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Netbooks are light, portable, and have become a great intermediary between smartphones and full-sized laptops.  While first generation netbooks offered weak hardware specifications, most modern netbooks come equipped with high-end hardware and batteries that can last a full day.

There are a few downsides to netbooks, though.  Their light weight and portability is mostly due to a very small display.  Just because you can run all of your favorite applications on your netbook doesn’t mean they will render correctly on an 8″ or 10″ screen.  Netbooks also typically lack some hardware (like an optical drive) that a normal computer would have.

In this article, I’ll show you some great Netbook optimization applications that will help fix these inherent downsides and allow you to make the best use of your netbook.

Winsupermaximize (Windows)

Winsupermaximize is a tiny application that allows you to put folders and applications into full screen mode just like your browser.  After launching the Netbook optimization application (no installation required) just press WIN + F11 to enter and exit full screen mode.

Winsupermaximize works by removing the title bar of your folders or applications and maximizing the window.  For ideal results, the program creator recommends setting the Windows taskbar to auto-hide.

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Dropbox (Windows, Mac, and Linux)

Using a netbook means you’ll typically be separated from your files and documents on your main computer.  Maintaining your files on USB flash drives can be cumbersome (and I typically misplace them anyway), but Dropbox provides a free and easy way to keep your netbook optimized and synchronized with your other computers.

To use Dropbox, just register for a free 2GB account and install the client on any computers you want to synchronize.  Any files and folders you place in your Dropbox will immediately be synchronized across all folders.  A web interface is also available so you can access your files anywhere you have an internet connection.

If you like Dropbox, check out the many other ways you can use it.

VirtuaWin (Windows)

Managing multiple folders and applications on a netbook can be difficult because of their limited screen size.  VirtuaWin gives you multiple virtual desktops (Linux users will recognize these as workspaces) so you can spread your work out across multiple “screens”.

It can take a little time to get accustomed to using virtual desktops, but they can greatly increase your productivity and serve as yet another method of Netbook optimization.  VirtuaWin is highly customizable and allows you to use convenient hotkeys to switch between your workspaces.

Daemon Tools Lite (Windows)

Since most netbooks don’t include optical drives, many people are forced to purchase an external CD or DVD drive to install their favorite software.  Daemon Tools lets you ditch the external drives and mount disc images from CDs, DVDs, and Blu Rays instead.  When you mount a disc image you can use the software just as if the disc was inserted in your computer.

Another great perk of mounting discs from a file is that the access speeds are much faster than from an optical drive.  That means when you use software from a virtual CD it can install up to 50x faster.

Check out these articles for more information about ripping and mounting disc images.

Google Chrome (Windows, Mac, Linux)

Google’s web browser was created with netbooks in mind.  Besides being really fast, Chrome has a great user interface that maximizes web content and keeps the browser bits to a minimum.  Now that Chrome supports extensions How to Install Extensions in Google Chrome How to Install Extensions in Google Chrome Read More , Firefox users can install many of their favorite add-ons 5 Google Chrome Extensions That Could Finally Make Me Switch From Firefox 5 Google Chrome Extensions That Could Finally Make Me Switch From Firefox Read More so to get the same browsing experience.

With these applications, you should find that you can maximize your productivity and get a lot more out of your netbook.  Have any suggestions that would be a good addition to this list?  Share them with us in the comments.

Image credit: zieak / CC BY 2.0

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