Most computer users like toys. After all, a computer is nothing less than a big toy for even the most professional webmasters. But sometimes smaller gadgets and widgets make us smile with their useful natures and ease of use. New tools are appearing online constantly that serve one purpose or another and often as soon as we get something downloaded, we being to wonder how we ever lived without it.

Microsoft is not exempt from offering toys of their own through various websites. The goodies offered by Microsoft vary in function and features, but some are truly enjoyable.

Microsoft XP PowerToys
The Microsoft XP website offers more than tutorials and frequently asked questions about the operating system. It also gives XP users some freebies. Programs are available to download through the site which include very functional features that are hard to live without – at least they are once you download and experience them.

Power Calculator
The puny calculator that comes standard with all Microsoft operating systems is easily deleted and even more easily replaced. But don’t settle for a basic calculator when you can have the Power Calculator. Anyone with an engineering or math background can appreciate the Power Calculator. It’s essentially a graphing calculator for the computer. Of course it still does basic arithmetic, but is also plots integers and performs complex functions. Even if you don’t have complex quadratic functions on a daily basis, it still feels good to have the capabilities – just in case.

ClearType Tuner
If you occasionally find yourself squinting at sites online, but feel fine with others, you can download ClearType Tuner and be able to manually adjust the resolution of your screen to fit your needs per website page. Rather than constantly switching your resolution though Properties, you can make simple adjustments with the Tuner that can make sites easier to see.

If you have eye trouble, this is not necessarily the answer you need, but it can make the text clearer on many sites that are not optimized for higher resolutions. It combined with other features including magnification might just be all you need to read your screen clearly without getting a headache.

Alt-Tab Replacement
If you want a quick peek at what’s running on your computer, you can hold down Alt and hit Tab. You can hit Tab again to move between applications, but you won’t be able to drill down into the various pages of each. But with Alt-Tab Replacement, the little icons for each application are replaced with screenshots of what you are actually working with on each page. This means that each Word file will have a separate screen shot and you can see the difference between Document 1 and Document 2 quickly and easily.

HMTL Slideshow
If you like to share your pictures or have a website that includes various pictures, the HTML Slideshow, or its cousin the Webcam Timer Show can be fun. With the HTML Slideshow, you create a very basic HTML page with pictures. When you upload it to your website, it will show up as a slideshow. The Webcam Timer Show takes pictures on a set interval with your webcam can then you can set up a show from those as well.

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