Category Archives: Photo Tools

Free Paint.NET 3.5.1 – Maybe Not A Photoshop Killer But…….

image This latest release of Paint.NET (October 9th, 2011), might not be quite Photoshop in disguise, but it’s a pretty serious contender.

While it can’t perform some of the more esoteric functions of Photoshop, it can certainly assist even an average photo hobbyist achieve spectacular results – results which are generally not achievable in a free photo application.

I’ve always been a big fan of Adobe Photoshop, the trendsetter/innovator for all photo editor and image manipulation software, but I stopped buying Photoshop at version 7, and in 2004 switched over to Paint.NET.

The downside of Adobe Photoshop, especially for typical users (other than its price – which is formidable), is it’s huge size on disk; it’s very challenging platform requirements, and an extreme learning curve which demands time and training.

Most of us don’t need the flexibility, or the power of a high end (read: expensive), photo editor. Instead, we’re generally looking for an application that’s small (at less than 4 MB, Paint.NET is small), fast, and free, with an intuitive interface that’s very easy to use; especially for those with only modest previous experience. Incidentally, for everyday basic photo manipulation, Irfanview gets a real workout on my machine.

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You don’t have to take advantage of all of the powerful features built into this impressive application of course – see fast facts below. You can just stick to those tools you are most familiar with, including resizing, cropping, correcting red eye, flipping, and rotating. As well, you can perform a wide variety of additional image adjustments, including brightness, contrast, and applying special effects such as sharpen and blur.

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Fast facts:

Interface – Simple, intuitive, and innovative user interface. Every feature and user interface element was designed to be immediately intuitive and quickly learnable without assistance. The interface is also enhanced for Aero Glass if you are using Windows 7 or Vista.

Performance – Extensive work has gone into making Paint.NET the fastest image editor available.

Layers – Usually only found on expensive or complicated professional software, layers form the basis for a rich image composition experience. You may think of them as a stack of transparency slides that, when viewed together at the same time, form one image.

Special Effects – Many special effects are included for enhancing and perfecting your images. Everything from blurring, sharpening, red-eye removal, distortion, noise, and embossing are included. Also included is our unique 3D Rotate/Zoom effect that makes it very easy to add perspective and tilting.

Adjustments – Adjustments are also included which help you tweak an image’s brightness, contrast, hue, saturation, curves, and levels. You can also convert an image to black and white, or sepia-toned.

Powerful Tools – The facilities for creating and working with selections is powerful, yet still simple enough to be picked up quickly. Other powerful tools include the Magic Wand for selecting regions of similar color, and the Clone Stamp for copying or erasing portions of an image. There is also a simple text editor, a tool for zooming, and a Recolor tool.

Unlimited History – Everybody makes mistakes, and everybody changes their mind. To accommodate this, every action you perform on an image is recorded in the History window and may be undone. Once you’ve undone an action, you can also redo it. The length of the history is only limited by available disk space.

Active Online Community – Paint.NET has an online forum with a friendly, passionate, and ever-expanding community. Be sure to check out the constantly growing list of tutorials and plugins!

Automatically Updated – Updates are free, and contain new features, performance improvements, and bug fixes. Upgrading to the latest version is very simple, requiring only two clicks of the mouse.

System requirements: Windows 2003, Vista, Server 2008, XP, Win 7 – NET Framework 3.5 SP1 (automatically downloaded with the application).

Languages: English, Chinese (Simplified), French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese (Brazil), Russian, and Spanish

Download at: Paint.NET

Plugins –  There’s a solid choice of plugins available. These plugins add new effects and the ability to handle new file types. You can check these out here.

Tutorials – Tutorials that describe the use of core features of Paint.NET such as tools, effects, and adjustments. Check them out here.

Unless you have extremely unusual image editing requirements that can only be met with Photoshop, Paint.NET should more than meet your needs, and then some.

BTW, Paint.NET v4.0 is targeted for release in 2012. Features planned for version 4.0 include a new UI, improved extensibility, revamped brushes and shapes system, antialiased selections, and adjustment layers.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, downloads, Free Photo Applications, Freeware, Graphic Software, Photo Tools, Software

Get Ready For School With These 35 Free Computer Apps

Heading back to school? Make your life easier and checkout these free PC applications.

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Take a look at the following recommended free downloads that will help you communicate, get those assignments done, have some fun, and manage and protect your system while you’re surfing the Internet.

These applications have riding out the storm of new competitors, and have developed a strong, loyal following, based on their reliability and functionality.

Process those words:

Nitro PDF:

With its ability to not only view and review PDF files, but create PDF files as well, it’s little wonder Nitro PDF Reader has amassed such a large following. I have to say that Nitro PDF Reader is my favorite PDF tool so, I’m more than a little enthusiastic to get on the go with this latest release.

Version 2 continues the strong tradition which Nitro has established with previous version – it’s fast, lightweight, and incorporates customizable security controls, including the option to completely disable JavaScript – no small consideration for security conscious users.

Listen N Write:

Anyone who has to transcribe recorded audio should try Listen N Write, a free tool designed specifically for transcription. Perfect for lectures.

LibreOffice:

LibreOffice is the power-packed free (open source) personal productivity suite for Windows, Macintosh and GNU/Linux, that gives you six feature-rich applications for all your document production and data processing needs: Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Math and Base.

AbiWord:

AbiWord is a free light weight word processing program similar to Microsoft Word. It is suitable for a wide variety of word processing tasks.

AbiWord allows you to collaborate with multiple people on one document at the same time. It is tightly integrated with the AbiCollab.net web service, which lets you store documents online, allows easy document sharing with your friends, and performs format conversions on the fly.

WordWeb:

WordWeb is a one-click English thesaurus and dictionary for Windows that can look up words in almost any program. It works off-line, but can also look up words in web references such as the Wikipedia encyclopedia.

Manipulate and correct your pics – put them online:

FastStone Image Viewer:

This is one of my favorite photo applications, with good reason. It’s not just a viewer, but an image browser, converter, and an editor as well. You’ll find the interface intuitive and very easy to use. This program is loaded with features including, renaming, cropping, color adjustments, lossless JPEG transformation, drop shadow effects, image frames, scanner support, histogram and much more.

IrfanView:

With IrfanView you can fix and enhance digital photos including resizing, cropping, correcting red eye, flipping, and rotating. As well, you can perform a wide variety of image adjustments, including brightness, contrast, and applying special effects such as sharpen and blur. I’ve been using this neat little program (every day) for years, and with each new release it just keeps getting better.

Google Picasa:

A free application that helps you locate and organize all the photos on your computer, edit and add effects with a few simple clicks, and share your photos with others through email, prints, and on the web.

Play those tunes:

Audacity:

Audacity is free, open source software for recording and editing sounds. It’s available for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux, and other operating systems. Definitely the best of breed.

iTunes:

According to Apple, this is the world’s best digital music jukebox. Download music, TV shows, movies, and more.

Winamp:

A multimedia player that supports numerous audio and video formats. It also plays streamed video and audio content. Winamp is designed for people who like to customize, tinker and tweak: offering the widest range of extensions, skins, and services to add to your listening experience.

Watch your fav videos:

Miro:

Miro is a free application designed to be easy to use and to give you an elegant full screen viewing experience. Not only can Miro play virtually any video in HD, including, QuickTime, WMV, MPEG, AVI, and XVID, but on top of that this application, which sports major changes from previous editions, is effectively a media management center.

VLC:

VLC is a free and open source cross-platform multimedia player and framework that plays most multimedia files as well as DVD, Audio CD, VCD, and various streaming protocols.

Free Video To iPhone Converter:

Convert video files to Apple iPhone MP4 video format. Convert the whole movie or select a partition from the movie to convert (trim video).

iPod Video Converter:

Free iPod Video Converter provides an easy and completed way to convert all popular video formats to iPod video. You can enjoy DVD/VCD and AVI, MPEG, WMV, RM, RMVB, DivX, ASF, VOB video files in your iPod with few clicks.

Better browsing:

Firefox:

Firefox includes tons of useful features such as tabbed browsing, built-in and customizable search bars, a built-in RSS reader and a huge library of extensions developed by thousand of developers.

Opera:

The fastest browser on Earth – but that’s not all. Use Opera Turbo to double your page-download speed on slow connections. Download Opera now and get more from the Web.

Google Chrome:

A browser that combines a minimal design with new technology designed to improve the user experience. Includes download and documentation.

Web of Trust (WOT):

WOT is a free Internet Browser add-on. WOT tests web sites you are visiting for spyware, spam, viruses, browser exploits, unreliable online shops, phishing, and online scams, helping you avoid unsafe web sites.

Cocoon for Firefox:

Protect your privacy and security online with this Firefox add-on, which has on-the-fly e-mail dropboxes and lets you watch Netflix from outside the U.S.

Protect your system:

Immunet Protect – Free Cloud Based Antivirus Application:

Immunet Protect is a lightweight cloud based, community driven, antivirus application, (available in both a free, and a paid version), designed to add a layer of protection while working in partnership with the most popular antimalware solutions.

Microsoft Security Essentials:

Microsoft Security Essentials, which incorporates antivirus, antispyware and rootkit protection, all under one roof, was released by Microsoft as a free  replacement application for the late, and unlamented, Windows Live OneCare.

ThreatFire:

ThreatFire blocks malware (including zero-day threats) by analyzing program behavior, instead of relying only on a signature based database. ThreatFire works together with your signature based security applications, to increase the effectiveness of your total security arsenal.

SUPERAntiSpyware Free Edition:

The free version of this award winning program, is used by millions of people worldwide to protect their computers. And why not? SUPERAntiSpyware is well known for its high malware detection rate. A simple, intuitive, and easy to use interface makes SUPERAntiSpyware straightforward to setup, customize, and run, for both less experienced and expert users alike.

Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware

Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware has an excellent reputation (shared by me), as a first class security application, for its ability to identify and remove adware, Trojans, key-loggers, home page hijackers, and other malware threats.

PC Tools Firewall Plus 7:

I’ve been running with PC Tools Firewall since I installed Win 7 and I have been impressed with its performance. It installed easily, set up quickly, and has not caused any conflicts with my machine. The default settings are well thought out, and provide excellent protection for less experience users. Experienced users on the other hand can tinker to their hearts content, customizing and tweaking the application to meet their specific requirements.

Staying in touch:

Windows Live Essentials 2011:

Do more with Windows on your PC with free programs from Microsoft for photos, movies, instant messaging, email, social networking, and more. Get it all in one simple download.

Pidgin:

A multi-protocol Instant Messaging client that allows you to use all of your IM accounts at once. Pidgin can work with: AIM, Bonjour, Gadu-Gadu, Google Talk, ICQ, IRC, MSN, Yahoo!, MySpace IM and many more.

Trillian:

A fully featured, stand-alone, chat client that supports AIM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo Messenger, and IRC.

Skype:

In its basic form, Skype is a free communication package, using proprietary code, which allows users to make free computer to computer calls, including video calls, across the globe. As well, there are a bundle of additional features, that can be purchased at a low cost, which will expand the application’s functionality.

System Tools:

WinPatrol:

You can monitor your startup programs and services, cookies and current tasks. Should you need to, WinPatrol allows you to terminate processes and enable, or disable, startup programs. There are additional features that make WinPatrol a very powerful addition to your security applications.

CCleaner:

CCleaner is a freeware system optimization, privacy and cleaning tool. It removes unused files from your system – allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space. It also cleans traces of your online activities such as your Internet history. Additionally it contains a fully featured registry cleaner. But the best part is that it’s fast; normally taking less than a second to run.

Autoruns:

You can configure Autoruns to show additional locations, including Explorer shell extensions, toolbars, browser helper objects, Winlogon notifications, auto-start services, and more. Autoruns goes considerably beyond the MSConfig utility bundled with Windows.

Glary Utilities:

Glary Utilities, a free all-in-one utility, is a terrific collection of system tools and utilities to fix, speed up, maintain and protect your PC. Personal experience with this application for the last 2 years has convinced me that a typical user can really benefit by having this application on their system. With this free program you can tweak, repair, optimize and improve your system’s performance; and its ease of operation makes it ideal for less experienced users.

Revo Uninstaller:

Revo Uninstaller is a superior program to uninstall programs from your computer. This free program with its advanced and fast algorithm scans before, and after you uninstall an application. After the program’s regular uninstaller runs, you can remove additional unnecessary files, folders and registry keys that are usually left over (those “orphaned” registry entries we talked about earlier), on your computer. This feature is a definite plus.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Anti-Malware Tools, Audio Applications, Browser Plug-ins, Chrome, Computer Tools, Digital Media, downloads, Free Office Suites, Free PDF Software, Malware Protection, MS Word Alternatives, Multimedia Tools, Photo Tools, Software, Video Apps, Windows Tips and Tools, Writing Aids

More Freebies From Microsoft Research Labs

imageWe are excited to be developing technologies that weave software, hardware, and services into every aspect of our lives, thereby advancing toward the goal of making computers genuinely useful — We see a future in which computers interact with people the way we interact with each other, think ahead to anticipate and meet our needs, and support us as we make the most of our ideas, efforts, and intellect.”

Joulemeter

Joulemeter is a software tool that estimates the power consumption of your computer. It tracks computer resources, such as CPU utilization and screen brightness, and estimates power usage.

System Requirements: Windows 7

HD View 3.3

With HD View, you can view and interact with very large images on the Web. HD View supports smooth panning and zooming, as well as appropriate viewing perspectives as you zoom in and out. HD View also makes creating and hosting your own HD View images easy. HD View is available as a plug-in for Windows-based browsers, including Internet Explorer and Firefox.

System Requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 (32-bit version).

Image Composite Editor (32 bit)

Microsoft Image Composite Editor is an advanced panoramic image stitcher. Given a set of overlapping photographs of a scene shot from a single camera location, the application creates a high-resolution panorama that seamlessly combines the original images.

The stitched panorama can be shared with friends and viewed in 3D by uploading it to the Photosynth web site. Or the panorama can be saved in a wide variety of image formats, from common formats like JPEG and TIFF to the multiresolution tiled format used by Silverlight’s Deep Zoom and by the HD View and HD View SL panorama viewers.

System Requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7

Download 64 bit version here.

StickySorter

Ever found yourself lost in the eye of a brainstorm? Lots of great information, but it’s all over the place! Sticky Sorter is a Grassroots Project, developed by two Microsoft Employees, that you can use today to manage such challenges.

The inventors, Julie and Sumit, were looking for an easier way to capture, sift through, and organize hundreds of research observations traditionally done on physical sticky notes in an affinity diagramming exercise with researchers from around the world.

The result is StickySorter which met their complex needs, supports virtual collaboration, and is now available for you to use in managing your next brainstorm.

System Requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 with .Net Framework 2.0.

Touchless

Touchless is an Office Labs Grassroots Project that started from an idea Mike Wasserman, a Microsoft Office Graphics developer, started during his college days to create multi-touch experience using a webcam. Through Office Labs sponsorship, Mike’s weekend hobby turned into an open-source prototype, currently available for download.

With just a webcam and color markers, you can get a taste of Touchless through the multi-touch demos provided. Play a pong-like game, rotate maps, control a snake, and draw with markers. If you’re someone technical, the Software Development Kit (SDK) is available for you to view, contribute to the code, or create your own multi-touch applications to help explore the possibilities.

System Requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, Webcam

Bonus – Not free, but free trials:

Songsmith

Songsmith generates musical accompaniment to match a singer’s voice. Just choose a musical style, sing into your PC’s microphone, and Songsmith will create backing music for you. Then share your songs with your friends and family, post your songs online, or create your own music videos.

System Requirements: Windows XP (SP2), Vista, Windows 7

AutoCollage 2008

Researchers from all disciplines and the Cambridge Innovation Development team worked together, building Digital Tapestry and AutoCollage research into a new product. Face detection, saliency filters, and other Microsoft research identifies interesting parts of pictures. Advanced object selection and blending technologies seamlessly combine these pieces into a beautiful new AutoCollage.

System Requirements: Windows XP (SP3), Vista, Windows 7

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Beta Software, Computer Tools, Digital Media, downloads, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Image Editors, Microsoft, Multimedia Tools, Photo Tools, Productivity Software, Software, Software Trial Versions, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

PhotoDirector 2011 – Special Offer – Save $99.95

imageSometime back, I reported on Adobe Lightroom Release Candidate 3.4, which had just been cleared by Adobe for download. In a bit of a twist on this tried and true method in product development – CyberLink, has recently released their PhotoDirector 2011 beta.

Here’s the twist – if you provide feedback on the beta version (takes 2/3 minutes), to the developer’s by June 20, 2011, you will receive the official release version (when available), for free (US $99.95 value).

Don’t be put off by the fact that this is a beta version. I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating – In the last year or two, I’ve found that beta software can often be as stable as the final release. It may well be, that Microsoft raised the bar for both beta, and release candidates, with reasonably flawless releases of Windows 7 in both these formats.

My understanding is – on or about June 30, 2011, an e-mail from the developer will provide you with download details for the full version of the final release.

Here are the conditions.

Limitations: Participants will receive a 90 day trial version of the software by providing a valid email address.

Feedback:  To receive the full version of the software after it is released, participants must be over 18 years of age and provide feedback to a designated CyberLink email address related  directly to how the participants experienced PhotoDirector by June 20th, 2011.

I have downloaded and installed this application but, have not yet had an opportunity to put it through its paces. Still, based on the following screen shots from my test system, the application seems to be fully featured. What’s with the dark GUI though?

Click on graphic to expand to original.

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Click on graphic to expand to original.

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Click on graphic to expand to original.

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Fast facts: some of the main features.

  • Import and organize all your photos in the library for easy browsing and editing.
  • View each individual photo’s metadata information.
  • Add and embed keyword tags and copyright information in photos.
  • Crop and rotate photos, or apply touch-ups such as red-eye and spot removal.
  • Modify photo color and white balance with easy to use adjustment controls.
  • Sharpen photos and correct photos that contain unwanted vignetting or image noise.
  • Create dazzling photo slideshows and output them as video files.
  • Share photos on Facebook and Flickr, and upload created photo slideshows directly to YouTube.

You can learn much more here (PDF format).

System Requirements (from the developer):

CPU Processor

  • Intel Pentium D 3.0 GHz CPU with hyper-threading or equivalent AMD CPU is minimal.

Screen Resolution

  • 1024 X 768, 16-bit color or above.

Operating System

  • Microsoft Windows 7 (32 bit and 64 bit).
  • Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium, Business, Ultimate, or Enterprise (32 bit and 64 bit).
  • Microsoft Windows XP with Service Pack 3.

Memory

  • 2 GB is required.

Graphics Card

  • Intel 945 GM and above (Independent graphics card recommended).

Hard Disk Space

  • 1 GB of disk space for application and documentation.

To download this special offer, go here.

If you’re looking for a free professional level photo application, you might want to consider this offer.

Update: June 12, 2011 – here’s what real world user, and regular reader John B., thinks about this application.

Hi Bill,

I’ve now had a chance to work with PhotoDirector 2011 Beta.

After checking the download with VirusTotal, the software installed easily with Revo Uninstaller; none of the problems I’ve experienced in the past with some other paid-for programs. I did not have to disable or adjust my firewall or other security applications such as WinPatrol.

The program opened with a splash screen pointing out that this is a 90 day trial version. Once inside, I was presented with a familiar-looking GUI in thumbnail view. This comprised a work window for the selected file, with a horizontal scrollable strip of thumbnails beneath. To get pictures into the thumbnail strip is simplicity itself. You click “Import” and navigate to the required folder, either from the generic folders displayed by default or, in my case to one on my desktop. Then select the desired files and they appear in the thumbnail strip, with the first one in the work window ready for editing.

The import took a little time but I had selected 300 photos, each of about 18mb. I usually shoot in Sony RAW (.arw) and was delighted to see that this format was recognised without needing any plugins. In fact there is support for a very wide range of camera RAW versions.

The editing itself was very easy, with a good range of adjustments available under the “Adjustment” tab. The only thing missing from my personal point of view was “curves”, which I find gives excellent results quickly. However its absence made me check out the other available options in some detail. I found them to be very easy and intuitive to use.

As each picture is worked on, its thumbnail is tagged as “adjusted”. Once editing is complete, a click on “Select by Adjusted” under the “Edit” tab allows those photos to be exported to a folder of choice. By default the photos are converted to jpeg files, in my case of about 4mb each.

Unfortunately, after about an hour or so of work, the program suddenly crashed without warning. I had not exported any of the photos I had edited and was concerned that all my work would be lost. However, on reopening the software, I was pleased to see all my pictures present with those I had worked on still tagged. Needless to say I exported them without delay and continued to work on the remainder. The second crash came after about another 90 minutes. This time I was not so lucky as, when I restarted the program, all my pictures were gone, including the tagged ones.

I cannot say whether these crashes were the fault of the software, or because of some conflict in my laptop. What I can say is that I will happily continue with the Beta version and will equally happily accept a free licence after 20 June. Further, I would say that, if others can run the program without crashes, it is well worth the full licence cost.

In conclusion, this program has nearly everything that a high level photographer / editor requires. In addition I understand that a wide range of presets is available on line for those who need less fine control over the results.

Thank you John – as always I very much appreciate your input.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Beta Software, Digital Media, downloads, Free Full Versions, Giveaways, Graphic Software, Multimedia Tools, Photo Tools, Software, Software Giveaways, Windows Tips and Tools

Free Nero Kwik – Media Management Application

Nero has just released a free media management application, Nero Kwik Media, that’s definitely worth a look. Richard Carriere, Nero’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing explains the new application this way – “Kwik Media …….. lets you do picture, music, and video organizing, managing, exchanging, putting up on social sites, viewing, and basic editing.”

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Click graphic to expand to original.

The install is a two stage process. In the initial stage, a number of Direct 3D extensions and sundry other bits and pieces, are installed – as per the following screen shot.

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Following the required reboot, the main Kwik Media application is installed. If you’re watching the install carefully, you’ll notice that an Ask Toolbar appears to be installed. The reality is – the Toolbar executable is copied to the HD. However, you will have an opportunity to reject activating the Toolbar.

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The user interface is underwhelming from a styling perspective – a perfect example of form following function.

If simple and unobtrusive is what you want – then, you’ve got it here.

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Click graphic to expand to original.

Media library user interface:

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Click graphic to expand to original.

Media Center user interface:

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Creation Center user interface:

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Click graphic to expand to original.

Burn and copy Disc Center user interface:

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Click graphic to expand to original.

Fast facts:

Move photos, videos and music anywhere – Move all the files your heart desires to and from your PC and mobile devices

Play back Blu-ray movies – View HD video projects on DVD and watch Hollywood Blu-ray movies on your laptop

Burn Audio CDs from MP3s – With just a few clicks, you can create a CD mix from your favorite playlists

Play and rip music – Play back your favorite jams from your laptop and rip Audio CDs to add to your computer

Find and organize friends by faces – Easily organize photos of friends and family by faces

Search and organize – Browse and organize photos, music and videos in one place

Play and rip music – Conveniently create projects to burn and share straight from your library

Edit photos before sharing – Make quick and easy edits of photos before sharing or adding to slideshows

Share videos on YouTube or myNero – Upload your photos, music and videos to social media websites with just a few clicks

Edit slideshows with effects – Add exciting, animated background themes to slideshows

Easy Media Syncing – Sync your music playlists as well as photo and video album contents from your PC to any mobile device with USB mass storage

Download at: Nero

Additional functionality can be purchased (although, some apps are free), from the Nero Store.

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Click graphic to expand to original.

Bottom line:

If you’re looking for a reasonably inclusive free media application, capable of handling videos, music, and photos, then Nero Kwik Media should make your short list.

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Filed under Audio Software, CD/DVD Tools, Connected Devices, downloads, Freeware, Graphic Software, Image Editors, Integrated Solutions, Media Players, Photo Tools, Software, Video Tools, Windows Tips and Tools

Looking For The Best Free Screen Capture Utility? Checkout MWSnap

I like to use a lot of screen captures when I review an application – a picture is worth a thousand words, and all that. Lately, I’ve gotten more than a few questions from readers requesting the lowdown on the program I use to generate these screen shots.

Since I’m heavily into freeware (85% of my apps are freeware), I’ve been using the freeware screen capture application MWSnap, for years.

MWSnap is a highly rated small, yet powerful, Windows program for snapping (capturing) images from selected parts of the screen. I use it daily to create high-quality screen captures for presentations, documents, and most particularly – application screen captures for my Blog.

I use MWSnap so often, that I’ve pinned it to the Taskbar.

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The user interface is very simple, and very easy to follow. I must admit though, that I rarely see the interface since I generally use the “hot key” function.

mwsnap newf

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Fast facts:

Image editing – basic image editing options

5 snapping modes.

Support for BMP, JPG, TIFF, PNG and GIF formats, with selected color depth and quality settings.

System-wide hotkeys.

Clipboard copy/paste.

Printing.

Auto-saving, auto-printing.

Auto-start with Windows.

Minimizing to system tray.

An auto-extending list of fixed sizes, perfect for snapping images for icons and glyphs.

A zoom tool for magnifying selected parts of the screen.

A ruler tool for measuring screen objects lengths.

A color picker showing screen colors with separated RGB parts.

Fast picture viewer.

Adding frames and mouse pointer images.

Multilevel configurable undo and redo.

System Requirements: Any 32-bit Windows OS. I run this app on both Windows 7, and XP Pro systems.

Download at: Download.com

This application is an excellent choice for everyone –  from casual, to experienced users.

Additional free screen capture utilities mentioned by regular readers.

PicPick – PicPick is user friendly and full of features for creating your image, suitable for software developers, graphic designers and home user.
It is an all-in-one program that provides full-featured screen capture tool, intuitive image editor, color picker, color palette, pixel ruler, protractor, crosshair and even whiteboard.

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EasyCapture – EasyCapture is a easy-to-use free screen capture software that can capture any part of screen from your desktop. It can capture scrolling windows and entire web pages.

With this screen capture freeware, you can edit captured images and save to bmp, jpg, gif, png, tiff image format. You can add text annotation, arrows and other objects to create professional screenshots for inclusion in online tutorials, Word documents, manuals, promotion material, presentations, websites, emails and so on.

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Filed under downloads, Free Photo Applications, Freeware, Graphic Software, Image Editors, Multimedia Tools, Photo Tools, Screen Capture Utilities, Software, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Adobe Lightroom Release Candidate 3.4 Cleared For Download – Save $299, Maybe

imageIn the past, running beta and release candidate software could be challenging. But, I’ve noticed in the last year or two, that beta, and more particularly release candidate software, can often be as stable as the final release. It may well be, that Microsoft raised the bar for both beta, and release candidates, with reasonably flawless releases of Windows 7 in both these formats.

Adobe, well known for its very expensive, though admittedly highly sophisticated applications (with high production costs), has just cleared release candidate 3.4 of its Photoshop Lightroom 3, for download.

Adobe’s definition of a release candidate

A “release candidate” label indicates that this update is well tested but would benefit from additional community testing before it is distributed automatically to all of our customers. The Lightroom 3.4 update includes support for many new cameras and lens profiles.

If you’re unfamiliar with Lightroom, try this description I came across not too long ago – “For the uninitiated, Lightroom is Photoshop’s specialized sibling; where Photoshop is an imaging Swiss Army Knife, Lightroom is a steak knife for photographers.”

A little confused? I must admit – so was I. So, try this definition from Adobe –

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 software unites your digital photography essentials in one fast and intuitive package. Create something beautiful. Express your vision. Move your audience.

Lightroom gets you there with the tools you need to create great images, manage all your photographs, and showcase them with style and impact.

If you’re a high level photographer, or you have aspirations in that direction, you might consider downloading this release candidate. There’s no guarantee that this is a perfectly flawless application, but if it’s relatively so, you just might save yourself $299 USD.

Personally, I’ve taken advantage of this offer and plan to test drive Photoshop Lightroom 3.4 in the coming weeks.

System requirements:

Windows –  XP with Service Pack 3, Vista (32 bit and 64 bit); Windows 7 (32 bit and 64 bit), 2GB of RAM, 1,024×768 display

Mac OS – OS X v10.5 or v10.6, 2GB of RAM, 1,024×768 display

Languages: Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Swedish.

Check it out at: The product page.

Download at: Adobe Labs

As with all beta, or release candidates, take sensible precautions prior to installation. This should include setting a new restore point.

Note: The application installed with no difficulty on my test system.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Adobe, downloads, Free Photo Applications, Freeware, Image Editors, Mac, Mac OS X, Multimedia Tools, Photo Tools, Release Candidate, Software