These are a few of my favorite things

When you get a new PC are what programs do you install to get going? Are there tools you find yourself really missing when you use an unfamiliar computer?

Here’s my list of most helpful Windows utilities.  What makes your list?

[Apologies in advance to the Mac users out there for the lack of inclusiveness of this post; then again, no doubt our Mac friends will tell us half or more these are already built into their operating system. 🙂 ]

– I love gmail as my email client. It’s hands-down the best email client I’ve used. One nice add-on is gmail notifier, an alert for in-coming emails.

– To create PDF files I use CutePDF. Once you’ve installed it, it works like a new printer. When you choose print to PDF option you are prompted for the new file name. It’s that easy!

– As a simple tool for managing all types of image files, I use IrfanView. It’s great for simple image editing tasks like resizing, cropping, and converting image types. For example, to reduce mega-pixel sized images down to a web-manageable size all you have to do is

(a) open the image in IrfanView,

(b) choose Image – Resize/Resample, select the new size (640×480 is my preference for web sharing), and

(c) choose File – Save As with the options “Save As Type” set to JPG – JPEG Files, and your preference for quality (I usu. choose 50% for web sharing).

– To capture an image off of the screen (e.g., a photo off of a non-clickable web page), I use ScreenHunter. I usually have it sit in standby mode, then hit F6, select the portion of the screen I want, open IrfanView, and the use the IrfanView menu option Edit – Paste followed by File – Save to create my new image.

– The single most important time management tool I have is  AleJenJes Timer. It’s a countdown timer. When I searched all over the web for a simple tool to fulfill this simple function, AleJenJes Timer was the program I found. I find a countdown timer very helpful as a personal time management tool (to set a minimum or maximum amount of time to work on a task or as a timer for a work break).

– For protection from spyware and related bad stuff, I use a combination of Ad-Aware SE Personal Edition  and Spybot S&D. This combination covers 90+% of the most common bad stuff.

– For web browsing my hands-down favorite is Avant Browser. It combines the compatability of IE with higher speed, better features, and better security. Every time I’ve tried out Firefox I’ve come running back to Avant.

– A great add-on for Avant is RoboForm, a tool for securely managing site login information and other frequently entered web form data. If you use Avant, after you install RoboForm then install the RoboForm Plug-In for Avant (warning: link automatically initiates download).

– For anti-virus I use what is provided for free from my employer. I don’t use a personal firewall because there’s already a firewall built into my Linksys WRT54G router (and reasonable protection on campus). Otherwise I’d either turn on the firewall provided by Windows or install the ZoneAlarm Personal firewall.

In the less general-use categories:

– For an all-purpose text editor, I like TextPad. I like it much better than either NotePad or WordPad for editing text files.

– For a HTML text editor, I use HTML-Kit. This is not a FrontPage like drag-and-drop web page tool. This is a tool for coding HTML and previewing the output.

PS Hot Launch VVL is a quicker version of the start menu. It sits in my system tray to let me quickly programs, files, and directories. I don’t use it extensively (I often put shortcuts on my desktop instead) but there are a few programs I’ve found useful to keep there.

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4 Responses

  1. Launchbar or QuickSilver for Mac OS X is great.

    Happily there’s now a similar utility for windows:

    http://sourceforge.net/projects/launchy/

    –J

  2. Thats a cool list, Steven. I tried the ScreenHunter and it really is better than Print Scrn on my keyboard.
    Among my list, there is 7-zip for zipping.
    I have to have endnote. I am not very efficient with endnote but everytime I try to use it like its supposed to be used, I am astounded by its power – allows me to keep track of what I have read, what I liked about what I read, didnt like, and what I need to read. we should have a separate post about that…
    For remote desktop control, I use logmein. I somehow dont like the one in Windows and this one is great in letting me access my stuff on multiple computers.
    VLC for video and mediamonkey for audio.

  3. Steven,

    Thanks for sharing secrets of the trade – I tried to find the timer you use but it’s no longer available 😦

    But I found this opensource timer called “Tea Timer” that’s pretty cool:

    http://sourceforge.net/project/downloading.php?group_id=142664&use_mirror=superb-east&filename=TeaTimer_1.5.3.zip&40208545

  4. This post really came in handy today when I needed to setup a new machine… something else I’ve added to my list of favorites is http://pack.google.com.

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