March 6, 2017

How to edit PDF documents for free

The following guide provides you with information on how to edit PDF documents using tools that are available for free online or as desktop programs.
The PDF file format, originally created by Adobe, is a popular format for a wide variety of documents from presentations and invoices over forms and legal documents, to comics and books.
One of the main appeals of the format is that it preserves the original formatting, and that PDF documents can be loaded on desktop and mobile devices, as well as online easily.
Other features of interest include that it is not super easy to edit PDF documents, and that restrictions may be set that prevent others from printing or copying documents.

Edit PDF documents for free

PDF files cannot be edited in the same way that Word or plain text documents can be edited. If you load a PDF in a viewer application, that is all you get. You can read the document, print it if it is allowed, and that is about it.
While you can use commercial grade software like Adobe Acrobat for editing PDF documents, there are plenty of free solutions out there that may be sufficient for your tasks.
It all depends primarily on what you want to edit. If you want to make complex edits, free tools may not be sufficient for that.
We look at basic, advanced and specialized PDF editing tools in the sections that follow.

 

 

Basic PDF editing: Online PDF Editors

 

 

free online pdf editor


One of the main appeals of online editors is that you can use them from any device or browser, and that you don't need to install any software -- usually -- to use them.
One of the downsides is that you have to upload the PDF document to the service. If the PDF file is of importance, or even confidential, it is not recommended to use online editors as you leave a copy of the document on the service's server.
Online PDF editors offer basic functionality only usually. You can use them to add text or images to a document, remove bits of content from PDF files, fill out forms, use freehand tools, or add symbols such as checkmarks or circles to the document.
Some allow you to add annotations, and to add, delete or rotate pages.

Selection of free online PDF editors

 

 

Advanced PDF Editing Tools

 

 

edit pdf text


Sometimes, you may want to edit text of a PDF file, remove elements without changing the layout, replace images, or do other operations that online editors cannot be used for.
One option that you have is to load the PDF document into Microsoft Word, LibreOffice Writer, or any other program that supports the loading of text documents.
Many of these programs support the exporting of the edited document to PDF as well, so that you retain the original format.
The second type of programs that you may use for advanced editing jobs are free PDF editors. This includes PDF XChange Editor which you may use to edit text or inserting images among other things.
The free PDF editor Ableword falls into that category as well. The developers state that editing PDF files is as simple as editing Word documents, and there is certainly some truth to that.
Foxit Reader is a free PDF viewer that supports basic edit operations as well. You may use it to fill out forms, sign documents, and to add annotations.
Inkspace is another program that you may want to consider. You can import PDF documents into the application, and use the program to move objects -- text, images, tables, animations -- around, or remove them.

 

 

Specialized PDF tools

 

 

specialized pdf editor


The following editors are used for special purposes such as editing metadata or bookmarks. Some of these programs allow you to convert PDF files to Word documents.
Doing so may make it easier to edit the document. Since most Word processing applications support the exporting of documents as PDF files, it is easy enough to turn them back into a PDF document after editing.
  • BeCyPDFMetaEdit for Windows -- Edit PDF metadata, bookmarks, viewer preferences and more.
  • Nitro PDF to Word -- An online converter that converts any PDF file to a Word file for easier editing.
  • PDF Online -- A PDF to Word converter.
 Source: http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/06/how-to-edit-pdf-documents-for-free/

February 10, 2017

5 Free Ways to Send or Receive Faxes Online - Lifewire

Even though many offices still use fax machines, you don't have to invest in one just to send a fax or even receive faxes. Instead, use one of these free services to send faxes from your computer to a fax machine over the Internet or receive faxes to your email.
For fax sending, the services below allow you to enter in text to be faxed or upload a document (e.g., Word doc or PDF file) that's already stored on your PC; you could also use a portable or desktop scanner to convert your paper files to digital documents for faxing.
The free fax receiving services give you a fax number to hand out to others and will convert faxes sent to that number to a digital document delivered to your email address. ~ June 19, 2011

1
FaxZero





Send a fax for free anywhere in the US and Canada (or many international destinations). You can upload a Word document or PDF file or enter text to fax. The free service places an ad on the cover page and is limited to a maximum of 3 pages per fax, up to 5 free faxes per day. If you need to send more than 3 pages, you can send a fax of up to 25 pages with priority delivery and no ad on the cover page for $1.99. The service is accredited with the Better Business Bureau and has been reliable for me.

2
MyFax Free









MyFax Free supports free fax sending to over 40 countries and supports many more types of files than other fax services: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and image files. You can send up to 10 pages at once, with a maximum of 10MB for the file size.

3
GotFreeFax

 

 



 
If you'd rather not have an ad on the cover page, consider GotFreeFax, which uses no-ad free fax cover pages and also doesn't add any GotFreeFax branding to your fax. You can send up to 3 pages per fax and 2 free faxes per day. If you need to send more than 3 pages, GotFreeFax allows you to fax up to 10 pages for $0.98, 20 pages for $1.98, and 30 pages for $2.98; the premium pay-per-fax service also uses an encrypted connection and provides priority delivery.

4
FaxBetter

 

 



 
FaxBetter offers you a dedicated toll free fax number for receiving up to 50 pages per month. The catch is that you'll need to receive at least one fax every 7 days to keep the free fax number, and the fax-to-email service as well as the OCR/searchable fax feature is only a 30 day trial; FaxBetter stores up to 1,000 pages on their site for you to access your faxes online. If you don't expect to receive faxes as regularly and/or would like the fax-to-email, searchable faxes, and up to 500 pages per month, the FaxBetter account is $5.95 per month.

5
eFax Free

 

 



 
eFax's free plan gives you a free fax number for incoming faxes which are delivered to you by email. You'll need the eFax document viewing software and will be limited to 20 incoming faxes a month, but if you have light fax receiving needs, eFax Free is a helpful service. To change the area code for your fax number, receive more than 20 incoming faxes, or send as well as receive faxes, you'll need to upgrade to the eFax Plus plan, which is a bit more costly than average, at $16.95 per month.

Source: https://www.lifewire.com/faxzero-free-faxes-3483101

The 6 Best PDF Readers For Windows

Most people don’t stop to think about the PDF reader they install – they just install Adobe Reader. Adobe’s PDF Reader isn’t the only option, though – there are quite a few high-quality, free PDF viewers available for Windows.
The alternative PDF readers run the gamut from minimal, lightweight applications built for nothing more than viewing PDFs to more full-featured applications that include annotations and highlighting. Some applications even include features you won’t find in Adobe Reader, such as easy creation of PDF documents and basic PDF-editing tools.

Built-In PDF Readers

If you’re using Google Chrome, you already have a PDF reader. It’s not feature-packed, but it’s a quick, minimal way to read PDF documents in your browser without installing and launching a separate application. It makes PDFs look like any other web page, aside from a toolbar that appears when you hover your cursor over the document.
Mozilla is working on integrating a built-in PDF reader, known as PDF.js, into Firefox 14, the next version of Firefox that will be released. Firefox should have a built-in PDF reader by Firefox 14 – or, hopefully, Firefox 15 at the latest. Windows 8 also comes with its own PDF reader – PDF readers are becoming more integrated into the browsers and operating systems we use every day, gradually eliminating the need for dedicated PDF readers.

pdf readers



Foxit Reader

Foxit may be one of the first names that comes to mind when people think about alternative PDF readers, as it was one of the first alternative PDF readers to gain steam – and it’s still a great option today. Unfortunately, it does try to install a toolbar and change your web browser’s home page during installation. Unlike some of the more lightweight option, Foxit has built-in support for annotations, highlights and other PDF-editing features – it’s a more full-featured alternative to Adobe Reader.

free pdf readers



Sumatra PDF

Sumatra PDF stands out as the most lightweight PDF reader available. It’s very lightweight, has a simple interface, and is also available as a portable app that you can take with you anywhere. It doesn’t have any editing options or other advanced features – it’s just a window that loads extremely quickly and displays PDFs. It’s also packed with keyboard shortcuts, making it even more ideal for quickly reading PDFs. Sumatra also supports other types of files, including eBooks in ePub and Mobi format and comic books in CBZ and CBR formats.


free pdf readers



Nitro PDF Reader

Nitro stands out among free PDF readers with some unique features, as well as a slick interface – although people that dislike Microsoft’s ribbon interface may prefer another application’s interface. It’s got some features you won’t find elsewhere – for example, its QuickSign feature allows you to capture a digital image of your signature and apply it to PDF documents. Nitro PDF can also convert files from Microsoft Word and other formats to PDF, convert PDF files to text, and extract images from PDF files. For a more in-depth look at Nitro PDF Reader, check out our full review.


free pdf readers



PDF-XChange Viewer

PDF-XChange Viewer is a fast application, although it isn’t as lightweight as some of the other available PDF readers. It’s got good support for editing and annotations, although more complex edits will require a more full-featured, paid application like Adobe Acrobat. For more information about PDF-XChange Viewer, check out our full review.


best pdf readers



Adobe Reader

Adobe Reader is still the standard PDF reader, although it’s definitely not the fastest. While most PDF documents work perfectly fine in other PDF readers, every now and then a document will only work in Adobe Reader. If you prefer another PDF reader, don’t be surprised if you have to occasionally fire up Adobe Reader to view a more complex PDF that just isn’t working properly in other PDF readers. There’s a reason Chrome’s in-browser PDF reader prompts users to open (or download) Adobe Reader in some cases.



pdf readers



For more great Windows software, check out our list of the 168 best free Windows applications.
How do you read PDFs on Windows? Leave a comment and tell us which PDF reader you prefer.

Source: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/6-pdf-readers-windows/

February 9, 2017

Blocking Telemetry in Windows 7 and 8.1

Microsoft pushed patches to devices running Windows 7 and 8.1 in recent time that collect information and transfer data to Microsoft regularly.
One of the main issues that Windows users may have with telemetry is that Microsoft does not reveal what it is collecting, and what is included when telemetry data is transferred to the company.
The following tutorial provides suggestions on limiting Windows data collecting and transferring. There is no guarantee that nothing is collected and/or submitted after making privacy related changes to the operating system, but a guarantee that data collecting is severely limited at the very least.
Information taken from various places around the Internet including this Ask Woody comment, this German forum post, and Günter Born's post.

Blocking Telemetry in Windows 7 and 8.1



The following Windows updates are related to telemetry and diagnostic data.
  • KB971033-- Description of the update for Windows Activation Technologies
  • KB2952664 -- Compatibility update for keeping Windows up-to-date in Windows 7
  • KB2976978 -- Compatibility update for keeping Windows up-to-date in Windows 8.1 and Windows 8
  • KB2990214 -- Update that enables you to upgrade from Windows 7 to a later version of Windows
  • KB3021917 -- Update to Windows 7 SP1 for performance improvements
  • KB3022345 -- Update for customer experience and diagnostic telemetry
  • KB3035583 -- Update installs Get Windows 10 app in Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 SP1
  • KB3044374 -- Update that enables you to upgrade from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10
  • KB3068708 --  Update for customer experience and diagnostic telemetry
  • KB3075249 -- Update that adds telemetry points to consent.exe in Windows 8.1 and Windows 7
  • KB3080149 -- Update for customer experience and diagnostic telemetry
  • KB3123862 -- Updated capabilities to upgrade Windows 8.1 and Windows 7
You can remove any of the patches using two methods:
  1. Tap on the Windows-key, type Windows Update, and hit the Enter-key.
  2. Select Installed Updates on the window that opens.
  3. Right-click on updates and select uninstall to remove them from the system.
Second method uses the command line instead:
  1. Tap on the Windows-key, type cmd.exe, hold down Shift and Ctrl, and hit the Enter-key. This opens an elevated command prompt.
  2. Use the command wusa /uninstall /kb:3080149 /quiet /norestart to remove updates.
  3. Replace the number after kb: with the update that you want to remove.
Make sure you hide any update that you have removed, as it will be picked up by Windows again the next time Windows Update checks for update.

Turn off the Customer Experience Improvement Program



We have posted a tutorial already that explains how to turn off the Customer Experience Improvement Program.
Basically, what you do is click on Start, type customer experience, and select the "change customer experience improvement program settings" result. Select "No, I don't want to participate in the program" when the new settings window opens.

Remove the Telemetry service

Next thing on the list is to remove the Diagnostic Tracking service. Open an elevated command prompt -- if it is not still open -- and run the following commands:
  1. sc stop Diagtrack
  2. sc delete Diagtrack
The first command stops the Diagtrack service, the second deletes it.

Blocking Microsoft Servers

Note: the following servers cannot be blocked using the hosts file. You need to block them using another means, e.g. router firewall or installed firewall.
  • onesettings-hk2.metron.live.com.nsatc.net
  • onesettings-bn2.metron.live.com.nsatc.net
  • onesettings-cy2.metron.live.com.nsatc.net
  • vortex-hk2.metron.live.com.nsatc.net
  • vortex-db5.metron.live.com.nsatc.net
Other servers you may want to block:
  • 134.170.30.202
  • 137.116.81.24
  • 204.79.197.200
  • 23.218.212.69
  • 65.39.117.230
  • 65.55.108.23
  • a-0001.a-msedge.net
  • choice.microsoft.com
  • choice.microsoft.com.nsatc.net
  • compatexchange.cloudapp.net
  • corp.sts.microsoft.com
  • corpext.msitadfs.glbdns2.microsoft.com
  • cs1.wpc.v0cdn.net
  • df.telemetry.microsoft.com
  • diagnostics.support.microsoft.com
  • fe2.update.microsoft.com.akadns.net
  • feedback.microsoft-hohm.com
  • feedback.search.microsoft.com
  • feedback.windows.com
  • i1.services.social.microsoft.com
  • i1.services.social.microsoft.com.nsatc.net
  • oca.telemetry.microsoft.com
  • oca.telemetry.microsoft.com.nsatc.net
  • pre.footprintpredict.com
  • redir.metaservices.microsoft.com
  • reports.wes.df.telemetry.microsoft.com
  • services.wes.df.telemetry.microsoft.com
  • settings-sandbox.data.microsoft.com
  • settings-win.data.microsoft.com
  • sls.update.microsoft.com.akadns.net
  • sqm.df.telemetry.microsoft.com
  • sqm.telemetry.microsoft.com
  • sqm.telemetry.microsoft.com.nsatc.net
  • statsfe1.ws.microsoft.com
  • statsfe2.update.microsoft.com.akadns.net
  • statsfe2.ws.microsoft.com
  • survey.watson.microsoft.com
  • telecommand.telemetry.microsoft.com
  • telecommand.telemetry.microsoft.com.nsatc.net
  • telemetry.appex.bing.net
  • telemetry.appex.bing.net:443
  • telemetry.microsoft.com
  • telemetry.urs.microsoft.com
  • vortex.data.microsoft.com
  • vortex-sandbox.data.microsoft.com
  • vortex-win.data.microsoft.com
  • watson.live.com
  • watson.microsoft.com
  • watson.ppe.telemetry.microsoft.com
  • watson.telemetry.microsoft.com
  • watson.telemetry.microsoft.com.nsatc.net
  • wes.df.telemetry.microsoft.com

Deleting Scheduled Tasks



Windows 7 and 8.1 run a lot of tasks that send data to Microsoft.
  1. Tap on the Windows-key, type Task Scheduler, and hit the Enter-key.
  2. Navigate to Microsoft > Windows in the task hierarchy, and delete (or disable) the following tasks:
  3. All tasks with Application Experience.
  4. All tasks with Autochk.
  5. All tasks with Customer Experience Improvement Program.
  6. DiskDiagnosticDataCollector under DiskDiagnostic.
  7. WinSAT under Maintenance.
  8. Deactivate all Media Center tasks.

Closing Words

There is always the chance that new updates will add new services or tasks. This is why it is recommended to set Windows Update to inform but not download and install automatically.
Source: http://www.ghacks.net/2017/02/11/blocking-telemetry-in-windows-7-and-8-1/

February 2, 2017

LibreOffice 5.3 ships with experimental Office-like Ribbon UI

LibreOffice 5.3 is the newest version of the popular open source Office suite, and one of the "most feature-rich releases in the history of the application".
The Office suite, available for Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems, is now also available as a private cloud version, called LibreOffice Online.
LibreOffice, at is core, is an open source alternative to Microsoft Office. It features Writer, a text editing program similar to Word, Calc, the Excel equivalent, Impress which is similar to PowerPoint, and Draw, which enables you to create graphic documents.
LibreOffice 5.3 ships with a truckload of new features. One of the new features is a new experimental user interface called Notebookbar. This new interface resembles Office's ribbon UI, but is completely optional right now.


libreoffice 5.3


In fact, the new user interface is not enabled by default, and if you don't look for it or know where to look, you will probably notice no difference at all to previous versions.
First, you need to enable experimental features by checking "Enable experimental features" under Tools > Options > LibreOffice > Advanced > Experimental features.
To enable the new Ribbon UI, select View > Toolbar Layout > Notebookbar.  The UI you see on the screenshot above is enabled by default, but you may switch it using View > Notebookbar to either Contextual Groups or Contextual Single.
The former displays grouped items in the UI, the latter icons in a compact horizontal row. Excellent for small resolution devices.


libreoffice


As far as other features are concerned, there are quite a few that deserve mentioning. One interesting option that the developers built-in to LibreOffice 5.3 is the ability to sign PDF documents, and to verify PDF document signatures.
You find both options under File > Digital Signatures in the interface.
PDF documents can be embedded into documents now as well. They are added to documents as images, with the first page being shown by default.
If you like to use the keyboard shortcut, you may like that the Windows and Linux versions of LibreOffice 5.3 highlight shortcuts now in context menus. So, whenever you use the mouse, you see the corresponding keyboard shortcut as well.


libreoffice 5.3 keyboard shortcuts


The Writer application got some exciting new features. It supports Table styles now for instance, and there is a new Page deck in the sidebar to customize the page settings quickly and directly.
There is also an option to use the new "go to page" box, and arrows in the drawing tools which were not available previously in Writer.
Calc got a new set of default cell styles offering "greater variety and better names", a new median function for pivot tables, and a new filter option when you are inserting functions to narrow down the selection.
Impress & Draw start with a template selector when you start  them, and two new templates have been included for use.
Another interesting option is the ability to link to images or photos of photo albums, so that they are not saved in the document directly.

LibreOffice 5.3 supports better import and export filters to new and legacy Microsoft Office Documents.
|
Check out the following videos that highlight the new features of LibreOffice 5.3:
LibreOffice 5.3 Writer
LibreOffice 5.3 Calc
LibreOffice 5.3 Impress

Check out the official blog post on the Document Foundation website. There you find links to download pages, and information about LibreOffice Online.

Source: http://www.ghacks.net/2017/02/01/libreoffice-5-3-ships-with-office-like-ribbon-ui/

January 17, 2017

Windows 10 vs Windows 8.1 vs Windows 7 - Microsoft OS head-to-head

Vs,17 Aug, 2016

Redmond operating system smack-down

Windows 10 has been out for over a year and has just recently seen the Anniversary Update land on users' desktops. The free upgrade offer has all but finished (there are still some ways to get it free if you have accessibility issues). Windows 10 is great, especially when compared to its two immediate predecessors, Windows 8.1 and 7, as our blow-by-blow head-to-head comparison shows.

Support cut-off date

Every operating system has its life cycle and will one day be cut off from updates entirely, left abandoned and open to security vulnerabilities that won't be fixed unless you're on a bespoke support contract. As we saw with Windows XP last year, the support deadline comes up quickly and it's important to have your affairs in order and a plan to switch ready to go. Luckily for all three of our operating systems here, you have several years before you'll even need to think about switching away from them. The extended support cut-off dates for Windows are as follows:
Windows 7 Service Pack 1: January 14th, 2020
Windows 8.1: January 10th, 2023
Windows 10: October 14th, 2025

Winner: Windows 10

This comes as no surprise - Windows 10 makes the most sense if you want the most cost-effective way of receiving free updates for the next decade.

User interface for desktops and laptops

Windows 7 certainly set the benchmark for a relatively consistent and understandable user interface, although its key strength now is its familiarity. You know where to find things, you know what sort of results you're going to get from the Start Menu search bar and you understand the oddities of Windows Explorer, Task Manager and Control Panel.
This familiarity is an asset compared to Windows 8.1. Microsoft's huge push for touchscreen devices and tablets left desktop users feeling not only abandoned, but hugely confused. Hitting the Start button to search for an app or file left you with a massive full-screen Start screen that made little sense when it was first introduced in Windows 8 in 2012 and it still feels jarring today.
Windows 10 strikes a better balance here, with its Continuum mode neatly morphing the compact Start menu into a bigger, touch-friendly Start screen as needed. The Start menu’s links to the newly tweaked File Explorer as well as lists of recently used apps and your pinned folders are all huge plus points.
The Start menu in Windows 10 has undergone a few changes since its own release. With the advent of the Anniversary update, it has three columns in the Start Menu with All Apps always visible.
Windows 10 holds a small advantage up to this point, then, and that's before you even consider the hugely improved window management system. If you're someone who likes to multitask, Windows 10 has you covered.
Windows 8.1 has better multi-monitor support than Windows 7. Unlike 7, 8.1 has a taskbar on each screen showing only those  apps  running on that screen. Plus each monitor can have its own distinct wallpaper. and each screen given its own customisable wallpaper.
Windows 10 builds on this foundation, adding an improved version of Windows Snap so you can easily organise your windows in just a couple of clicks. Answering the prayers of those of us with multiple monitors running at different resolutions, there are now settings for scaling text and the UI on a per-monitor basis.
Even if you only have one display, such as when you're using a laptop on the move, Windows 10 now has built-in multiple desktops (like Ubuntu and Mac OS X), so juggling lots of windows and tasks is still easier than ever.

Winner: Windows 10

There's no question Windows 10 needed to make some serious improvements for desktop and laptop users, and Microsoft has delivered. Multitasking has never been easier, meaning it's by far the best choice.

User interface for tablets

Windows 7 only has the most basic interface elements and optimisations for touchscreens, which allowed the iPad and iOS to dominate the market for tablets. This led to the radically improved touchscreen interface in Windows 8, but it alienated a lot of people as it had so few accommodations for keyboard and mouse users.
Windows 8.1 added a few tweaks, nips and tucks, such as the ability to run Modern UI apps in a resizable window, but its display scaling problems made usable high-resolution Windows 8.1 tablets a near impossibility.
Windows 10, while not perfect, is a big improvement. An improved touchscreen gesture allows you to flick between applications quickly and easily than before. If you have a hybrid device and dock it to a keyboard, Windows 10 should recognise this change of state and switch back to its touchpad-friendly desktop mode thanks to Continuum mode, although whether this will work on your device will depend on whether its manufacturers has released drivers that support this.
Windows 10 Anniversary Update features a new Ink Workspace that puts pen-based apps in their own panel at the bottom-right corner. The new apps boast Screen Sketch, Sketchpad and Sticky Notes. The latter integrating with its cloud services. Pen devices should work well with Windows 10 with great Ink support.

Winner: Windows 10

If you have a tablet or a tablet/laptop hybrid, Windows 10 is your best bet. With features catering well for both, you'll work more efficiently that you could on Windows 8.1 or Windows 7.

Security

Windows 7 and 8.1 are by no means insecure operating systems; but Windows 10 has moved both home and enterprise security along significantly, both in terms of local device security and the security of your online services, too.
First of all, there's Windows Hello, which lets you log-in using a fingerprint, face or iris scan instead of a password. While computers with the necessary biometric scanning hardware built-in are currently uncommon, we’re helpful that more will become available quickly given that Hello is built into Windows 10 from the very start.
There's also Passport, a single sign-in service for consumers that allows Windows to authenticate with websites on your behalf without you having to type in a password. This service hooks into Windows Hello, using your biometric scan or a PIN code to verify that you are the person you claim to be. This means you'll use your password less, meaning it'll become much more difficult for hackers to compromise online accounts with stolen passwords. It's not currently supported that widely, but if it takes off, Passport could massively boost security on your online services. As yet, though, Passport and Hello are unproven and very much fledgling technologies.
IT managers will appreciate the ability to organise Enterprise-licenced PCs into circles and choose when updates are applied - great for making sure you don't disrupt your users' work. This also means that Microsoft's new strategy of releasing frequent, individual updates instead of bundling them into Patch Tuesdays or Service Packs won't have a big impact on your office's productivity, as you can delay non-critical updates for up to 90 days if you're on Microsoft's Current Business Branch of support.
You also get Enterprise Data Protection, the ability to sign in with an Azure ID and the ability to set up a company-wide app store.

Winner: Windows 10

Unsurprisingly, Microsoft's latest operating system has the most advanced security features of the operating systems here. It’s good for both consumers and IT managers.

Performance

While anecdotally we have heard of PCs running a lot quicker having been upgraded from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10, actual performance benchmarks on our test PC with 8GB of memory and an Intel Core i5 4690K processor show no difference.
More important is the addition of DirectX 12 support, a low-level graphics API designed to increase 3D graphics performance with lower overheads while giving developers more control over how hardware is used. This is most important for gamers though as most professional 3D graphics software relies on the competing OpenGL API instead. Although it’s still very early days for DirectX 12 with few titles currently taking advantage of it, if you're looking for the best 3D gaming performance available the Windows 10 is likely your best bet as DirectX 12 won’t be available for Windows 8.1 or 7.

Winner: Windows 10

Again, no surprises here; with no penalty in performance and DirectX 12, Windows 10 is an easy choice

Search

Search has become ever more important in operating systems, as file and folder hierarchies have become less important and searching for a specific filename has become a popular way of finding important files – especially amidst messy desktops and haphazardly organised Documents folders.
Windows 7 had a terrific search function built in the Start Menu, finding files and folders on network shares as well as those stored locally. It wasn’t perfect, especially if you needed to refine your search results, but it was useful enough that we were surprised that Windows 8 abandoned this simultaneous search ability. It also adopted a more fiddly Start screen-based search interface and integrated web search results from Bing and app store suggestions. These superfluous additions were far of an annoyance than a convenience.
Windows 10 searches still hook into the Bing search engine and also look for apps in the Windows Store. Even more annoyingly these results are placed ahead of search results for installed apps, files and folders with no option to change this order. Amazingly, the ability to search your computer and network shares simultaneously is still missing.
However, you can at least easily perform more advanced searches from the Start Menu by clicking on the My Stuff button. This lets you filter by relevance or date, and can also narrow down your search to specific file types including documents, photos, music and settings.
Windows 10 also includes Cortana, the personal assistant feature from Windows Phone. This has become a major part of Windows 10 doing double duty as a web search and a Start Menu/Windows search. Plus the ability to search by voice is both impressive in its accurate transcription and in its usefulness for the differently abled.

Winner: Tie

The improved advanced search features in Windows 10 are very welcome, but its insistence on prioritising web search and app store results isn’t. Windows 7 still holds a place in our hearts for its quick, simple search results and network integration.

Verdict - which version of Windows is right for you?

Windows 8 had the unintended side effect of making people significantly more attached to Windows 7 than ever before. It was a happy medium sitting between the Vista mess and the Windows 8 Start screen nightmare.
However, the time is right to move on. If you're still on Windows 7, you can safely upgrade without fear of losing the things you loved most about that OS and Windows 10 is certainly an improvement over Windows 8.1.

Source: http://www.itpro.co.uk/operating-systems/25101/windows-10-vs-windows-81-vs-windows-7-microsoft-os-head-to-head-1

Footnote: Drivers
One area not mentioned is the number of drivers Windows 10 offers. From my experience, Windows 10 has better and a more comprehensive library of drivers than either Win7 or Win8.1. In prior windows versions I had to search for motherboard discs to find the correct video, sound, and networking drivers. Installing Windows 10, I did not have these issues.


January 1, 2017

22 Free Product Key Finder Programs

A List of the Best Free Product Key Finder Software Programs
by Tim Fisher, Updated December 02, 2016

If you're preparing to reinstall a program or an operating system (like a clean install of Windows), you'll need to find your unique product key (CD key) or serial number before continuing.

Normally this product key is located with the original install disc, or maybe in your order confirmation email. If you've lost your product key you can often find it in the Windows Registry but this can be difficult, or sometimes even impossible, to do. Luckily, there are many free key finder programs available to help.

Important: Please read my Key Finder Programs FAQ for lots of helpful information. This isn't an easy topic, especially if you're new to it.

Below are the top 22 free key finder programs. I also keep a list of commercial key finder programs but I highly recommend that you exhaust the options below before paying for one.
1
Belarc Advisor
Screenshot of Belarc Advisor 8.5c in Windows 10
Belarc Advisor 8.5c.

Belarc Advisor is the standard when it comes to system information software. I've been using this program for many, many years. One small aspect of Belarc Advisor is its ability to extract product keys for many software programs, including the one for Windows.

Advantages include display of information in your browser window, no adware/toolbars to worry about, and an extensive list of other important computer data.

Finds Keys for Operating Systems: Windows 10, Windows 8 & 8.1, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2012/2008/2003, Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows NT, Windows ME, Windows 98, and Windows 95.

Finds Keys for Other Software: Microsoft Office 2013, 2010, (plus all previous versions), Microsoft enterprise products, most programs from Adobe, Nero, Corel, and more, as well as keys for popular video games.

Belarc Advisor v8.5c Review and Free Download

Please try Belarc Advisor for your software and Windows key finding needs before any other program. It's likely to provide you with the best results.
2
Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder
Screenshot of Magic Jelly Bean Keyfinder v2.0.10.11 in Windows 8
Magic Jelly Bean Keyfinder v2.0.10.11.

The Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder program is a free utility that retrieves product keys from the registry. It also has the ability to find product keys for Microsoft Office programs, along with product keys from many other non-Microsoft programs.

Advantages include very small size, ease of use, instant display of product keys and multiple product key saving options.

Finds Keys for Operating Systems: Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003, Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows ME, Windows 98, and Windows 95.

Finds Keys for Other Software: Microsoft Office 2007, Office 2003, Office XP, and several non-Microsoft programs.

Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder v2.0.10.11 Review and Free Download

The Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder website says that this free key finder will find your Office 2010 product key but in fact it does not, at least as of v2.0.10.11.
3
Winkeyfinder
Screenshot of Winkeyfinder v1.75 in Windows 7
Winkeyfinder v1.75.

The Winkeyfinder program is another free utility that retrieves product keys from the Windows registry.

Advantages include small program size, no installation required, and additional features such as the ability to change registered user information.

Finds Keys for Operating Systems: Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows ME, and Windows 98.

Finds Keys for Other Software: Microsoft Office 2010, 2007, 2003, XP, 2000 SP2, and 97.

Winkeyfinder v1.75 Review and Free Download

Though it will display a product key for Windows 10, Winkeyfinder doesn't support that version of Windows, so the key it shows is not correct.
4
LicenseCrawler
Screenshot of LicenseCrawler v1.52 in Windows 8
LicenseCrawler v1.52.

LicenseCrawler is another well put together free key finder tool.

LicenseCrawler differs from other key finder programs in its almost full-text interface, which I like. I found LicenseCrawler to be very effective at finding serial numbers for the many programs on my PC.

Finds Keys for Operating Systems: Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, and Windows 2000.

Finds Keys for Other Software: Microsoft Office 2013, Office 2010, Office 2007, Office 2003, most Adobe products, and many more.

LicenseCrawler v1.82 Review and Free Download

I was able to test LicenceCrawler in Windows 10 and Windows 8 without finding any problems.
5
Keyfinder Thing
Screenshot of Keyfinder Thing
Keyfinder Thing v3.1.6. © Matt Chugg

Keyfinder Thing is another free, easy to use utility that finds product keys and serial numbers hidden in the Windows registry.

Advantages include small program size, nothing to run, and support for a large list of non-Microsoft programs.

Finds Keys for Operating Systems: Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows 2003 Server, Windows XP, Windows 2000, and Windows ME.

Finds Keys for Other Software: Microsoft Office 2007, Office 2003, Office XP, Microsoft Money, Nero, Corel Suite, The Sims, and many more programs.

Keyfinder Thing v3.1.6 Review and Free Download

Keyfinder Thing does not find the right product keys for Windows 10, Windows 8, or Windows NT, even though one may show up in the results. I tested it in Windows XP and didn't find issues.
6
Product Key Finder
Product Key Finder v2.0.9

The not-so-originally-named Product Key Finder tool is actually a pretty good key finder program.

After executing Product Key Finder, a simple window opens displaying your Windows product key along with other product keys and serial numbers that Product Key Finder can locate.

Finds Keys for Operating Systems: Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008 & 2003, Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows 98, and Windows NT.

Finds Keys for Other Software: Most Microsoft and Adobe applications, more than 200 in all according to the Product Key Finder website.

Product Key Finder v2.2.4 Review and Free Download

Unfortunately, Product Key Finder doesn't find keys in Windows 8 or Windows 10.
7
ProduKey
Screenshot of ProduKey v1.83 in Windows 8
ProduKey v1.83.

ProduKey is another completely free and easy to use key finder tool.

The thing I liked best about ProduKey is how easy it is to do advanced key finder tasks like loading product keys from remote registries.

Finds Keys for Operating Systems: Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, and Windows 2000.

Finds Keys for Other Software: Microsoft Office 2013, Office 2010, Office 2007, Office 2003, Exchange Server, and SQL Server.

ProduKey v1.87 Review and Free Download

Everything worked fine for me with ProduKey when I used it in Windows 10 and Windows 8.
8
Windows Product Key Finder Pro
Screenshot of Windows Product Key Finder Pro v2.3 in Windows 7
Windows Product Key Finder Pro v2.3. © Gear Box Computers

Gear Box's Windows Product Key Finder Pro is another fantastic utility that can find your Windows product keys. It can also find product keys for several Microsoft Office programs.

Advantages include a very small download size, the ability to run it from a flash drive or other portable device, no compressed files to extract, and nothing to run to display the keys. Windows Product Key Finder Pro instantly displays product keys and allows you to save or print them for safe keeping.

Finds Keys for Operating Systems: Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003, Windows XP, and Windows 2000.

Finds Keys for Other Software: Microsoft Office 2013, Office 2010, Office 2007, Office 2003, and Office XP.

Windows Product Key Finder Pro v2.3 Review and Free Download

Note: Don't let the name fool you. The "Pro" in Windows Product Key Finder Pro doesn't mean it costs - it's actually absolutely free to use.

It's said that Windows 8 is supported, but I was unable to find the product key when I tested v2.3. Windows Product Key Finder Pro is not compatible with Windows 10.
9
WinGuggle
Screenshot of WinGuggle v2.5 in Windows 8
WinGuggle v2.5.

WinGuggle is a very simple key finder program. WinGuggle easily finds product keys for popular Microsoft Windows operating systems and several Microsoft Office programs.

Major advantages include a quick download size, no installation required, access to a few advanced tools, and a very simple interface. WinGuggle instantly displays your Windows and Office product keys.

Finds Keys for Operating Systems: Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP.

Finds Keys for Other Software: Microsoft Office 2010, Office 2007, Office 2003, and Office XP.

WinGuggle v2.5 Review and Free Download

Though WinGuggle supports Windows 8, Windows 10, and MS Office 2013, it unfortunately did not find the correct keys when I tried it.
10
SIW
Screenshot of SIW in Windows
SIW v2011.10.29. © Gabriel Topala

SIW (System Information for Windows) is a portable program that displays tons of detailed information on your Windows installation and hardware devices.

Finds Keys for Operating Systems: Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows 2000, and Windows NT.

Finds Keys for Other Software: Microsoft Office 2010, Office 2007, Office 2003, Office XP and other Microsoft products as well as non-Microsoft applications like Adobe products, Norton, Nero, AutoCAD, and 150+ others

SIW v2011.10.29 Review and Free Download

Note: SIW doesn't look to still be in development, but even though no new updates have been released in a long while, it's still a great program.

SIW doesn't run in Windows 10 or Windows 8.
11
RockXP
RockXP v4.0

RockXP is another free program that retrieves lost product keys from the registry.

Advantages include small program size, no installation required, and additional features such as a password generator and password retriever.

Finds Keys for Operating Systems: Windows XP (officially) and also Windows Vista, Server 2003, 2000, ME, and 98.

Finds Keys for Other Software: Microsoft Office 2007 and Office 2003.

RockXP v4.0 Review and Free Download

I tried running RockXP in Windows 10 and Windows 7 but none of the menus seemed to work, rendering the program useless, which means it probably works in Windows XP only.
12
SterJo Key Finder
Screenshot of SterJo Key Finder in Windows 8
SterJo Key Finder v1.7. © SterJo Software

SterJo Key Finder is another key finder that finds product keys for over 500 games and software on either the local Windows install (your computer) or a remote one.

Finds Keys for Operating Systems: Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows Server 2008, and Windows Server 2003.

Finds Keys for Other Software: Microsoft Office 2013, Office 2010, Office 2007, Office 2003, Office XP, Microsoft Money, Microsoft Works, and lots of other Microsoft and non-Microsoft programs like Adobe, Autodesk, Cyberlink, and others.

SterJo Key Finder is a great way to find product keys because the program is easy to read, you can search through the results, and it supports a huge number of products.

SterJo Key Finder v1.8 Review & Free Download

Unfortunately, SterJo Key Finder found two different product keys for one of the programs on my computer, which makes it hard to recommend above some of the other programs in my list.
13
Product Key Finder (OTT Solutions)
Product Key Finder 1.0

Product Key Finder won't win any creative name contests but that's not important - it's a very good key finder program.

I like Product Key Finder because it's designed very well, instantly finds product keys, allows an easy XML or CSV backup of keys found, and also lets you change your Windows registration or product key right from the tool.

Finds Keys for Operating Systems: Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008 & 2003, Windows XP, and Windows 2000.

Finds Keys for Other Software: Most Microsoft Office and other Microsoft programs, and many non-Microsoft applications.

Product Key Finder v1.0 Review and Free Download

I tested Product Key Finder in Windows 8 and Windows 10 but, unfortunately, the product key it showed was incorrect.
14
MSKeyViewer Plus
Screenshot of MSKeyViewer Plus v2.5.0 in Windows 7
MSKeyViewer Plus v2.5.0.

MSKeyViewer Plus is another good product key finder program.

Major advantages include a really small size, no install needed, and super easy interface. MSKeyViewer Plus instantly displays product keys - no scanning of your registry required.

Finds Keys for Operating Systems: Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows ME, Windows 95/98, and Windows Server 2008 & 2003. 64-bit versions are also supported.

Finds Keys for Other Software: Microsoft Office 2013, Office 2010, Office 2007, Office 2003, Office XP, Office 2000, Windows Server 2012 & 2008, plus a long list of other Microsoft and non-Microsoft programs.

Though the other Windows 8 compatible programs from this list were able to find the product key for my installation, MSKeyViewer Plus wasn't able to do so.

MSKeyViewer Plus v2.5.0 Review and Free Download

I'd probably pick several other key finders before MSKeyViewer Plus, but if you're having trouble finding a specific key, give MSKeyViewer a try.

MSKeyViewer Plus may find a key for your Windows 10 installation, but it's probably going to be incorrect just like mine was.
15
Free PC Audit
Screenshot of Free PC Audit in Windows 8
Free PC Audit. © MIS Utilities

Free PC Audit is a system information tool that shows not only hardware information but also product keys for several Windows and Microsoft Office installs.

It's very small, completely portable, scans automatically, and lets you easily copy out product keys.

Finds Keys for Operating Systems: Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, and probably older versions as well.

Finds Keys for Other Software: Microsoft Office 2013, Office 2010, 2007, Office 2003, and likely some older versions, as well as some Adobe and Corel software.

Free PC Audit v3.3 Review and Free Download

Because there is so much other information shown in Free PC Audit, it can seem very cluttered if you're using it just for finding product keys.
16
Windows Product Key Viewer
Screenshot of Windows Product Key Viewer in Windows 8
Windows Product Key Viewer. © RJL Software, Inc.

Windows Product Key Viewer is another key finder program that shows the product key for several versions of Windows.

You can easily copy the product key out of the program, print the keys, or save them to a file. Additional details are shown as well, such as the product ID, install date, and build number.

Finds Keys for Operating Systems: Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows ME, Windows 98, Windows 95, and Windows Server 2008/2003

Windows Product Key Viewer v1.07 Review & Free Download

Due to Windows Product Key Viewer's small size and portability, it's a great product key finder to store on a flash drive.
17
Lazesoft Windows Key Finder
Screenshot of Lazesoft Windows Key Finder
Lazesoft Windows Key Finder. © Lazesoft

Lazesoft Windows Key Finder is another free program that can find the product key for many Windows installs and Microsoft Office versions.

The program is small, completely portable, and simple to read. You can print or save the product keys to a file.

Finds Keys for Operating Systems: Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000, and Windows Server 2012/2008/2003.

Finds Keys for Other Software: Microsoft Office 2013, Office 2010, Office 2007, Office 2003, and Office 2000.

Lazesoft Windows Key Finder v1.6 Review and Free Download

Though Microsoft Office 2013 is supported, I was unable to use Lazesoft Windows Key Finder to locate it in Windows 10, Windows 8, or Windows 7.
18
geProductKeys Finder
geProductKeys Finder

geProductKeys Finder might be the most simple key finder program I've ever seen. If all you're after is a quick product key display in Windows XP, geProductKeys does the job.

Advantages include a super small download, no installation needed, and as I mentioned above, a very simple interface.

Finds Keys for Operating Systems: Windows XP (officially) and possibly some older ones. geProductKeys does not work with Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, or Windows Vista.

Finds Keys for Other Software: Some Microsoft Office programs and a few third party programs as well.

geProductKeys Finder v1.0 Review & Free Download

Note: You may have to disable Data Execution Prevention to use this program in Windows XP SP2 and later.
19
Product Key Informer
Product Key Informer 1.0.0

Product Key Informer is another free product key finder program but it finds product keys for only a few Microsoft programs other than the operating system.

Finds Keys for Operating Systems: Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows ME, and Windows 98.

Finds Keys for Other Software: Microsoft Office 2007, Office 2003, and Office XP.

Product Key Informer v1.0.0.190 Review & Free Download

Honestly, I didn't care much for Product Key Informer. I think it was the baked-in fields for specific product keys that bothered me. It's a waste of screen real estate and confirms that the program's product key finding abilities are very limited.

Windows 10 and Windows 8 are not supported.
20
Windows Product Key Finder
Screenshot of Windows Product Key Finder in Windows 7
Windows Product Key Finder.

Windows Product Key Finder is only 80 KB in size, is completely portable, and quickly shows the product key.

Finds Keys for Operating Systems: Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP.

Windows Product Key Finder v1.0 Review & Free Download

When compared to other key finder programs from this list, Windows Product Key Finder is extremely basic and void of support for anything but the Windows OS. Also, while it is able to open in Windows 8 and 10, the product key it finds is inaccurate.
21
Game Key Revealer
Screenshot of Game Key Revealer
Game Key Revealer. © Mustafa Buğra AKTAŞ

Game Key Revealer shows the product keys of over 2000 games.

It's completely portable, takes up very little space, and can export keys to a text file or print them off.

Finds Keys for Games: Half-Life, Battlefield 2, Counter-Strike, Mirror's Edge, Halo, Need for Speed, Dead Space, Crysis, Harry Potter, and many more.

Game Key Revealer v1.6.32 Review & Free Download

In addition to showing the product keys for a few thousand games, keys for nearly two dozen can actually be changed with Game Key Revealer, which could come in handy.
22
Abelssoft's MyKeyFinder
Screenshot of MyKeyFinder in Windows 7
MyKeyFinder. © Abelssoft

MyKeyFinder lets you save product keys to a PDF file or to the clipboard. You can also send one or more keys to a printer.

You can search through the list of install keys it finds and even blacklist registry keys to avoid finding serials in those locations.

Finds Keys for Operating Systems: Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP.

Finds Keys for Other Software: VMware, some Microsoft Office products, and others.

MyKeyFinder v2016 Review & Free Download

While testing MyKeyFinder, I found that a scan takes much longer to complete than any of the other programs from this list. Also, it found keys for programs that don't actually use serials, as well a key for Microsoft Office 2013 that wasn't correct.

Source: https://www.lifewire.com/free-product-key-finder-programs-2625119