These eight no-cost utilities and services can help you find, organize, and wrangle your media files–or enjoy some great video online.
Boxee Beta: This open-source app offers an attractive and powerful way to play back desktop and Web-based media seamlessly on your HDTV.
Classic Cinema Online: Want to enjoy a classic movie but don’t want to rent it? This Website aggregates hundreds of freely available classic films, organized by genre, so you’ll never be bored again.
Clicker: This Website is like TV Guide for the Web, aggregating video from the far reaches of the Internet to provide you with a central source to search for your favorite TV shows.
DoubleTwist: If you’re using a non-Apple cell phone or MP3 player, this download is a great iTunes alternative. Among other features, it has the uncanny ability to automatically make any video on your computer work with your mobile device, no matter what format the unit requires.
Hulu Desktop: The video streaming site Hulu brought mainstream video to the online masses. Download this remote-friendly desktop app to free Hulu video from your browser. With its help, you can sit back a bit from the PC and still enjoy your favorite movies and TV.
Jinni: This beta video-recommendation service breaks down movies, TV shows, and online shorts, and lets you select videos to watch by their component parts, such as mood or plot. If you’re a Netflix subscriber and the movie is in Netflix’s catalog, you can add it to your rental queue with one click–or, if it’s available for instant viewing, you can watch it right then.
Libox: Is your desktop filled with media you’d like to share with relatives and friends? Sending large video files over the Internet takes time. Instead, sign up for this desktop app to create a private network for sharing videos and other media easily.
ShowMeWhatsWrong: Are you the go-to tech person for your family and friends? The next time you need to help someone remotely, point the recipient to this Web service, which makes it dead simple for tech neophytes to record and share quick screencasts to demonstrate their PC problems.
Uncommon Audio Helpers
If your audio collection is out of control, let our seven music-oriented freebies help you find, edit, and manage your tunes.
Next time you get an earworm from the background music in a YouTube video or some other file and you can’t identify it, head over to beta service AudioTag and let it identify the song for you.
Tune out the world at Buddha Machine Wall, a stripped-down Website whose custom ambient noise will help keep you focused.
When you need to turn to the Web for music, look to Grooveshark. This service can play almost any song you request, and it sports a beautiful interface for searching for music and building playlists.
You say that you’ve been ripping, burning, and sharing music for years? Chances are, the audio files on your hard drive are a metadata disaster. Quickly clean things up with Mp3Tag, a universal tag editor that supports virtually every audio file type you’re likely to own.
If you need to do a little light audio editing and you don’t want to download and install a full-fledged desktop app, sign up for Aviary’s Myna, an impressive Web service that lets you handle advanced audio editing from the comfort of your Web browser.
Are you listening to music on your tinny, underpowered laptop speakers, while your PC’s fancy speakers sit unused? Download Speakershare to share the better equipment with other PCs on your home network, whether you’re sitting in front of those speakers or not.
If you aren’t satisfied with streaming whatever music happens to be available online, dip into your own collection with TunesBag. A free account lets you upload 1GB of music from your hard drive to the Web so that you can access your favorite songs from any browser.
Next: Free Photo Apps and Services
Shutterbug Assistance, at Your Service
Whether you’re an amateur photographer or an avid photo uploader, the five tools we’ve collected can help you get the best from your images.
Easy Poster Printer is a desktop app that lets you adjust any high-resolution digital photograph and print it as a poster (which, at its largest, can be 21 by 21 yards). You print your poster in sections and then simply assemble the final product.
Photographers call the day’s first and last hour of sunlight the golden hour in honor of the great light available during those time periods. Plug your location into the Google Maps mashup The Golden Hour Calculator to determine the exact times when it arrives.
Photoshop may be the king of photo editing tools, but it’s also expensive and too powerful for most users. The desktop app Paint.Net is a lightweight, powerful, and easy-to-use alternative that can handle almost any editing task.
Digital photos can reach many megabytes in size, so uploading images without resizing them can be slow. Download Shrink Pic, a simple but ingenious utility that automatically resizes images when you upload them to the Web.
Want to quickly punch up a couple of photos before you share them on Facebook or Flickr? Sign up with Aviary’s Phoenix image editor, an impressive tool that looks and feels like a desktop image editing application but lives exclusively on the Web.