Foreground Reference Utility

This is a very handy tool I found some time ago that lets you overlay an image on the screen, you can adjust the opacity as well as freeze it so you can manipulate the window below it, similar to a layer in photoshop or any other image editing program.

This is incredibly useful in a number of situations where a method to overlay an image is not available, I often use this in PCB design to verify my dimension are correct when drawing a component footprint.

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Once you have the reference image where you want you can lock it by clicking the ‘Overlay’ button, to unlock it again just hit F1.

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Useful Free Windows Tools

There are lots of tools that greatly improve the usability of Windows but for one reason or another are often quite obscure.

Process Monitor

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This is an extremely useful tool that allows you to monitor file activity, process activity, registry activity, network activity and more in real time so you can find out exactly what applications are up to.

You can get it here.

Process Explorer

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This is a much more useful process manager than the one built in to Windows, aside from a wide range of resource monitors it can show all the loaded dll and other files which can be very handy if you run in to the common problem of being unable to delete a file since it’s open in another process, a lot more information is available as well such as active network connections, threads, GPU usage for example.

You can get it here.

Visual Subst

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This is a graphical interface for the subst command which allows you to map folders to virtual drives, you can of course do it with the command but this is easier, particularly if you make regular changes.

You can get it here.

SuperF4

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One of the most annoying aspects of Windows is how hard it is to kill some full screen applications, with Linux you can almost always switch to a virtual terminal and kill it there but with Windows unless you have a second monitor you’re stuck.

This handy little tool runs taskkill /f on the active full screen application when you hit ctrl + alt + F4, this is far more likely to work than the regular alt + F4 which can be ignored by programs, it also has a feature like xkill which lets you click on the window you wish to kill.

You can get it here.

f.lux

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Pretty much one of my favourite applications for Windows, it adjusts the color temperature of the monitor at night time to reduce eye strain and give better sleep, after using it for some time I can definitely say it helps, it may seem strange at first but your eyes quickly get used to the more orange color to the point where you don’t even notice it.

You can get it here, it’s also available for Linux and more.