Windows software of the day [May 3, 2012]

Today’s Software

  • trimDesk: quickly hide and show your desktop and taskbar
  • Osiva: a quick image browser that makes each picture into a tile on your desktop
  • Free Launch Bar: get the Quick Launch bar in Windows 7, with more added features

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About Windows Software of the Day

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 May 3, 2012

trimDesk

Cluttered desktops. I hate them, and I’m sure you probably do too. Now, try to hide the taskbar and even disable the desktop background. I’ll be here when you’re done dealing with regedit, don’t worry.

trimDesk is a tiny app that lets you instantly hide your desktop background, taskbar, gadgets, and icons in just one click, either one by one or in sets. It also lets you do things like open an application while hiding various things — for instance, you can have it change your desktop background and open Word or Excel when it’s time to get some serious work done.

If you have a cluttered desktop and want a quick and easy way to clean it, try trimDesk.

Price: Free with $12.75 Pro version

Version discovered: v1.1.1

Supported OS: Windows XP/Vista/7

Download size: 1.6MB

VirusTotal malware scan results: EXE – 0/42 | ZIP – 0/37

Portable version available?  No, but does not require admin powers

trimDesk homepage

Osiva

Want to simply display a bunch of images as your desktop background, with each tile being an independently movable block? Try Osiva. It actually works quite well with trimDesk above, as when you use trimDesk to hide the icons and desktop background it can make images loaded in Osiva stand out more.

When you load images into Osiva, you’ll notice that they’re by default 1:1. However, you can easily resize them, either one by one or all at once, to various sizes like half size and eighth size. You can also load “transparent” images into them, where the transparency is actually just a white background. You can use this to make, for instance, certain overlays that don’t interrupt your background.

Osiva, while kind of a novel tool, isn’t really all that useful. However, it’s a free download and it’s worth checking out, if even for that “huh” factor it has.

Price: Free!

Version discovered: v1.3.0

Supported OS: Windows unknown

Download size: 212KB

VirusTotal malware scan results: 0/42

Portable version available? Yes

Osiva homepage

Free Launch Bar

The Quick Launch bar, which was gotten rid of in Windows 7, was many people’s best friends on Windows. It provided quick access to tons of programs, and was a great little organizational tool. Although it may be gone, however, you can still get it back with additional features with Free Launch Bar.

With Free Launch Bar, you can do all the usual Quick Launch stuff: launch apps, make folders, etc. However, FLB also allows you to edit various properties of the bar: should it just be icons? Just text? Both? You can decide. You can also set up various hotkeys for each item that allow you to launch them even quicker.

Free Launch Bar is a nice little tool if you want your classic Quick Launch bar back, and brings even more to the table.

Price: Free with $19.90 upgrade to True Launch Bar

Version discovered: v2.0

Supported OS: Windows XP/Vista/7

Download size: 1.7MB

VirusTotal malware scan results: 0/42

Portable version available? No

Free Launch Bar 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.

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11 comments

  1. Rob (Down Under)

    @JonE:
    Thanks for that, it downloaded fine.
    I have got so wary of similar sites, with their attempts to confuse you with other download buttons, etc.
    However it appears that Softpedia is not one of those annoying sites.
    I will make a point of checking it out, for future downloading (thanks again).
    I must confess that Avast is starting to get irritating.
    It did not show it’s face, however, when I used your download.

    At my age (70) there are not enough neurons left in the brain to tolerate graphics and aero, and transparency, etc. – – – That means I don’t need that.
    When I check out Osiva, it will be to see if it meets my dream, which is –
    Have the ability to compose a set of Notes, Tips, etc, to place on my desktop (instead of the Windows Desktop).
    It would have to easily allow me to replace some of the composition (edit it), and reset it as the Desktop display.
    And if God was really being kind to me, it would allow me to have a couple of sets, and allow me to easily choose which set, will be displayed.

    In the off chance that Osiva does not meet my dream, does anyone know of such a program ?

  2. JonE

    @r0lZ: Thanks for the Windows 7 Quick Launch Tip/Trick; I will definitely use it. I don’t use Windows 7; it’s on the laptop I got for my wife, but you guessed it she knows nothing about computers so I set everything up and noticed the missing Quick Launch right away.

    To make a long story short after an extensive search I found a few programs that might work and out of all of them “Free Launch Bar” was the best. I tried it on my XP computer first and quite liked it. I don’t know whether Locutus was giving you a hard time, being serious, or both, but I have to agree with him.

    At the time I found Free Launch Bar there was no Free version for Windows 7, so when Giveaway of the Day featured “True Launch Bar” I downloaded it for my wife’s laptop. There is now a Windows 7 version of Free Launch Bar.

    The best way I can describe “Free Launch Bar” is an improved “Quick Launch”. Try it, you might like it. If you don’t you can uninstall it.

  3. JonE

    @Rob (Down Under): I don’t know whether this will help you because I’m one of the weirdos that doesn’t use conventional active protection such as Anti Virus, Firewall, Anti Malware, and etc; I never had anything, but problems with them.

    One of the rules I follow, and very rarely break, is that I don’t download anything from a developers site; I have, but only as a last resort if I absolutely have to. I go to Softpedia and look up the program there; they usually have it. If they don’t there a few other places I look. But I always look on Softpedia first, for a number of reasons; among them being that most of the programs they list are on Softpedia servers and are always safe, clean downloads.

    You can find Osiva on Softpedia here; http://www.softpedia.com/get/Multimedia/Graphic/Graphic-Viewers/Osiva.shtml

    You could always disable your active protection while you do the download. I know that sounds suicidal, but if your downloading from a known good site the risk is minimal.

    Hope this helps.

  4. JonE

    @Elishabenabbuyah: I’m not well versed on Vista, but on most of the Windows OS prior to Windows 7 if you right click inside the task bar there is an option for a “Quick Launch” Toolbar. For those, like me, who like an uncluttered desktop the “Quick Launch” is used quite a bit. You take the shortcuts from your Desktop and place them in the “Quick Launch” The Toolbar options are not too dissimilar in Windows 7 except that it has no option for the “Quick Launch” Toolbar. I imagine it’s called “Quick Launch” because any shortcuts in the “Quick Launch” only require one click to open or initiate a program, instead of the two clicks required on the desktop; that and it gets rid of the clutter on the Desktop.

    If you look at the very first comment here, from r0lZ, second paragraph, you will find instructions on how to enable the “Quick Lauch” Toolbar in Windows 7.

  5. Elishabenabbuyah

    Excuse my very low level of understanding in these matters, but can someone explain the difference between the old Quick Launch Bar and what I have on my Windows 7 which calls itself the “task bar”?

  6. Blue Yz

    Free Launch Bar is the younger sibling to True Launch Bar which is a dock-like app virtually identical to the (dearly departed) Gnome 2 interface in Linux. It’s NOT Linux, of course; just the same (type of) docking bar that Gnome 2 used (and that was killed in Gnome 3 – which is now kind of a prettier version of Windows 8; equally cumbersome to use on a laptop).

    At any rate, in addition to offering the usual launching capabilities of a dock, the (stand alone) docking bar in TLB has all the features you grew to love in Gnome 2 (or should have) and a whole lot more. It’s kind of ironic that the only place you can now get that Linux interface is in Windows, huh? True Launch Bar is payware but it is periodically offered as a freebie; late of GAOTD a few months ago.

    Keep your eyes open for a freebie offering of it because it *will* change your Windows experience for the better in a way that the Mac dock clones (like Rocket Dock) and the standard Windows 7 OR 8 cannot match. It’s only real problem is that its developer is a *horrible* marketer and has kept this thing a relative secret for the last decade (or more).

  7. Rob (Down Under)

    Osiva is portable, I believe. That is the good news.

    Anyone been able to download it ?
    When I click the 1.3.0/ line, it goes to a sub directory
    When I click osiva.exe Avast offers to terminate it, which I accepted
    Right clicking and choosing Save as, brings up an error message
    If I right click and copy the URL, I get –
    http://www.tristable.net/osiva/files/1.3.0/osiva.exe

    But as I mentioned, left clicking throws up an Avast block
    I cannot recall whether the dialog offering to Run or Save, should come up before the Avast blocking, or after it ?

  8. r0lZ

    The classic Quick Launch bar of Win XP is not gone in Win 7. It is just somewhat hidden.

    To enable it back, just right-click the taskbar, select Toolbars -> New Toolbar, and navigate to “C:\Users\[you]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch”. The Quick Launch bar is back! (You may have to unlock the taskbar to move or resize the QuickLaunch bar and right-click it to change the way the icons are displayed.)

    Note that you can define several “quick launch” bars, with different folders. I like especially the possibility to select the “My Computer” folder. It gives quick access to all your disks and content through a hierarchical menu where the content of each folder is displayed as a sub-menu. Very handy to navigate quickly to any directory.