Classic Shell

Get enhanced functionality in Windows Explorer with this handy utility

classic shellOver the past few iterations of Windows, the UI has changed a great deal, between Window XP, Windows 7, Windows 8.x and Windows 10, there’s been only some very basic consistency in the user interface. Depending on where you work, the industry you work in and the size of your company, you may or may not have had to deal with any of those changes. Let’s face it, many IT departments simply lock you into a version of Windows and run THAT until it can’t any longer.

When changes come to the way Windows operates, looks and feels, user productivity can tank. In those cases, users spend more time trying to figure out HOW to do something than actually doing the task at hand. It’s at times like those that I really appreciate tools like Classic Shell. It’s a UI – or shell – modification tool for Windows, and it works with Windows 7, 8.x and Windows 10.

Classic Shell is freeware that improves your productivity, enhances the usability of Windows and empowers you to use the computer the way you like it. With it you can customize the Start Menu with multiple styles and skins; get quick access to recent, frequently-used, or pinned programs; as well as find programs, settings, files and documents. You can also customize the Start button in Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10.

You can also customize Windows Explorer (formerly File Manager). In Windows Explorer, you can customize both a custom Toolbar and the Status Bar. You also get the ability to customize the Caption and Status bars in IE.

Conclusion: I’ve been using Classic Shell on my work PC for about two and a half years now. It’s an awesome application, and one that I would highly recommend to anyone running a “modern’ version of Windows (anything from Windows 7 forward). The customizations if offers for both the Start Menu and Explorer make both of them a LOT easier to use, especially if you’re using a version of Windows NEWER than Windows 7.

I personally think that the application is worthwhile simply based on the modifications it makes to Windows Explorer. While the application is free, it really adds value. In fact, it adds more value than some paid shell enhancements I’ve played with over the years.

There are a few down sides, however. As of this writing, the app hasn’t been updated in over eight (8) months . Its last update came on 2016-07-30. Currently the app also supports the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, but users of the Creator’s Update may have compatibility issues. If you plan on updating to the Creator’s Update – and all Windows 10 users will – then you should use the Classic Shell Utility to remove the app prior to updating Windows 10. If you don’t, you may have issues with both the app and your PC after the Creator’s Update is installed. I am assuming the utility will be updated to support the Creator’s Update, but I can’t find any information to either confirm or deny that anywhere as of this writing.

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Hamster Free Video Converter with a twist

Even with the staggering number of video formats already in existence, new formats seem to pop up all the time. The fast-paced emergence of new video-capable devices and media player software has only added to the rate at which new formats are developed. The problem is that video files formatted to play on one device may not be playable on another, leaving users who upgrade or change to a different device with libraries of unplayable content.

Hamster brings us the answer. It’s a video converter utility, capable of transforming files from one format to another. While other video converters exist, they’re often highly technical and complicated to use. Hamster is designed to be simple and quick, allowing you to convert video files quickly and easily.

There’s no bewildering array of settings or baroque control panel — just a straightforward interface designed so that anyone can use it. The conversion process has three steps: just load, choose the format you want, and convert. Hamster’s drag-and-drop capability lets you choose videos for editing in a quick and intuitive way; you can also open folders and files in a more traditional explorer view.

Hamster is free to download and use, and very simple to install. It doesn’t come bundled with annoying browser toolbars or other sketchy “helpful” software that you need to opt out of during the installation process. Despite being free, it doesn’t fill your screen with ads while you use it.

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Multi Commander the complete Windows files manager

Windows Explorer was never an option for managing files due to its single pane interface. Therefore many private developers have released other file managers resembling with Norton Commander concept featuring double pane interface for a faster browsing experience.

Multi Commander is another double pane files manager that wants to become as popular as Christian Ghisler’s Total Commander. Being developed by Mathias Svensson, the program brings some interesting new features dedicated especially for the hard-core users. Each windows pane receives a folder tree option and customizable tabs. These tabs can be set on opening any folder in order to ensure fast access to the most favorite locations on your PC.

Compared to its direct opponent, Multi Commander brings also an extensive number of free built-in plug-ins such as: support for various archive formats (ex.: .zip and .rar), FTP access and a Registry Viewer and Editor. Latest version of this program brings also customizable file colors and a new listing including information from IMDB and RottenTomatoes.com for your movies saved on your hard-drive.

At the moment Multi Commander 1.10 is available for free for Windows XP, Server, Vista and 7.

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