Software You Won't Be Able to Live Without Once You Know It

August 19, 2012

I’ve been recently doing a clean install of Windows 8 and as you probably experienced an OS install yourself many times before, you’re aware that it takes some time until your workstation is truly usable. There are many programs, smaller or bigger, that you’ve been accumulating for a long time, without which you can’t work. You might even don’t realize it until they’ve gone from your system.

I thought it was a great opportunity to assemble a list of such software for myself and share it with you, hoping that you’ll find a couple of gems you didn’t know existed that will make your life a little easier. I’ve grouped it into four categories: General Tools, Software Development, Web Apps and Firefox Add-ons.

General Tools

  • Keybreeze — Your favorite applications, folders, web sites, system commands and macros at your fingertips.

    Keybreeze

  • Search Everything — Quickly search for files and folders by their name. Feels almost like ReSharper’s navigation feature but for the whole file system.

    Search Everything

  • EditPad Pro — Versatile text editor; unrivaled when it comes to handling large files, multi-line find/replace and text processing with regular expressions.

    EditPad Pro

  • Ditto — System-wide clipboard manager. Stores the history of things you put into the clipboard for later access. Can also strip formatting information, eg. from a copied web page fragment.

    Ditto

  • Total Commander — Tabbed file manager. I don’t use it as a file manager though — it made it to this list because of its one feature: Find in files, which basically is a very comfortable to use grep.

    Total Commander

  • 7+ Taskbar Tweaker — A little utility that allows you to freely rearrange taskbar buttons. This feature is built-in since Windows 7 but the tool is still useful as it can completely disable grouping of taskbar buttons.

    7+ Taskbar Tweaker

  • Switcher — Alt+Tab on steroids with great keyboard support.

    Switcher

  • LockHunter — Easily get rid of occasional file system locks.

    LockHunter

  • Boomerang for Gmail — Provides scheduled sending of your e-mails and allows you to defer messages until a specified date and time. You might want to check out the free alternative: Defer.It.

    Boomerang for Gmail

Software Development

  • ReSharper — Essential Visual Studio extension for keyboard addicts. Provides real-time code analysis, quick navigation, refactorings, code generation and more.

    ReSharper

  • Reflector — .NET decompiler. Although no longer free, in my opinion still the best. Free alternatives: dotPeek, JustDecompile.

    Reflector

  • Fiddler — Web debugger. Invaluable in complex HTTP debugging scenarios.

    Fiddler

  • SQL Prompt — IntelliSense and snippets for T-SQL inside Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio.

    SQL Prompt

  • NAnt / Ant — XML-based build tools. For build automation freaks like me.

    NAnt

Web Apps

  • Google Reader — An RSS feed reader that just works.

    Google Reader

  • Instapaper — A web site with an accompanying bookmarklet that lets you save web pages for reading later. Great when used along with an iOS or Android app.

    Instapaper

  • Metareads — A web reader that lets you read articles just the way you like it — with paging, adjustable margins and custom fonts, eg.: read this post in Metareads Reader.

    Metareads

  • CrawlCast — Easily extract audio tracks from popular video hosting services like YouTube, Vimeo, Google Video, TED, Channel 9 and other.

    CrawlCast

  • Dropbox — A cloud storage service. What I specifically like about it is its terrific integration with the OS.

    Dropbox

  • Grooveshark — A music streaming service. No more juggling MP3s between workstations.

    Grooveshark

Firefox Add-ons

  • Tree Style Tab — Seriously, tabs at the top of browser windows should go away. This add-on is the single reason why I’m still using Firefox instead of Chrome which some time ago ditched the Side Tabs experimental feature.

    Tree Style Tab

  • Adblock Plus — This should go without saying. The Web with ads is a horrible, horrible place.

    Adblock Plus

  • LastPass — Password manager which can integrate with every major browser. Thanks to its auto-fill and auto-login features it can save you many unnecessary keystrokes.

    LastPass

  • Session Manager — Crash recovery mechanism for Firefox which actually works. You won’t fear loosing your open tabs anymore.

    Session Manager

  • Greasemonkey — Can run custom JavaScript on specified web sites. There is a database of ready to use scripts that will fix any annoyances you may experience while browsing the Web.

    Greasemonkey

That’s it. This is my list. Do you have other tools, web sites or extensions that you can’t live without and would like to share?