Not sure if this would be actually considered a ‘How-To’ but it could be part of one anyway! I do a lot a blogging and writing and stuff for websites but I find I only really use just a few programs for all of it and I thought I’d share them with you as maybe you could find them useful as I do. Many of the programs I use are free, but some aren’t of course. You could easily go a grab the free ones, and I would highly recommend you do, these are programs I’ve used for years and just find them indispensible. The pay programs I use are excellent as well, but you don’t have to use them of course, but you might might want to. Most of these programs are general usage so it’s not just WordPress. So read on for the programs that I use most often that you might have not known existed.
The first one is Live Writer (it’s officially called Windows Live Writer), in fact I’m using it right now to write this. Live Writer makes blogging much easier and it can do pretty much everything that the WordPress admin can do but just a lot easier I think. The program allows you to write, edit and just drag and drop photos into your post and everything comes along with that. Once you’re done you can save the draft to your computer, save the draft to your blog or publish it live. I think it just makes blogging a lot easier and it’s a program that I find a must-have for blogging with WordPress.
I know you can also use Live Writer for other blogging platforms and CMS like Joomla, but I’ve personally never tried it. I’ve moved to all WordPress for my sites now as it’s just easier I think.
Live Writer is Free, which makes it all the better.
You can find Live Writer here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=8621
I found this program like maybe 10 years ago and I’ve used it ever since, it’s one of the first things I install when I setup my computers.MWSnap is another free program, so if you don’t own it go grab it. This program let’s you take screen captures, but not in the way you think. Yes you can do full screen captures but it also let’s you capture just a window or an area you select by drawing a box with your cursor.
Have you ever run across an image that was protected and it wouldn’t let you download it. For example I like dragons and if I want a picture it’s for my personal use only, I’m not going to be publishing it so why can’t I have it for my personal use as like say a desktop? Some companies and site are just goofy about things like that. My little town website has left click totally disabled for whatever stupid reason. I wanted a copy of the trash pickups for the holidays that they had listed but I couldn’t actually copy the text. Now that text is actually from the trash company and not the town, but yet they have it protected for whatever reason. MWSnap let me copy that text, yes it was in picture format but I had it so I would know. The program let’s you save in various formats as well, like JPEG, PNG or even GIF and TIFF files, so it’s versatile for sure.
Have you ever run across a picture you saw but only wanted part of it? Let’s say it’s some actor and you only wanted his head for whatever reason, well using MWSnap you can just grab the head only. You can do this with anything, any picture, your desktop, any website. I’ve just found this program to be one that I must have.
You can find it here: http://www.mirekw.com/winfreeware/mwsnap.html
The next program that is just a must-have for me is Easy Thumbnails and it’s another free program. This is just another program that I must-have on my computer. When you’re dealing with websites you really don’t want to publish huge pictures and many times companies will send huge hi-res pictures, but they’re just not ideal for the web. When you have a bunch of them it can be tedious to resize every one of them individually, that’s where Easy Thumbnails comes in, it’s let’s you batch resize images, and it’s just an excellent program.
It’s for most any situation really, let’s say you took pictures with your camera, most likely they’re very high resolution, and you want to upload them to Facebook or your personal website. Let’s say you’ve got 50 of them, imagine having to resize all of them individually? Not fun is it? With Easy Thumbnails you just select the pictures, set the size, set the output folder and let it go to work and it will do all the resizing for you. The program even has some setting for you to adjust like Brightness, Contrast and Sharpness. It’s a small simple program that I just find invaluable.
You can find it here for free: http://www.fookes.com/ezthumbs/
Bytescout Watermarking Pro
This next one is not a free program, it costs $38.45 right now but you can get a family license for $100 which covers five computers.
Sadly the internet has people who don’t care about copyright and they will steal your personal and work images and I think a watermark is needed. You can see on a lot of pictures here in this article I’ve got my watermark on them and it was done using Bytescout. This is another program that I must have, it’s simple and it’s very fast. You can watermark a hundred pictures in a few seconds really.
The program offers several standard options for watermarking like Text Fits Page, Text Fits Page Diagonal, Tiled Text, Tiled Vertical Text, Tiled Diagonal Text, Simple Text, Simple Text Vertical, Text Annotation, Date and Time, File Name, Logo Image or Logo with Text. All of these options can be customized as well.
For example when I use my watermark picture or logo I can select the size, scale and transparency and even the location like the bottom right corner where I prefer them.
The program will also export your images from one format to another if you desire. You can go from JPEG to GIF, TIFF, PNG or BMP. So the program can be used not only for watermarking but for transferring your pictures from one format to another and doing it quickly and in batches.
It’s just an excellent program. I’ve tried free programs but none of them offer the options or ease of use that Bytescout does, at least I haven’t found one yet.
You can find it here: http://bytescout.com/products/enduser/watermarking/watermarkingpro.html
The next program on my list is another free one called FTP Rush. In my blogging or websites I handle everything which means setting it up and all that. You pretty much need a good FTP program for that, and FTP Rush is such a program and best of all it’s free. The program also let’s you FXP as well, which mean you can transfer directly from one site to another without having to download it to your computer and then go back in and upload it elsewhere. FTP Rush let’s you open two sites, one in each window and then just transfer directly site to site.
Sure it’s not for everybody but I’ve found when uploading multiple files, or performing maintenance an FTP program can be very useful. Just because it’s free doesn’t mean it’s just a basic program, it’s fully featured and has pretty much every option you’ll find in a pay FTP program.
Here’s the description from the FTP Rush site:
FTP Rush is the most powerful and free FTP/FXP/SFTP/TFTP client sofware for Windows 2000/XP/2003/Vista/Win7. It is designed to fit any transfer need, it allows you to quickly upload or download files in all directions: from FTP Server to local, local to FTP Server or FTP Server to FTP Server. The client supports secure transfer including SSH and TFTP and it is really easy-to-use, Also FTP Rush takes into account all peculiarities of internet file transfer and management by presenting a great choice of features, creating comfortable working experience.
Skilled users and IT specialists can take advantage of the built-in Script Designer and Command Designer. A few lines of code will help you teach the FTP Rush to execute lots of routine work automatically. This feature allows you to reach spectacular efficiency in no time. Another advantage is the support of synchronize folders, so the client can look after the identity of folders and contained files in upload and download directory. Identification of files that have been modified, added or deleted since the last update will no longer be a problem.
So as you can read, FTP Rush isn’t some basic program, it’s the real thing and it’s Free!
You can find it here: http://www.wftpserver.com/ftprush.htm
Cyberlink PowerDirector Ultra v7
If you work with videos and it seems everyone does, the Windows built-in movie maker just doesn’t but it really. You need a program with more features surely, one that can do everything you need it to do with and for your videos.
The program I use is from CyberLink and it’s called PowerDirector Ultra.
As of now version 11 is out, but I still use version 7 as it still works just fine for all of my needs. I have no need to upgrade, sure eventually I will, but I don’t foresee it happening anytime soon honestly.
Yes PowerDirector is not free, but I haven’t come across any free programs that can do everything that this one can.
If you are really into your video making then you need a good program and PowerDirector is one such program.
There are choices though, you can get the Deluxe version for $48.99 or you can get the full ultimate suite for $184.99 but there are two other choices in between for $74.99 and for $94.99, so surely there’s one to fit your needs and budget!
I’ve found it to be just an amazing and useful program that’s just full of features for editing and creating videos.
I also own Adobe Premiere Elements which is another video editing program but I’ve found PowerDirector to be just easier to use and more user friendly I think.
You can find it here: http://www.cyberlink.com/products/powerdirector-deluxe/features_en_US.html
This last one here is more of a general thing. The program I use most often for manipulating images is called Photo Express and I don’t even think it’s made anymore. It’s just an example for this article really, you don’t have to go and find it. I got it free bundled with a flatbed scanner about maybe 8-10 years ago and I still use it. I use it for resizing, cropping and adding text to images or adding highlighting like to a graph or picture where I want something specific to stand out. I also use it for printing as well as it does have a few options for output, but most of the time I just use the built-in Windows photo printing but sometimes it doesn’t do what I want so another program like Photo Express is needed.
It’s a basic photo program that’s very easy to use and it’s lightweight, it loads fast and it does what I need it to do. The program also let’s you crop, resize, add textures, warping and more like adding text to photos and you can even just draw with it. So it’s a small program yes but it’s got plenty of features and uses.
I have Photoshop, or specifically Photoshop Elements and I have Corel Painter 4 Essentials, both of which are rather big programs that offer just an obscene amount of options.
I actually have Photoshop Elements 9 but they’re already on version 11. Let me correct that, I have the bundle or Photoshop Elements and Premiere Element.s
The full program of just Photoshop Elements is actually only $99, the bundle of both is $149.99.
Sure having all of those options is great sometimes but most times they’re not needed. I know people that just want to do something like crop their photos and they think they must have Photoshop to do that because it’s popular. A big program like Photoshop isn’t need for basic tasks, it’s just overkill really.
The point here is that you don’t need Photoshop or some other expensive program to crop, resize or add some text to a photo, you really don’t, something simple is just fine for the task. You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on a program that you’ll never fully utilize.I find Photo Express useful because it not only let’s me work with photos but I can draw with it as well and do several other things.
Don’t get me wrong I use Photoshop at times, but I’d say 90% of the time I don’t, it’s just for certain things that the little program can’t handle that I don’t use it.
The company Ulead was actually bought out by Corel and Photo Express was phased out in favor of PhotoImpact which I also have but don’t use, it’s not even installed as I don’t like it really. It’s a ‘heavier’ program that I find not needing really.
So that’s that for me, these are the programs that help me with blogging and in general daily life. I find these to be indispensible and I must have them installed on my main system.