cash, just create your own W7 recovery disk with NeoSmart. The company’s software lets you repair damaged files, use System Restore, and back up your system completely. Don’t let the fat cats in fancy suits take your money. Download the application here.
5. Winfox – Adding Taskbar Features to Firefox
When you right-click an icon on a task bar, you often get a list of things you can do with the application the icon belongs to. This is called a jump list. Mozilla seems to have forgotten to include such features in Firefox in recent versions, so Winfox comes to the rescue with a small program that modifies Firefox to do this. If you have Firefox 4 or above, you have nothing to worry about, but for those of you that chose to stick with older versions, you can download the application here.
6. Hulu Desktop Integration
For those of you that use Microsoft’s Windows Media Center and Hulu, someone had you in their mind. Hulu Desktop Integration allows you to switch between W7 Media Center and Hulu quickly, without having to go to your desktop. The application gives you a Hulu button in Media Center. Once you click it, Media Center closes, and Hulu comes up in full screen. Download the application here.
7. Stack Up Your Important Programs With StandaloneStack
Windows 7 has some very interesting features integrated in its taskbar, but it doesn’t integrate a stack of important applications like Windows XP did. StandaloneStack is your alternative to solve this issue. It integrates something like the quick start menu and lets you see all the icons in it with one single click. Download the application here.
8. Find Hidden Settings Easily With XdN Tweaker
Tired of looking through an overly complicated W7 control panel? XdN Tweaker solves this problem by including all those settings that are difficult to find in one simple package. Click here to download XdN Tweaker.
9. Make Alt+Tab Interesting
Are you tired of the oversimplified “Alt+Tab” window switching screen that has no new features? Developers at Ntwind Software came up with a free application that lets you get an elegant and complex interface for window switching, even showing you a preview of the widow you’re switching to. Once you install VistaSwitcher, you’ll feel like your OS has wings. And yes, as the name implies, it works both for Windows Vista and 7. Click here to download.
10. Get All Your Favorite Apps in One Interface
Are you planning on reinstalling Windows, or did you just get a new computer without any applications? Skip all the boring app installations you do whenever you’re breaking in a new OS and install all those applications using a custom installer by Ninite. The program works with almost every version of Windows up to W7. Click here to give it a shot!
When I first heard about some of these programs, I’ve been wondering where they’ve been all my life. Every one of these tools does something wonderful to your computer and turns it into something that interacts with you in a way you probably didn’t think possible. All of them are free, meaning that brave developers took the plunge and dedicated their time to something they’ll never profit from.
If a project has a “Donate” button, and you feel like you’ve got the pockets for it, go ahead and give the project the recognition it deserves. Our contributions inspire new ideas and innovation in open application development that allow people like these to begin projects which benefit more people.
I certainly hope you enjoy these applications and benefit from at least one of them. Make sure that you leave a comment below. We’d love to hear what you have to say about the programs and your experience trying them.