Frequently Asked Questions

Who are you guys?

You can find out more about us here.

What is the copyright status of this blog?

Writers of the review own the copyright of their reviews. When you submit a review to Cool Tools you are giving us permission to run it on Cool Tools. But we don’t publish all the reviews that are submitted. A recommendation will go to our editors who will consider it in the context of our past reviews and the other tools we have collected. Normally there will be some editing of the text. If we do run your review on the Cool Tools website, we may also re-use it in other versions of Cool Tools (for example, print, ebook, or app editions of Cool Tools). Submitting the review grants us permission to do that. Otherwise, the content of this website operates under the Creative Commons License — that is we encourage non-commercial sharing of this material with attribution and credit.

Why is a tool listed as Unrecommended?

We only review tools that are highly recommendable. However over time we occasionally determine that a newer clearly superior tool has made a once cool tool obsolete, or the recommended tool may no longer be manufactured, or perhaps the manufacturer or source may not be reliable. Or we may discover the reviewer was not reliable, or that other readers had too many problems with the item, or that the item is simply no longer useful because the technological platform (like tape machines) has disappeared. Any of these reasons or more can cause us to reconsider a tool. We could simply delete the unrecommended item from this website, but since older tools may have many outside links to them, and because there may be value to some readers in having a historical record of previous tools, we re-catagorize the tool as a DEAD TOOL and label it as Unrecommended.

How can I get my invention reviewed on Cool Tools?

First, see the discussions above about “free samples for review” and “why is this a cool tool.”

You can send us a review sample, but it will take a while for us to try it out, even longer to decide if we love it, and even longer before we may get around to writing it up (if something better has not come along first). An item has to be markedly superior to comparable items, and maintain that superiority over many months, if not years. It does not have to be “new.” But it does have to be great.

If you are convinced this is a cool tool email me at kk at kk dot org and I’ll send our mailing address. Just to repeat for clarity:

1) Don’t send us anything we have to send back. We are not set up for keeping track of things or not harming them, and if it is so precious that it needs to be returned then it is probably too expensive for Cool Tools.

2) We make no guarantees when or whether we’ll write a review. You’ll know only if we publish it.

3) We only publish positive reviews. If we don’t love a tool, we say nothing. Even merely “good stuff” will get ignored. If it ain’t great, we don’t run it. That means very few of things we try get reviewed. Statistically, it’s a long shot for your product.

Why should readers write reviews for your blog, enabling you to get ad and other revenue?

I can’t speak for why other people post reviews and comments on this blog, but I can tell you why *I* post things on other blogs that make revenue from ads. I do so because I want to join in a conversation about something I care about or want to share. I like being able to help others. I like sharing what I have learned. I like being proven right. I like having a conversation. I am not bothered by the fact that I don’t get paid for my comments, or suggestions. I am not doing it on a regular basis. I am not bothered by the fact that my host may be making revenue because they do have a few expenses for servers and the like, and I know from my own blog, they are putting time and effort into keeping the site going, weeding out spam, selecting the material etc. (In the case of Cool Tools there are two part-time employees in addition to me who keep the site attention-worthy.) I am aware that my efforts do “enrich” the owners of the blog, but they also enrich the community at large, and so I consider it a fair trade. I am also encouraged to keep contributing to other places because I often greatly benefit from those thousands of other folks who have posted great stuff on these blogs. In fact the greater web is built on this same curious dynamic. I am surfing along on the generous work of others who have for the most part made unpaid contributions to profitable small businesses. Or even big businesses, in the case of the millions of unpaid reviews on Amazon. I use Amazon reviews all the time, and so in one sense I post on other sites in a form of repayment for that treasure.

As to why *other people* post reviews on Amazon, or on Cool Tools, I can’t explain it.

How do you decide what ads to run?

The ads that run on this site are chosen by mathematical algorithyms written by ad network providers. The idea behind these formulas is that they pick the ads they believe will most likely be clicked by readers of this blog. That means we have little control over what ads run on this site, and I like it that way. It keeps our editorial independence clear: We don’t run reviews based on who is advertising since we don’t know who will advertise. Google Adsense and Federated Media (the networks that deliver the ads) only run ads that will get clicked on by my readers, so I guess we get the ads we deserve. Both networks offer the option of excluding specific advertisers, but currently, we are not excluding anyone.

What is your policy about accepting free samples for review?

Most of the reviews on this site are written by readers. We emphasize recommendations based on personal experience, so in most cases, reviewers have bought the item with their own hard-earned money, which makes their recommendation on Cool Tools all that more valuable. While we do ask contributors whether they have invented or sold the item they are reviewing, we don’t have any objective way to confirm what they tell us. However, I have edited user-written reviews for 25 years (!!!!) and I’ve gained a pretty subjective sense for when someone is shilling a product, and often in the back-and-forth editing that goes on behind the scenes for every review, we are able to sniff out folks who are connected to the product in some way. I can’t say we are 100% effective, but I would guess we are 99% effective in retaining only legitimate unpaid user recommendations.

While most of the reviews are reader-witten, 10% or so of the reviews on Cool Tools are written by me, or one of the three editors who have overseen this site in the past decade. Generally we purchase our own stuff. Over many years of doing this I have found it is easier to just purchase items to try rather than dealing with PR folks, signing NDAs, returning merchandise, and keeping track of junk. But vendors occasionally want to mail us stuff, and I send them this reply:

Here’s the deal on getting stuff reviewed by Cool Tools.

1) Don’t send us anything we have to send back. We are not set up for keeping track of things or not harming them, and if it is so precious that it needs to be returned then it is probably too expensive for Cool Tools.

2) We make no guarantees when or whether we’ll write a review. You’ll know only if we publish it.

3) We only publish positive reviews. If we don’t love a tool, we say nothing. Even merely “good stuff” will get ignored. If it ain’t great, we don’t run it. That means very few of the things we try get reviewed. Statistically, it’s a long shot for your product.

This latter point is important. We make no promise to review anything. We don’t promise contributors, or vendors. We’ll review it when we find enthusiasm for it, and not before. Sometimes manufacturers, or inventors, or PR folks will send us stuff out of the blue. This is true of books. I purchase books from Amazon about once a week, but at the same time, I am on a number of publishers’ lists and I get a steady stream of review books. It is beyond me to keep their streams separate (did that book come from the publisher or Amazon?). Same situation with a much smaller stream of gadgets. The result of this trickle is that about once or twice a year, we will review a item that has been sent to us for free. In these few cases we don’t mention this because how something arrived is not important to the process, and often (as with books) not even remembered.

Why was my posted comment deleted?

You may insult tools, but not people. We delete comments that denigrate, insult, and name-call other individuals. The intent of comments is to let anyone with personal experience with a reviewed tool add confirmation or disagreement with the recommendation. Or anyone can correct incorrect information about the product. Or suggest better products. Disagreements are welcomed, but the discourse must be polite and civil. If a comment seems to belittle someone else, we will delete it. Yes, this is a vague and subjective line, but it always is.

Why wasn’t my comment posted on the site?

We moderate comments. Comments with a lot of links embedded in them will be caught by our software and held for our review to make sure they aren’t spam. If the comment is legit, then it will post probably a day later. Like the review itself, your comments should convey specific information in a way that enhances our understanding.

Why did you run item X? It’s not a cool tool.

I use a very broad definition of “tool.” A tool is anything useful. It does not have to be a hand tool, or even something physical. It can be a book that will tell you how to do something. It could be a website, too, that is useful, say, in keeping track of your budget or converting currencies. It could be a map, or a specific kind of material, or even an educational course, or anything that anyone can easily acquire that will help accomplish something. It can even be an idea. What makes a tool “cool” is its superiority over comparable tools. We’ll recommend a tool if it is significantly better, cheaper, easier to use than similar tools. Or, of course, we’ll list it if it is the only one of its kind. We try to be as general-purpose as we can, reviewing tools that will appeal to many, rather than merely a very specialized subset. In fact the coolest tools are those that can be used in many different fields. But not every tool will be general purpose; often times we’ll feature a specialized tool (say a watch opening wrench), not because we expect very many folks to buy one, but just because knowing it is exists is a kind of tool in itself.

Cookie Policy

Last updated June 25, 2018

This Cookie Policy explains how Cool Tools Lab LLC (“Cool Tools Lab”, “we”, “us”, and “ours”) use cookies and similar technologies to recognize you when you visit our websites at cool-­, (“Websites”). It explains what these technologies are and why we use them, as well as your rights to control our use of them.

What are cookies?
Cookies are small data files that are placed on your computer or mobile device when you visit a website. Cookies are widely used by website owners in order to make their websites work, or to work more efficiently, as well as to provide reporting information.

Cookies set by the website owner (in this case, Cool Tools Lab) are called “first party cookies”. Cookies set by parties other than the website owner are called “third party cookies”.

Third party cookies enable third party features or functionality to be provided on or through the website (e.g. like advertising, interactive content and analytics). The parties that set these third party cookies can recognize your computer both when it visits the website in question and also when it visits certain other websites.

Why do we use cookies?
We use first and third party cookies for several reasons. Some cookies are required for technical reasons in order for our Websites to operate, and we refer to these as “essential” or “strictly necessary” cookies. Other cookies also enable us to track and target the interests of our users to enhance the experience on our Online Properties. Third parties serve cookies through our Websites for advertising, analytics and other purposes. This is described in more detail below.

The specific types of first and third party cookies served through our Websites and the purposes they perform are described below (please note that the specific cookies served may vary depending on the specific Online Properties you visit):

Essential website cookies:
These cookies are strictly necessary to provide you with services available through our Websites and to use some of its features, such as access to secure areas, our comments, and videos.

Who serves these cookies:
• Cookie provider: Disqus Website URL:
• Cookie provider: Soundcloud Website URL:
• Cookie provider: YouTube Website URL:

How to refuse: Because these cookies are strictly necessary to deliver the Websites to you, you cannot refuse them. You can block or delete them by changing your browser settings however, as described below under the heading “How can I control cookies?”

Analytics and customization cookies:
These cookies collect information that is used either in aggregate form to help us understand how our Website are being used or how effective our marketing campaigns are, or to help us customize our Websites for you.

Who serves these cookies:

• Cookie provider: Google Website URL:

How to refuse: To refuse these cookies, please follow the instructions below under the heading “How can I control cookies?”

Advertising cookies:
These cookies are used to make advertising messages more relevant to you. They perform functions like preventing the same ad from continuously reappearing, ensuring that ads are properly displayed for advertisers, and in some cases selecting advertisements that are based on your interests.

Who serves these cookies:
• Cookie provider: Carbon Ads
Website URL:

How to refuse: To refuse these cookies, please follow the instructions below under the heading “How can I control cookies?”

What about other tracking technologies, like web beacons?
Cookies are not the only way to recognize or track visitors to a website. We may use other, similar technologies from time to time, like web beacons (sometimes called “tracking pixels” or “clear gifs”). These are tiny graphics files that contain a unique identifier that enable us to recognize when someone has visited our Websites. This allows us, for example, to monitor the traffic patterns of users from one page within our Websites to another, to deliver or communicate with cookies, to understand whether you have come to our Websites from an online advertisement displayed on a third-­party website, to improve site performance, and to measure the success of e­mail marketing campaigns. In many instances, these technologies are reliant on cookies to function properly, and so declining cookies will impair their functioning.

Do you use Flash cookies or Local Shared Objects?
Our Websites may also use so-­called “Flash Cookies” (also known as Local Shared Objects or “LSOs”) to, among other things, collect and store information about your use of our services, fraud prevention and for other site operations.

If you do not want Flash Cookies stored on your computer, you can adjust the settings of your Flash player to block Flash Cookies storage using the tools contained in the Website Storage Settings Panel. You can also control Flash Cookies by going to the Global Storage Settings Panel and following the instructions (which may include instructions that explain, for example, how to delete existing Flash Cookies (referred to “information” on the Macromedia site), how to prevent Flash LSOs from being placed on your computer without your being asked, and (for Flash Player 8 and later) how to block Flash Cookies that are not being delivered by the operator of the page you are on at the time).

Please note that setting the Flash Player to restrict or limit acceptance of Flash Cookies may reduce or impede the functionality of some Flash applications, including, potentially, Flash applications used in connection with our services or online content.

Do you serve targeted advertising?
Third parties may serve cookies on your computer or mobile device to serve advertising through our Websites. These companies may use information about your visits to this and other websites in order to provide relevant advertisements about goods and services that you may be interested in. They may also employ technology that is used to measure the effectiveness of advertisements. This can be accomplished by them using cookies or web beacons to collect information about your visits to this and other sites in order to provide relevant advertisements about goods and services of potential interest to you. The information collected through this process does not enable us or them to identify your name, contact details or other details that directly identify you unless you choose to provide these.

How can I control cookies?
You can set or amend your web browser controls to accept or refuse cookies. If you choose to reject cookies, you may still use our website though your access to some functionality and areas of our website may be restricted. As the means by which you can refuse cookies through your web browser controls vary from browser­-to-­browser, you should visit your browser’s help menu for more information.

In addition, most advertising networks offer you a way to opt out of targeted advertising. If you would like to find out more information, please visit or

How often will you update this Cookie Policy?
We may update this Cookie Policy from time to time in order to reflect, for example, changes to the cookies we use or for other operational, legal or regulatory reasons. Please therefore re­visit this Cookie Policy regularly to stay informed about our use of cookies and related technologies.

The date at the top of this Cookie Policy indicates when it was last updated.

Where can I get further information?
If you have any questions about our use of cookies or other technologies, please email us at editor@cool­

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