• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • Finally, you can manage your Google Docs, uploads, and email attachments (plus Dropbox and Slack files) in one convenient place. Claim a free account, and in less than 2 minutes, Dokkio (from the makers of PBworks) can automatically organize your content for you.



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Welcome to Clif Notes Newsletter

October 22, 2006




Hi Everyone.

Thanks for reading my newsletter. Each week, I will have freeware reviews, tips, tricks, news, and lots of cool websites for you to check out.

I hope you enjoy this week's letter. Be sure to write me for advice or yell at me for messing up.

Click here to chat while

visiting this newsletter!











Agent Ransack - find files on your PC much faster

ClifNotes, May 2005, updated Oct 2006, permalink



I searched high and low for a good file search program and here is my pick. Agent Ransack puts Windows default search to shame. It's faster. It can do so much more, such as "regular expressions". Thanks to JeanInMontana for reminding me about this one. I've been using it for a long time.


Update Oct 2006

I recently decided to try some other file search tools. I tried SnowBird and Seeker. For some reason, SnowBird doesn't work for me any more, even though it's sister program, Mini Explorer, works just fine. I found out that Mini Explorer's built in file search has one of the fastest non-indexed searches I've ever seen, but it doesn't have enough right click features in the search results. I was disappointed with Seeker. It's advertised to be very fast and easy to use, but I didn't see either one when I tried it. I ended up thinking that Agent Ransack is still the best for me. It's fast and you can right click on any folder and search with Agent Ransack.


I'm sure the indexed file searching tools are faster. However, in order for them to work, they have to constantly monitor your hard drive for changes so that they have an up to date index of where all the files are. I find this unacceptable. I don't need more stuff running in the background sucking down my system resources.


You can find a good selection of file searching tools here at SnapFiles.com.



Agent Ransack is a free tool for finding files and information on your hard drive fast and efficiently. When searching the contents of files Agent Ransack displays the text found so you can quickly browse the results without having to separately open each file!


Agent Ransack provides compelling advantages over similar search tools: Regular expressions that allow complex rule based searches. Immediate contents results view. Various wizards to walk the user through the searching process.


Special Note: You can ignore the SiteAdvisor rating at this site. SA is wrong this time. I've already notified them.

Agent Ransack Website




Desktop Architect - Windows theme manager

ClifNotes, Oct 2006, permalink


Someone recently wrote in and asked me if there were any good free Windows theme managers around. So far, Desktop Architect (DA) is the only decent one I've found. I'm not sure who the author of DA is but I've found that the closest thing to a home for DA is at:



Quote from ThemeDoctor

The best of the best little desktop theme tools all wrapped up into one great program. Other than the fact that it's FREE, the outstanding features are just too numerous to list every one here. After extensively testing Desktop Architect's nearly limitless features in comparison with Microsoft Plus!, here are just a few of the remarkable options you'll have with this updated version.


I tried it out and it sure does have some nice features. I also found that it doesn't always work very well with Windows XP. I did see a very imposing looking theme manager at GeorgesFreeware. I looked it over and I figured it'd be pretty complicated to use. See UxThemeMultiPatcher.


Has anyone else found a good free theme manager?




DoubleDesktop - double your pleasure, double your fun


Virtual desktops are pretty handy sometimes. DoubleDesktop gives you two desktops that you can switch between by either clicking on a system tray icon or a customized hotkey. It also allows you to drag windows back and forth between the desktops easily. The program is only 205kb when downloaded and should run in Win98 or newer. They only feature I think this program should add, is to be able to move icons back and forth between the two desktops as easily as the program windows.


Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usQuote from the website

DoubleDesktop is a smart and elegant system tray utility that effectively doubles the width of your Windows desktop. It's simpler to use than many similar programs: just mouse-click on its icon or hit a keystroke combination to switch between "left" and "right" parts of the desktop. This lets you easily rearrange all your application windows between the two desktop parts.






AppZip - running a compressed program

ClifNotes, Oct 2006, permalink


AppZip does something unique. It will compress an entire application and all the files in it's program folder, then it will let you decompress and run it later, all in one action. After the program is closed, AppZip will re-compress the program files once again.


Why would you want to do this? Most folks will never need anything like this because most of today's hard drives have plenty of extra space so there is never a reason to compress an application. However, if you are running short on HD space, or you are trying to fit a bunch of apps onto a USB flash drive, then AppZip just might do the trick.


I tried AppZip out on my installation of EasyCleaner. The installed folder is 3.5mb in size. Afterward using AppZip, there were two files that appeared in the AppZip folder, an EasyCleaner.az and an EasyCleaner.az2 file. They were only about 1.4mb in size. That's a very good compression ratio.


While I was playing with it, I figured out a few things about how the author put AppZip together. He used two freeware command line applications "Zip" and "Unzip" from Info-Zip.org. The AZ file that AppZip creates is really just a standard zip file that's created by Info-Zip. The AZ2 file is an index file that contains the location of the target application and it's executable file.


This is a simple way to compress programs but the downside is that the AZ and AZ2 file must reside in the AppZip program folder. If they are moved, the AppZip program can't find the Info-Zip utilities for compressing and decompressing. The author has also chosen to keep his program dependent on a unique mfc42.dll file which must reside in the AppZip folder. I'd also like to see him hide the DOS window that pop's up when AppZip is compressing or decompressing.


In conclusion, I think this is a handy tool for use in very special situations, but I'd like to see the author remove the dependence on the AZ file locations and the DLL file. He could also package it into an installer so that AppZip can register the AZ and AZ2 files with the correct actions.


Quote from the readme file

AppZip is a freeware utility that lets you compress whole applications into a single file for storage. When you want to launch the application, the AppZip Launcher will automatically uncompress it and again recompress it after the program closes.









Old Newsletter


I like to look back and see what I was thinking about. Here's another letter from the wayback machine.



















How to Stop Delivery of Internet Explorer 7

Tip from Gizmo Richards


Recently, Eddie in Australia asked me this ...

Hi Clif


I see Microsoft are due to send out Internet Explorer 7 shortly. Would you advise using this, or would you wait a while. I believe we will have the option to refuse the Download.






I wrote back ...

Hi Eddie,


If you use Firefox or Opera, I'd say you can flip a coin on it. If you are a die hard IE user, yes by all means. They've improved the security and added some very nice features.


Have fun!




For those of you who don't want to switch to IE7 yet, here's a tip from Gizmo Richard's Tech Support Alert Newsletter.


Quote from Gizmo

IE7 is nearing official release and will be automatically distributed to Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 machines via the Microsoft Update service. That means that if you have automatic updates enabled on your PC, you'll get IE7 whether you want it or not. I think most home PC users would want the update but some commercial users may prefer a phased implementation to prevent potential software incompatibility problems. If you want to prevent IE7 automatically downloading and installing you can use a special toolkit that Microsoft has made available. Full details here: microsoft.com


Be sure to sign up for this newsletter sometime.





Get Acronis True Image 7 for free

tip from Dave at DavesComputerTips, Oct 2006


Dave wrote me a few days ago with this tip, that I promptly took advantage of. Thanks Dave!


Hello Again Clif!


I’m a huge fan of drive images, and I’ve stated that in my newsletter. My favorite program is Acronis True Image, currently at version 9.1. The current version offers smaller images and faster imaging than it rival Norton Ghost (I’m not a fan of any current Norton software).


I thought your readers would appreciate knowing that Acronis is offering version 7 for free, with registration. I began using True Image with version 8 so I have no first hand experience with version 7. I’m sure it doesn’t include some of the newer features like direct writing to cd/dvd or scheduling, but for those who are on a budget it’s a steal!




Note from Clif:

When I registered to receive my free copy of Acronis 7, I had no problems registering and getting a license key from them. However, they don't tell you where to get the new download at. I contacted their support and found out that you have to log in at their website with your email address and password that they give you, then you have to go to a link at the top of the page that says "My Account", and finally to a page under "Product Updates".


I also had trouble getting through to the Acronis website on Saturday. Maybe they are getting too much traffic from this free offer? Try again later if you can't get through.


Drop on by Dave's website, he's got lots more tips for you.





Comments last week

Thanks to everyone who commented on the articles last week. You gave me more ideas and some good advice. If you see comments on an article, you will be missing out if you don't click on them to take a look.


If you commented last week, check to see who commented on your comment!


Here are the comments from last week.


  1. Download dot com's trojan screensavers - a convenient way to snag net pics •
  2. What is the best freeware solitaire game? - free card games are more fun •
  3. Secret Maryo Chronicles - a trip back in time •
  4. FirstPage2006 - free competitor to MS FrontPage
  5. JetAudio Basic - simply a great free music player
  6. CubicExplorer - doing what Windows explorer should do
  7. How fast will an unprotected PC last on the internet?




















See the biggest pumpkin download on earth

Last weekend, my wife and I saw something very unique.






Websites I've visited recently


Have you seen any cool websites you want to share with us?








Lockergnome articles



News from Sarah in Tampa





























Get Gmail! and Get Firefox!


You need a free 2.7 GB Gmail account to access many of the cool features at Google. I'll send you an invitation right away if you write me and say I WANT GMAIL.



I think Gmail works best in the awesome Firefox browser. It's free, easy to use, and it's way more secure than Internet Explorer. My favorite thing to do is to customize Firefox so that it does much more than IE ever could. You can select new button controls for your toolbars, install extensions to add new features, or change the look of your browser with themes - the way Firefox looks and works is under your control.


Get Firefox!


Chatting at FreewareWiki



Now you can chat with anyone visiting a website by using Gabbly. To see who's gabbing at this website, click here.





Find out more about Gabbly.com





Frapper - you people live all over the world!

Wow! Over 400 people and still growing! I invite all of you to record your locations on this map. You can include as little or as much information as you wish. I think you'll enjoy seeing yourself there.


Here's a small look at my frapper map.



Write your own review


I get many of the reviews in the newsletter from the readers. You don't have to be a genius or computer guru. Just answer a few questions and send me a review. I'll probably put you in the newsletter.


What do you have to say?


Just tell me what article you are talking about and leave me your comment.



Have fun and surf safely.



http://clifnotes.net & http://freewarewiki.pbwiki.com

Devoted to promoting Freeware and Free Information

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Email me here.






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