The Mark Pack – The Essentials On My Computer – Part Two

Mark O'Neill 31-12-2008

Yesterday I gave you a sneak peek into my Mark Pack which is my collection of indispensable software apps that I always have installed on the computer.    But it was too much for one post so here is Part Two of “what Mark always has installed and what he recommends you install too”


So, tally ho!   And on with the show!

7.  TrueCrypt

The Mark Pack - The Essentials On My Computer - Part Two truecrypt

The king of computer encryption programs.   Extremely easy to set up and once you have your encrypted folder(s) set up on your computer, it is impossible for anyone to crack it open (unless you make your password blatantly obvious like P-A-S-S-W-O-R-D for example, in which case you have no business using an encryption program in the first place).

Everyone should have an encryption program on their computer for computer passwords, financial records, private correspondence and any other sensitive material that shouldn’t be readily accessible to prying eyes.

My first ever post for MakeUseOf was about TrueCrypt and you can also encrypt your USB stick Encrypt Your USB Stick With Truecrypt 6.0 Read More with the app.   So Truecrypt is very versatile and flexible.    Sometimes it does pay to be paranoid and careful.


8.  Unlocker

Have you ever tried to delete a file only to get this error message?

The Mark Pack - The Essentials On My Computer - Part Two filedeletionerrormessage

I get this message a lot and it irritates the hell out of me. So this is where Unlocker comes in to save the day (and my sanity).

The Mark Pack - The Essentials On My Computer - Part Two unlocker2Whenever you can’t delete a file, just right-click on it and choose “Unlocker” (the app integrates itself into the Explorer right-click menu). Unlocker will then kill all the Windows processes that are holding that app and stopping you from deleting it. You can then go ahead and nuke the file.


If for any reason it can’t kill the dastardly processes which are holding you back, Unlocker will blast away the file for you when you next boot up the computer.

Here’s my original MUO story on Unlocker.

9.  Filebox eXtender

There are two parts to this app that are insanely useful.  The first is the ability to add shortcuts to certain Windows Explorer folders which you access on a regular basis :

The Mark Pack - The Essentials On My Computer - Part Two filebox1


This saves a lot of time if one of your most accessed folders in Windows Explorer is a sub-folder tucked away in lots of other sub-folders.   Instead of tediously click-click-clicking with a mouse to get to that folder several times a day, you can use Filebox eXtender to create a one-click shortcut to that folder instead.

But the best part of Filebox eXtender are the “push-pins” which you can use to keep an app “on top” of all other windows.   So say I want to keep Skype on top of all other Windows.   I just need to use the push-pin to “pin” Skype to the top of all the other windows, as if I was pinning it to a notice board :

The Mark Pack - The Essentials On My Computer - Part Two skypepushpin

Here’s theoriginal MUO story.


10.  CDex & Audioshell

The Mark Pack - The Essentials On My Computer - Part Two cdexpink

Whenever I buy a CD, I immediately rip a MP3 copy for my iPod using CDex.   CDex is most definately the best freeware CD ripping tool available.   After putting the CD into your hard drive, CDex immediately detects the disk and after hitting a button, the disk is ripped to MP3 format in the space of a couple of minutes.   Most of the time, it can even auto-name your files for you too.

When the files have not been auto-named by CD-ex, I then use the free Audioshell to edit the ID3 tags and add album art (see my original MUO story here The 5 Best Audio Merger and Splitter Tools for MP3 Files If you need to split or merge audio files, these free audio splitter and audio merger tools are more than enough for the job. Read More ).

11. Quick Media Converter

The Mark Pack - The Essentials On My Computer - Part Two quickmediaconverter

When it comes to file conversion, Quick Media Converter is an absolute gem and it seems there is nothing it can’t do.   I have yet to find a file it won’t convert.    It seems totally unbeatable.

It converts audio files and video files from one format to another.   It converts files to iPod format and iPod files back to normal format.    It converts files to Flash and back again.   DVD’s from PAL to NTSC and vice versa.    Files to iPhone format and vice versa.   Files to Playstation and Xbox format even.

There is also a webcam video recorder and a Camstudio screencast recorder but I haven’t ever used those so I can’t give an opinion on how good they are.   But the file conversion tools are just far and away the best I’ve ever encountered.

So that’s the Mark Pack – 11 apps that appear on my computer ALL the time.   But as I said in my last post, due to me testing and reviewing apps all the time, I might find a new favourite app tomorrow and number 12 might enter the Mark Pack any day.    But when it does, I’ll be sure to let you know!

So what’s in your Pack?   Please do let me know!    And let me know what you think of my choices!

Related topics: CD-DVD Tool, Encryption, File Conversion, MP3.

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  1. Mark
    December 9, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    Oh and what about laptop users? I forgot I was on a laptop!
    They dont have "hard drives" they are worlds apart in respect to design.

  2. Mark
    December 9, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    Since when do you put CD's into the hard drive? CD's go in the optical drive such as a DVDRW Drive, not in the hard drive! Hard drives are what data is stored on! So please, before making a post like this, learn your terminology.

  3. Jessika
    June 1, 2009 at 1:12 am

    I have MP3 Tag Pro to automatically fill the ID3 tags, it can also download lyrics for multiple songs.

  4. Vertx
    February 20, 2009 at 8:49 am

    the video converting program was great, thanks!

  5. Brady
    January 1, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    Unlocker is awesome. I use that program on a daily basis. Quick Media Converter seems good and better than SUPER, which is what I now use - it's powerful but could be easier to use. But a lot of times I'll just use VLC, which'll play just about anything

  6. qaqwex
    January 1, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    I have most of what you have also loaded on my PC. The only thing I would add is Snagit. I have to do a lot of screen captures and annotate them in my job ( and previous ones) and this is a constant on all my current and previous PCs over the last few years. The latest version 9.1 is especially good becuase it stores the cpatures in its own db so you don't have to keep thinking of names and locations for them.

    • Mark O'Neill
      January 1, 2009 at 2:26 pm

      I have SnagIt too and I use it countless times each day. It too is part of my Mark Pack but I didn't include it here because it isn't free and MakeUseOf only talks about free apps.

  7. Colin
    January 1, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    I've tried Unlocker and it's fine, but Process Lassso ( is better IMHO. You can deal with a stalled program by a "request to close, then force a close" or just "force an immediate close".

    Lasso also shows memory usage, responsiveness, all running programs (so I can zap as many as I like from one screen), it can throttle any/all programs back, and there are regular easily-installed updates. Perfect.

  8. Matt
    January 1, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    It's not IMPOSSIBLE to crack a TrueCrypt volume. It depends on the encryption method used and the strength of the password. Certainly, AES256, Twofish or similar with a strong password will take a VERY long time to brute force, but it's not IMPOSSIBLE. If used correctly then yes, for all intents your data is safe... I just think it's misleading to say IMPOSSIBLE.

    Does CDex have secure ripping these days? I've always liked EAC for it's secure ripping and error correction features. CDex has a nicer UI, however.

    • Mark O'Neill
      January 1, 2009 at 12:15 pm

      That's why I said "it is impossible for anyone to crack it open unless you make your password blatantly obvious"

      If you have a very long password (30+ characters, non-dictionary) that will require brute force and you change your password on a regular basis then someone else can sit there and try to crack into your encrypted partition until the cows come home. They just won't get in.

      What do you mean by "secure ripping"? Cdex rips the CD without any loss of audio quality and it is very fast. Does the job and does it extremely well. No complaints from me.

  9. eric
    January 1, 2009 at 5:06 am

    Me has bad grammer but I did go two collij

  10. Collude
    January 1, 2009 at 2:54 am

    Hi, just a couple of items.
    CDex is a fine program but it really doesn't compare to Exact Audio Copy ( for accuracy and quality.

    Additionally, I would suggest that FormatFactory ( for media conversion.

    Both programs are, of course, free.

  11. venkat
    January 1, 2009 at 2:20 am

    Quick Media Converter is very useful in converting audio and video files among various formats.

  12. THRiLL KiLL
    January 1, 2009 at 1:08 am

    Grammar nazi?

  13. doucher
    January 1, 2009 at 12:56 am

    Under comment #1, it should read GRAMMERNAZI, not JBu92....also the smug smirk on your face is heavily contrasted by your obvious acne problem further increasing the hilarity.....the internet IS a cruel and cold place.

    • Mark O'Neill
      January 1, 2009 at 12:19 pm

      Don't worry, I'm not losing any sleep over it.

  14. thenetguruz
    January 1, 2009 at 12:47 am

    Good list, I didn't knew about Quick Media Converter and till now I was fiddling with crappy SUPER

  15. JBu92
    December 31, 2008 at 9:54 pm

    Under #10, it should read an MP3 copy, not a MP3 copy.

  16. g
    December 31, 2008 at 7:31 pm

    Axcrypt - encrypt the files
    Freerip - rip the cd to mp3
    Any Video Converter for video
    Jodix IPOD converter (free) for the ipod
    Videora Ipod converter for the ipod works great too
    Xrecode for audio (best i've come across yet)
    DVDflick for encoding/burning video to dvd (vob) (cuz my dvd player doesn't do xvid). handles subtitles very nicely as well.

    You ripping Pink? WTF??

    • Mark O'Neill
      January 1, 2009 at 6:16 am

      and what's wrong with Pink?! ;-)

  17. tracyjump
    December 31, 2008 at 11:54 pm

    Happy New Year!
    I always use Daniusoft Video Converter Suite which a friend told me, including DVD ripper and Video converter. It could help you convert DVD and video between all popular video and audio formats such as converting AVI to MPEG, WMV to AVI, WMV to MPEG, VOB to AVI, WMA to MP3, etc with only three steps. Also let you set the movie effects.

  18. Sean
    December 31, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    Thank you SO MUCH for Unlocker. That is perhaps one of the most annoying things that can happen in windows, and it's not exactly a rare occurence. Quick Media Converter also looks like something I might be interested instead of my current setup of videora and dbpoweramp.

    Besides your choice of winamp I've really thought everything on this list was great and reflective of exactly what I use as well, thanks.

  19. sabina
    December 31, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    Wow, great apps ! i never heard about any of these (except Unlocker). I will get these on my computer for sure and give them a try !