Best Free Windows Desktop Software

The Editors' Choice List - Page Index
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Gizmo's Freeware Top PickBest Freeware for WindowsWelcome to the Gizmo's Freeware Editors' Choice List, where you'll find a collection of the very best freeware for Windows from our site.

This really is a "best of the best" list for free Windows applications. Most of the products in this list have been awarded the coveted "Gizmo's Freeware Top Pick" award signifying they are the best free product in their class. We've also included some other outstanding products that have impressed our editors with their usefulness and professionalism.

We suggest you browse the whole list at your leisure as you may be surprised what freeware gems you will discover. The pathologically impatient can use the Page Index below.

Caution: Some of these recommendations involve advanced system tasks like cleaning the Windows registry so be sure to backup or image your system first.

What's New

Items added or updated most recently: NewComodo Backup NewFreeCommander XE  NewPrivateFirewall  |NewHWiNFO  |NewLocate32  |NewLaunchy  |360Amigo  |SearchMyFiles   |Axcrypt  | Fairstars CD Ripper


The Editors' Choice List for best free Windows apps now includes 103 applications in 82 categories. To read brief descriptions of the applications, click a page number or a category icon below.

  • Page 1. Introduction / What's New / Summary
  • Page 2. Security and Privacy
    Best Free Antivirus for Windows - Avast! Free Antivirus | Microsoft Security Essentials | Panda Cloud Antivirus
    Best Free Firewall for Windows - PrivateFirewall
    Best Free Adware/Spyware/Scumware Remover for Windows - Spybot
    Best Free Browser Protection Utility for Windows - Sandboxie
    Best Free Anonymous Surfing Service for Windows - CyberGhost VPN
    Best Free Software Update Monitor for Windows - Secunia PSI | Software Update Monitor (SUMo)
    Best Free Trojan Scanner for Windows - Emsisoft Anti Malware
    Best Free Rootkit Scanner for Windows - Kaspersky TDSSKiller
    Best Free HIPS for Windows - Malware Defender
    Best Free Site Link Adviser for Windows - WOT
    Best Free Parental Filter for Windows - Norton Safety Minder
  • Page 3. Cleanup, Tune and System Utilities
    Best Free File Cleaner for Windows - CCleaner
    Best Free PC Tune-up Utility for Windows - 360Amigo
    Best Free Registry Cleaner for Windows - Wise Registry Cleaner
    Best Free Disk De-fragmenter for Windows - UltraDefrag
    Best Free Secure Erase Utility for Windows - Eraser
    Best Free Startup Manager for Windows - Autoruns
    Best Free Duplicate File Detector for Windows - SearchMyFiles
    Best Free Disk Space Analyzer for Windows - SpaceSniffer
    Best Free Program Uninstaller for Windows - Revo Uninstaller
    Best Free System Information Utility for Windows - HWiNFO
    Best Free Process Viewer for Windows - SystemExplorer
  • Page 4. File and Desktop Utilities
    Best Free Drive Imaging Software for Windows - Macrium Reflect Free Edition
    Best Free Folder Synchronization Utility for Windows - FreeFileSync | Allway Sync
    Best Free Backup Software for Windows -Comodo Backup
    Best Free File Manager for Windows - FreeCommander XE
    Best Free File Encryption Utility for Windows - AxCrypt
    Best Free Partition Manager for Windows - MiniTool Partition Wizard
    Best Free File Comparison Utility for Windows - WinMerge | KDiff
    Best Free File Copy Utility for Windows - FastCopy
    Best Free Data Recovery Utility for Windows - Mini Tool Power Data Recovery
    Best Free File Rename Utility for Windows - File Renamer Basic
    Best Free File Archiver or Zip Utility for Windows - 7-Zip
    Best Free Onscreen Keyboard (Accessibility) for Windows - Click-N-Type
    Best Free Onscreen Keyboard (Security) for Windows - Neo's SafeKeys
    Best Free Desktop Search Utility for Windows - Locate32
    Best Free Virtual Desktop Manager for Windows - Dexpot
    Best Free Program Launcher for Windows - Launchy
  • Page 5. Image and Photo
    Best Free Screen Capture Utility for Windows - Screenshot Captor
    Best Free High Dynamic Range (HDR) Software for Windows - Luminance HDR
    Best Free Digital Image Viewer for Windows - Zoner Photo Studio Free
    Best Free Digital Image Editor for Windows - LightBox Image Editor |
    Best Free Paint Program for Windows - Project DogWaffle
    Best Free CAD Program for Windows - Google Sketchup
    Best Free Photo Slideshow Software for Windows - Photo Story
    Best Free Photo Organizer for Windows - FastStone
  • Page 6. Internet, Email and Networking
    Best Free Web Browser for Windows - Google Chrome | Mozilla Firefox | Opera
    Best Free Email Client for Windows - Mozilla Thunderbird
    Best Free Download Manager for Windows - Free Download Manager
    Best Free BitTorrent Client for Windows - Tixati
    Best Free Remote Access Software for Windows - Teamviewer
    Best Free HTML Editor for Windows - KompoZer
    Best Free Web Form Filler or Password Manager for Windows - LastPass
    Best Free Wi-Fi Network Finder Utility for Windows - Xirrus Wi-Fi Inspector
    Best Free Telnet/SSH Terminal Emulator for Windows - Dave's Telnet
    Best Free FTP Client for Windows - Fire FTP
  • Page 7. Audio and Video
    Best Free CD / DVD Burning Software for Windows - ImgBurn
    Best Free Media Player for Windows - PotPlayer | VLC Media Player | The KMPlayer
    Best Free Music Player and Organizer for Windows - Jaangle
    Best Free MP3 Tag Editor for Windows - TagScanner
    Best Free Video Editor for Windows - VideoDub
    Best Free Audio Editing Software for Windows - Audacity
    Best Free Audio & Video Format Conversion for Windows - Freemake Video Converter
    Best Free Streaming Media Recorder for Windows - Jing
    Best Free CD & DVD Emulation Software for Windows - Gizmo Drive
    Best Free Music Creation for Windows - LMMS (Linux Multimedia Studio)
    Best Free DVD Ripper for Windows - HandBrake
    Best Free CD Ripper for Windows - Fairstars CD Ripper
    Best Free Media Centre for Windows - XBMC
    Best Free Online TV Viewer for Windows - JLC's Internet TV Viewer
  • Page 8. Office and Productivity
    Best Free PDF Tools for Windows - PDFill PDF Tools
    Best Free PDF Writer for Windows - Bullzip PDF Printer
    Best Free PDF Reader/Viewer for Windows - PDF-XChange Viewer
    Best Free Finance Software for Windows - GnuCash
    Best Free Office Suite for Windows - Kingsoft Office
    Best Free World Clock for Windows - Wim's World Clock
    Best Free Genealogy or Family Tree Software for Windows - Legacy Standard
    Best Free Project Manager for Windows - Open Workbench
    Best Free Word Processor for Windows - Jarte
    Best Free Text Editor for Windows - EditPad Lite
    Best Free Personal Information Manager for Windows - Pimero Free Edition
    Best Free Software Suite for Windows - LiberKey
  • Page 9. Still Reading?
    Basic Safe Computing Guides
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    Most Unique Hot Finds!
    Top Daily Tech Treats
    Top Tech Tips
    Top Educational Articles
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    Visit Our Home Page or Find the Latest Stuff
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This software category is maintained by MidnightCowboy. Registered members can contact MidnightCowboy with any comments or questions they might have by clicking here.

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by johng (not verified) on 4. December 2010 - 20:39  (62035)

I too have been searching (for a very long time) for configuration information. Many firewalls have options to specify which ports/protocols to assign a particular program/connection/.dll. However I have not found anyone qualified to make such configuration changes. The firewall I use allows me to see specifically .dll files involved in the outbound connection, and one time I noticed a very long list (over 50) related to windows explorer. If I just "allowed" windows explorer to have full internet access (default setting) without a prompt I would not have known about this. My question would be, why do all these files need internet access and what are they for? When I click "deny" not a single one affected my ability to use the browser. However if some of these files are related to windows security, clicking on "deny" could also be the wrong choice.

by MidnightCowboy on 5. December 2010 - 6:54  (62049)

The only way to find out this information would be to post the list in the Microsoft forum. It seems reasonable to assume that these connections will be a mix of system functions and a certain amount of data gathering which is what you would expect having chosen to install a commercial operating system. Although there are still Windows system vulnerabilities which can be potentially exploited, all firewalls, including the built in one, either contain default rules to manage these or they can be set manually.

The only way to be free of any such concerns totally would be to switch to Linux. That said, I have a bunch of ex customers here using both XP and W7 with only the built in firewall and not one of them has been hacked or otherwise exploited.

by Chip W (not verified) on 12. December 2010 - 9:52  (62346)

I've been visiting here for a few months and just want to say this is one nifty site.
Plus "Gizmo" is one of my favorite words.

by chickenchaser (not verified) on 14. December 2010 - 9:08  (62445)

free CD ripping software I rate is "CDex" - I can't find a fault with it or figure out something it lacks.

by bodis on 14. December 2010 - 22:47  (62508)

Hi chickenchaser,

Thanks for your post. If you have recommendations of a specific software then please mention it in that category page. This page is mainly to highlight editors choices.

Many Thanks

by AnonymousGeezer (not verified) on 5. January 2011 - 19:29  (63878)

I enjoy reading everyone's opinion, and comment.
I don't have much to say, except, " it reads better than the NewYork times"
Have a Happy New Year everyone.

by Mortal Mister (not verified) on 8. January 2011 - 7:39  (64121)

Sir, I m an average user. Some years ago I installed AVG anti virus & Superantispyware (both free version) basd on the recommendation of Gizmo Richard site. These both have given me very good service in these years but now I feel I need to review this protection (specially anti virus). Could any body suggest me some free, simple yet efficient options.

by MidnightCowboy on 8. January 2011 - 7:51  (64122)

I'm sure you will receive a lot of opinions on this subject as everyone has their favorites.
AVG remains a solid performer so I guess my main comment is why change? If you have managed to avoid infection during this period then AVG would seem suitably matched to your needs and surfing habits.

If on the other hand it's a question of really wanting something new then Avira is never far from the top in terms of performance. Currently I'm quite impressed with Ad-Aware which has bounced back after a few lack luster years with an excellent product.

For secondary scanners I would check out Malwarebytes and HitmanPro, both of which are excellent performers.

by George.. (not verified) on 10. January 2011 - 12:12  (64212)

heyy gizmo guys.... y dont u add a hyperlink like "go back to the last page you were viewing" after every log on! Like if was viewing a subcategory and decided to log in to post a comment, after logging in, i would have to go to home->editors choice->Best free antivirus would be most useful for people having slow net connections.Also its implemented in most forums....could you please add this feature

by Mortal (not verified) on 14. January 2011 - 2:48  (64485)

SIR, Thanks for your comments. I have installed Avira and its giving me good service.In the anti spy ware catagory, I continue yo use SUPERantispyware. Both are free version and I expect trouble free use for next few months. Thanks once more, And to you Gizmo and your team too. You are always forth coming !!

by MidnightCowboy on 14. January 2011 - 7:31  (64500)

You're welcome :)

by zepe (not verified) on 15. March 2011 - 13:56  (67950)

I'm using W7 64 bit and have a question. I have a lot of .jpg files I work with and I would like a way to compare two lists of thumbnails of side by side so I can search for duplicate photos with different names. The photo list could be in the same folder or in different folders and these folders could contain a few hundred photos. Do you know of an application that can do this?
Or is there another option like splitting the Windows screen so I can display two files at the same time. The application doesn't need to do this I can do it manually, I just need to be able to see them both simultaneously so I can compare them. 7Zip can give you a split screen view, but can’t display the contents of a folder(s) side by side.


by LeeH (not verified) on 28. April 2011 - 19:05  (71073)

I copy the address bar to the clipboard, login, and then past the copied address back into the address bar.

by rowal (not verified) on 4. May 2011 - 5:19  (71384)

You may also like to try the new free AVAST 6. Covers all protection and has a built in SandBox.
I use Avast and MS Security Essentials on different computers and both seem to do a great job.

by Helpless (not verified) on 17. May 2011 - 22:39  (72126)

Do I need to remove all antivirus software from my computer to download one of your suggested programs?

by Anupam on 18. May 2011 - 5:00  (72150)

No, there is no need to uninstall, or remove your antivirus software, if you want to use any of the suggested software here.

But, if you want to use another antivirus program, other than the antivirus program you have installed on your system, then you need to remove it... as its not advisable to use two antivirus programs together.

I hope this answers your question. If something is still unclear, please ask.

by TapanVerma on 8. August 2011 - 2:56  (77117)

I like new look.

by tickler (not verified) on 8. October 2011 - 15:09  (81112)

This is all really neat stuff and my hat is off for the great site you have made. If only everyone could be so helpful. Any think out there to improve streaming lag or picture quality on freeware side?

by Rochak (not verified) on 10. October 2011 - 2:52  (81174)


I think some of the software list are getting outdated. I would specifically like to point to
Internet, Email, and Networking Freeware
Best Web browser
Firefox 4

Mozilla has already released Firefox 7. This can sometime mislead the reader.

Other than that, this site is great for any level of user.


by String-pig on 16. November 2011 - 3:49  (83353)


by Siegfried (not verified) on 21. November 2011 - 4:56  (83626)

Zepe, try FastStone Image Viewer, it works for me. It is to find further up in the list here to.

by if (not verified) on 24. December 2011 - 2:57  (85848)

just really incredible that the Germany based free Avira Antivirus is NOT on the top list, uhh... !?
Fast updates, secure, and their help desk forum is Top notch, very fast and gives reliable answers, if needed... (I had to use it two or three times within 7 years)
Apart that, yes ! plenty of excellent freewares, good Editor's choice...
For info : I don't work for Avira, but I'm just a kind of geek :-)

by Chip W (not verified) on 4. January 2012 - 23:29  (86566)

Best Startup Manager - WinPatrol
I had both WinPatrol and Anvir Task Manager running. Both were supposed to tell me when a program tried to create a startup entry. Sometimes both did. More often Anvir told me but WinPatrol missed it. Now I just run Anvir. It does a whole lot more than this, too.

by MidnightCowboy on 5. January 2012 - 4:36  (86574)

There was possibly a conflict with running the two programs together. I've used WinPatrol extensively and never experienced this issue. Did you communicate this plus details of the programs supposedly missed to Bill at WinPatrol?

by Anonymous79 (not verified) on 6. January 2012 - 14:39  (86695)

Thumbs up! Yeah, I've noticed that WinPatrol misses many autostarts, especially when automatically set through the task scheduler. I'll give Anvir a try instead to see it's more of a complete solution.

by Wayne Tuttle (not verified) on 3. February 2012 - 16:42  (88226)

Great site,I've read reviews and downloaded several programs. Three unmentioned programs that deserve recommendations from my experience:

Pegasus e-mail client

Mailwasher -- lists incoming e-mails with option to delete crap before activating e-mail client and downloading.

Spyder Player for Internet radio. Discontinued development but great program. Free reg number for permanent use.

by Tap Dancin' Mouse (not verified) on 11. February 2012 - 3:16  (88653)

Malwarebytes is mostly a disappointing program for me. For the time that I have used it,only one trojan was found and never it detected a cookie.

Ad-Aware Internet Security(my choice over Malwarebytes) has detected cookies,13 files of the smitfraud version of Spybot Search and Destroy that almost fully loaded itself,and just recently 24 files of BearShare's 'Mediabar' even after that program has long been uninstalled.

The free version of Ad-Aware has been good for me while Malwarebytes has not.

by Lucas (not verified) on 6. March 2012 - 4:22  (89979)

After many years of internet use and many more on computing, I have I am not exactly a newcomer or a newbie. I have seen quite a few good sites, but yours, stuffed with so many interesting and good things, opinions, analyses and articles deserve more than a special mention.

by Aaron J (not verified) on 6. March 2012 - 14:51  (89999)

I've also been visiting for a few months now and absolutely love your site! For some reason when I click on the links under quick select index, my browser just sits and doesn't redirect me to the new page. Ive tried on both firefox and explorer.

by Geert on 28. June 2012 - 12:20  (95461)

Isn't it an error to mention "DuckCapture" as the best in the category "Best Free Screen Capture Utility" while on the "Best Free Screen Capture Utility" ( "Screenshot Captor" is honored as the best product in its class.

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