In Pictures: Top 15 free tools for every Windows desktop

Powerful Windows utilities for a fast, productive desktop environment

Free Windows tool No. 12: VLC Media Player

Another poster child for open source software, VLC Media Player plays just about anything – including YouTube Flash FLV files – with no additional software, no downloads, no headaches. Unlike other media players (notably the versatile but complex KM Player), VLC sports simple, Spartan controls, built-in codecs for almost every file type imaginable, and a large and vocal online support community. VLC plays Internet streaming media with a click, records played media, converts between file types, and even supports individual frame screen shots. VLC is well-known for tolerating incomplete or damaged media files. It will even start to play downloaded media before the download’s finished.

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