Five must-have programs for laptops and netbooks


Do you have a laptop or netbook? If so, then check out the following 5 free programs which might prove really useful: AutoSensitivity, Aeorfoil, Touchfreeze, Core Temp, and Prey.

Note: this is not a post of must-have general applications; for that check out my Freeware Top 30.

Check out my mini review of each of the 5 programs below.

1. AutoSensitivity: lets you define different mouse and touchpad sensitivities and switches between them when you connect and disconnect your mouse.

Although I’m pretty well used to using the touchpad, I still keep a mouse in my laptop case, (as, let’s face it, games and many other applications pretty much require one). It is also nice to use one every once in a while when there’s desk space.


But what if the mouse you plug in does not have the sensitivity that you like? I’ve found that going in and adjusting the mouse sensitivity in Windows’ control panel treats both touchpad and mouse as one of the same. So while you might be fixing the sensitivity for your mouse, you are messing it up for the touchpad.

This program let’s you deal with each separately, letting you define two different speeds and then automatically switching between behind the scenes when you plug and unplug your mouse.

Go here to download AutoSensitivity (or see my full length review of it here). Also see BatteryCare, which is similar, and which seems quite good (although I haven’t tested it personally).

Aerofoil screenshot1Aerofoil screenshot2

2. Aerofoil: a lightweight app that can extend your laptop’s battery life by anywhere from 10% to 25%. It does this by switching off some features when your laptop is not plugged in (e.g. the Windows Vista/7 Aero glass interface, the Windows sidebar, muting the sound). It also manages your computer’s power plans, providing automatic power plan switching depending on whether or not your laptop is plugged in.

Before you install this though, make sure to check your laptop does not come pre-bundled with a similar power manager, as many do (this would be a third party app, and not part of Windows).

Go here to download Aerofoil (also see my full length review of it here).

clip_image0013. TouchFreeze: this program is designed to prevent unwanted mouse movements that might result from accidental contact with the touchpad while you type on your laptop. It does so by temporarily disabling the touchpad whenever the keys on the keyboard are being used.

This program has no interface and no settings, although it can be enabled or disabled in the system tray. It lives in the background, does its job, and consumes very little memory (about 3 megs).

Go here to download TouchFreeze.

Core Temp Screenshot4. Core Temp: this small utility displays the CPU temperature in the system tray.

Laptops are becoming more and more powerful, and can pack as much of a punch as the highest of high end desktops; however, this at times comes with the downside that they can get way too hot. Couple this with the sort of high temperatures that have been the case worldwide lately, and you can see how a utility like this can be very useful in helping you prevent your laptop from overheating.

Core Temp Screenshot2Core Temp can show CPU temperature in Celsius or Fahrenheit, will color code different ranges (e.g. hot, critical), and can display a certain core or the hottest, etc. It can produce detailed information on each individual core in each processor and is motherboard independent (yes, it will show information for AMD processors).

Go here to download Core Temp

5. Prey: a security program that can help you locate and retrieve your laptop in case it gets stolen.

Once installed, Prey lurks in the shadows. When and if you need to, it can be ‘activated’ by you via it’s web interface, so that once the thief or illegitimate user logs on the internet it can send you reports on your laptop’s whereabouts (yes, on Google maps) and a host of other information/interventions.

See the video below for an explanation of how it works:

Go here to download the free version of Prey.