My favorite applications (for Windows)

02 April 2010

For the last ten years, I was continuously looking for applications helping me to efficiently get things done on my computer. I find it difficult to find applications that really please me, as there are so many of them. I found out that the best way for finding good, user friendly and often free apps is by reading favorite applications listings. Those helped me a lot, so I thought it might be helpful to publish my own. I've included only the applications of which I am 100% happy, and I did my utmost to avoid excessive use of superlatives.

Note that I'm working on Windows (currently Windows Vista), so most of the software listed below will only run on Microsoft Windows.


  • jEdit (free), a text editor with support for a multitude of text formats (such as HTML, XML, C++, etc.). There are two essential plugins: RecentBufferSwitcher allows you to switch easily between the most recently used files (think of Windows' alt-tab functionality), and OpenIt allows you to rapidly open a file by name. Together with these two plugins, I use it for editing my task lists.
  • Firefox (free), a simple and lightweight web browser.
  • Autohotkey (free), a tool for remapping keyboard commands. I use it for example to disable the capslock key, to look up a selected text in Google, for quick-lauch shortcuts for applications I frequently use, for quickly writing the current date, etc...
  • MediaCoder (free), an audio and video transcoder application that has support for virtually every multimedia file format.
  • IrfanView (free), a fast and lightweight image viewer that can read almost every file format.
  • IZArc (free), a file compression tool that supports virtually every file archive format.
  • Comodo Firewall (free), a simple but powerful Firewall.
  • WinSplit (free), a tool to quickly move and resize windows on screen. This is very handy to ensure texts are never displayed with too much words per line.
  • SMPlayer (free), a video player that supports almost every file format.
  • Autoruns (free), a tool that shows a comprehensive list of all applications that are started upon Windows startup.
  • MediaMonkey (free), a user friendly audio player. Its number one feature is that it makes the file system transparent: when you move a song from one folder to another in the song catalog, it is also moved on the underlying file system.
  • Visual Studio (expensive, but there is a free edition), a software development IDE for ao. C++ and C#.
  • Exact Audio Copy (free), an audio CD copier.
  • TTCalc (free), a lightweight calculator application.
  • FeedDemon (free), an RSS newsreader application.
  • Open Office (free), a free alternative to Microsoft's office.
  • WinAlarm (free), an alarm and reminder application.
  • Duplicate Cleaner (free), finds duplicate files on your hard drive and lets you easily remove them.
  • ExactFile (free) calculates hash values of your files. This is very helpful for checking the integrity of backups.
  • Lingoes (free), a multi-language dictionary application.
  • John’s Background Switcher (free) changes your desktop background image every now and then.
  • VirtualBox (free), a virtual machine controller.
  • Wireshark (free), a network packet sniffer.


  • XYplorer (50€), a replacement for Windows Explorer. It is fast, extensive and has user friendly search functionality. It has very good "favorite directories" features, remembers a lot of "recently used" things, is very customizable. It even has timestamps that can be expressed as age (for example "3 days old").
  • Second copy 2000 (30$), a reliable, simple and yet versatile backup tool.
  • Fineprint 2000 5.31 (50$), a print preview application, which makes sure you know in advance what your printer will output.
  • Beyond Compare (50$), a file and directory comparison tool.


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