These are my current top free Windows 7 add-ons (they will all work with Windows XP and Windows Vista too).
allSnap is a small system tray app that makes all top level windows automatically align like they do in programs such as Winamp or Photoshop. Makes your windows feel slightly magnetic.
On 64-bit applications you have to run both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions but you can hide them from displaying in the notification area/system tray; apparently they are working on a version that will work with both 32- and 64-bit PCs.
There is no installer, just drag a shortcut to your Start > Programs > Startup folder.
Add the “Up” button back on Windows 7 Explorer. They’re bringing it back to Windows 8, I believe. Classic Shell has other features, but I just use the Up button, mostly.
Update: It’s worth pointing out that Classic Shell is dependent on Internet Explorer. I did a reset of IE9 and disabled all the add-ons and extensions, which resulted in the Up button disappearing from Windows Explorer. Thankfully there is documentation on the Classic Shell website to address this.
Advertised as “the tool Windows lacks”, Dexpot is a virtual desktop application enabling you to create up to 20 virtual desktops: one desktop might be for email, another for editing graphics, another for writing, etc.
So, rather than switching between multiple applications, just switch to the appropriate desktop. It supports Windows Gadgets and in multiple-monitor setups you can choose to create virtual desktops on any of your monitors (e.g. only switch monitor 1).
The effects (found under Plugins and Extras) are attractive offering sliding desktops or cube-like effects.
It would have been remiss of me to not include Dropbox. 2GB of free space, drop your files into a directory and they are accessible everywhere: on your laptop, on your mobile phone, via a Web browser. You can also share folders with other users or with the public.
And if you start inviting others to use it, Dropbox will give you 250MB more space for each new user who joins (up to a certain limit).
Organise your desktop icons into groups that you can label.
Microsoft Security Essentials
The anti-annoying, anti-expensive, anti-virus application. I now use it on my desktop and both laptops, replacing AVG Free and Symantec Norton AntiVirus 2011.
Mouse without borders
Move your mouse between computers attached to your network (e.g. desktop and laptop), drag-and-drop files from one PC to the next, copy and paste between machines, and share the keyboard too.
A really handy utility to print or save a list of files located in any folder. Right-click any folder in Windows Explorer and select “PrintFolder” in the popup menu.
Windows + V will paste your clipboard text as plain text — great for pasting from Word or webpages and stripping out formatting.
A customizable, hide-able application launcher. I have it hidden beneath my main toolbar and it contains my most-used application shortcuts — those that are not pinned to my main Windows 7 toolbar.
Like the Mac exposé feature, but on Windows. Shows you all the currently open windows.
Right-click a folder, select TreeSize and it will tell you how big that folder and all its sub-folders are. Great for checking to see if stuff will fit onto CD-R or USB drives.
Does magic with windows: reorganise windows to 33%, 50% or 66% (or define your own) with keyboard shortcuts. Windows 7 comes with the ability to quickly show two windows side-by-side, well this does it too and a whole lot more.
I’ve mapped my keyboard number pad to the monitor so that I can easily resize windows with just a few key presses.
What are your favourites?
What are your favourite, free Windows applications let me know in the comments, on Facebook or Twitter. I’ll post my favourites on this blog too.