One key feature that was removed from Windows 8 that annoyed a lot of users was Gadgets. We were definitely a fan of Windows gadgets and sure there are ways to get it back. While the app which we are going to talk about does not magically add gadgets to your Windows 8 Desktop, it surely adds a lot of nifty utilities which I am sure everyone feels are lacking badly in Windows 8 many of which were achieved through Desktop Gadgets in Windows 7.
Toolbox for Windows 8
Toolbox just like its name says, contains very handy utilities for your everyday use. A browser, Facebook, Voice notes, Notifier, Converter, Calculator, Clock Weather and a doodle maker. So what’s the big deal? you might ask. Well Toolbox lets you either use the tools individually, alongside other tools simultaneously or even multiple instances of a single tool in the same window thanks to some smart spatial arrangements.
- Handy collection of tools
- 9 different layouts to choose from
- Create multiple instances of the same tools
- Inbuilt Toolsets with ability to create your own custom Toolsets
- More tools installable from the tool depot
The tools here are definitely bare bones but do their jobs very well and that is just what is expected essentially. The Clock, Converter and the Weather tools perform very well and are likeably minimalistic. Two specific tools , Voice Notes and Doodle are worth raving though.
Voice Notes lets you record audio snippets directly into MP3 format in a very convenient way. You can play the recorded snippets within the Voice Notes tool as well. Did I mention that you can directly share the recordings to Email or SkyDrive within Voice Notes?
Doodle could be easily mistaken for a simple free style drawing app. It lets you quickly create some simple drawings with a variety of brush sizes and colors. Particularly impressive is the hand tool which move across the canvas easily, something which is often missed in drawing apps. Again , there is sharing here too.
The calculator bundled in Toolbox is easily a boon for tablet users as there is the default Windows 8 Calculator was definitely not built for touch in the first place.
Other tools like Facebook and Web actually seem quite out of place to be frank. Heck, the Facebook tool is nothing but the mobile site. Not sure why would anyone want that. The Web on the other hand is again the stock Metro Internet explorer with slight tweaks.
Customise your Workspace
What sounds great on paper, Toolbox actually manages to pull it off quite well within the app. Now I am saying this because if Toolbox where just the various tools in full screen, it would easily make the desktop users cringe. Luckily non touch users get some love with Toolsets.
You can have multiple instances of a particular tool or a variety of tools neatly stacked. For example you may want to keep two countdown timers in the notifier while having a doodle stacked along. The cool part here is that you have the flexibility to choose from a blank layout (out of 9 altogether ) and customise it or you can choose from the prefixed arrangements aka the Toolsets.
Well, do not expect a perfect experience with Toolbox yet as there are a lot of minor issues that need work. While the app does have a fantastic concept of a Tool Depot which lets you install additional utilities, during my testing, the app closed every time I tried to open it. Also there is barely any customisation for basic utilities such as the clock or weather apart from the ability to choose the location.
Toolbox for Windows 8 is actually very handy and gets indispensible real soon thanks to the lack of simple bundled apps in Windows 8 such as an alarm or a timer. With its customisable workspaces, effective and slick utilities and a couple of brilliant tools such as Doodle and Voice Notes, Toolbox for Windows 8 is definitely a must have for any Windows 8 user.
Download: Toolbox for Windows 8 [8.68 MB]