Windows 10 problem solvers: My must-have utilities (and many are free)
Overcome annoyances and solve problems
Windows 10 comes with plenty of awesome built-in apps, but sometimes... I want more. When I need to support multiple keyboards, modify images in bulk, customize my keyboard, uninstall stubborn apps, uncompress pretty much everything, or play nearly every media format -- there's a tool in this collection that will come to my rescue.
Share a mouse and keyboard across computers
If you have more than one machine on your desk, you know it's a pain to have multiple keyboards and mice. Synergy is a virtual KVM that works across PCs, Macs, and Linux boxes. It's $19, but worth it.
Turn your tablet into an external monitor
It's well known that more screen real estate increases productivity. Given we all have tablets lying around, why not use them as an extra screen for your laptop? That's what Spacedesk is does for you, for free.
Automatically modify images in bulk
If have any kind of bulk image converting tasks, Reaconverter is the tool to use. You can create simple scripts and droplets that will transform entire folders nearly instantly. There's a free version.
Customize keyboard behavior at the nano-level
KeyTweak looks old because it's been around for a long time. But it still works and it's free. If you need to surgically alter your keyboard, this is the tool for you. Not for newbies.
Eliminate excess software
It's hard to believe, but PCs still come loaded with crap. PC Decrapifier has been with us for years and is still a go-to tool to clean the crap from your machine. It's a free download.
Display image thumbnails instead of generic icons
The Windows desktop and File Explorer show thumbnails for some file formats, but not all. If you want to see (and customize) thumbnails for many more formats, MysticThumbs is your friend. $30. Just one snag: it has a problem displaying thumbnails from shares.
Uninstall stubborn apps
At almost $40, this isn't cheap. But if you want to cleanly remove applications from your Windows install, Revo Uninstaller Pro can save you a lot of time, and even save you from having to do a fresh install... for a while.
Switch to the right network
For those who remember NetProfileSwitch, Mobile Net Switch is a tool that's been updated for Windows 10. As you move from network to network, it adjusts your PC's network configuration automatically. About $30.
Find out what's in your computer
If you've ever needed to know your machine's configuration (say, to find the right drivers), Speccy is the go-to product. There's a free version that should do for most needs.
Find keys for installed products
If you want to reinstall your system, it's often necessary to re-register with the appropriate product key. If you can't find your original order, the $30 Recover Keys can help.
Find what's clogging your storage
Why is my drive suddenly full? Ever have that happen to you? With WinDirStat, you can see all your files at a glance and easily see the clusters of files that are taking up way too much space. Oh, yeah. It's totally free.
Uncompress pretty much everything
So someone just sent you a file compressed with some odd format. Consider 7-Zip your go-to tool. It can uncompress 7z, XZ, BZIP2, GZIP, TAR, ZIP, WIM, AR, ARJ, CAB, CHM, CPIO, CramFS, DMG, EXT, FAT, GPT, HFS, IHEX, ISO, LZH, LZMA, MBR, MSI, NSIS, NTFS, QCOW2, RAR, RPM, SquashFS, UDF, UEFI, VDI, VHD, VMDK, WIM, XAR and Z files.
Play nearly every media format
Affectionately known as "the cone," VLC will play nearly any media format you can think of (and many you can't). Plus, it's free. You can't beat that!
Batch rename files with custom rules
I can't tell you how many times ReNamer has come in handy. It has complex rules, so you can batch rename files and customize them at the same time. It's been around for a long time, there's a pro version, but the free version should meet most needs.