22 December 2012

Facebook Begins To Roll Out Drag N’ Drop Photo Uploads For Posts [Updates]

Photos are becoming an integral part of Facebook. So is the way we use them. Facebook is apparently keen on making the photo experience smoother and the roll-out of a drag and drop feature could be a start. Facebook is introducing the drag and drop functionality to the publisher box from where we post our status updates and shares. Normally it takes about six clicks to upload a single photo and publish it on Facebook.

The new feature cuts it short to a single drag and drop, and also allows you to upload multiple photos in one go. Usually, publishing multiple photos require one to create a photo album and then share it across with the network. Now you can expect to publish a post with multiple clicks with one drag and drop. This new ‘expected-soon’ update receives a thumbs-up for user friendliness. The feature is being gradually rolled out and is not apparent yet in all profiles.

There is no official word on Facebook’s blog, but Inside Facebook also reports that this feature is also available for Timeline cover photos and also as an option in the Message box.

Give us a shout if you see it on your Facebook profile.

Source: Inside Facebook

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Google Chrome – A Fantastic Replacement For Mobile Safari [iOS]

Do you use Chrome on your computer to browse the web? A lot of people do, as it is one of the most popular web browsers out there. It runs fast, and it offers a user-interface that many people feel comfortable with. The Chrome Webstore is filled with some fantastic extensions that help make the browser even better. I myself am an avid Chrome user on my PC and Mac, but I take my love of Google Chrome to another level, because I have also completely replaced mobile Safari with Google Chrome for iOS as my browser of choice.

Chrome on iOS offers a fantastic browsing experience that fits in the palm of your hand. Most of the features you expect to see from the desktop version of the browser make an appearance in the iPhone and iPad app. It has an interface that I find easier to use than mobile Safari, and with a couple of simple jailbreak tweaks, you can not only make the it default browser in your heart, but the default browser in your phone too.

Even if you aren’t jailbroken, Chrome is still worth downloading for browsing the web, because it’s just that awesome. In terms of quality, it is right up there with Mercury and Maxthon in terms of quality.


As you can probably guess, Chrome for iOS allows you to browse the web on your mobile phone. Of course, it does a lot more than that, as it offers a lot of features that are quite useful for anyone. It is especially useful for people who use Chrome as their web browser on their laptop or desktop. It uses your Google account to sync your bookmarks, so you can pull them up on your phone at any time.

My favorite feature of Chrome on iOS is that is syncs your open tabs across devices. So if you have a website open on your desktop, but need to leave the house suddenly, you can simply go to “Other Devices” on the new tab screen and you will see all the websites open. Simply tap one, and it will open it in your Chrome browser on your iOS device. This is a great way to get back doing what you were doing before you were interrupted.

The “New Tab” page on Chrome is awesome. Just like the browser on a desktop, you can see your most visited sites, bookmarks and your other devices. This helps you get started browsing quickly and easily.

Chrome also features the ability to open a new tab in incognito mode. I don’t think I need to go into the reasons why this is useful, other than to say that anything you don’t want stored in your history will be private if you are browsing incognito. I will leave it up to you to figure out what you want to do with that.

Some mobile sites don’t give you the option to switch from a mobile theme to a desktop theme, but Chrome has you covered. Tap the menu button next to the address bar, and right towards the bottom you will see “Request Desktop Site.” This will force the browser to get a full version of the website.

Right below the option to request a desktop site is Settings. In here, you choose the search engine (which is set to Google by default). You can also adjust the options for voice search, you can clear your browsing history, change whether the browser saves passwords, and all kinds of other fine-tuning. You can control your privacy options from the settings screen as well.

For people who are accustomed to Chrome on a desktop, you will appreciate that the address bar and the search are one in the same. It’s a small thing, but when you are used to browsing a certain way, it’s a nice little touch that improves the user experience.


If you can’t deal with mobile Safari, and you want a better experience on your iOS device, Chrome is the browser to use. It comes with lots of features, a slick interface, and all the features you expect to see from Chrome. Besides extensions and apps, the mobile version offers pretty much everything the desktop one has. Try it out, and you will be happy you did.

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Write More Good: 7 Free Online Tools To Ensure You Use Proper English

Improper use of English is one of my pet peeves. I’m not a full-blown “grammar nazi” (a colloquialism for someone very strict with grammar) but it does irk me. An exception can be made for those who don’t use English natively, but blatant disregard for the rules of language can be seen all over the Internet – and it can be quite annoying.

Language is meant to convey ideas through a common medium that obeys a set of rules. Ignoring those rules – e.g., by shortening “you” to “u” – may be fine in a private context between two people, but utterly inappropriate in a public context, such as when commenting. At best, it makes one seem juvenile and/or lazy. At worst, it makes one look stupid and/or ignorant.

Not convinced? See Jejemon for an example of how extreme it can become. Fortunately, there are a lot of online tools dedicated to preserving the integrity of the English language. Here are a few to help you out.

Dictionary / Thesaurus

An obvious beginning to a list like this, but there is no better place to start when it comes to learning the English language. A dictionary will help you with basic vocabulary, definitions, and spelling. A thesaurus will help you to expand a basic knowledge of English into more sophisticated realms. Both are essential.

With that said, my preferred dictionary-and-thesaurus combo comes from Reference.com. I’ve been using it for years and it has never let me down. The site has a lot of great features like “Word of the Day”, explanations of the history behind words, and games and tools to build your vocabulary.

Online Slang Dictionary

If you truly want to understand the nitty-gritty of the English language, then you can’t subsist on only “proper words”, if you will. Whether at the office or on an Internet forum, you’re going to come across a lot of weird sayings, idioms, and slang that will confuse you – even if English is your first language.

That’s when you can turn to the Online Slang Dictionary. Started in 1996, it’s perhaps the largest repository of slang definitions on the Internet. It’s constantly being updated, so you’ll never fall too far behind in keeping up with the ever-evolving language. This site is especially useful for those who are learning English as a second language OR for those who may not be as hip and young as they once were.

And best of all? Online Slang Dictionary is heaps better in terms of quality than the cesspool that is UrbanDictionary.

Grammar Girl

Even though I’m fluent in English, the language itself has a lot of tricky words and grammar rules that still trip me up from time to time. For example, what’s the difference between “while” and “whilst”? What about “alright” and “all right”? For questions like that, I always use Grammar Girl.

This is one of my favorite websites, to be honest. Grammar Girl is hosted by Mignon Fogarty and she does an excellent job explaining the nuances that go into the trickier portions of English grammar. So if you have a strong grasp of English but want to push yourself beyond the mistakes that most people make, then Grammar Girl is for you.

Pronunciation Book on YouTube

So, using English properly on the Internet is good and all, but what about in real life? You know, when you log off the Web and talk to people face-to-face? How’s your English then? In particular, I’m talking about your pronunciation. It’s no good if you know what a word means if people can’t understand you when you say it!

There’s a YouTube channel called Pronunciation Book that has hundreds of videos on how to pronounce certain words. These videos are divided into categories, like alphabet, days of the week, everyday phrases, prepositions, and more. Surprisingly, this channel is quite addicting.

If you ever get bored and need a break, you can always hop over to the parody channel, Pronunciation Manual . It’s always good for a laugh or two.


Along the lines of pronunciation, we have HowJSay which is more of a dictionary of pronunciations. If you want to know how to pronounce a particular word, this is the site you want. With over 160,000 entries, you’re more likely than not to find the words you need.

The cool part of HowJSay is that it has app versions for both iPhone and Android. If pronunciation on-the-go is what you’re looking for, then this will probably come in handy.

Readability Score

There’s another aspect of the English language – or language in general – that many of us seem to forget, myself included. Readability, or a qualitative gauge at how easy it is to read a particular piece of writing. Have you ever read a Wall of Text comprised of nothing more than run-on sentences and bulky phrases? That’s what I’m talking about.

Using Readability Score, you can take any chunk of your writing, paste it in, and have the website analyze your words according to a number of readability tests. The primary formula – the Fleisch-Kincaid Reading Ease test – will describe, on a scale of 0 to 100, how easy it is to read your writing.

Depending on your grasp of the English language, you should be able to tailor your words according to your audience. Readability Score is a useful tool in learning more on how to use English effectively.


These are just a few tools that deal with varying aspects of English: vocabulary, spelling, grammar, pronunciation, and readability. I’ve only given you a taste of what’s out there. If you search around, you’ll be able to find more websites and programs that deal with these different aspects.

What do you think? Any suggestions for similar websites that you think should be on here? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

Image Credit: English Text Via Shutterstock

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8 Ways To Email Large Attachments

Email was never made for large file attachments. Many email servers won’t even accept emails with attachments over 10 MB in size. To send large files via email, you’ll need to upload your email attachments to a file storage and sharing service. The email recipient will receive a link they can click to download the email attachment, allowing you to send gigabytes of attachments without clogging up inboxes and running into size limits.

There are quite a few services you can use here, and most of them are free. Exercise some basic caution when using these services – encrypt any sensitive files (such as financial documents) before uploading them.

Google Drive – Gmail Integration

Gmail now has the ability to attach files stored in your Google Drive to emails. If you use Google Drive on your computer, you can place a large file in your Google Drive folder and it will be automatically uploaded to your Google Drive account.

Click Insert Files using Drive link at the bottom of the compose window when sending an email to attach an already-uploaded file or upload a new file. The files you attach here won’t actually be attached to the email you send, so they won’t take up space in anyone’s email inbox. Your recipient will receive a link they can click to download the attachment from your Google Drive storage.


SkyDrive – Hotmail & Outlook.com Integration

Microsoft actually beat Google to this feature with its SkyDrive integration for Hotmail and Outlook.com. if you use Microsoft’s online services, the process is seamless. When you try to attach one or more files that are over 25 MB in size, Hotmail or Outlook.com will prompt you to upload the files to your SkyDrive account. The recipient will receive a link to the file instead of the file itself in their inbox.


File Dropper – Up to 5 GB per File

File Dropper isn’t integrated with any email program, but it allows you to upload files up to 5 GB in size each. You don’t even have to create an account. You’ll receive a link to each file you upload and you can paste that link into an email to email the file to someone. Files will be deleted if they aren’t downloaded at least once every 30 days.

We loved File Dropper when we wrote about this years ago, and it’s still a great service.


WeTransfer – Quick & Easy Emailing

WeTransfer only allows you to send files up to 2 GB in size and the files are only available for two weeks. However, WeTransfer has a trick up its sleeve – it makes it easier and faster to email these files. While you have to copy-paste your File Dropper link into an email, you can specify your friends’ email addresses and your email message directly on the WeTransfer site.

There’s no sign-up process here, either – WeTransfer is a very quick way to send large files.


TransferBigFiles – More Features

TransferBigFiles offers a few more features, such as a Chrome extension that integrates with Gmail for easy uploading files. You can also protect your downloads with a password, set a custom expiry date, or get notified when the files are downloaded. You’ll need to sign up to use these features – you can use TransferBigFiles without signing up, but files will expire in 5 days.

If you don’t want to sign up, you’re better off using one of the above services.


DropSend – Outlook, Windows, Mac, & iPhone Integration

DropSend allows you to quickly send files without signing up, but its most unique features are its plug-in for Microsoft Outlook and the DropSend Direct desktop app, which allow you to quickly email large files from your Windows or Mac desktop. DropSend offers an iPhone app, too.


EmailLargeFile – Android & iPhone Apps

EmailLargeFile doesn’t offer a lot of storage space at up to 200 MB per file. Its main distinguishing features are the Android and iPhone apps it offers, allowing you to easily send large files from an Android or iOS device. If you want to email a video or another large file without transferring it to your computer first, give EmailLargeFile a go.

file transfer free for android

YouSendIt – For Businesses

YouSendIt is one of the big names in sending large files via email. After you upload a file to YouSendIt, it will automatically send a link to the file to the address you specify.

Unfortunately, the free version of YouSendIt only supports files up to 50 MB in size. If you’re sending larger files, you’ll need a paid YouSendIt account. You can get a 14-day free trial to try it out, but this option is best for businesses that want more security and control (unless 50 MB per file is good enough for you!).


Which service do you prefer for sending large attachments via email? Do you skip the email part entirely and share the files via a cloud storage service like Dropbox? Leave a comment and let us know!

Image Credit: Email with Cursor via Shutterstock

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Say Open Sesame And View More Than 80+ File Types With Free Opener [Windows]

Which is the very first file viewer or editor you go for after a fresh install? MS Office…WinRAR…Adobe Acrobat…a NFO Reader, or any other? For me it’s my web connection because I know that if there’s an emergency, Google Docs Viewer can handle it for me. Some asked our wider community the same question – What is the best universal file viewer? A few worthies were mentioned. I found Universal Viewer to be a bit limiting especially when it comes to media files and even PDF. That made me turn to the one ‘criticized’ in the query itself – Free Opener .

Free Opener has also been recommended by our readers and thus it finds a place on our Best Windows Software list. The brickbats in the query and the bouquet from some of our readers was enough incentive to at least take a look at this file-handling all-rounder. Free Opener is a freeware for Windows.

The Installation

The road to install the free file opener and viewer is a slightly long one. You have to download an installer first – InstallIQ. Free Opener makes it clear that it is supported by other third-party programs that enable it to survive as a free application. Opening Internet Explorer to display an ad for such a program is slightly irritating. Close it and get on with the installation.

Don’t blitzkrieg through the steps because you might inadvertently install something like the Ask Toolbar. Hit one of the two options at the bottom (Decline Optional Software) and forge ahead.

I liked the fact that Free Opener does not forcefully install a menu group under the right-click menu.

The Launch

A vanilla interface greets you when you first launch the program. I have clicked File – File Associations and this is as you get it in the screenshot below:

You would appreciate a “Select All” or “Select None” option here to have more control over the file associations. But that’s missing in action so far and you have to manually go through the 80+ file types. Yes, as we said before – 80+. Free Opener can help you view the following file types: code files, web pages, Photoshop files, images, XML files, PowerPoint presentations, media files, Microsoft Word documents, subtitle files, icons, torrent, Flash animation, archives, Apple pages, CSV files, vCard files, EML documents, and PDF.

Here is the massive list of file types.

The Opening

For all the noise and the build-up, Free Opener is simple in the way it handles so many file formats. Browse to the file you want to open. Click on the file to select it and then click Open. If the file is supported it will open in Free Opener. The real action happens when you open each specific format. All the required controls to manage that particular document are on display with the document. Here’s for example, a Microsoft Word document opened with Free Opener.

You can see all the basic formatting options in the toolbar below the document. Free Opener cannot open multiple documents at one go. But you can open multiple instances of it if you need to open multiple documents in different formats. The memory footprint for a single instance is approximately equal to that of today’s current browsers with a few tabs open, so it’s not something that your computer cannot handle. But yes, it is not lightweight either.

Here’s what an image file looks like in Free Opener. As you can see from the screenshot below, it comes with a few basic picture controls which you can calibrate with sliders. There’s the Crop and Resize option too.

The media player can handle avi, flv, mid, mkv, mp3, mp4, mpeg, mpg, mov, wav, wmv, 3gp, and flac thanks to the K-Lite Codec pack it downloads during the install. The media player is basic, but has some nice touches with video smoothening, audio-video sync, and Direct X video acceleration. Then, you can play your videos in full-screen too.

The Print option is visible for supported file types. Free Opener says – Unfortunately, we do not currently support printing from all file extensions. We hope to support all file extensions in the future.

Try out Free Opener. Is there any file format which you routinely use that it does not include? I noticed that it cannot open DWG (AutoCAD files). But then, that’s a specialized file type. Do you have any other universal file opener or viewer to recommend? We are listening.

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21 December 2012

Remotely Send Web Pages to your Mobile Device

Remote URL

Framote is new tool that helps you share “live” URLs that can be controlled remotely.

To get started, you can specify any website – say cnn.com – and Framote will create a unique URL for that site. You can share that URL with a group of people and everyone will see the same website on their screens. If you update the underlying website at your end, all the other screens are refreshed automatically.

The service is especially useful for testing responsive designs. You can have the main website on your desktop computer and load the corresponding Framote URLs on your tablets and mobile phones. If you open a different page on your desktop, the mobile screens are updated automatically.

Internally, Framote embeds the source website into an IFRAME and makes an AJAX request to check the actual URL every few seconds. If the source URL has been modified, the IFRAME’s source attribute on the client’s screen is updated almost instantly. The Framote dashboard will also show list of IP address and devices that are accessing your unique URL.

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Digital Inspiration @labnol This story, Remotely Send Web Pages to your Mobile Device, was originally published at Digital Inspiration on 21/12/2012 under Web Design, Internet.

Facebook Starts Rolling Out New Privacy Settings, Making Things Easier To Find [Updates]

Facebook has started rolling out new privacy settings, most of which were announced last week. According to The Next Web, these new settings are now available for users in New Zealand, a step which marks the start of a gradual worldwide rollout. The idea behind these new privacy controls is to make important settings easier to find and understand – a true blessing considering the current state of affairs.

If you’ve ever tried to perform a simple Facebook task such as blocking a user or controlling who can see your posts, you know that digging through Facebook’s privacy settings can become quite a lengthy process. With the new settings, a shortcut menu is added to the top toolbar, containing quick access to important settings such as who can see your posts and photos, and who can contact you. From this menu, you can also access the full privacy settings page.

As outlined by The Next Web, the main settings page has also received quite an overhaul, making it much clearer and more accessible. If today you have to search in not-so-intuitive menus, the new page is built around questions and answers, helping you find out the right setting you want to change, and change it immediately. The new rollout will also include app permissions, which will now be split to separate windows, each containing one single access request. This will allow users to read each request carefully, and choose whether to grant it or not.

It remains to be seen how helpful these new settings really are, and how long it will take them to roll out to other countries in the world. Are you seeing these new settings yet?

Source: Facebook Newsroom via The Next Web

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Don’t Install An Image Editor: Try These Cloud-Based Photo Editors Instead

photo-editing-online-300Editing photos is a very broad subject. When we think about editing photos, we can mean a simple crop or a resize, we can mean effects and filters, we can mean adding text and other layers, and we can mean more advanced editing which is usually done by more powerful programs. We can think of all these things when we say “photo editing”, but there’s one thing we’re usually sure of, no matter what our purpose is: we’re going to need to download something.

Until not so long ago, I was pretty sure of this myself. If you want to get really good results, you need to download some kind of graphics software or other editing app, and put it through its paces. This might have been true up until several years ago, but the boom of Web and mobile apps changed this completely. In fact, you can now do most of your photo editing online, and achieve some pretty impressive results. Yes, there are some things you’ll still need Photoshop and friends for, you can’t escape that, but today I’m going to show you several online editing tools that will blow you away. The future is truly here!



PicMonkey is an insanely strong online editor which I’ve had my eyes on for a while, and yet never really tried before. I’m glad I did, because this fun little editor is everything you could wish from an online editor, and much more. So what can you do with PicMonkey? Pretty much everything. This nifty photo editor comes with very basic edits such as crop, rotate and resize, and goes all the way to filters and effects, touch ups such as blemish fixes, wrinkle removers and spray tan, text layers, frames, textures, and even themes you can paint on. And to top it all off, it’s super easy to use. Seriously, you really don’t have to know anything about editing pictures, and you’ll still come up with awesome results.

The catch? Some items are marked with a crown. When you try to use them, you’ll see a big monkey face on your photo, and when you try to apply them, you’ll get the following message:


Note that there’s no mention of a price, and I could not find any such mention anywhere on the website. You can start the free trial and do away with your edits, but it’s not clear how long this trial will last and how much you’ll have to pay if you choose to sign up for Royale features. In the mean time, though, you can use all the features for free, and even if your trial does eventually run out, at least half of the features are not Royale features, and will remain free forever, and this in itself makes PicMonkey awesome.

Pros: Very friendly, no sign-up, a staggering amount of tools, can also create collages.

Cons: Vague free trial and paid option for some of the features, can only load file from computer.

Rating: 9.5/10

Verdict: Try it! You won’t be disappointed.



As useful as PicMonkey is, it’s a hard editor to take seriously. Pixlr, on the other hand, feels like a full-blown graphics software, with one small difference – it’s right in your browser. Forget about friendly and easy-to-understand tools, Pixlr is the real deal, and no one is going to be holding your hand here. To start, you can upload a photo from your computer, open it from a URL, find it online on Facebook and other libraries, or just start from scratch and draw something, if that’s your thing.

After choosing a photo, you’ll find yourself facing a left toolbar full of icons, a top toolbar with nine different menus, and three additional windows on the right: Navigator, Layers, and History. If you’re not a frequent user of graphics software, you might find yourself confused at this point. I admit I was. But upon trying out all the different tools, adjustments, filters, and layer options, I realized Pixlr is a truly powerful tool. One surprisingly useful feature is the History window, where you can go back to any point in your creation process, and see what it looked like. Even better than undo!

Pros: Extremely powerful, no sign-up for most options, can yield professional results.

Cons: Interface is not very friendly, can be intimidating for non-experienced users.

Rating: 8.5/10

Verdict: If you know what you’re doing, or want to learn.



Pixlr too serious for you? Ribbet is just the opposite. Built around the idea of photo-editing for everyone, Ribbet is a free online editor that’s just plain fun. You can use Ribbet to edit a single photo from your computer, or create collages in various layouts. The things that immediately stands out about Ribbet is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously – editing a photo feels almost like a game. Ribbet comes with basic tools such as crop, resize and rotate, and goes on to effects, text layers, stickers, touch-up, and frames. There’s also an “Advanced” tab, which offers more advanced options such as clone, curves, and levels.

The thing I loved most about Ribbet is the detailed tooltip that comes with each and every tool, effect, and filter. Not only do these explain exactly what you’re trying to use, they also include tips on making your image look even better when using this effect. While Ribbet requires no sign-up to start editing, many of the featured are marked “Premium”, and while premium accounts are free at this point, they still require sign-up to use.

Pros: Really fun to use, brilliant tooltips for every single tool and effect, and it lets you draw on fake beards!

Cons: Not very responsive; interface is a bit hard to navigate; many features require sign-up.

Rating: 7/10

Verdict: It’s the new kid on the block, and needs some more time to develop.

Pixlr Express


Hold your horses, I’m in love. Did you love PicMonkey? Are you a fan on Pixlr but tend to get lost in its complexity? Introducing: Pixlr Express: where simple, friendly interface meets brilliant online editing. And if I sound like a commercial, I apologize, but this is truly how impressed I was with Pixlr Express. Start by uploading an image from your computer, a URL, or your webcam. Alternatively, you can choose to create a collage (you want to try this too, trust me). Now prepare to be amazed by the fastest, most responsive online image editor you’ve ever tried.

Pixlr Express goes for simplicity, and it succeeds big time. When you start, you have six squares in all: Adjustment, Effect, Overlay, Border, Sticker, and Text. Upon clicking one of these, new options will open up, and this goes on until you zero in on the tool you want to use. While Pixlr Express offers some pretty impressive tools such as Liquify, History Brush, Color Splash and more, it somehow manages to remain completely intuitive and easy to use, even for someone who’s totally clueless. If you want, you can even work on your photos in fullscreen.

There are no premium features, no sign-ups, no free or non-free trials – it’s just pure and simple editing, and it’s gorgeous.

Pros: Amazing interface, super responsive, includes simple and advanced tools alike.

Cons: None that I can think of.

Rating: 10/10

Verdict: The perfect online editor for beginners and for advanced users who want to touch up their photos.

Bonus: Google+

google -editing

I’ve known for a while that Google has implemented some editing tools into Google+, but imagine my surprise when I finally tried it, only to find out it’s actually the aforementioned Ribbet in Google clothing. If you open an image in your Google+ account and click on “Edit Photo”, you’ll find yourself on a page very similar to Ribbet, complete with those little frog thumbnails. Google+ doesn’t include all of Ribbet’s features, only some basic edits, some effects, fun decorations such as face paint, doodle, beards and masks, and the ability to add text. Unlike Ribbet, though, there are no premium features – you can use every feature you see – and there are even some Google+ exclusives.

If your photos are already on Google+, this online editor will be the most accessible of the lot, and will let you easily edit full albums, one photo after the other, without having to upload, save and download each one in turn. It includes some useful basic effects, and if you only need to touch-up your photos, it will do nicely.

Pros: Accessible if you’re a Google+ user; friendly interface.

Cons: Includes only very basic features.

Rating: 7.5/10

Verdict: For Google+ users, this is great. I wouldn’t upload my images just to use this editor.

Do you know of more excellent online photos editors? Is there is one you especially love? Tell us about it in the comments.

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2 Windows Applications To Make Launching Files, Folders, And Applications Easier Than Ever

My original horror story when first upgrading to Windows 8 was having no idea how to comfortably launch applications anymore. By default, there is no Quick Launch toolbar and the Start Menu has been gutted to the point where it’s almost foreign. Thanks to some third-party tweaks and advice, both issues aren’t very hard to fix. Even if you prefer the new style Windows has taken on in the latest version of their OS, let it be known that there are applications out there that can ease the pain of launching your most commonly-used files, folders, and applications.

While I’m a huge fan and regular user of Fingertips, I really think I’ve come across two free and portable applications that get the job done more effectively and easily. I’m here to show them to you.


AddToRun is a useful little tool that works on versions of Windows from XP to 7. The application currently seems not to work on most versions of Windows 8, so keep that in mind.

AddToRun allows you to create simple aliases for applications within the Windows filesystem. That being said, be advised that you’ll need easy access to your Run prompt to make efficient use of the application. My recommendation is that you have it shown on your Start Menu.

Simply navigate to the location of the desired application, select it, create an alias for launching the application, and click Add.

After, simply bring up the Run prompt and type in the added alias.

It really doesn’t get any simpler than what AddToRun asks from the user.


Famulus is advertised as functional with versions of Windows from 2000 to 7, but I’ve tested it on Windows 8 Pro and it works just fine.

Famulus excels over AddToRun in many ways, in my opinion. The Run prompt is not a dependency. Famulus also shows you all items that you currently associate an alias with. With Famulus, you’re also able to launch any type of file or folder. You are not limited exclusively to applications.

The Activation Code is the alias required for launching the application. The File Path is the relative path to the file or directory that you’re creating an alias for. Be sure to click the appropriate button (File or Dir.) associated with the alias you’re adding. The Option field allows you to specify if you want to run the application maximized, minimized, or hidden. If a working directory is required to run the application properly, you are given the option of providing that also.

Click Save to save each individual entry and Done when saving all entries that you plan to complete. But how do you launch your applications?

Simply press and hold the * (asterisk) key on your number pad for a half-second. (If you use a laptop or netbook that does not have a number pad, this is obviously a problem!) At the bottom-right of your screen, you should see an input box pop up. Here is where you can type in any of those aliases.

Hit enter and the application will be launched. It’s extremely simple and elegant.

Both applications do exactly what they advertise, but both in different ways. Which do you prefer: from the Run prompt or from the hotkey-activated prompt of Famulus? Let me know in the comments!

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