This is a summary of the various pieces of software I regularly use. For the most part, links here are to blog posts I've written about them, but some links are direct to the software page.


I use Windows, primarily out of familiarity and habit. Here are extras I use to augment Windows:

  • Cygwin, for adding dozens of useful Unix utilities.
  • John's Background Switcher, for displaying pretty pictures on my desktop.
  • TaskSwitchXP improves the Alt-Tab behavior so you can see what program you are switching to.
  • Taskbar Shuffle lets me rearrange my taskbar icons.
  • Launchy is an unobtrusive launcher similar to Quicksilver.
  • TweakUI gives you a bunch of control panels Windows doesn't provide.
  • DisplayFusion provides nice support for multiple monitors.
  • SpeedFan monitors CPU temperatures.
  • AutoHotkey remaps keys to change the compromises on laptop keyboards.
  • SpyBot is great at finding and eradicating malware of all sorts.
  • SpaceMonger is a tree map showing where your disk space is going.
  • TrueCrypt provides encrypted mountable disks.

Special mention to Sysinternals' tools, which are always the Cadillac in their class:


For surfing, I use Mozilla Firefox, with these add-ons:

While developing web sites, these Firefox add-ons are great:

My other communication tools:


Tools I use for writing software:


My go-to apps for graphics work:

  • GIMP for graphics editing.
  • Lightroom for photo storage and tweaking.
  • @icon sushi for manipulating Windows icons.
  • CoolRuler, a handy pop-up pixel ruler.
  • ZoomPlus, a well-executed screen magnifier, with measurement and clipboard support.


Little doodads that don't do anything useful, but I enjoy having on hand:

  • Golly, an amazing implementation of Conway's Game of Life.
  • Xaos, a realtime fractal zoomer.
  • Aptus, my own Mandelbrot renderer.
  • Chaoscope, a strange attractor display program.

See also

  • My blog, where many reviews of other tools appear from time to time.


Joe W. 11:47 AM on 22 Jan 2008

Nice list, but where's Emacs?

And you might want to give Google Reader a try. I switched to it when Bloglines was showing the plumber a little too often and new feature development had ground to a halt. I like Google Reader's cleaner design and their recommendations feature works pretty well for me.

Doug Napoleone 7:19 PM on 22 Jan 2008

The problem I have with google reader is that it does not support feed which require authentication. This is a no-go in my book. Sage plugin for FireFox is what use, and it works great.

Ned Batchelder 7:41 PM on 22 Jan 2008

Thanks guys, for the recommendations. A new RSS reader may be in my future, and I'll take a look at these alternatives.

Kevin Dahlhausen 10:43 AM on 23 Jan 2008

Give FeedDemon a look too - it is one of the few programs I've used that just fits me perfectly, I'm still stunned by it.

Ken Pespisa 11:00 AM on 23 Jan 2008

Thank you for sharing this list!

I've recently discovered AutoHotKey and how great a tool it is. I had to complete a frustratingly repetitive task of updating records via a Web interface, but with a small amount of coding I made a script that I could trigger on each page to populate all the fields in seconds.

Here are a couple of my favorites that you might find useful:

BookmarkSync -stores a copy of your bookmarks online and keeps them automatically synchronized between multiple computers.

MW Snap -a simple screen capture program. You can outline just the part of the screen you want to capture.

Uldis Bojārs 5:02 PM on 30 Mar 2008

For a treemap of disk space usage take a look at WinDirStart. It's free, open source and looks amazing.

One more program that I can not live without on Windows is the FAR Manager. It is like Norton Commander on steroids, very extensible and gives that "the filesystem at your fingertips" feel. I am moving to a Mac now and this is what I am missing the most. Of course, this does not mean that everyone needs it that bad. :-)

Anonymous 5:19 PM on 30 Aug 2010

You don't have ImageMagick? It is the best program for graphics manipulation. Much better than GIMP or other software, in my opinion.

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