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Download Squad's Back-to-School Software Picks

As kids the world around get ready for "that time of year" and the sense of dread excitement builds, we find ourselves looking for ways to make this school year a little easier than the one before it. Being nerds, we turn to software. This year, Download Squad has hand-picked some promising shareware/freeware tools for that should come just as handy as the mandatory two boxes of tissues required by the school of each student.

The first is a crossword-puzzle generator for Mac and Windows called Crossword Forge. Now, crossword makers have been around for a while, but this one gets an A+. It does crosswords and word searches (complete with accidental profanity filter--a must) and a spelling checker. It will even spit out a Flash-drive online puzzle so your students or kids can go the paperless route.

Check out the rest of our picks after the jump.

College is a busy, busy place. If you've never been a full-time college freshman, then you've never known the same unparalleled sense of schedule overload. That's why you'll appreciate Schoolhouse, the personal schedule and task manager sent mercifully from on high made just for busy students. Schoolhouse offers a grade tracker and calculator--so you'll know what mark you're getting even before your professor does. This one is Mac-only. But I'm guessing--if you're a good enough student to warrant using Schoolhouse, you probably already carry a Mac.

Which brings us to another device many students will be carrying back to school this year: the iPhone. In the early days of portable mp3 players, one of the most cunning uses for one's iPod was to carry files around, using the hard drive-based iPod like a flash drive but with more storage space. Today's iPhone is flash based, but it still packs up to 8 GB of internal storage, so why not use it to tote your term papers and cheat sheets? All you need is a simple way to move your files to and from your iPhone. The answer? iPhoneDrive. Simple is as simple does--and iPhoneDrive is as simple as it gets. Copy files to your iPhone and back to your Mac with one window. Looking for a way to do iPhone file transfers on Windows? One of the users at came up with something similar for Windows--check it out.

And if you want to get a little extra mileage out of that old iPod (or convince mom and dad to finally buy you one), check out iPrepPress, who offers text study guides and classic literary works that you can download to your iPod. From George Orwell's 1984 to Algebra and Chemistry charts, these guys might make your dreaded third period class with Mr. Stemple just a little easier to tolerate.

As I tell the students in my house, go get those A's this year, kid. Your future might be riding on it. Or maybe you'll become a rock star instead.

Tags: back to school, BackToSchool, commercial, cross platform, CrossPlatform, education, school, shareware