You have probably heard of those popular webmaster tools such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Dreamweaver, or maybe even Windows Live Writer and FileZilla FTP. But there are still plenty of great webmaster tools out there that is hidden under the radar. Today I will show you 10 powerful webmaster tools where chances are high that you might not even heard of them before. Most important, they are all available for FREE! Enjoy!
#1 - PhotoScape
This is my favorite. PhotoScape is a photo editor software tailor made for webmaster! You can easily resize a photo, crop it and most importantly, add a beautiful frame to it! There are hundreds of different frames that you can use. The photos of Angela Baby below have been cropped, resized and framed with only a few clicks!
The editor is only the tip of the iceberg. PhotoScape other key features include photo viewer, batch editor, photos combiner, photo splitter, animated GIF maker, screen capture, color picker, batch rename, etc. All of these are given to you FREE!
#2 - IE Tester
Windows doesn't allow us to install multiple version of Internet Explorer at the same time. But as a webmaster, we need to know how our website looks in IE 5.5, IE 6, IE 7 and IE 8! A website that looks great under IE7 might looks horrible in IE6. Before I found this tool, I have to install a virtual machine to run Windows XP and by doing that I can only see my website in IE6. No more the hassles. Now you can preview your website in any version of IE you want with this neat little tool.
By the way, the above screen capture is done painlessly using PhotoScape!
#3 - ScreenGrab
Ever wonder how you can capture a complete webpage into an image? ScreenGrab is the answer. ScreenGrab is a small add-on for Firefox that allows you to capture the webpage into a PNG of JPG file. You can capture with 4 different options - complete web page, only visible portion, the entire window or your custom selection.
ScreenGrab captured my entire homepage into a long image file. Again, I have used PhotoScape splitter function to slit it into 3 equal parts and used the combine function to combine them side by side. I have also added a frame to each part with just a few clicks. Now you know the power of PhotoScape!
#4 - JR Screen Ruler
Don't laugh. I used to measure something on the screen using a physical ruler! Or if accuracy is really not that important, I will just use my fingers. But that doesn't give me accurate reading until I found this virtual screen ruler. This screen ruler allows you to measure your screen in pixel, mm or inch. It will "float" on top of your application so you can measure anything on screen. You can make it shorter or longer at will (I mean the ruler, not...) and you can rotate it horizontally or vertically (again, the ruler). If you want to measure diagonally, use your fingers! Rotate your finger as a compass to the ruler. :)
Again this image is captured using ScreenGrab and then cropped, resized and framed with PhotoScape.
#6 - User Agent Switcher
When someone requests a webpage from your server, they will inform the server what browser they are using as "user agent", be it Firefox, Internet Explorer or Safari. Search engine spiders also identify themselves using "user agent".
What the hackers do are they will show the hacked page that contains many spammy links when the user agents identify themselves as search engine such as GoogleBot and Yahoo Slurp but show you the normal clean page when it is a normal browser!
Some hacker will also redirect your website to theirs when GoogleBot fetch the page, making Google thinks that your site is actually their site. So all ranking credits given to you are now given to them. Again, they are showing you the normal clean page so you really don't know why your ranking drops in Google.
By having the ability to switch your user agent to GoogleBot in your browser, you can now check for anything suspicious in your website. Your website will display the way it is shown to GoogleBot. [Tip: You can also check Google Cache]
If you are exchanging links or advertising at your partner sites, checking their website using GoogleBot might give you some unpleasant surprises where they have tagged your link as "nofollow"!
Ok, this time the above screen capture is not done with ScreenGrab but ACDSee. This is because I need to capture the active menu and the mouse cursor. [Tip: You can also capture the screen using the Print Screen key on your keyboard and paste it to PhotoScape]
#7 - Xenu's Link Sleuth
I have been making websites since 1997 and have been using this tool since that time! This tool and its website do look like a stone-age production but its usefulness remains as powerful as it is today. [Don't worry it is still being updated, just that it looks ugly, look at the icons!]
Xenu's Link Sleuth is a time tested software where its power comes from simplicity, speed and ease of use. Type in your website URL and click the OK button and this neat little tool will crawl your entire website and inform you on broken links.
It fetched and followed 596 URLs in 1 minute and 24 seconds. Pretty amazing.
#8 - Web Developer Toolbar
I believe this is not really "under the radar" as it is quite a popular tool. However, there are so many features packed in this tool that I believe you have not discovered many of them. One of them is the ability to edit cookies! You can easily change a cookie name, value and even its expiration time. This comes in handy when you are developing cookie related functions. For websites that will log you out after you close the browser, you may simply extend the cookie to some days later so you don't need to login again and again.
#9 - PureText
Before I found PureText, I need to open notepad, paste to it, select all and do another copy!
#10 - FireBug
FireBug is more a BEAST than a bug. It is a very advanced tool but for ordinary users, its power comes from real-time editing of a webpage's HTML and CSS. So it makes customizing your blog and website easier. You can modify the HTML and CSS on the spot and see its effect in real time.
To demonstrate its power, let's look at the screen capture below. What I did was click on the "Inspect" button and select the "Google Search" button. Firebug will immediately highlight the respective HTML and CSS codes. I changed the HTML button to "GAGA Search", modified the CSS font size to 30px and we have a bigger GAGA button INSTANTLY. This makes fine tuning your website design easier, especially when you are customizing the free themes that you have downloaded for your blogs and websites.
If you stumbled upon a website with great design and you wonder how they do it, "inspect" it with FireBug and let it bring you to the exact coding of that element.
Ok, that's all I can deliver today. If you have any cool tools to suggest, simply write me a comment and I will give it a try.
Disclaimer: No tools were harmed in the making of this blog post.