Two Incredible, Indispensable, Free Utilities

Here are two free utilities that are so incredibly valuable, it is stunning that they are both free (one is licensed under the Gnu Public License and the other is open source).

HTTrack

This application will crawl a web site for you and download as much of it as you want, recreating the site on your own machine.  [Beware, there are serious legal restrictions as well HTInProcess as nettiquette issues that you’ll want to read about.] This can be phenomenally useful in any number of scenarios:

  • Backing up, testing, etc. of your own site
  • Reading a site off line
  • Grabbing on-line help and reading it off line.

You can set properties to control what is found, what is excluded, and most important, how fast and hard HTTrack hits the site you’re mirroring.  Be sure to read their document on how not  to use HTTrack so as to avoid infringing copyright or (worse?) bringing the site to its knees.  It is very easy to avoid all of this, however, and they provide instructions for the few settings to keep an eye on.

httFlowControlThe key issue is to focus on the links tab and the Flow Control tab, shown in the figure on the left.  Flow control allows you to set the maximum number of simultaneous connections, the timeout value and the number of retries on a timeout.

By limiting the number of connections you can avoid swamping a site.  The limits tab allows you to set caps on the size of files, the depths of the links and so forth.

The Mirrored Site

When HTTrack is done, you are left with a mirror of the original site on your disk, which you can negotiate in any browser (or from within the program itself).  This is a gem of a utility, and very nicely executed.

Launchy

Far simpler, but incredibly useful is the open source program Launchy

Update June 23, While this program is incredibly useful, I’ve noticed that the system monitor has shown its working set to be approximately 85MB while its Commit size has been over 1.5GB – that certainly looks like a nasty memory leak, and while I do like this program, I’ve suspended it for now.

launchy The idea of this program could not be more straightforward. Hit Alt-Tab to bring up the small window shown on the left and start typing the name of a program, file, folder or website.

As you type, Launchy starts to display matches. If you pause for a moment, Launchy will display all the matches that type what you’ve entered so far.

The manual assures you that you need not worry about capitalization, punctuation, or even about spelling – Launchy is a good guesser. As you can see in the figure, I typed in LBR and it found my web site and made a couple other clever guesses as well.

When the program (or file or folder or website) you want is found, just hit enter and it is launched.  Click elsewhere on the screen (or press escape) and Launchy is dismissed without taking action.   In either case, having launched a program or been dismissed, Launch fades away into the background until you call it forward again.

There are dozens of options you can set (what is indexed, fade out time, etc.  I used the options to set Launchy’s hot key to control-space as that is what I use on the Mac for a similar program, though since Launchy is cross-platform I may end up with Launchy on all of my computers).

Plugins

Bing Launchy is highly extensible with plugins, and a number of very useful ones are included. The Runner plugin is extremely handy, it allows you to create your own shortcuts, with parameters.  Thus, I created the command Bing. Press tab, and enter the term you are searching for. Hit enter and the browser comes up and executes the search. Sweet.

In short, Launchy is small, elegant, and brilliantly useful.  I may never click on the start mernu or an icon again.

About Jesse Liberty

Jesse Liberty has three decades of experience writing and delivering software projects and is the author of 2 dozen books and a couple dozen Pluralsight & LinkedIn Learning courses. He was a Senior Technical Evangelist for Microsoft, a Distinguished Software Engineer for AT&T, a VP for Information Services for Citibank and a Software Architect for PBS. He is a Xamarin Certified Mobile Developer and a Xamarin MVP and a Microsoft MVP.
This entry was posted in Opinion and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Two Incredible, Indispensable, Free Utilities

Comments are closed.