Scott Hanselman

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

March 31, 2009 Comment on this post [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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March 31, 2009 4:42
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!
March 31, 2009 4:50
Neither of those utilities are really needed with the multimonitor hotkey and "aero snap" features of Windows 7.
March 31, 2009 5:07
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)

March 31, 2009 5:11
are you using an anti-virus?
March 31, 2009 5:42
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.
March 31, 2009 5:45
Yes, I use eTrust.
March 31, 2009 6:18
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?
March 31, 2009 7:24
Reflector. I use this thing every day.
March 31, 2009 8:02
Nice list! Opera, Adobe Reader, Virtual PC, and Excel would be on my list, too.
March 31, 2009 8:42
I might add/suggest
- Reflector (also per @Rick Brewster)
- SlickRun

March 31, 2009 8:48
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
March 31, 2009 10:57
I could not download Prish Image Resizer
March 31, 2009 12:38
March 31, 2009 12:57
Hi Scott,

Try Shuriken for launching your apps. It is hosted on codeplex :)
March 31, 2009 13:07
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.
March 31, 2009 13:17
Lately i added Enso app launcher ( to my personal list.
March 31, 2009 14:53
Scott, I'm very disappointed that you didn't include Microsoft Bob in your list.
March 31, 2009 15:51

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

.. Ken
March 31, 2009 16:42
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?
March 31, 2009 17:21
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
March 31, 2009 17:31
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.
March 31, 2009 17:32
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.
March 31, 2009 18:23
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.
March 31, 2009 18:43
Where's the download link to Windows 7 x64 Ultimate?

March 31, 2009 19:11
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.
March 31, 2009 19:43
Another nice FTP program that is free is CORE FTP Lite.
March 31, 2009 19:51
Weird! Try this link for the Prish resizers, it's his direct SkyDrive account:

March 31, 2009 19:56

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.
March 31, 2009 19:58
I rarely need to do that much DB work, and when I do, I have a DB dude do it.
March 31, 2009 20:40
I see FileZilla as a superior FTP Client that is also free!
March 31, 2009 20:45
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)

March 31, 2009 20:58

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).
March 31, 2009 21:01
It's nice to see this. I have just yesterday blogged about the core components of my development environment at
March 31, 2009 21:15
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?
March 31, 2009 21:15
Great list, Scott. The only additional super-tiny but ever-useful tool I'd add is PureText. Windows+V pastes sanitized/unformatted text anywhere.
March 31, 2009 22:02
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.
March 31, 2009 22:12
Adam - jZip installed plugins and toolsbars without asking, and it changed my browser home page. *EVIL.*
March 31, 2009 22:37
+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?
March 31, 2009 23:00
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.
March 31, 2009 23:28
Where did you get the non-beta Windows 7?
or are you expecting to re-install the OS when it's released?
March 31, 2009 23:58
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.

April 01, 2009 0:21
A few questions: Why Notepad2 instead of Notepad++; why VLC instead of MPlayer; and why SmartFTP instead of Filezilla?
April 01, 2009 2:19
Sorry to ask this here. Where can i find mvc documentation.
April 01, 2009 11:17
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 :)
April 01, 2009 17:12
Antivirus? Ew! Waste of cpu
April 01, 2009 19:49
@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.
April 02, 2009 0:43
No CodeRush? I'm a ReSharper guy myself, but I'm surprised you went with the Express SKUs.
April 02, 2009 5:24
You left out one of the greatest screensavers ever made...

( shameless plug... )
April 02, 2009 12:22
@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.
April 02, 2009 20:12
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.
April 05, 2009 22:53
any particular reason why you went with Win7 vs Win2k8R2 ?
April 07, 2009 21:42
Scott, why the Express versions of VWD? Why not visual studio 2008?
April 09, 2009 2:12
Scott, I've installed jzip on lots of computers and never had it do any of those thing! Which version did you install?
April 09, 2009 3:43
April 09, 2009 18:04
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?
April 14, 2009 11:37
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!
April 19, 2009 15:29

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
April 24, 2009 0:20
You _must_ have Textpad and Cygwin.
May 07, 2009 11:58
very nices article.
May 27, 2009 12:28
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.