Windows software of the day [March 29, 2012]

Windows has hundreds of thousands of programs. Because of this great volume and lack of a central store, software discovery (aka finding new and useful programs) is extremely difficult. With our Windows Software of the Day initiative, dotTech aims to change that. Everyday we post three programs, allowing our readers to discover new software, daily. Enjoy! [Subscribe to our Windows section to never miss an article: RSS Feed | E-mail]

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Software for March 29, 2012

AquaSnap

AeroSnap is a useful feature: drag a window to the left to make it take up half the screen, to the top to take up all the screen, to the left to take up half the screen, or resize it to the top of the screen to make it take up all vertical space.

But it’s in no way configurable, and it’s only on Windows 7. AquaSnap replaces AeroSnap by making it more configurable and usable on operating systems as old as Windows 2000.

You can set custom rules for what happens when you drag windows to the top, bottom, and even the corners. It’s a truly versatile program and is very useful for anyone who deals with a large number of windows on a daily basis.

Upgrading to the $9 commercial version gives you both the right to use AquaSnap at work and multi-monitor support.

Price: Free for home use with $9 commercial license

Version discovered: v1.6.1

Supported OS: Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7

Download size: 2.0MB

Malware scan: VirusTotal scan results 1/42

AquaSnap homepage

Piles

When Windows 7 came out, pinned programs were all the rage. You can do this! And that! I can look at individual tabs as though they are windows!

But their promise never came through, and there were lots of sticking points: for one, you couldn’t pin a folder to the task bar. However, with Piles, this changes. Suddenly, pinning a folder to the task bar is child’s play, and you’ll wonder how you lived without it.

Piles is very simple: you supply a folder and an icon, it’ll do the rest. When it’s done creating your new pile, it’ll open a folder for you to grab a shortcut and pin it. Click the shortcut, and you’re done: it’s pinned!

Price: Free!

Version discovered: v1.3

Supported OS: Windows 7 (requires .NET Framework 3.5 SP1)

Download size: 447KB

Malware scan: VirusTotal scan results 0/40

Piles homepage

Hot Corners

Have you ever been at a friend’s house and watched them use their Mac? Often, you’ll see them quickly slide the mouse into the corner of their screen and have some fancy effect go off. Hot Corners lets you bring this kind of functionality to Windows.

Hot Corners lets you select custom actions for when you bring your mouse to the corners or edges of your screen. You can lock, sleep, open My Documents or Control Panel, search, or fiddle with the active window. And it’s easy to set up, too: select an action from the dropdown menu, select a delay speed anywhere from 100ms to 500ms so you don’t accidentally fire your corners, and you’re off!

Price: Free!

Version discovered: v2.2.2.0

Supported OS: Windows XP/Vista/7

Download size: 529KB

Malware scan: VirusTotal scan results 0/43

Hot Corners homepage

dotTechies: We have tested all the software listed above. However, Windows Software of the Day articles are not intended as “reviews” but rather as “heads-up” to help you discover new programs. Always use your best judgement when downloading programs, such as trying trial/free versions before purchasing shareware programs, if applicable.

Upgrading to the $9 commericial version

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16 comments

  1. RobCr

    Regarding my PicPick front end, I have now tested my ability to call my program by pressing the Print Screen key (or the Insert key). I haven’t incorporated that code into it yet, but I have a wee separate program that proves it works. I probably will have these options -
    - Print Scrn key or Insert key or NO Hot keys
    - Mouse move to Start button (with a choice between click Start Button or hover for a few seconds)
    To then choose which capture method, you will be able to just press Enter key (for your default), or type 1 to 7, or click a choice)

    Since this will be a convenient method of showing my Form (screen), I intend to build a few extras into it.
    EG click an arrow to expand it East / South to perhaps have a list of clips for pasting, and a list of things to launch.
    Now to my question – Does anyone know of a web site where someone has compiled statistics, on which resolutions people are using ?
    EG If I discover that people are still using 800 * 600 that will limit how much my form(screen0 can expand.
    I had Googled before writing this with no luck.
    As I was writing this, I thought I better look up the wide screen equivalent of 800 * 600 (for those who have wide screen PCs or laptops).
    I didn’t find the answer (yet), but did find this -
    Browser Display Statistics
    http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_display.asp
    That page appears to be only showing 4:3 ratios (not wide screen), but what it does suggest is no one is using 800 * 600
    Are any of you using resolutions lower than 1024 * 768 (or the widescreen equivalent of that) ?
    (Lower means say 800 * 600)
    I reckon that the answer will be no, for those using desktop PCs.
    But I am uncertain about you laptop users ?

  2. RobCr

    @Mediaman1:
    The version that I have working only responds to middle mouse button hold down for one second. To hide it you can do the same again.
    Normally you don’t have to hide it, as you usually would click a choice (say Region capture), and my program hides itself automatically.
    You will notice checkboxes down the right. If you tick one of those (as your most common capture method), that allows you to click the bigger label at the bottom, instead of navigating amongst the other choices.

    We can use this version as a discussion point for my proposed alternative mouse or keyboard activations.

    My eomail is -
    robhp AT iprimus DOT com DOT au

  3. RobCr

    @wondering about:
    What do you mean by Full size and Window size ?

    Here are definitions that I am familiar with from the past -
    Maximized (Full screen with Taskbar showing)
    Minimized (in the Taskbar or in the SysTray)
    Mediumized (visible but not Maximized) That word is my invention, as there never has been a word for it.

    One other term that I am used to is Full screen which generally means the application hides all it’s toolbars and Menus, and probably the Taskbar (EG press F11 in Firefox)

    Which of all of the above are you referring to ?

  4. wondering about

    anyone know how to make a game window go from full size to window size?
    game has click option box of full size, unchecked it exited the game then restarted game and it is still full size.
    will this thing called aquasnap be able to shrink the window from full to window size?

  5. Mediaman1

    @RobCr:

    For program development, certainly having keyboard-open + keyboard-select or Keyboard-open and select default is a fine idea (particularly since capture is generally limited); even using arrow keys is fine. However, providing a mouse-mouse option is also a great idea… since a user might continue ongoing use of a mouse. You might also consider adding enable/disable options for various options and then leave the choice it to the user.
    I’d be happy to take a look if you post a link or request address

  6. RobCr

    @Mike:
    I am going to tempt you one way or another, either by -
    - Enhancements (extras) for my program
    or
    - Unbeleivable ease of use

    On the latter, and exploring Elendil’s suggestion, I am attempting reliable detection of the Print Screen key press.
    If I can, and the users (you) disable that hot key in PicPick, I believe I can arrange it so all you have to do to get say a ‘Region’ PicPick capture, would be to press the Print Screen key (on the keyboard) followed by the number 5 on the keyboard.
    Does that pique your interest ?
    I would accomplish that by numbering the choices on my Pop up Menu (‘Region’ would be the 5th).
    My program detects the Print Screen key press. my Pop Up menu would show the list of choices, which could either be clicked with the mouse, or you just press 5 on the keyboard. You do not even have to look at your PC screen, if you can remember 5

  7. Mike

    For Piles-like capability but more, I might recommend 7stacks (also freeware): it allows you to pin items to the Taskbar, but within a pop-up container. In essence, allowing you to create new “master icons” on the Taskbar which themselves contain other programs, folders, etc., just like Windows Explorer does. A great way to organize shortcuts (have one icon for office programs, another for games, a third for utilities, etc.) and avoid clutter in the limited real estate of the Taskbar. And, it works great. Recommended.

    http://alastria.com/software/7stacks/

  8. tejas

    Piles sounds like a great idea, but after trying it, I decided it’s not for me.
    I have Windows Explorer pinned to the Taskbar, and my most used folders pinned to the Jump List.
    With Piles, I would have multiple folders pinned to the Taskbar (14 to duplicate what’s in my Jump List). I don’t have room for that many folders, and it doesn’t make opening them any easier, and definitely not faster.

  9. RobCr

    @Elendil:
    Before .NET it was a VB6 term. I have been happily using VB6 for over a decade, so I am used to using Form, but I will take your advice to use screen.

    The reason that I believe a mouse action (to show the pop up list) is preferred, is it is one continuous action to show then click the action (eg ‘Region’ capture). I don’t think it is economical to depress keyboard keys, AND THEN use the mouse for a single click.
    Conversely one could develop a keyboard only Pop up list, provided that there were say only 9 choices, which the user sends by pressing 0 to 9 (EG press hot key then 3 to tell PicPick to do a Region capture).
    I am not too much in favor of that, as it limits the number of choices that could be offered in the final enhanced (multi purpose) pop up

  10. Elendil

    I prefer hotkeys, but I think you should leave the option up to the user. (Also, ‘form’ is a .NET-specific term. The generic word would be ‘window’ or e.g. ‘popup list’.)

  11. RobCr

    Talking about a mouse move to open programs, etc.
    I wouldn’t mind feedback from DotTechies on a program that I am developing.
    I already have this working -
    A front end for PicPick, which allows you with one click to choose from PicPick’s capture alternatives (EG Region, Full Screen, etc).
    The program is running as hidden, and you make it visible by holding down the mouse middle ‘button’ for about 1 second. You then click your desired capture choice, and it gets out of the way, and tells PicPick to do the capture.
    As I say it is working, and DotTechies are welcome to a copy.
    My question is – what is the desired method of making the Form visible -
    - Current method of holding down the mouse middle ‘button’ for 1 second.
    - Middle mouse ‘button’ click of the Windows Start button.
    - Mouse move to a corner of the screen, and stay there for a couple of seconds.
    For the first two opening methods, if you accidentally open the Form, you can hide it by the same operation that made it visible (EG hold the mouse button down for one second).
    If you decide on the mouse move to a corner, I will need another close method (EG Esc key, or a ‘Hide’ button that you mouse over (no click).
    DON’T LET THAT PUT YOU OFF as normally you don’t have to close my list. It closes by itself when you click a choice. Thus the only time you have to close it, is when you opened it by mistake.

    Give me your thoughts, preferences.
    Rob
    PS I have plans to enhance the program, by having an arrow top right of the Form (Actually the Form is more like a popup list).
    If you mouse over the arrow, the Form will expand to the right, showing the new feature(s). EG It might be a list of your most used clips, which you click to paste into your current application. Or it might be a list of Programs or Files or URLs, that you wish to launch with a single click.

  12. Ashraf
    Mr. Boss

    I wonder if AquaSnap allows us to “temporarily” display the AeroSnap effect (maybe like with a hotkey) There have been so many times I want to enlarge windows past my screen when I’m multitasking but AeroSnap won’t let me.

    Anyone that has tried AquaSnap know?

    @Locutus: Once again great finds!

  13. Ed

    I can see how hot corners would be useful, but it would be a nightmare for me. XD
    With how often I just shove my cursor over to the side, or my mouse rolls off to the side, I would be constantly opening things/messing with my computer.