50 tools to speed up your PC

Get Windows humming again, supercharge your browser, and clear out the crud with these (mostly) free downloads.

Interface Tune-Up

Another effective way to optimize your PC is to tweak Windows' interface and behavior to your liking. All of these programs will get the job done.

Vista4Experts

If you run Vista, this utility is an excellent way to tweak the OS. Through its simple interface you can customize many Vista features. Turn off the dreaded User Account Control, customize the power button, disable or enable the Aero environment, change the behavior of Windows Updates, and more.

Download Vista4Experts | Price: Free

MagicTweak

This program offers countless options for tweaking Windows. It can change the icons for various system features, create a custom desktop-shortcut arrow, change how Windows Explorer looks and works, tweak your network connection, hide menus, customize the Start menu, and adjust Windows security, just for starters.

Download MagicTweak | Price: $40 (Shareware)

RocketDock

Give your PC a Mac OS X-like dock, a customized bar of icons that puts frequently used programs at your fingertips. Place it at the top, bottom, or side of your screen, and you get instant access to your favorite programs and features.

Download RocketDock | Price: Free

Vista Manager

Vista users who want to juice up the OS's performance or its looks should give this tool a spin. You can optimize numerous aspects of your system, including its RAM, cache, and hard disk. The utility also manages startup and shutdown, cleans your system, improves your security, and customizes how your network functions.

Download Vista Manager | Price: $40 (Shareware)

Auslogics Visual Styler

Through this simple-to-use program, you can make Windows work the way you want and gain instant access to deeply hidden Windows customization features. For example, you can change icon resolution, size, spacing, and shortcut arrows. And a wallpaper changer rotates the scenery displayed every time your PC starts.

Download Auslogics Visual Styler | Price: $25 (Trial)

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Preston Gralla

PC World (US online)

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