Scott Hanselman

Paving my machine for a fresh 2009 - First-Pass Must-Haves

March 31, '09 Comments [62] Posted in Tools
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Back in 2006 I paved (or "formatted", or "torched", or "gave "a technical enema") to my main machine and blogged about the what I call the first-pass software I installed on this new fresh machine.

It was time to torch my Atwood Quadpower machine and name it Quadpower7. Time for a clean install, and this time it includes Windows 7 x64 Ultimate.

I know I have a Tools List (that I know needs to be updated, thank you) but what I needed on this new machine was to be as productive as possible as fast as possible. I needed the 80% stuff installed. 

First-Pass Must-Have Apps for a Fresh Machine and a Happy Life

Here's what I installed. Total time from naked drive to productive was about 4 hours. Could have been faster had I downloaded things ahead of time or used CDs.

Windows Utils

  • 7-Zip - Best Zip Tool with the best shell integration.
  • AutoHotkey and the AutoCorrect for English Script - This will change "teh" to "the" everywhere I type. Plus 4700 other common English misspellings.
  • SmartFTP - Love them and gave them money. Got the 64-bit version.
  • Paint.NET - The best free Image Editor in town. Thanks Rick Brewster!
  • Prish Image Resizer - If there's one secret super amazing gem in this list, it's Prish. After I pave my wife's machine this is the ONLY util she insists on. She refuses to even touch the machine - "Is Prish on? No? Don't talk to me." Go get it and bask in the wonder of this glorious little app that's hard to find on the web. Gotta get this man a domain name.
  • Notepad2 3.0 - It's like notepad, but 2. Er, 3.0.

Developer Stuff

Easiest and fastest way to get productive is to use the Web Platform Installer. It also configures IIS, installs VS and SQL, and can install Silverlight tools, etc. if you like. This tool alone saves me HOURS each time I pave a machine.

Organizational Stuff

Blogging Stuff

  • Windows Live Writer - I love this team and I love their product. Also installed the Pre-Code Plugin for my code samples.
  • SnagIt and WindowClippings - SnagIt because their image editor is butter, and WindowClippings because it's amazing with transparency.
  • FeedDemon - I know you guys are all Google Reader and all, but I really prefer to read my blogs in a REAL client. FeedDemon's awesome, it's free, and it's written in Delphi. What's not to like? 

Social Stuff

  • TweetDeck - My current Twitter power-client of choice.
  • Zune - Because the Zune Pass kicks ass, as does Jazmine Sullivan.
  • Messenger - Cuz you gotta chat.
  • Skype and ooVoo - The former so I can talk cheap around the world, and the latter so I can video chat with up to 6 other people in 640x480 high res.

Pretty Stuff

  • Mike Swanson's Windows 7 Theme Pack - Some of Mike's best images for my wallpaper, auto-updating every 30 minutes.
  • VLC Player - For playing any video that I don't feel like getting a Codec for. (Which is fewer and fewer as there's lots of codecs included in Win7.)

And there you go. That was it. There's other stuff, but it's part of the 20% and I'll install them as I need them.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Tuesday, 31 March 2009 00:42:27 UTC
Two your're missing that I consider must haves (though I don't know if these work with Windows 7 at the moment):

WinSplit Revolution: an absolute must for anyone with a widescreen monitor bigger than 20 inches.
UltraMon: mandatory for a machine with multiple monitors.

Multiple monitors >20 inches? Get both!
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 00:50:21 UTC
Neither of those utilities are really needed with the multimonitor hotkey and "aero snap" features of Windows 7.
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 01:07:55 UTC
My list if very similar, but with the difference that I use Directory Opus (guide) as a windows explorer replacement. Took me a bit to get used to it & customise to my likings, but once you do, there's no going back. It has built in S/FTP client and great image-related features (including resizing, conventions and quality options) so I don't use SmartFTP or the Prish Image Resizer.

Apart from those, pretty much the same. Oh, I do use both One Note and Evernote, can't decide with which to stick yet.

- F

(apologies if I double-committed this post, OpenID is having a blast on my account)

Tuesday, 31 March 2009 01:11:02 UTC
are you using an anti-virus?
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 01:42:41 UTC
Hi Scott - I have an almost identical machine:
Q6600 @ 3.0GHz (Only mine is a G0 stepping making the OC a little easier)
8GB DDR2-800
10k RPM VelociRaptor for my C:\
320GB + 1TB for Data
Nvidia 9600GT

I was wondering if you could share your WEI scores once you get Windows 7 loaded, as well as general opinions on performance compared to Vista.
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 01:45:24 UTC
Yes, I use eTrust.
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 02:18:31 UTC
I had no idea about the multimonitor hotkey, THANKS!!!!

In XP I was using the nvidia utilities before and assigned CTRL-1,2, and 3 for my left, center, and right monitors. Is there anyway to assign specific key combo for each monitor so I can have CTRL-1 move the window to the left screen?
Brian Boatright
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 03:24:43 UTC
Reflector. I use this thing every day.
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 04:02:18 UTC
Nice list! Opera, Adobe Reader, Virtual PC, and Excel would be on my list, too.
Joe Chung
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 04:42:06 UTC
I might add/suggest
- Reflector (also per @Rick Brewster)
- SlickRun

Tuesday, 31 March 2009 04:48:47 UTC
I used SlickRun back on XP and it rocked, with Vista however I rarely use it anymore because of the built-in command prompt in the start menu.

Just hit Windows key and start typing.

But if you're using complex scripts that start multiple applications/browsers, then yeah, stick with SlickRun
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 06:57:48 UTC
I could not download Prish Image Resizer
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 08:38:41 UTC
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 08:57:08 UTC
Hi Scott,

Try Shuriken for launching your apps. It is hosted on codeplex :)
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 09:07:59 UTC
i personally prefer textpad just for the block select though i still get all kinds of upset at the abuse of the MS Ordained search key combo. i am also having issues getting mysql server to run but i am greatly enjoying norton 360 3.0 and i am almost tempted to trade my 300 days of norton internet security for 665 days of norton 360. any idea how much the final version of windows 7 will cost for an upgrade from windows xp pro?
i also install ultramon for the second taskbar then i also get the ubercool fliqlo screensaver.
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 09:17:34 UTC
Lately i added Enso app launcher ( to my personal list.
Van den Eede Wesley
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 10:53:48 UTC
Scott, I'm very disappointed that you didn't include Microsoft Bob in your list.
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 11:51:33 UTC

Curious about the use of the Express SKUs for Visual Studio - why not the full versions ??

.. Ken
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 12:42:37 UTC
Do you have tasks in Outlook? If so, how do you keep your Remember The Milk tasks in synch with Outlook, other than manually updating tasks in two places?
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 13:21:50 UTC
I'm sure a lot of people are going to post their tools, but I figure I'll at least do the one I can't live without...

ClipX -- clipboard manager that is beyond awesome
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 13:31:12 UTC
Hi Scott,
Nice list!, check out this freeware list at Freeware Genius very handy.
Another outstanding list it's top 46 freeware at Gizmo tech support.
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 13:32:36 UTC
I don't understand how people can use 7-zip, especially with great alternatives like jZip. It uses the 7zip engine, but has a user interface that doesn't make me want to stab myself in the face.
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 14:23:26 UTC
Responding to Joe Chung:

Not a knock but how can anyone use Adobe Reader anymore??? Its slow and clunky and I'm tired of it trying to update it self every other day on my pc AND not terminating as a process when I close it out. I HATE opening taskmgr and seeing it sitting there all smug using up my resources!!! Foxit Reader seems much more efficient and granted I have to updated it on my own but still.... Just my $0.02.
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 14:43:59 UTC
Where's the download link to Windows 7 x64 Ultimate?

Tuesday, 31 March 2009 15:11:42 UTC
I hoped to use Prish to resize my recent photos to fit properly into our Photo Frame, unfortunately the 32 Bit version download is broken.
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 15:43:42 UTC
Another nice FTP program that is free is CORE FTP Lite.
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 15:51:54 UTC
Weird! Try this link for the Prish resizers, it's his direct SkyDrive account:

Tuesday, 31 March 2009 15:56:07 UTC

Why not use SQL Server 2008 developer edition instead of Express? You get more tools like reporting, analysis and notification services plus the Profiler and tuning advisor. Plus more.
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 15:58:54 UTC
I rarely need to do that much DB work, and when I do, I have a DB dude do it.
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 16:40:32 UTC
I see FileZilla as a superior FTP Client that is also free!
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 16:45:51 UTC
Hello Scott,
Talking about tools, whats the name of the utility you used in MIX for presentation that has zooms and making boxes while presenting. (Awesome sessions btw)

Tuesday, 31 March 2009 16:58:22 UTC

I'm curious about the included codecs with Windows 7. Do you know if the FLAC audio codec is supported (or a DirectShow filter included), and if Windows Media Player and/or Media Center will now be able to understand FLAC metadata and add those files to the media library?

Right now you have to use a WMP plugin like WMPTagSupportExtender to get media library support for other audio file types (other than wma/mp3). And this only partially works due to limitations with WMP (Year info is read-only and cannot be set by plugins, seeking doesn't work/track length is unknown).
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 17:01:56 UTC
It's nice to see this. I have just yesterday blogged about the core components of my development environment at
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 17:15:10 UTC
Hi Scott! You use FeedDemon to read their blogs. And to read your emails you use Microsoft Outlook or read directly in Gmail (Google Apps)? You use the Windows client of Evernote? And Remember The Milk?
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 17:15:47 UTC
Great list, Scott. The only additional super-tiny but ever-useful tool I'd add is PureText. Windows+V pastes sanitized/unformatted text anywhere.
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 18:02:45 UTC
Wow, nobody has mentioned an ISO mounter?

I am saddened to learn that Windows 7 doesn't have a basic ISO mounter included, but rather an ISO burn command in the shell menu.

I would suggest DaemonTools. It's a little spammy with its sneaky toolbar if you don't catch it during the install. Any others out there that are quality? Alcohol 120?

ImgBurn all the way for burning your ISOs. I'd love to scratch one program off my list if Windows 7's ISO burner is good enough. Yes, I know it's been there for a while.

I am looking forward to scratching Nero off my installation list.
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 18:12:57 UTC
Adam - jZip installed plugins and toolsbars without asking, and it changed my browser home page. *EVIL.*
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 18:37:46 UTC
+1 to update the Ultimate Tools List. Besides, it's good link bait, so you could actually buy a licensed copy of Office :)

Still using SharedView?
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 19:00:02 UTC
The stuff I mentioned is developer centric, not DBA centric. So you have a DB guy who creates reports, cubes, cache invalidation :) etc whenever you need one? Just wondering about the second part of your reply.
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 19:28:32 UTC
Where did you get the non-beta Windows 7?
or are you expecting to re-install the OS when it's released?
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 19:58:50 UTC
For mounting ISOs, rather than using Daemon Tools with it's crufty install, Virtual CloneDrive is an excellent, free alternative.

Also, what build of Windows 7 are you using for this config? I'm considering moving off of my Vista machine to a Win7 Beta 1 box (or one of the newer Connect releases) but I'm wary of having to repave the machine in short order once the RC is available.

Ben Mounsey
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 20:21:37 UTC
A few questions: Why Notepad2 instead of Notepad++; why VLC instead of MPlayer; and why SmartFTP instead of Filezilla?
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 22:19:07 UTC
Sorry to ask this here. Where can i find mvc documentation.
Wednesday, 01 April 2009 07:17:55 UTC
JZip was sneaky about the toolbar and homepage (and that "promotion" flag that probably embeds an advertisement in your compressed files!) BUT if you're paranoid like me and ALWAYS use the "expert" installation option (or whatever) you catch that stuff.

Turns out that if you managed to bypass the revenue generation it's a pretty cool pretification for 7zip, but I've only played with it for 10min :)
Wednesday, 01 April 2009 13:12:53 UTC
Antivirus? Ew! Waste of cpu
Wednesday, 01 April 2009 15:49:41 UTC
@Tim - also hate Adobe PDF Reader... will try Foxit Reader
@Mike Swanson +1 for PureText :-) That's right up there on any new box for me.
Wednesday, 01 April 2009 20:43:19 UTC
No CodeRush? I'm a ReSharper guy myself, but I'm surprised you went with the Express SKUs.
Thursday, 02 April 2009 01:24:16 UTC
You left out one of the greatest screensavers ever made...

( shameless plug... )
Thursday, 02 April 2009 08:22:08 UTC
@Fernando Thanks for the tip to Directory Opus - you've just made my computer a better world. Excellent product. Tried Total Commander a while back but just couldn't get into it. Opus is brilliant.
Thursday, 02 April 2009 16:12:40 UTC
I forgot to mention before my plug, if you're doing any sort of binary file work, HxD is awesome. I was writing a .NET translator for an application's data files at work and this program saved my life, especially with the comparison feature.

Also, Expresso is great for Regex testing.
Sunday, 05 April 2009 18:53:35 UTC
any particular reason why you went with Win7 vs Win2k8R2 ?
Tuesday, 07 April 2009 17:42:41 UTC
Scott, why the Express versions of VWD? Why not visual studio 2008?
Wednesday, 08 April 2009 22:12:00 UTC
Scott, I've installed jzip on lots of computers and never had it do any of those thing! Which version did you install?
Wednesday, 08 April 2009 23:43:30 UTC
Thursday, 09 April 2009 14:04:52 UTC
ok, one more thing.... I see Scott is loading Win7 as his dev environment. I am reluctant to do this because once retail comes out, it usually means a total rebuild. Will there be a way to convert a RC/beta to retail without losing everything?
Sunday, 12 April 2009 19:26:32 UTC
Tuesday, 14 April 2009 07:37:19 UTC
Am I the only one using fast and freeware Irfanview to view, batch resize, batch rename, batch convert images?

No one has mentioned it yet!
Sunday, 19 April 2009 11:29:52 UTC

I've been finding some of the Live services really Live Mesh, even in it's beta. My SVN folders, My Favorites,etc. are syncronized between my various machines by using it.

Would you consider it might worth hitting your list?

C. Marius
Thursday, 23 April 2009 20:20:12 UTC
You _must_ have Textpad and Cygwin.
David B. Bitton
Thursday, 07 May 2009 07:58:33 UTC
very nices article.
Wednesday, 27 May 2009 08:28:23 UTC
Hi Scott, thanks for sharing your gadget list. Recently I created one, too, and was wondering what would be the best way of managing this data given the fact that I might change and update my list. Currently, I am quite happy with blist as it allows me to easily share multiple views of the very same data effortlessly at my blog's linklist. And btw, Prish really is nice :-)
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.