50 tips and (mostly) free tools to extend Windows XP's life

Extend XP today, for free

Five essential XP add-ons

Office applications are among the chief culprits when it comes to adding unnecessary tools and features that most of us will rarely use. The trick is to bring to the fore those that you'll make use of — inevitably, these are hidden five layers down under some obscure tab — and dump the ones you don't need.

International Character Toolbar

Add this toolbar to Office to gain one-click access to a palette of the most common special characters used in a language of your choice.


Not thrilled with Office 2007's radical 'ribbon' design? Get back to good old menus and toolbars with ToolbarToggle, which restores the 2003 suite's arrangement. A single-user licence costs $US20 after a free five-day trial.

Word Frequency Count

This application (its full name is Word Frequency Count in Multiple Text & HTML Files) adds up the number of times each word occurs in multiple text, HTML and Word documents. This can be handy if you want to check you're not repeating yourself. The full utility costs $US30.

Remove Hidden Data

You probably sometimes receive files filled with embarrassing 'track changes' information and personal data that the creator accidentally left in. Don't be that person. Thank Microsoft for this free add-in.

ClearType Tuner

Part of the XP PowerToys suite (and available in an online version as well), ClearType Tuner gives you control over how fonts look on your LCD screen. You'll be amazed at how much of a difference a slight alteration in font thickness and smoothing can make.

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PC Advisor staff

PC Advisor (UK)
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