Windows 95 Logo

I am not just a Linux enthusiast, I also happen to use Windows quite often. In fact, Windows is my primary desktop from which I connect to all the other boxes and do my work on. During the years of Windows usage, I have accumulated a list of must-have Windows programs that I wouldn't be able to work without. Some of them are commercial, some are freeware, but that doesn't matter. What matters is how productive you are with your setup. If you're really productive on Linux with your own set of tools, it's perfectly fine and you have done a great job of finding the best tools of trade.

1. Total Commander.

I can't imagine working on a computer without Total Commander. Absolutely must-have software. Total Commander is what separates boys from men. Total Commander is probably the #1 reason why I don't use other operating system on my desktop. Tabs, a great GUI interface and customize-everything-configuration make it superior to all the other file managers. If I switch the desktop OS, I'll have to write my own clone of Total Commander or I wouldn't be able to work with the computer. Total commander is shareware.

2. TrueCrypt.

Because you don't want anyone to know what you store on your disks. TrueCrypt the best disk encryption software for Windows. TrueCrypt is freeware.

3. SecureCRT and Putty.

SecureCRT is the SSH client to use. Again, the primary reason I use it is because it has tab support. Putty comes second as it doesn't have tabs. SecureCRT is shareware. Putty is freeware.

4. WinSCP.

Forget all your FTP clients. FTP is dead and unsecure. I use WinSCP to send all my files over a secure connection. WinSCP is freeware.

5. Cygwin.

Since Windows has never had a usable shell, the only way to get one is to run a local ssh server via Cygwin and connect to localhost via SecureCRT. This way you get the best possible shell. Cygwin is freeware.

6. VMWare Workstation.

I have been using VMWare Workstation since 2004 and have never had a single problem. It's the best virtualization software ever written and nothing comes close. VMWare Workstation is shareware.

7. Synergy.

Synergy allows you to share your mouse and keyboard via network with other computers (no need for a KVM switch). It just works. Synergy is freeware.

8. Beyond compare.

The greatest visual diff tool ever written. Period. Beyond compare is shareware.

9. Tclock2.

Tclock2 is freeware that allows you to customize the windows clock in the systray. I set it to dddd\\nhh:nn:ss.

10. Auto Hotkeys.

With Auto Hotkeys you can remap your keyboard and script shortcuts. For one, the first thing to do is to remap ESC to CAPS LOCK so that you could work in Vim. Auto Hotkeys is freeware.

11. Locate32.

Locate32 is to Windows what locate is to Linux. It helps you find all your files in an instant. Locate32 is freeware.

12. allSnap.

allSnap snaps your windows one next to each other, i.e., it aligns them nicely. allSnap is freeware.

13. Fineprint.

Fineprint is the best printer proxy ever. Allows you to print multiple pages per sheet even much more smartly than your printer does. Plus it has a real print preview. Fineprint is shareware.

14. Launchy.

I can't imagine working without Launchy. It's QuickSilver for Windows. It allows to quickly launch programs by pressing Alt+Space and typing in the first few chars of the program's name. Launchy is freeware.

15. ClipX.

ClipX maintains a paste buffer. Use Winkey+V to paste from it. If you haven't used it, it will change the way you work with your computer. ClipX is freeware.

16. DU Meter.

Du Meter measures your network usage and shows nice plots of it. I like it. Du Meter is shareware.

17. Taskbar Shuffle.

Taskbar Shuffle allows you to rearrange taskbar tabs and systray icons. Must-have. Taskbar Shuffle is freeware.

18. UltraMon.

If you're on a multi-screen setup, like me, UltraMon adds taskbars to your other screens. It's productivity super-booster. UltraMon is shareware.

19. Sumatra PDF.

Adobe Reader got bloated and died 5 years ago. Foxit Reader got bloated died 2 years ago. I hope Sumatra PDF reader doesn't die. Sumatra PDF is freeware.

20. KeePass.

KeePass is a secure password manager. I probably have 10 thousand passwords in it secured by one master password. Keepass is freeware.

21. RoboForm.

While KeePass keeps your passwords secure in a file, RoboForm allows you to dynamically submit them to various website forms. It also stores them under the master password. RoboForm is shareware.

22. WinRAR.

WinRAR is the best archivator for Windows. I have been using it since I was born. 7-Zip doesn't come close. WinRAR is shareware.

23. Inkscape.

Inkscape is a descent vector graphics editor. It's free.

24. FFDShow.

FFDShow is a codec library. If you wish to watch all kinds of videos on your computer, it's a must-have. FFDShow is freeware.

25. Media Player Classic.

MPC is the best video player for windows. It doesn't have skins or any other useless bullshit. MPC is freeware.

26. Real Alternative.

Real Alternative will use Media Player Classic to play RealMedia files. Real Alternative is freeware.

27. Quicktime Alternative.

Quicktime Alternative is to QuickTime files what Real Alternative is to RealMedia files. Freeware.

28. AviSynth.

AviSynth is a video processing programming language. If you wish to speed your videos up, it's a must-have. AviSynth is freeware.

29. FFMpeg.

FFMpeg is a must-have for converting videos and working with AviSynth scripts. FFMpeg is freeware.

30. VirtualDub.

VirtualDub is another must-have software for editing videos on Windows. VirtualDub is freeware.

31. Dependency Walker.

Sometimes programs don't work because of DLL hell. Dependency Walker helps you to diagnose and solve these problems. Dependency Walker is freeware.

32. Most of the Sysinternals tools.

Autoruns, regmon, procmon, procexp, tcpview, to name a few from Sysinternals are just must-have. They are all freeware.

33. File & Folder Unlocker.

UFFunlock is used when you get the nasty "Access denied" errors and you know that no process should be using the resource. FFunlock is freeware.

34. Hijackthis.

Hijackthis is necessary just to make sure you don't have nasty programs on your computer. Hijackthis is freeware.

35. ImgBurn.

ImgBurn is the new Nero. It burns your CDs and DVDs. ImgBurn is freeware.

36. IsoBuster.

IsoBuster knows all the CD/DVD image formats. IsoBuster is shareware.

37. Virtual CloneDrive.

Virtual CloneDrive allows you to mount ISOs right as windows drives. Virtual CloneDrive is freeware.

38. SQLyog.

As crappy as SQLyog is, it's somehow the most usable MySQL front-end. 10 years ago I used mysql-gui-console but the project got discontinued and no one has written a usable MySQL front-end ever since. If I'm ever in a mood, I'll write one that doesn't suck. SQLyog is shareware but I wouldn't pay a cent for it.

39. pgAdmin.

I applaud to pgAdmin dev team for making the best GUI front-end for PostgreSQL. Folks who write MySQL front-ends should learn from these guys. They know what a GUI tool should do. pgAdmin is freeware.

40. XML Notepad.

A notepad.exe for XML files. Allows you to edit XML smartly without destroying its structure accidentally. XML Notepad is freeware.

41. Hex Workshop.

Hex Workshop is a really great and easy to use Hex editor. It's shareware.

42. Vim.

For everything else.

What tools do you use?

This was a list of tools that I can't live without. What tools did I miss?


February 12, 2010, 18:08

1. far manager - console is so much better than windows gui
4. winscp plugin for far manager
33. handle from sysinternals
37. daemon tools lite
38. EMS SQL Manager for MySQL
39. EMS SQL Manager for PostgreSQL
both supports ssh tunnels

Erik Permalink
February 12, 2010, 18:24

3) PuttyCM is a connection manager for putty sessions that embeds each session as a tab. I use it all the time at work and it is solid (though a little clunky). Importantly, it is free.

RyanE Permalink
February 12, 2010, 18:27

WinDirStat - Graphical representation of what's eating your disk:

screen + irssi -- OK, not Windows apps, but I use them from Windows ssh as much as from Linux.

Awesome blog, BTW.

malvis Permalink
February 12, 2010, 18:43

pingplotter, notepad2, vso image resizer

Cukurgalva Permalink
February 12, 2010, 18:49

IDA Pro, Hiew

Kint Permalink
February 12, 2010, 18:52

Odd that you use WinSCP when you already use SecureCRT which can spawn an instant sftp window in the directory you're in via a simple keypress.

February 12, 2010, 18:53

HeidiSQL is a great, free, MySQL front-end for Windows.

Lots of good, but old, software here. How many of these would run on a modern 64-bit Windows 7 machine?

Tof Permalink
February 12, 2010, 18:54

Thanks for the good list.

It would have been perfect if you'd have made a distinction between Free Software and Freeware.

Some Dude Permalink
February 12, 2010, 19:02


February 12, 2010, 19:03

That's quite a list! I'll certainly take a look a some of them. One application I can't live without is Shell Enhancer, to make explorer behave like X WMs to move and resize windows. It also do lots of other things, but that's the main point for me as I used blackbox/fluxbox for some time before getting back on Windows and got used to these features. Nowadays I'm using XMonad or wmii when working on Linux and haven't found something similar for Windows yet.

February 12, 2010, 19:24

FAR, Notepad++, replacement of notepad2 with default notepad, UDC, Magic Disk, SQLite2009pro

Mark Permalink
February 12, 2010, 19:27

I use Squirrel as my SQL tool. It can connect to a majority of Database vendors. As long as there is a JDBC driver available Squirrel can connect.

Mark Permalink
February 12, 2010, 19:31

FYI, HijackThis was bought by Trend Micro and is still under active development. And unlike some software acquisitions by major anti-virus developers (*cough* SiteAdvisor *cough*), they have yet to ruin it.

February 12, 2010, 19:34

+1 for FAR.

AndCycle Permalink
February 12, 2010, 19:35

I suggest a incredible replacement for locate32 on win32,
it called "Everything Search Engine"

there is nothing come closer to this solution for searching filename under win32

this one change my life :)

Ashish Kumar Permalink
February 12, 2010, 19:40

Thank you for the informative post. I found quite a few programs that I could use.

I am a fan of
free download manager

February 12, 2010, 19:46

I couldn't live without Total Commander either, definitely the #1

Frans van N Permalink
February 12, 2010, 20:06

Agree on Total Commander. Can't do without.

Toad for MySql is nice (and free):

February 12, 2010, 20:09

Many thanks! This is the best of the best of lists that I've seen. Really enjoy your VIM stuff too by the way. Started using Launchy not long after I scanned your article...

hmm Permalink
February 12, 2010, 20:11

1) DirectoryOpus. Since Amiga years :-)

February 12, 2010, 20:34

Pretty cool list with some gems in there.. I can't think of a computer without ClipX. That little piece of software saved my life on so many occasions. My favorites from your list:

- Synergy
- allSnap
- Launchy
- ClipX
- Taskbar shuffle
- UltraMon
- Inkscape
- Media Player Classic
- IsoBuster

Thanks for sharing, I'll check out the others. I have my own list here, kind of old but I still use them (thought I shall update soon with a new list).

February 12, 2010, 20:53

ilker yoldas, welcome back to my blog. ;) And thanks for sharing the list!

February 12, 2010, 20:53

EmacsW32 - the goal is to make it easier for an MS Windows user to get used to Emacs.

Raf Permalink
February 12, 2010, 20:57

Throw away all other video players and download VLC (video lan). It plays every video format without codecs or plugins. It recognizes the video format even if the filename's extension is missing

krishna Permalink
May 11, 2010, 04:40

Agree on this one., sleek.

Amir Permalink
February 12, 2010, 21:23

Good list of tools. I used to use them when I used windows, here are some more:

1. mingw
2. unxutils
3. Nero
4. K-light codec packs
5. ....

February 12, 2010, 21:31

I cannot recommend F.lux enough. Ever since I started using it to turn down my monitors color temperature, my eye strain has gone away.

Nice list.

esuntu Permalink
February 12, 2010, 21:51

Most of them sound like you are still using windows 98.

Roman Permalink
February 12, 2010, 22:01

> 5. Cygwin.

Where is the footnote?

> 24. FFDShow.

The official homepage of (the new branch of) ffdshow is Why didn't you link to it?

> 25. Media Player Classic.


> 26. Real Alternative.


> 27. Quicktime Alternative.

Ditto, but if you're already using MPC, why don't you use QT Lite instead? It's the same as QT Alternative, but doesn't bundle MPC.

> 29. FFMpeg.

You obviously linked the right homepage, but it's rather hard to find Windows builds there, so I'll link to the autobuilds.

> 33. File & Folder Unlocker.

This is why shouldn't use that. 8=]

> 42. Vim.

Where's the link? ;=]

I hope I didn't mess up my markup... this form desperately needs a preview button. Also, this comment probably ranks over 9000 on the spam filter.

February 12, 2010, 22:34

esuntu, I'd be in heaven if I could use Windows 2000 forever. Windows 98 is a bit unstable. XP and all the new crap are too bloated, who needs themes and other bullshit they include. Once XP is no longer supported, I'll code my own Total Commander and a few other tools and move to Linux as desktop.

Adam Permalink
February 12, 2010, 22:34

Great list!

Launchy is the first thing I install on a new PC. Can't live without it.

I am sick of trying to defend it against the Windows7 crappy start menu search.

Roland Kaufmann Permalink
February 12, 2010, 22:36

I find VirtualBox to be as good if not better than VMware Workstation, although there may be some areas where the latter still have an advantage. However, you can't beat the price :-)

Also, use ImDisk to create a RAM drive on which to put your temporary files.

krishna Permalink
May 11, 2010, 04:44

I was using VMWare before,, but I couldn't find same tool I used before on thier site..

Now settled for VirtualBox on my newly built XP box. I used Linux, Win2000 on it works great.

Eric TF Bat Permalink
February 12, 2010, 22:59

VMWare Workstation isn't shareware in any sense. You might have meant that VMWare Player is available for free, and could therefore I suppose be called freeware, though you have to register (for free) for it, so it stretches the definition.

I agree about VMWare's indispensibility though. It's a magnificent piece of work, and Workstation is worth the very small price.

February 12, 2010, 23:19

Hello Roman, I'm always glad to receive your comments. :)

What do you mean by 5. Cygwin not having a footnote? It has a footnote.

I linked to download pages of FFDShow, Media Player Classic, Real Alternative, Quicktime Alternative, because you can go crazy finding the download links on their homepages (I think that was my experience).

Bah, I did exactly the opposite for FFMpeg, linked to homepage where the download link for Windows can't be found.

Great article about Forcing Handles Closed! ;) You must reason a little before you close that handle for sure. You wouldn't be closing a handle to a swap file or that thesis you have been writing for 10 years. But you can surely close some Firefox handles of no value, even if it crashes, you don't lose anything.

Vim needs no link. ;)

The new catonmat is gonna have the most awesome comment box ever: Screenshot. :)

And yeah, it ranked over 9000. Had to moderate it. :)

February 12, 2010, 23:23

You forgot my excellent symbolic directory link application, :D

sau Permalink
February 12, 2010, 23:32

Good one.

Why dont you just use the ssh, vi, ftp and so on that comes with cygwin - you could reduce half your "program files"!

I highly recommend Irfanview for image viewing and vlc as media player.

I use pdf-xchange's viewer for pdfs. Adobe is bloated, foxit has rendering issues, sumatra just cant handle everything.

sagara Permalink
February 12, 2010, 23:49

With regards to #5 ("the only way to get one is to run a local ssh server via Cygwin and connect to localhost via SecureCRT."), you may want to take a look at puttycyg; it's a modified putty that you can use as a term emu.

Chris Stricker Permalink
February 13, 2010, 03:18

I use this ruler to help lay out elements on my screen as I design web pages and guis

February 13, 2010, 03:48

1. Textpad (shareware), Programmer's Notepad (freeware)
2. ZoneAlarm (the free version works great)
3. Paint.NET
4. Smart Defrag (freeware)
5. DTemp - hard disk temp monitor (freeware)
6. WinAMP!!
7. IrfanView

Btw, Foxit Reader seems to be still non-bloated to me.

@Raf : The new version of VLC is absolutely bloated, crashes randomly, takes longer to start. The older version was better. Wonder why most good software products go through this phase?

Dustin Permalink
February 13, 2010, 06:14

> What do you mean by 5. Cygwin not having a footnote? It has a footnote.

From that section:

> This way you get a power-shell(superscript-2)

There seems to be no footnote corresponding to that superscript after the word power-shell. At least I don't see any footnote in that section, or a separate section of footnotes in Firefox 3.5.7 or IE 7.

February 13, 2010, 07:33

I use the following must-have list of software tools:

Winkey for shortcut keys
Cintanotes for taking notes
Powermarks for managing bookmarks
Filebox Explorer for adding Frequently used folders in common file dialogs
Slysoft Virtual Clone Drive
Teracopy (for faster file copies)
Cubic Explorer (Total Commander is only 2 pane view, this provides tabs)

jason Permalink
May 19, 2011, 08:55

WikeNotes for taking notes

February 13, 2010, 09:09

When I got my first computer I used IZarc as an archiver, I think it's much better than WinRAR. Have a try :)

On this site you can find HijackThis download (not sure which one of these is official, probably the TrendMicro's one):

And one that I think should be included in the list is Notepad++. It's a very nice text editor which I'm sure you have heard of already but just forgot to add :)

Very nice list nonetheless. Keep up the good work!

Get66 Permalink
February 13, 2010, 09:40

I cannot believe ya'll left of CCleaner!

Awesome list!

Mario Permalink
February 13, 2010, 10:52

Nice list, thank you all

I really like Universal Extractor (Freeware / OS)

Yariv Permalink
February 13, 2010, 12:59

To mount ISO images under Windows, including Windows 7:

Free, open source (LGPL) and works great.

By the way, you sound like a Unix guy in denial. Pretty much all of your must-haves are built-ins in most of the Unix ports. Just buy a Mac or use some Linux desktop and be done with it.

Steve Dupuis Permalink
December 25, 2016, 20:15

I like this comment! "a Unix guy in denial" .. Is there a 12-Step group for MS Anonymous?

February 13, 2010, 14:23

Sumatra PDF is not freeware, but Free Software under GNU GPL.

February 13, 2010, 14:28

TrueCrypt has saved me more times than I can count... and this is why I still use Windows haha!

February 13, 2010, 14:45

Nice list, I will just add some of my tools you didn't mention, as in general, I can totally support your list, I use many of your tools, too.

Great PDF printer GUI based on Ghostscript

Yet another notepad++, I like it more than notepad++, maybe just from knowing it better and having an integrated Diff, HexViewer and FTP client

You mentioned it, I really rely on having a clipbard history sometimes, but it has an annoying problem with OpenOffice:
Sometimes when you copy in OpenOffice, it (OOo) freezes totally. Sometimes it helps killing ClipX to unfreeze, sometimes not.
I just today downloaded the beta version ( to try, maybe that will help.

This is my favorite image viewer, also good for simply changes of resolution or converting...

For the bigger imaging tasks

do I need to describe this? ;)

What gimp is for images and VirtualDub is for video, Audacity is for audio.

Nice tool to show your open windows like the mac does, nicely zoomed and sorted on the screen with one keypress.

Set up as default browser, you get n buttons when opening an URL to choose wich browser you want to use this time. The only downer it its loading time as it seems to be an c# WPF application...

This is my diffing tool, also used in juction with subversion and TFS merging procedures.
Nothing I have seen up to now makes the 3-way-diff that clear and easy to perform.

You use ssh, for instance with putty? You want to see an x window, but don't whant full cygwin on your machine? This will help you out: this simple exe is all you need.

Well, thats my favorite virtual machine. I wrote and occasionally update my tool CloneVDIGUI as gui wrapper for vboxmanage clonehd.

February 13, 2010, 14:50

- Xming
- crap cleaner
- Strawberry Perl
- FoxIt PDF Reader

Jay Sprenkle Permalink
February 13, 2010, 15:31

Great list!

I like virtualbox for vm.

For safer/better browsing I like the following Firefox plugins:

NoScript: Turn off javascript by default and then allow the pages you deem safe

Ghostery: watches out for web based tracking tools

DownThemAll: Want to download all the mp3's, pdf's, images on a page? easy!

And finally the HOSTS file hack for any operating system. Blocks ads and pests without actually installing any software at all.

February 13, 2010, 16:30

May I know the reasons why say that SQLYog suck that much?

leo Permalink
February 13, 2010, 17:05

-UltraEdit is a very, very good Editor.

-XmlSpy is by far the best around XML & Co.

krishna Permalink
May 11, 2010, 04:48

Longtime Fan of UltraEdit.. Great tool.

February 13, 2010, 17:16

I agree completely on Total Commander and TrueCrypt. Don't want to miss them.

I would add katmouse! A tiny little tool which lets you scroll (with mousewheel) in below lying windows without changing the focus. Awesome tool if you have to switch a lot between documents.

Another great (free) editor is Notepad++

February 13, 2010, 17:37

A couple of suggestions - FARR in place of Launchy and LastPass instead of Roboform/Keepass. Your list is excellent and I can't do without most of the stuff you mentioned here. In addition, I also swear by IrfanView and Opera.

February 13, 2010, 18:35

I mostly agree with your must-have Windows software list and I even wasn't aware of a few tools. Good post.

My notable changes (similar to some previous comments) are:
1. Far Manager 2.0 -- the best file manager
6. VirtualBox 3.x -- lighter than VMware bloated products (but yes, Workstation is much better than Server)
14. FARR -- more efficient than Launchy
19. PDF-XChange Viewer -- feature rich PDF viewer
22. 7-zip -- WinRAR better? stereotype
24-26. K-Lite Codec Pack Mega -- contains almost all widely used codecs and MPC Home Cinema, practically lacks only QuickTime Alternative.
25. VLC -- it's better to have this one too, just in case
35. CDBurnerXP -- almost Nero (v6)
37. DAEMON Tools Lite -- the best image mounter
42. gVim -- for convenience ;)

My additions would be:
43. XnView -- the best image viewer (really, much much better than wacky IrfanView)
44. XMing X Server -- the best X server
45. MyDefrag -- the best defragmentation tool (some of you may know its predecessor, JkDefrag)
46. foobar2000 -- the best music player
47. PDFCreator -- the best PDF creator
48. UltraVNC -- the best VNC tool
49. Avira AntiVir -- the best free antivirus
50. System Info for Windows -- the best system information gathering tool
51. Notepad++ -- name says all

If you're interested in my other suggestions (not only for Windows), then visit recommendations at my wiki.

February 13, 2010, 18:35

This is a great thread and blog for that matter, thanks, but your missing the greatest screen capture program I have ever used. MWSnap

ntp Permalink
February 13, 2010, 19:31

CLCL is better than ClipX, IMO.
IzArc is better than WinRAR or 7-zip, IMO (someone else also suggested this)

Cygwin makes available some of these tools, such as locate(1), OpenSSH, GPG, Vim, isotools, diff(1), and xmllint. Others mentioned this, but the point needs to be reiterated.

PDFtk and Multivalent are fairly invaluable to me when working with PDFs

I concur that Avira AntiVir and HijackThis are the best entry-level tools, however they can't and shouldn't be completely relied upon. McAfee Stinger is often still sometimes useful as another entry-level tool. WinHex and IceSword are examples of mid-level tools, but the best tools are commercial and very advanced (e.g. HBGary, MANDIANT, etc)

IDA Pro (as someone mentioned) is basically the de-facto disassembler, but it's not so great as a debugger. Various debuggers exist, but Syser, OllyDbg, Immunity Debugger, and WinDbg are some of the better ones. .NET Reflector with Deblector is a great debugger for CLR executables

I often bounce between Firefox, IE, and Chrome. Firefox has many benefits, but is much more useful with FireBug/Firecookie/YSlow, All-in-One Gestures, Greasemonkey, and SwitchProxy (for Burp Suite)

Frank Forte Permalink
February 13, 2010, 22:23

FileZilla for sftp file transfer
Crimson Editor for html, php, xml, css and others.

Both are free.


endrju Permalink
February 14, 2010, 00:30

1) Try using Synergy+ instead of Synergy2.
2) Ghee, WinRAR is better how? (I would say that WinRAR doesn't come close to 7-Zip)

February 14, 2010, 01:37

Peter, never went anywhere really - just reading.. keep up the great work! =]

February 14, 2010, 01:51

Hm. I dont see the point to the total commander. Seems to me like a mixture of midnight commander and the old Win 3.1 file manager.

But ok, maybe that is like emacs - I often hear people ask me why I still use emacs, being more complicated than more modern IDEs. But well, I am satisfied with the Windows Explorer and the Cygwin Shell.

I use VirtualBox for Virtualization, and for most Linux-Related stuff Cygwin - also for ssh, scp, etc.

And two pieces of software I nearly always install are Avira AntiVir (having a virus scanner can provide additional security, even though it should mostly be useless) and GIMP.

Scott Permalink
February 14, 2010, 01:54

QTTabBar: Adds tabs and other features to explorer. I can't live without it.
taskix: Reorder taskbar buttons very light on memory

February 14, 2010, 01:59

Thanks, Ilker! :)

Ofer Goren Permalink
February 14, 2010, 07:32

You all forgot "ditto", a cool replacement, with history, to the clipboard. When editing number of files, you can't manage w/o it.

February 14, 2010, 08:24

Try this on windows :
and Loki Render for render farm with blender.

February 14, 2010, 09:13

i would also suggest following tools:

The best screenshot tool: FastStone Capture
IZArc is buggy so i prefer WinRAR too.
azzCardfile is very nice tool for your notes
WinMerge (diff tool)
dpasha (calculates a lot of different hash algorithms)
Notepad 2 (very nice, not bloated like notepad++)
Miranda IM (Instant Messenger)

February 14, 2010, 19:06

Nice and usefull list :)

Ive used Putty for many years but now I prefered KITTY a Putty fork with many new features have a look :)

The very first requested features:
Sessions filter
Shortcuts for pre-defined command
The session launcher
Automatic logon script

Technical features:
Automatic password
Automatic command
Running a locally saved script on a remote session

Graphical features:
An icon for each session
Send to tray
Protection against unfortunate keyboard input
Always visible
Quick start of a duplicate session
Config Box

Other features:
Automatic saving
SSH Handler: Internet Explorer integration
pscp.exe and WinSCP integration
Binary compression
Clipboard printing
The PuTTYCyg patch
Background image
New command-line options

A light chat server is hidden in KiTTY
A hidden text editor is integrated into KiTTY


February 14, 2010, 20:33

unix commands ports for windoz : (grep, wget, find ...)

chas Permalink
February 15, 2010, 06:02

For multiplatform tiool similar to Total commander have a look at MuComnmander - instead of relearning everything every time I swap platforms (midnight commander, total commander etc etc) - just one to get used to.

February 15, 2010, 07:29

Awesome Tools, I agree with most of the recommendations, but let me point out the ones I disagree with...

5. Cygwin is the devil. Powershell gives more power and compatibility for working on more.

11. Everything (it is a tool, not just saying everything) > locate32

14. FARR > Launchy

15. Ditto > ClipX

22. 7-Zip > WinRAR

24/25/26/27. VLC > *

++ Paint.NET
++ MingW
++ TeraCopy
++ Gimp
++ Audacity
++ Pidgin (IMs)

February 15, 2010, 07:33

Hey Peter,

MySQLFront is continued with the name: HeidiSQL.
Only the name of MySQLFront was sold.


February 15, 2010, 08:08

Total Commander runs under Wine quite nicely, BTW.

Martin Permalink
February 15, 2010, 08:53

My personal favorite

++ MonitorES
++ 1by1
++ ClipTray

serkan Permalink
February 15, 2010, 08:55

38. Navicat for MySQL
41. HxD
35. Infrarecorder

February 15, 2010, 09:23

Very nice list. Infact apps which should be installed just after your Windows Installation :)

I specially like:
1. Ditto and my shortcut to activate is "Ctrl + /"
2. Unlocker to unlock any process and USB
3. CCleaner
4. Revo Uninstaller
5. Firefox and a list of around 100+ plugins :)

I haven't tried FAR yet, must gonna give it a look.


Steven Permalink
February 15, 2010, 09:28

Alternative solution for Roboform is Sticky Password. I use it for a long time and I am very happy with it:

February 15, 2010, 15:45

TrueCrypt? Well if you want to be secure then you shouldn't use TrueCrypt. (vide bootkits & lack of TPM.)

February 15, 2010, 20:04

Great collectio. Thanks

Alex Permalink
February 16, 2010, 08:16

What's the aim of ssh-ing into Cygwin console on your XP destop? Why can't you run cygwin bash without it?

Guess I'm missing smth... :-)

February 16, 2010, 08:20

peter, you have a typo, "[...] Sysinterals are [...]". (omitted a char, i.e., 'n').
awesome (mostly freeware) software collection, we thank you.

February 16, 2010, 08:33

So this is my list:
- First of all: Cygwin full installation incl. apache, X-server, vi, awk, perl, exif, wget, rxvt, etc. (Free)
- Emacs together with cygwin (for awk-, perl-, C++-, Java-Development and the great EDiff) (Free)
- Notepad2 (Free)
- VLC to play almost every video (Free)
- SpamBayes Spam filter (together with Eudora or Outlook) (Free)
- Audacity for editing audio files (Free)
- Ethereal to sniff network packages (Free)
- Gimp for image manipulation (Free)
- Irfan View to view all kinds of images (Free)
- Image Magick for image batch processing (Free)
- PDFCreator to print to PDF files (Free)
- Winamp (oldest version available) (Free)
- Audiograbber to rip audio CDs (Free)
- Sequoia View to analyze disk usage!! (Free)
- RVD (Reflection Virtual desktop) (exe taken from a very old reflection CD) (still the best virtual desktop)
- DBVisualizer for DB Stuff (free version)
- plus own stuff

February 16, 2010, 10:02

looking forward to a more familiar x-like interactive interface, there is x-mouse (which brings mouse copy / paste, auto focus and raising / lowering windows), along with already mentioned autohotkey, with this script, providing improved window drag (while holding a custom key, e.g., meta, capslock, c).

February 16, 2010, 16:02

TortoiseCVS/SVN CVS or SVN client that integrates into explorer
Agent Ransack file searching, though I still end up using cygwin's egrep more often that not
(for dealing with remote desktop connections)

February 16, 2010, 16:16

Alex, because you need a good terminal emulator to work in a shell. Can't work in that crappy window that cygwin launches for shell.

February 16, 2010, 16:17

fdd, thanks, fixed!

February 16, 2010, 17:57

Cygwin works nicely in its rxvt for me.

February 16, 2010, 23:08

I prefer Find and Run Robot to Launchy
For PDF viewing I use PDF XChange Viewer
Fo mounting ISO files I use Gizmo
For dual pane file manager I use Xplorer2 lite

Alex Permalink
February 17, 2010, 13:16

Console2 - to replace windows "console", though it can't be compared with "real" ones.

Virtuawin - for multiple virtual desktops on windows. What is extra hot about it - keybindings to switch desktops/manage windows.

both use sourceforge as hosting (to make looking for them easier, can't post direct links right now)

February 17, 2010, 14:01

Hi, Peter!:) From freeware 7z is better than winrar :)

February 17, 2010, 15:20

VirtuaWin V3.0

VirtuaWin is a virtual window manager for Windows 9x/ME/NT/2000/XP with up to twenty desktops. It’s quick and easy to use with no fancy graphics, just an icon in the system tray indicating current desktop.

Nathan Permalink
February 18, 2010, 08:42

You had better switch immediately to linux and forget about all these software.
I am serious.

February 18, 2010, 10:41

@Nathan: He uses Linux already you numpty. Read the post, not just the list.

@Peter: I'm more of a fan of DiffMerge over BeyondCompare. Cost it the biggie there ;)

With Windows 7 I don't see a need for Launchy/etc given that the built-in menu tends to do well enough.

Thanks for the list.

February 18, 2010, 14:47

I totally forgot to mention another great set of useful tools, that you _must_ have along with Sysinternals Suite: NirSoft utilities, available recently also in nicely packed form as NirLauncher.

Nir Sofer's applications aren't as widely known as Mark Russinovich's and Bryce Cogswell's ones, but they surely deserve to be treated at least on a par with them.

Nathan Permalink
February 19, 2010, 07:26

Yes I know he is using Linux too.But maybe you should read carefully what he wrote :
I also happen to use Windows quite often. In fact, Windows is my primary desktop from which I connect to all the other boxes and do my work on.

If you’re really productive on Linux with your own set of tools, it’s perfectly fine and you have done a great job of finding the best tools of trade.
1. Total Commander.
I can’t imagine working on a computer without Total Commander. Absolutely must-have software. Total Commander is what separates boys from men. Total Commander is probably the #1 reason why I don’t use other operating system on my desktop.

Switch to linux Peter! You will never regret.

February 21, 2010, 09:35

the most must-have windows software is Adobe Photoshop. %).

February 21, 2010, 13:00

Perhaps you should mention which ones of these software is not only "freeware" or "free" but also Free and Open Source Software. You forgot to mention which web browser you use (as I don't think you use MSIE by default.

I have a list of my favourite FOSS software on my homepage. I use it mostly on Linux, but sometimes also on MS-Windows.

February 22, 2010, 15:24

I don't think I could live without Dropbox

February 23, 2010, 18:13

15. I use Transfz for my paste buffer. It integrates searching, word/char count and other handy plugins. And it's freeware.

bambam Permalink
February 24, 2010, 22:44

+1 for VLC

Michael Grant Permalink
February 26, 2010, 12:10

SuperCopier for copying files, replaces windows copier, faster, allows restarting and overwriting (free).
TightVNC (UltraVNC is ok, but prefer Tight, both free)
TeamViewer better than VNC but only free for non-commercial use.
Miranda multi-protocol messenger (free)
DropBox for file sharing / remote backup (free up to 2gb)
Cucku also for social backups between friends
FreeMind mind mapping (free)
Dia for making technical diagrams (free)
WinMerge for file compare (it's free)
MirrorFolder for raid like mirroring folders/disks (not free)
Audacity for audio (free)
Reaper too is an excellent audio tool too (not free but unlimited fully functional evaluation)
WireShark (tcpdump for windows, free)
Vuze bittorrent client (free)
and of course, Skype (free)

March 01, 2010, 21:13

VMware Workstation is not shareware. It's purely for pay software. But I agree with you, it's a great product.

March 08, 2010, 10:07

It's amazing how many programs I'm already using and how our opinions are so very close.

I'd like to add that Taskbar Shuffle is not needed anymore once you upgrade to Windows 7 (if you haven't yet) and that the best MySQL manager is hands down Navicat. You should really give it a go, seeing how our tastes in software are almost alike.

March 09, 2010, 18:51

JDiskFree - to figure out who's using up your harddisk

BareTail - Tail for Windows

Daemon Tools Lite - for mounting ISOs as virtual DVD drives

Password Safe - for password management

March 12, 2010, 07:21

Win SCP is fine as long as you are not using the actual SCP protocol...

"The standard implementation of SCP only uses SSH v1, which has been compromised and is no longer secure. Don't use it if you can avoid it. SFTP uses SSH v2."

For many of these items, they are not freeware, they are Free Open Source Software. There is a difference.

March 15, 2010, 17:20

- Filezilla is better than WinSCP (IMO).

- Unlocker is currently the best tool to unlock files in XP and/or W7.

- Foxit Reader is still faster than Sumatra PDF opening PDF Files.

Just my two cents regarding my personal experiences. Great list though!

Helder Rodrigues Permalink
March 16, 2010, 02:51


could you explain how you setup the ssh server in cygwin to use securecrt?
Also will it make the computer vulnerable to outside attacks?


Nathan Permalink
March 18, 2010, 20:22

You are using several applications in more difficult ways.

Example, SecureCRT.

It's easier to get what you want there using Poderosa/Cygwin.

Tabbed browsing, Free, Implementation with Cygwin.

Best of all worlds.

That's just one, of several examples.

Rich Permalink
March 20, 2010, 05:27

You hit a bunch that I agree with. Here's a few I haven't seen on the list or in comments yet:

- Download Studio
- Slysoft AnyDVD
- Fraps
- TMPGEnc Karma Plus
- Display Fusion
- Blender
- Handbrake + Haali Media Splitter
- DVDFab 6
- Tivo Desktop + DirectShow Dump Utility
- Daniu Digital Media converter pro

I guess this could be considered the 'give DRM the middle finger' selection.

April 13, 2010, 10:04

re: ssh to get shell

Have you tried mintty which ships with newer versions of Cygwin? Its xtermy but runs as a native Windows program.

Ajit Permalink
April 14, 2010, 05:09

Well.. hmm.. how to put it... I use GNU\Linux.
It's not shareware, it's not even freeware - it's free as in freedom. And it makes all the programs you use obsolete.

krishna Permalink
May 11, 2010, 05:13

Ajit, I agree with Vimal, you have true GNU\Linux spirit.

In my case I wanted to switch, but then I have to spend lot of time fixing all the drivers for gadgets that I have.. Sure it came long way,, where we have to mess around Grub for installations and get stuk, couldn't get Dual boot working,, later Dialup internet connections doesn't work, because driver is missing..

Even now its frustrating when it doesn't recognize even my USB drive. Still lot of popular software tools we all use doesn't work on Linux.

Ajit Permalink
April 14, 2010, 05:12

Oh, and by the way, if "you don't really productive" with tools available on GNU\Linux than you're horribly suck in elementary computer and learning skills and you shouldn't use any kind of computers in a first place.

Vimal Permalink
May 04, 2010, 22:47

Nice attitude. Keep in up. How old are you 10 ? 12 ?

Naseer Permalink
April 14, 2010, 09:21

If you use GNU screen, you could minimize the need for a tabbed SSH client.

Benet Permalink
April 15, 2010, 05:39

If you use Outlook then Lookeen is a great add-on!!
The fastest search for Outlook I have tried!

presto Permalink
April 29, 2010, 06:13

Nice one, thanks for sharing. I also recommend vlc as reliable media player.

David Permalink
May 30, 2010, 17:33

Thanks for the tips. It's not Windows-specific, but I prefer the free PrintWhatYouLike bookmarklet to FinePrint.

June 27, 2010, 14:40

Thanks for the list, I found quite a few new interesting picks from it.

For video playback, I find VLC better than MPC. And for locating files, have you tried Everything (yes, that is the name of tool). Really, really fast!

Wrong labeling "licences" Permalink
July 07, 2010, 06:34


Your license at the end of the software presented is NOT always correct, for example SumatraPDF is "free/libre software" NOT freeware, and there are other programs in your list, which use the WRONG license name.

Please change it accordingly. Read the following:



July 26, 2010, 16:09

There are many excellent choices in the above list, and I use quite a few of them. I use all the software on this page as well:

Note: Some program installers try to add pesky web browser toolbars and free virus scanners, so make sure you shut them off to eliminate extra junk. I dislike program installers that do this because what is expected is that the installers are to install the program I downloaded (anything else should be optional but turned off by default, not turned on by default).

Dingo Permalink
August 11, 2010, 05:10

I have another recommendation for an all-mighty tool:
TriX -
It is a small portable application which provides dozens of features.
Some of its features: fast sharing and publishing on the leading web services (blogger, facebook, emails and more), built-in rich text editor, text formats (upper, lower and many other) and more.
Give it a try - You'll love it!

yan Permalink
August 20, 2010, 06:14

Concerning MPC/Real|Quicktime Alternative, I would not recommend them: I installed them in 2006/2007 on 2 XP laptops... and uninstall (I now only use VLC) screw several windows components: WMI, windows update... maybe more.

No solution from microsoft help database concerning reported error nb worked and reinstall the machine from a previous dd save was the only solution... and avoid to supress them in future.

Donna I-W Permalink
October 04, 2010, 16:26

Really nice. Thx much!
I can't do without:
Avira Antivir

And they are all free

Glenn D'costa Permalink
October 17, 2010, 04:02

I think you must take back what you said regarding SQLyog or at least qualify it. It's a great app and has been a life safer on many occasions.

valery Permalink
March 18, 2011, 18:34

Thanks for this list! I have some of these apps (1, 19, 25,..). One time I tried Sumatra for rare jobs with PDFs. It's good for simple reading PDFs. With the lapse of time I've needed a simple and cost-effective product for different works with PDFs. Anyway, for me, PDF-XChange Viewer is most feature rich alternative to Acrobat around at the moment. PDF-XChange Viewer is faster and has intelligible interface and has many features to work with pdf-files, such as page thumbnails, stamp tool, sticky tool, adding comments, multilanguage support for User Interface etc. It also offers support for XFA PDF form files. I can put restrictions on the use of system memory in percentage points. It doesn’t prevent to remain just as fast. So, I wholeheartedly recommend alternative to 19. Sumatra - 19.1 PDF-XChange Viewer.

Camy TR Permalink
April 29, 2011, 20:37

Ok, Valery. I'll take notice of it. I just look for the pdf-reader Free like PDF-XChange.

AAhugh3684 Permalink
July 11, 2011, 03:53

I use 7 loader simple 5 step process download (new windows 7 activator 2010) its a zip file. here is how you do it my fellow friends.

For Non Activated Windows 7 Users, Do The Following.


Run The "7Loader Release 5.exe" file Click Select Task

Here You Can Either Choose To Let Your PC Have The Name Of A Brand.

Select The "Please Select" Dropdown Windows and Choose Any Brand Name That You Want Your Computer To Show.. Example : Acer,Dell,alienware Biostar ECT.

Then Click "Activate slic Present" And Wait (Be Patient While It Works) Then another Window Will Pop Up .. Just Choose anything.

Afterward Click "Install information 32bit" Or "Install information 64Bit" Depending On Your Operating System.

Now Hit The "Hazar Option 2" Button ... Wait Till Finished Then restart Your Pc.

AAhugh3684 Permalink
July 11, 2011, 04:01

oh another one is windows 7 anytime activator.both those files this one and the last one are free.

with windows activator just go to start hit run, type in anytime, click have key, then (hopefully by now you have downlaoaded and opened the file) if not do that, after that open the zip file and hit generate on the windows you want, easier to close all back ground programs goes faster...

I would do this before the above program

AAhugh3684 Permalink
July 11, 2011, 04:06

anytime upgrade website:

activator website:

both are safe and work I use them

mohit Permalink
August 13, 2011, 11:08

Peter, Is Sumatra PDF still your choice, or you had replaced it?

August 14, 2011, 18:58

It is still my choice!

Levi Permalink
January 10, 2012, 15:35

??? 7 Zip ???

zarkann Permalink
April 08, 2012, 04:13

+1 to total commander

ifunbox also if you want to interact with your iphone, ipod etc..

Sentin Permalink
September 17, 2012, 18:17

> Total Commander is probably the #1 reason why I don't use other operating system on my desktop.
In Windows I use Total Commander, in Linux I use... Krusader!

This is a fast animated show of its capabilities

And you can customize Krusader to behave like Total Commander

denis Permalink
January 04, 2014, 10:25

Take a look on a free tool -- Valentina Studio. Amazing product! IMO this is the best manager for SQLite for all platforms.

Jordan Permalink
February 28, 2014, 14:00

I'm currently using dbForge Studio to work with MySQL.
This is the best MySQL GUI tool I've ever tested for my projects.

March 24, 2014, 10:53

Thank's for bringing up old and new useful programs and utilities.I had great time going through, and learn new things. Can I recommend one of my post here :

j7n Permalink
April 01, 2016, 13:28

Harsh words about FTP. Total Commander's client has gotten very good recently. FileZilla Server is dependable when Windows built-in SMB file sharing fails, and it is very fast. The author has gotten over eager with updates, broken compatibility with old OS and forced SSL, and I won't be updating to new versions.

I maintain that certain appliactions do not benefit from overzealous "security" and performance hit. I use FTP regularly at home, for example.

I use many programs from your list. Here are some more of my picks.

There programs are efficient and have Windows-native feel (as opposed to linuxy or web-based). $ denotes price, no mark if license not enforced or nothing of value in the paid version. Version mentioned if the product has later deteriorated.

Registry Workshop (small, advanced registry editor $)
AIDA64 / Everest (system and pci device information $)
ERUNT (registry backup)
fat32format, mkdosfs (large FAT32 volumes, align to sectors)
WinHex (professional hex editor, file recovery $$)
EmEditor (text editor, older versions, v7 and earlier $)
Resource Hacker FX (PE editor - resources)
PEditor & Stud_PE (PE editor - headers)
NirSoft (many small technical utilities)
REAPER (multitrack digital audio workstation $)
Sound Forge (versions 6-7, precise stereo editor $$)
CDWave (for splitting audio files w/o editing $)
iZotope RX2 (audio editor with focus on restoration $$)
CDex, Exact Audio Copy (CD rippers)
Mp3DirectCut (mp3 stream editor)
foobar2000 (advanced audio player and batch processor)
Winamp (classic audio player)
Weiss Saracon (audio SRC, deserves mention for its UI $$$)
SoX (cli based audio processor, good spectrograms)
frontah (customisable frontend for audio encoders, sox)
mIRC (chat client $)
Adobe Photoshop CS2 (now freeware)
IrfanView (I prefer it for scanning, resampling and jpeg)
FastStone Image Viewer (more options than IV, unicode)
JPEGcrop (jpeg stream editor, cropping, rotation)
PDFX-Change Viewer (PDF viewer, 'moderate' size)
7-Zip (great if you need a large dictionary)
Inno Setup (installation package creator, compressor)
Universal Extractor (collection of installer unpackers)
DosBox (MS-DOS PC emulator, with focus on gaming)
Hiren's Boot CD (v9 and 10, includes live XP CD)
Daemon Tools (CD emulator, older versions v3 v4)
FileZilla Server (FTP server v0.9.42)
FileZilla (client, very fast, v3.5)
µTorrent (torrent client, v2)
Opera (web browser, v12)

Ian Permalink
June 27, 2016, 06:21

FTP Manager Lite is one of the best free FTP and SFTP client software. The clean interface is super easy to use. It will perform your files transfers quickly and efficiently. It also supports FXP for superfast server to server transfers. It is perfect for backups or synchronizing servers.

Alan Permalink
August 03, 2016, 13:26

1. SnagIT - Screen capture software with beautiful interface, integrated editor, supporting direct io driver (playback) recording works without crashes and provides variety of different objects to record such as element, game, full screen, picture tracking..

2. Nexus Image Viewer - Very fast, unique and beautiful image viewer

3. Musescore - For musicians and compositors, very powerful, fast and easy-to-use program for creating scores. Large community, supporting all instruments in the world, supports MIDI output and what not

4. Score cloud - Very modern program that listens to your microphone and creates a score from it by analyzing pitch. But this is far from what it can do.

5. Fruity Loops - It is now known to be the best workstation for professional music creation and editing(EDITING - Audaicty beats it in simplicity).

6. AOMEI partition assistant - the only well-made partition manager.

7. Potplayer - After getting tired of all media players you have changed and you use, that one often becomes the last.

8. Lazarus IDE - Super powerful Object Pascal IDE using the FPC compiler that aims at complete cross-platform porting support so that you can directly use the software anywhere.

9. Pidgin - Wonderful problematic-less chat client (written in in GTK+) It is the default chat client for Linux

10. AndyOS - Android Operation system designed to run on PC machines.
Emulated with virtual box.

Kevin Stone Permalink
September 29, 2018, 08:18

It would have been perfect if you'd have made a distinction between Free Software and Freeware.

Leave a new comment

(why do I need your e-mail?)

(Your twitter handle, if you have one.)

Type the word "security_188": (just to make sure you're a human)

Please preview the comment before submitting to make sure it's OK.