Free Downloads That Are Worth a Donation, Part 1

These fantastic, well-known utilities are donationware–you can use them for free, but the developers ask for a contribution to keep their work going. Now is a great time to give back to the creators.

By Erez Zukerman, PCWorld    Dec 9, 2011 7:30 am

During my day-to-day work I turn to certain applications time and again, and soon they become indispensable, seeming to blend in with Windows itself. Some of those programs are full-blown commercial products, such as Microsoft Office or Total Commander. Others, however, are applications I did not have to pay a dime for, thanks to the generosity of hardworking developers who have opted to share their creations with the world for free, requesting only a donation from those users who are willing and able. (PCWorld’s Downloads library lists donationware as free, but you’ll see a telltale editor’s note on the review page explaining that the program’s developers accept contributions.)

This holiday season, I took a few moments to look through my Start menu and taskbar for those donation-based applications I tend to take for granted all year long. If you’re already using any of the following programs, now is a great time to support them or the causes they stand for. And if any of these tools are new to you, give them a try–you’re going to love them.

(For links to all of these downloadable programs in one convenient list, see our “Free Downloads That Are Worth a Donation, Part 1” collection.) Read more of this post

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The Rise of Evernote–and Why You Should Take Note

By Angela West, PCWorld

People have always had a problem organizing vast amounts of information. In the 90s, we took important notes in our PDAs. We’d jot stuff down in notebooks that would end up on a shelf somewhere. With the advent of the smartphone and mobile tablets, there was a need for something that would synchronize all of this previously useless information across all of our devices. Evernote acts as that digital brain.

With 20 million users, Evernote is by far one of the most popular organizing and note-taking applications. Its ease of use and minimalistic approach are two major reasons.

What Evernote Does

The basic version of Evernote is all the average business user should need. You can save and tag audio, ink, photo, or video notes, and share these and your favorite Web addresses across all of your devices. The free service comes with 60MB of file uploads per month. It makes every random thought you jot down searchable–including optical character recognition of handwriting–making it essentially a mini-Google of your life. It allows you to share your notebooks with other users if you’re on Android or the desktop version, and individual notes if you are in iOS.

Evernote has a great guide for installation on all of your devices and setting up your first notebooks and notes. Evernote does lack items like basic formatting that could turn it into a full-scale productivity app. Yet, Evernote Premium does integrate with QuickOffice, and the two make a powerful productivity app for a tablet.

The premium version of Evernote is cheap for the frequent user at $45.00 per year. This allows you to secure access to your notes with a password on its mobile apps, take your notebooks offline to your mobile devices, increase your upload limit to 1GB, search within PDFs, and many other items. Read more of this post