ColorMania is a freeware color picker tool for Windows

Have you ever wondered what the color code of a background or logo is? It’s not possible to be very specific about it just by looking at it.

ColorMania is a freeware color picker tool for Windows

The best way is to use a color picker which gives you the color code. When required, I mostly use Firefox’s built-in Eyedropper that’s available from the Menu > Webdeveloper section. But it’s not useful when you want to get a color from another application. ColorMania is a freeware color picker tool that’s handy in such scenarios.

The program’s GUI is divided into several panes. The small box in the top left corner with the word ColorMania in it, is the color preview pane. It displays any shade that you select. Right-click on the pane to customize the text’s color.

To its right is the RGB color space pane that has a slider each for the Red, Blue and Green colors. Drag the sliders or the use the arrows at either end to change the color value. You may also click in the number box next to the color and input a code from 0 to 255. The program displays a small line above the slider that is a preview of the color value. A brightness slider is also available in the RGB pane.

ColorMania supports various formats for colors such as HTML Hex Color codes, Delphi Hex, VB Hex, C++ Hex, RGB Values, RGB% Values, HSV, CMY, CMYK, HLS, Photoshop and Powerbuilder. You can view and copy the corresponding code from the pane that’s in the left center of the interface. This is really invaluable because you can paste it into the application you’re working with like Adobe Photoshop, GIMP, etc, or use it on your website.

The box below the RGB pane is quite similar to it, but is the HSV Color pane, i.e. you can use it to adjust the Hue, Saturation and Values. Clicking the color wheel in the top right displays its corresponding color codes in the three panes that I mentioned above. Right click on one of the colored boxes near the bottom center, to save the selected color to the palette. You may save an entire palette and reload it when you want to switch between them. The drop down menu lists various shades of a specific color, these are HTML colors.

ColorMania color picker tool

The color picker or grabber is the final pane in ColorMania, it’s in the bottom right corner. Click and drag the eye dropper tool over the color that you wish to pick and it selects the color, the magnifier box displays a preview of the content under the cursor and is useful for precisely picking a color.

Right-click anywhere in ColorMania’s interface to bring up its context menu. You can use it to stick the program on top of other windows, and that can prove to be a time saver when you’re picking colors or want to copy the codes from the application to another. The options here allow you to set the layout’s size, color averaging, color list and more.

ColorMania context menu

ColorMania is available as a optional portable version. The application runs on Windows 7 and above.

While it is probably more useful for web developers, artists and programmers, it can be useful for normal users too, if you want to pick a specific color for your wallpaper, theme, font, etc.

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WildBit Viewer is a freeware image viewer that comes with an editor, batch renamer, slideshow tool and more

While Windows default image viewer provides a decent way to view pictures, it barely has any useful options.  If you’re looking for something different, give WildBit Viewer a whirl. There are plenty of alternatives though such as FastStone Image Viewer, IrfanView, or XnView.

WildBit Viewer is a freeware image viewer that comes with an editor, batch renamer, slideshow tool and more

WildBit Viewer is a freeware image viewer for Windows with quite a few features.

The application has a three pane interface: the two panels on the left work together as a file tree, select a folder in the top pane and its contents are displayed on the bottom.

Click on an image in this pane and you will see its preview on the right side. Switch to the “Thumbview” tab in the preview window, and the interface changes to a 2-pane view. The left pane becomes the file tree, while the other displays the thumbnails of images in a selected folder.

WildBit Viewer Tools Preview

The preview pane has a toolbar at the top that can be used to navigate between images, rotate the view, zoom in or out, set the picture as your desktop wallpaper, view the image’s properties.

WildBit Viewer image info

The toolbar above the directory pane can be used for moving images. The filter button allows you to switch between Images, Images and Videos, and Custom Filters (wildcards).For more options, click on the Tools menu. This can be used for adding/removing pictures to your favorites. The “Set Image Info” option can be used to edit Exif, IPTC attributes. The Rename option in this menu is actually a batch renaming tool and that’s always useful.

WildBit Viewer renamer

Use the Generate File Listing to save a HTML file that contains the details of the selected folder’s contents. An option to save the list in a CSV document is available too.

WildBit Viewer Tools menu

If there’s one particular tool that I’d say was impressive, it is the “Compare Images” option. You can also use the hotkey Shift + Control + C to open it. This lets you view 2 images side by side, compare them, see if they are a match. There is a histogram setting available that you can switch to as well.

WildBit Viewer image comparison

WildBit Viewer comes with a total of six tools: The image Viewer is of course the primary component. The other tools are the Editor, Multi Screen Viewer, Search, Slideshow and Profile Switcher. You can access the other five programs from the tools menu.

WildBit Viewer supports the following image formats: PNG, GIF, JPG, JPEG, BMP, JPE, JIF, TIF, TIFF, FAX, G3N, G3F, XIF, PCX, DCX, DIB, RLE, ICO, CUR, WMF, EMF, PSD, TGA, TARGA, VDA, ICB, VST, PIX, PXM, PPM, PGM, PBM, WBMP, JP2, J2K, JPC, J2C, DCM, DIC, DICOM, CRW, CR2, DNG, NEF, RAW, RAF, X3F, ORF, SRF, MRW, DCR, BAY, PEF, SR2, ARW, KDC, MEF, 3FR, K25, ERF, CAM, CS1, DC2, DCS, FFF, MDC, MOS, NRW, PTX, PXN, RDC, RW2, RWL, IIQ, SRW.  The video player supports AVI, MPG, MPEG and WMV formats.

The Editor can be used as a standalone application. It has various editing tools like lasso, ellipse, polygon selectors, magic wand, freehand, shapes, and line based annotations, resize, crop, effects among other options. In addition to the basic editing tools, it can be used to remove redye, merge images, optimize GIFs, compare images and more. There is even a built-in screenshot tool in the editor.

WildBit Editor

The Multi Screen Viewer only works with multi-monitors, if you happen to have such a setup, you can view multiple images, rotate them, zoom, or view the pictures in full screen mode. The Search utility is handy for finding files based on file name, date, size, properties.

The Slideshow viewer is more than your average slideshow software. It can be set to automatically change the image, or you can click to change it. The order can be randomized, shuffled, reversed. You may define the time the image should change. Rotation, image layout, transition, are some key features of this tool. Right-clicking on a slide allows you to choose from many options. The Profile Switcher is used for saving your customized settings for each of the tools.

WildBit Viewer slideshow

There are many versions of WildBit Viewer available on the download page. These consist of 32-bit and 64-bit versions and portable versions, with or without the help file. There is also a development build of the program available on the same page.

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Stick any program to always stay on top with Window TopMost Control

Some programs offer an always on top mode, like video players and music players. But what if the application that you want to stick on top doesn’t have the option? You can use a third-party solution such as OnTopper.

Stick any program to always stay on top with Window TopMost Control

We’ll be taking a look at Window TopMost Control. As the name suggests, this application can make any program’s window stick over others, which is great for multi-tasking.

TopMost is a portable software and the archive contains executables for 32-bit and 64-bit systems. Run the EXE and the program should start on the system tray. Open any application (Notepad, Firefox, etc). Try left-clicking on the Window TopMost Control tray icon, nothing will happen. Now, try double-clicking on it, you’ve just enabled your first sticky window. There won’t be any visual change if you just have one window open, but try opening another application, and you’ll see the difference.

Windows Topmost Control example

When you have multiple windows open, and you sticky the program that’s not currently in focus, TopMost will automatically switch to the window that you stuck, as an indication that you have made a change. And likewise, it will minimize the window that you have unstuck.

Right-click on the icon to view TopMost’s context menu. Mouse over the first option, i.e. Window List: a pop-up pane appears that lists the windows of every program that are currently open on your computer. Move the cursor over the title of the window and it highlights the corresponding program. Left click on the selected window to pin it.

Note: Sometimes the tray menu’s list appears after a minor delay, just wait for a second and it will pop-up.

If you would rather use the keyboard for putting windows on top, you may do so with the hotkey: Ctrl + Alt + Space. This works for unsticking windows too, but you’ll need to switch to the window and use the key combo. Can I stick more than one window on top? Yes, you can. This way you can rearrange the windows wherever you want while working in another application.

To unstick a window select it again from the tray menu or by using the keyboard shortcut. You can’t unstick windows by double-clicking the tray icon. The program respects the Show Desktop option (Windows + D), which you can use to temporarily minimize windows that you have stuck.

The tray icon can be used to access the program’s options. Changes that you make to it are saved to the INI file that’s located in the folder where you extracted the archive to. In fact, it remembers the last sticky windows upon exit and restart.

Windows Topmost Control settings

The program doesn’t necessarily have to be kept running in the background all the time, i.e., you can set some program windows to stay on top, and exit Topmost if you’d like that. But to unstick them you’ll need to run the program again or delete the setting from the INI file. Or you can try the command line options if you don’t like working with the program’s interface.

Windows Topmost Control commandline

The hotkey can be customized to your liking from the Options pane, but it’s still limited to Ctrl + Alt + Key of your choice. And while you’re on the same screen, you can optionally set the program to start automatically with windows.

Windows Topmost Control options

Note: I did notice an issue with Firefox. When you stick a Firefox window, you won’t be able to access the browser’s menu. Unsticking it fixes the issue. I’m not sure if this is a bug with the program, or if it has do with the browser’s overlay.

Window TopMost Control is user-friendly, to the point, and just works fine.

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Gammy is an adaptive brightness application for Windows and Linux

You’ve probably heard of or used applications like F.lux or Lightbulb, which dim the screen to display warmer colors at night. Windows 10 has a night mode that does a similar job.

Gammy is an adaptive brightness application for Windows and Linux

But what about overly bright applications during the day? They can still be a nuisance, and changing to night mode isn’t exactly a good solution. Gammy is an open source software that can help you in such scenarios. This portable application supports adaptive brightness that makes bright on-screen content easy on the eyes.

Run it and you’ll see it starts on the system tray. The second you run it, you’ll notice that your brightness has automatically been dimmed (if your display’s brightness was set to a high level). Double click the tray icon and an interface pops-up. This is an always on top window, so you can use different programs and observe how the brightness changes.

The interface has a bunch of sliders which you use to set the minimum and maximum brightness levels, so the program doesn’t dim the screen or increase brightness too much. The offset percentage is the setting that Gammy uses to calculate the brightness, if it’s higher the brightness will be as well.

The Temperature setting is used to define the color temperature levels, similar to that in F.lux and other screen dimming applications. The maximum temperature is 6500K and goes down to 2000K. Enable the “auto” option to let Gammy automatically adjust the brightness at a time that you select. To set the time click on the three-dot button next to the option, and you’ll be able to set the Start and End time.

Gammy Linux 200 percent
Gammy Linux version

Note: The Linux version has a padlock button that supports cranking the brightness level all the way up to 200%. The application is otherwise similar to the Windows program.

Gammy more options

Uncheck the auto brightness option and you’ll see another slider appear that you can use to adjust the brightness level manually. Click and drag the bottom right corner of the interface to view three additional options. This allows you to control the Adaption speed, Threshold and Screenshot rate. The Adaption Speed determines how fast the brightness changes, while threshold checks for the difference in content to apply the change. Screenshot rate is explained in the next section.

Adaptive Brightness

If you have a smartphone, you may be aware how the automatic brightness works on it. Most handsets these days have a special component called ambient light sensor, which, as the name indicates, detects the amount of light that’s available and adjusts the screen brightness accordingly.

Such sensors aren’t available on computers, so how does Gammy support Adaptive Brightness? According to the documentation on the developer’s website, Gammy takes a screenshot from time to time. The program uses the contents (colors) as a reference to adjust the brightness of the screen. The Screenshot rate configured in milliseconds is the time taken between two screenshots.

Note: The application uses the GPU to take the screenshot, and the interface that it uses is apparently not available in Windows 7. So, technically Gammy is only supported on Windows 8.1 and Windows 10.

Obviously it is not possible to show you the difference in the brightness level in a video recording of the screen. But, here’s a demo showing how the program changes the setting, and how quickly it happens.

gammy demo

Try it yourself. If you are working on an application that has a dark background, the brightness level will be reduced automatically. Switch to a program with a lighter backdrop like Notepad, and it will raise the brightness. It works fine even when shifting from one browser tab to another. You may set Gammy to run at startup by right-clicking the tray icon.

Gammy is an open source application. The Windows version requires Visual C++ 2017. The Linux build is a Qt5 app. Instructions for compiling and running the Linux version are available on the download page.

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Personal Backup is a freeware file backup tool for Windows

Backing up your important files is something that every user should practice. You never know when disaster strikes or when you need to access backed up files for other reasons.

Personal Backup is a freeware file backup tool for Windows

Personal Backup is a freeware backup tool for Windows. Oh, don’t confuse it with the one by Backblaze).

During the installation, you will see options to select whether you want to enable Thunderbird backup and Realtime backup monitoring. The application’s interface is divided into four sections: The Backups tab is used for creating and managing tasks, Time Schedules lists all scheduled tasks, Task Scheduler displays tasks created in Windows’ Task Scheduler that uses Personal Backup.

Personal Backup installer

Create a backup

Personal Backup has a backup wizard that walks you through the process of creating a new task. First you’ll need to select the directory where the backup should be saved. This can be your hard drive, USB drive, network drive or an FTP server; click next when you’ve selected the folder.

Personal Backup Wizard
Personal Backup select destination
Personal Backup select folders and files
Personal Backup backup settings
Personal Backup scheduled task
Personal Backup backup progress

Now you have to pick the files and folders that you want to backup. The program offers quick selection of user directories such as the Documents, Music, Pictures or Desktop folders. Just check the ones you want and then click on the icon below the list. The second icon with a P on it lets you select folders located under the C:ProgramData directory. To choose other directories, use the icon with the folder and magnifying glass.

The final step is to set the backup settings. You may choose to save the data as separate files or archives. The backup method can be set to preserve the folder structure, separate it by directories, or use a single folder for all the files. You can save storage space by opting for compression, as ZIP or GZ. As a precaution to ensure that there were no errors during the process, “enable the verify files after backup” option. Add a layer of security to the backup by choosing to encrypt the files with a password.

Note: Encryption and verification of files takes additional time to complete but secure the data and ensure that the backed up files are not corrupt.

Personal Backup can run the backup task automatically at the time and day of your choice, or you can start the task manually. Don’t forget to save the task, give it a name that you can recognize in case you plan on creating multiple tasks.

The program should open a new window, hit the Start Backup button to begin the process. A small pop-up window should appear displaying the backup progress (and then encrypts it). You can choose a post-backup action to be taken when the task is completed: shutdown/logoff/standby/hibernate the computer, or do nothing.

You can create backup tasks manually too, but the process is a bit different as you will be doing this from the Configure Backups window, which is quite similar to the program’s Control Panel. I’ll mention some options that it offers.

Personal Backup manual task

The folders that you have selected are displayed under the tab that’s captioned “Directories to be backed up”. You can sort, reorder, or remove folders from this list. Want to add more folders or files, use the pane on the right to do that. Moving on to the Task Settings tab, here’s where you can define the backup method, AES Encryption (128/256 bit) settings. The Other Options tab has a setting that can synchronize the backup directory with the destination, which can be handy in case you want to restore files that you deleted from the source. There are three more tabs at the bottom of this window. The first of these, Subdirectories, is useful for excluding sub-folders from the backup. You can filter out Files and specific file formats using the other two tabs.

Restoring a backup

The Tools tab can be used to restore a backup that you created. It may appear to be confusing, but it’s pretty easy once you get used to it. Let’s go back to the Backups tab for a second. Double-click on the backup task that you want to restore (for e.g. docs restore), the backup task window should open. Close it. Why did we do that? Well, that’s the way to set the “current task” that we need to restore.

Personal Backup tools

Now go to Tools > Restore and select “New Task”; a new window opens, this is the Restore backup screen. The “Restore from” field should already have the location of the “current task” selected, this is why the previous step was necessary. Similarly, the “restore to” field will have its location preselected, but you can change it if required. Configure the other setting such as uncompress, choose whether you want to restore new files or replace them. There is an option to save the restore task along with its custom settings, should you want to use it in the future.

Personal Backup restore

Click the “Show Selected files and start restore” button, and the program will display the backup that you wish to restore. If you have more than one task saved to the same folder, select the one you wish to restore and click on “Yes” to start the process. Personal Backup should restore the files to the source folder.

Personal Backup restore done

The Tools tab also has options to verify files, clean up the backup folder and view the log of a task.

Notice the gear icon in the top right corner of the interface? That’s the Utilities menu. It can be used for configuring backup schedules, screate backups under a different account, or make a backup of Thunderbird. This is where you can access the Realtime monitoring of the backup that’s useful for automatically backing up files and folders whenever a change is made, (file name, attribute, size, last read or write time).

The “External Restore Program option is another way to restore a backup, but it’s a bit complicated, you can read the official documentation if you’re interested.

Note: I had initially been using an older version of the program. That’s when I found Personal Backup has a built-in updater tool that can download the current version, delete the previous download and verify the downloaded file using MD5 or SHA256 has values. Once downloaded, it uses a “Fast Update” process to overwrite the previous version in a single-click.

Personal Backup Update

The program is available in a portable version that you can run from USB drives. The slightly confusing restoration method aside, Personal Backup does a stellar job of backing up files and folders.

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