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I am not really a Windows person, but when I am on my Windows computer, I always keep a set of small and handy applications on my desktop to automate the repetitive tasks or to make the complicated things much easier to do.

If you are like me, someone who like to be organized and do things the efficient way, here are some applications that I use and recommend:

Windows xKill

How many times have you encountered an incident where the application freezes and when you try to kill it via the Task Manager, it just doesn’t respond?  It has happened to me very often, especially on my old Pentium III computer.

When such cases occur, I always use Windows xKill to kill the application quickly and easily.

windows-xkill

Windows xKill is s small application ported from the xKill application in Linux. It is only 18KB in size and does not require any installation.

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Once you have enabled the tray icon, you simply press the shortcut keys Ctrl + Alt + Backspace to bring up xkill (the cursor will turn into a skull) and then click on the window that you want to close. That’s it.

DropCommand

I know that most of you don’t use the command prompt in Windows, but when you do, don’t you wish that it can be a little bit friendlier, like the Terminal in Linux and Mac?

The DropCommand application allows you to drag and drop files to the command prompt so you don’t have to key in the path to the files manually. It was made using AutoHotKeys and provides a friendlier way for you to use the command prompt.

DropCommandScreen

Fences

If you have a messy desktop filled with dozen of shortcut icons cramping up every single corner of the screen, you might want to use Fences to get your desktop organized.

Fences is a free software developed by Stardock, the developer behind the popular ObjectDock. This application allows you to define various containers on your desktop to place your icons. You can have a container for Internet related stuff, while another one to contain all your Word documents.

You can create as many containers as you like, and when you have no use for the icons, you can hide them by double clicking on the desktop. Any time you need to access your shortcut, simply double click the desktop to bring the icons back.

stardock-fences

Just Close Some Task

If you have the habit of opening a lot of applications and then forget to close them after you have finished using them, then JustCloseSomeTasks is the best software for you.

What it does is to associate each task with an expiry time and then close that task once the expiry time is reached. After you have used it for some time, the program will learn your behavior and adjust the expiry time accordingly.

justclosesometask

Lacuna Launcher

There are always a series of applications that you use when you are performing certain tasks. Wouldn’t it be great if you could load them all up with just a single shortcut?

Lacuna Launcher allows you to set a group of files to be opened with a single shortcut by creating a text file with the paths to all the files you wish to open. You can set an initial delay time for it to wait before opening files, as well as a pause time between opening each files.

There is no limit as to how many lists (each list represent a group of applications) you can create. You can create a list of applications to be opened when you want to browse the Web, or all the documents you need when you typing a report. It may take some work initially, but once you have it configured, it will work like a charm.

Conclusion

The above mentioned applications are some of the small and handy apps that I used daily. Despite their small size, they are very useful and have helped to increase my efficiency and allow me to do things faster in Windows.

If you have any small handy apps that you use and are not mentioned above, do share it with us in the comments.

  1. Yogesh Malik
    July 23, 2009 at 6:18 am

    xkill is good, i have been using xkill on UNIX platform for over a decade.

  2. Tom M
    July 14, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    you can also drag&drop into the Run box (no need to open a command prompt if you don't need it)

  3. JacPat
    March 21, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    I've always been a big fan of Object dock.. now to try fences!

  4. Chris
    March 19, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    Thanks for a great list! :)

    Windows xKill - Looks very useful, I've added it to my Startup.

    Fences - I came aware of this a few weeks ago. It's great!

  5. Stephen
    March 17, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    For those of you who use launchy, be aware you may experience a conflict like I did with fences. With fences enabled the normal alt + spacebar activation doesn't work.

  6. Martin Zugec
    March 17, 2009 at 4:50 am

    Heya,

    drag&drop for cmd.exe works since Windows 2000. I use it every day...

    Martin

  7. ancameme
    March 16, 2009 at 10:11 pm

    Instead of Lacuna Launcher you could use different batch files for each set of applications/files you want to start at a specific time. It's a lot easier to set up and it doesn't require a separate program.

  8. app103
    March 16, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    Damien Oh,

    First of all, I'd like to thank you for mentioning my application, Lacuna Launcher. I really appreciate it.

    But I can't help but be a little bit bothered by the fact that you have chosen to direct link to some of the application downloads in your article, and not the pages in which they can be found. This isn't a very nice thing to do, for a few reasons:

    1. Some freeware authors have Paypal donate buttons on their sites, and your readers will never see them, therefore never click them. This deprives some of the authors of their only income.

    2. Some freeware authors have advertising on their sites, and additional page impressions or clicks generated from the traffic you send them means an income for them, and your direct linking to the files prevents that from happening. This is how some software can remain free, rather than the author resorting to making it payware. If you like things to stay free, you have to do your part to help the developers keep it that way.

    3. A big blog like this one linking to a page on a small developer's site can mean a big boost in Page Rank, making their software easier to find through search engines. This helps the people looking for the perfect tool to do the job they need, as well as the software developer that created it.

    4. You are depriving your readers of the chance to browse around the developer's site, and perhaps discovering more useful software they might be interested in. Or in the case of the applications that come from donationcoder.com, you are preventing them from discovering a wonderful software enthusiasts community that they really would enjoy, and can even request custom made freeware, made to their specifications.

    5. In some cases, you may be making it more difficult for your readers to find the info necessary to submit bug reports and get support, not to mention application updates and upgrades.

    So, could you please be a really nice guy to us poor freeware/donationware developers, and your readers, and fix the links to point to the pages and not the file downloads?

    DropCommand: http://www.donationcoder.com/Software/Skrommel/index.html#DropCommand

    It is currently incorrectly named on the page as RunToClose. Just select the one that matches the image used in the article for DropCommand. I have informed Skrommel of the mistake so he can correct the name on that page.

    Lacuna Launcher: http://appsapps.info/lacunalauncher.php

    Thanks.

    • Mark O'Neill
      March 17, 2009 at 10:30 am

      Hi there

      It wasn't Damien's intention to deprive anyone of any income or exposure. He merely put the direct links there as convenience for the MakeUseOf readers to quickly find the direct links to the software. Nothing more.

      However, we now recognise, thanks to your comments, that the developers deserve the Paypal income and the additional exposure for their website. Therefore we have changed the weblinks accordingly.

      Many apologies for the inconvenience.

    • Damien Oh
      March 17, 2009 at 8:02 pm

      My apology. It is not my intention to deprive the developers of their donation income.

  9. Damien Rice O
    March 16, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    How about giving some credit where credit is due? Why not link to author's web sites instead of directly to the download files?

    I'm sure the fine folks at/from DonationCoder would like the exposure and would appreciate the potential for donations from people who like the software.

  10. Transcontinental
    March 16, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    Thanks for sharing theses nifty little utilities, but concerning 'Fence', this one is brand new. Does that mean, Damien, that your past life with Windows goes back to a recent past? ;)

    • Damien Oh
      March 16, 2009 at 7:35 pm

      Nope. But, being a tech blogger, sometime I do need to access Windows to test out some software. That is when these applications come in handy.

  11. Alex
    March 16, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    Taskbar Shuffler!

    • Chris
      March 19, 2009 at 7:54 pm

      Thanks for that. :)

  12. Womble
    March 16, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    Im not getting DropCommand. I can already drag files/folders to the console in XP, did they remove this feature in Vista or something?

    • Damien Oh
      March 16, 2009 at 7:48 pm

      I am not sure if they have removed it, but it is not working for me when I drag the file/folder to the command prompt in Vista.

  13. Sean Vater
    March 16, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    Thanx for the 'Fences' link, pretty cool download....

  14. ramaccount
    March 16, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    "opening a lot of applications and then forget to close them after you have finished using them"

    errr... is this really a problem?

    • Damien Oh
      March 16, 2009 at 7:37 pm

      That is not really a problem, except that those unused applications are taking up your system resources and possibly desktop and taskbar space. For someone with a slightly older computer (like me), it helps.

  15. Will Johnson
    March 16, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    "Fences is a free software developed by Stardock, the developer behind the popular RocketDock."

    Um... no they're not. They are the developers behind ObjectDock, a very similar program.

    • Damien Oh
      March 16, 2009 at 7:38 pm

      Oops...I have make a mistake there. Thanks for informing. I will get it amended.

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