The tools I use…
Here are some of my favorite applications I have installed on my computer, and often install right away, in no particular order:
- Microsoft Office Professional Plus – This is the obvious must have software for anyone interacting with other businesses. I really enjoy the seamless operation between products and how it makes interacting with the business world so much easier. I have tried Open Office, and it is a faster, less bloated office productivity suite and significantly less expensive. However, it is still only 90% real-world compatible with Microsoft Office, and thus can be a real pain. This is especially true when it comes to situations where page formatting is critical. When you factor that in, in many cases, the time I would spend working around the compatibility issues, Microsoft Office is actually less-expensive — something I think people need to consider a bit more often when looking at free tools… But alas, this list is filled with free tools!
- Microsoft Acrobat Professional – Yes, I have used (and continue to use) a number of low cost PDF creation tools such as pdf995 – which I really enjoy – and often recommend for users looking for simple print-to-pdf features; but I really appreciate all of the features which come in the full fledged product such as the ability to optimize scanned documents, perform OCR to make a scanned document searchable, and the ability to create interactive forms.
- Notepad++ is probably the best text editor I have used in a long time. It is a great improvement over the built in Notepad. The color coding when viewing code such as HTML, PHP or Java is very helpful, and there are additional plug-ins available.
- CuteHTML is a no longer a developed application but I have used it for so long I am simply used it’s interface and appreciate the built-in FTP application. I use it frequently to edit HTML and PHP code. I know there are better applications out there, but this is simply used out of familiarity and habit.
- CuteFTP is my preferred paid for FTP application for ages, but I have honestly stopped installing it on new systems and simply use Filezilla which features match close enough to meet 99% of my needs. This program permits multiple FTP downloads from mutliple FTP server at the same time and supports FTP, sFTP and FTPS. It is mature and actively developed.
- Virtual Drive Clone – my favorite application for mounting ISO images as optical media.
- Microsoft One Note – while technically part of the Microsoft Office Suite above, I call this one out for two tools that a lot of people don’t know about. First is that there is a screen clipping tool built into it. There are a lot of screen clipping tools available, both free and paid for, but this one is already built into a Microsoft Office application, so there is no extra software to download, install, patch or even take up system resources. A simple press of windows-S enables you to clip any part of the visible windows. I use this frequently for creating documentation or power point presentations. The second part is that it is slowly replacing my trusty physical paper notepad. And using One Note 2010 with Microsoft Skydrive, it keeps my laptop, desktop and work computers all sync’ed. Love it!
- Drop Box – along the lines of syncing data, I am starting to use Drop Box for non sensitive data. They can help keep your data synced between multiple devices including mobile devices. Due to a recent security flaw, there was the potential for your data to be accessed by other users. As with any technology like this, I discourage the use for anything sensitive.
- Keepass safe – A password manager which helps you to manage your passwords in a secure way. You can put all your passwords in one database, which is locked with one master key or a key-disk.
- VLC – A highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, mp3, ogg, …) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols.
- Log me in – Each of my systems has this installed, and I really appreciate that even after you logon to the website, to access your system, it still requires you to enter whatever password you use on your computer to access it.
- Trillian – While I rarely use instant messenger anymore, Trillian is a fantasic, fully featured, stand-alone, skinnable chat client that supports AIM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo Messenger, and IRC – all in one application and interface.
- CCleaner – A system optimization and privacy tool that removes unused files from your system and allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space.
- Google Picasa – A free software that helps you locate and organize all the photos on your computer, edit and add effects to your photos with a few simple clicks and share your photos with others through email, prints and on the web.
- Remote Desktop Manager – If you are freqently connecting to remote resources such as via RDP or VNC, this is the tool for you. It offers built-in support for Microsoft Remote Desktop, Terminal Services, VNC, LogMeIn, Team Viewer, Ftp, SSH, Telnet, Dameware, X Window, VMware, Virtual PC, PC Anywhere, Hyper-V, Citrix, Radmin, Microsoft Remote Assistance, Oracle Virtual Box and more.
- PuTTY – is probably the most common, versatile multi-protocol client application which is our longtime favorite choice for all our SSH needs. To many PC power-users an SSH client is absolutely vital to their everyday operations, and PuTTY’s the most popular windows client for a reason.