Tech

5 free power tools for Windows professionals






Need better performance? These 5 tools ensure more performance and productivity on your Windows computer.

No question about it, an operating system depends on its performance. Even the largest hard drive will eventually become too small if you only wait long enough, because garbage data is unfortunately just as unavoidable as dust in the case and in the long run affects computer performance. Apart from that, the concept of efficiency also plays an important role – when do I know, for example, when my wastebasket is full? And how can window layouts be adapted to create more order?

This is exactly what the following five freeware tools take up, with which you can make your Windows even faster, more user-friendly and clearer.

SoundSwitch: Switching sound devices with just one keyboard command

All available audio devices are listed in the Soundswitch settings.

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All available audio devices are listed in the Soundswitch settings.

© Soundswitch

Freeware number 1 is called SoundSwitch and does exactly that: It switches between sound devices using a hotkey. The background to this is that Windows is still having difficulties managing different sound devices. For example, if you want to switch from laptop speakers to Bluetooth headphones, several clicks are necessary, which can be extremely tedious with regular use (e.g. during video conferences).

With SoundSwitch, this point is a thing of the past once and for all. The program developed by Antoine Aflalo appears in the toolbar after installation and waits for you to press a defined keyboard shortcut. In this case, it switches between all available sound devices without having to switch to the sound menu first. SoundSwitch also supports a list of recording devices with their own hotkey and is constantly being updated and improved.

TreeSize: clearing out drives even easier

Treesize visualizes the storage space on your hard drive.

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Treesize visualizes the storage space on your hard drive.

© Treesize

Effective memory management is the be-all and end-all of good performance. Windows standard tools such as disk cleanup or defragmentation keep your hard drive largely clean and tidy. The disadvantage of these tools is: You don’t delete your own unwanted folders or files, but rather organize them more efficiently. In addition, there is no overview of how the individual files and directories are distributed on the hard drive. This becomes a problem if at some point your memory is full and you have to painstakingly find out where unnecessary programs, folders or files are that you can delete.

The solution: TreeSize, a Windows tool that scans your entire drive and displays all directories in a visual grid. Based on the size of the directories, you can see at a glance where a particularly large amount of storage space is required. The visual effect ensures that you can recognize unnecessary files much faster and delete them directly in the tool.

MiniBin: the trash can upgrade for your desktop

Optimize your Windows recycle bin with the small tool Minibin.

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Optimize your Windows recycle bin with the small tool Minibin.

© e-sushi

The Windows recycle bin – absolutely irreplaceable, and yet it is a thorn in the side of some when it comes to a minimalist, tidy desktop possible. Give it a small upgrade with the MiniBin tool from e-sushi. This simulates the recycle bin as a symbol in the systray of the taskbar, which shows you how full it is and what file size the accumulated garbage has. Of course, the tool can also delete the content.

Apart from the fact that you can better see what is going on in your recycle bin, MiniBin has a great advantage: you can remove the recycle bin icon on the desktop after installation.

SharpKeys: reprogram the keyboard

With SharpKeys you can reprogram your keyboard - even on laptops.

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With SharpKeys you can reprogram your keyboard – even on laptops.

© randyrants

No matter how often the keyboard is used, there are always some keys that are almost never used. Take advantage of this by programming such unused buttons for your own purposes. How it works? For example with the tool SharpKeys from RandyRants.

SharpKeys is not tied to specific keyboards as it changes the files in the Windows registry to assign keys. As a result, it also works on a laptop and for all keyboards from all manufacturers. Here’s how it works: reassign the keys you want, save the settings, and restart the computer. So easy? So easy.

PowerToys FancyZones: better organization with your own window layouts

FancyZones is a window management tool from the Microsoft PowerToys collection.

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FancyZones is a window management tool from the Microsoft PowerToys collection.

© Microsoft

There is an official Microsoft addon called PowerToys
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which provides you with a collection of auxiliary programs to adapt and optimize the Windows user interface according to your own requirements. This also includes the FancyZones program – a powerful window management tool for creating user-defined window layouts that organize your programs even more clearly. A big advantage: FancyZones is ideal for multi-monitor configurations. An overview of all PowerToys utilities including FancyZones is available here.

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