7 Tools To Make Your WinXP Netbook Shine


Netbooks are hot sellers, even in a down economy, due to their low price compared to other laptops, and a lot of consumers are picking up netbooks with Windows XP. Even though it’s getting a little long in the tooth, it runs them just fine. The advantage that netbooks have in running Windows XP is that it’s a mature operating system, and as such there are a lot of useful free utilities that can make for a productive environment.

There are utilities that will make sure you have the important files from your desktop computer on your netbook and others to help get around any of the compromises using a small computer sticks you with. We’ve looked at a lot of netbooks, and here are our seven must-have utilities for netbooks running Windows XP.

Related Posts: A Quick Guide to Netbooks.

10 Ways to trickout your netbook for free.

5 Things to consider before buying a netbook.

SyncToy: keeps any two folders in sync automatically, thus insuring your important files are always with you.

Tweak UI: Allows you to customize the way Windows XP looks on small screens. You can make those tiny boxes in the Windows bar bigger with ease.

Virtual Desktop Manager: This nice utility lets you use up to four virtual desktops to keep things easy to see on a small screen. You can put your email on one desktop, web browser in another and iTunes in a third and easily switch back and forth as needed.

SharpKeys: Asian netbook makers put some keys in unfamiliar places, and this utility lets you easily remap these keys to the proper place. Some netbooks have the arrow keys where the right shift key should be, and it’s easy to remap it back to the more familiar shift key.

Foxit Reader: A PDF reader that handles documents better and faster than the standard Adobe Reader. Foxit also requires far less resources than Adobe, freeing them up for more important tasks.

Xplorer2: A file manager that is highly configurable so you can better take advantage of the small screen and trackpad on the netbook. You can drag and drop files from one folder to another in a single window.

Windows Movie Maker: You probably have a lot of photos on your netbook and Movie Maker makes it a breeze to create slide shows to show them off to family and friends.



I just found one of the most useful tools for a netbook. All of those windows and dialogue boxes that are just too big to fit the screen? Can’t see the bottom of your browser options?


AltDrag is a program that lets you move any window simply by holding ‘Alt’ and dragging anywhere inside the window. This means that you can move the window up, access the parts of that window that were hidden below the screen before, and then move it back down again. Extremely useful!


Love dropbox for my netbook/pc sync. Always have all my docs with me. And as a personal organizer, don’t forget evernote.

Great article.

Marilynn Knoch

I have an Acer netbook 8.9 inch screen and I need to get Java so that I do my e-learning class while I’m on the road this summer. Is there a Java program for netbooks that I can use? I need to be able to see the instructor’s slides during the presentation.


How about apps that go full screen. I use meshwrite (http://meshwrite.com) as it uses as much of my netbook’s screen as possible. I’m sure there are other full screen XP apps out there as well. Anybody else seen any other netbook friendly apps?

Mari Silbey

Thanks, James. I’ve got a netbook to configure in about a week, and was looking for syncing app recommendations. Was planning on Live Mesh, but I’ll check out SyncToy too.

steve clayton

I would add Live Mesh to this – it’s revolutionised the way I work. maybe as I use my netbook as a complement to two other machines (a larger notebook) and a media center, mesh really comes it to its own. I can pick up the netbook and know all the files I want from either of those other machines are on there. or worst case if they’re not, I can remotely connect to those machines through firewalls and easily grab stuff I need.

available for PC and Mac (also Windows Mobile) at http://www.mesh.com and now you can sync peer to peer aswell as to the cloud it’s terrific for this scenario


Thanks for the tips; one more tool imported from the desktop:

As the WinXP OS will surely degrade over time, as much as your trusted desktop system does today, having http://www.reimage.com/home in your toolkit will keep it running like new.


Thanks Chris, I’ve only installed DropBox 10 minutes ago on my Mac and Aspire One and I already love it!

Chris Weiss

As an alternative to SyncToy – I’d suggest one of the “cloud” sync applications such as Dropbox, which keeps a local folder in sync with a folder on the net. In the case of Dropbox, it’s cross platform (clients for Windows, Mac, Linux and a web interface) and is very transparent once installed. I know there are other clients out there, but I’ve been totally happy with Dropbox and haven’t bothered to try anything else.

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