Scott Hanselman

Scott Hanselman's 2009 Ultimate Developer and Power Users Tool List for Windows

September 02, 2009 Comment on this post [137] Posted in Tools
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Tweet This!Everyone collects utilities, and most folks have a list of a few that they feel are indispensable.  Here's mine.  Each has a distinct purpose, and I probably touch each at least a few times a week.  For me, util means utilitarian and it means don't clutter my tray.  If it saves me time, and seamlessly integrates with my life, it's the bomb. Many/most are free some aren't. Those that aren't free are very likely worth your 30-day trial, and perhaps your money.

Here are most of the contents of my C:\UTILS folder. These are all well loved and used.  I wouldn't recommend them if I didn't use them constantly. Things on this list are here because I dig them. No one paid money to be on this list and no money is accepted to be on this list.

Personal Plug: Discover more cool tools and programming tips on my weekly Podcast with Carl Franklin - Hanselminutes (Podcast Feed/Podcast Archives) - "Our show is guaranteed not to waste your time. Free free to listen in double speed and waste half as much."

This is the Updated for 2009 Version of my 2003, 2005, 2006, and 2007 List, and currently subsumes all my other lists. Link to when referencing the latest Hanselman Ultimate Tools List. Feel free to get involved here in the comments, post corrections, or suggestions for future submissions. I very likely made mistakes, and probably forgot a few utilities that I use often.

  • New Entries to the 2009 Ultimate Tools are in Red. There are dozens of additions and many updated and corrected entries and fixed links. I started doing this list for SIX YEARS which is like 42 internet years ago. I've also removed some older stuff that no long matters in 2009.
  • Japanese Translation: Yasushi Aoki has translated the 2009 Tools List to Japanese! You can find it here 訳: 青木靖.
NOTE: Please don't reproduce this in its entirety, I'd rather you link to I appreciate your enthusiasm, but posts like this take a lot of work on my part and I'd appreciate that work staying where it is and linked to, rather than being copy/pasted around the 'net. If you're reading this content and you're not at, perhaps you'd like to join us at the original URL?

The Big Ten Life and Work-Changing Utilities

"But these go to eleven..." - Nigel Tufnel

  • SharedView - There's a lot of screensharing utilities out there. There's even Remote Assistance built into Windows. But when you need 15 people to share your screen, each with their own mouse, you want it to work over firewalls and you want it free, there's SharedView.
    • Here's some alternatives: CrossLoop is a nice little screen sharing system, based on VNC, that punches through firewalls, much like, but it's free.
  • AutoHotKey - This little gem is bananas. It's a tiny, amazingly fast free open-source utility for Windows. It lets you automate everything from keystrokes to mice. Programming for non-programmers. It's a complete automation system for Windows without the frustration of VBScript. This is the Windows equivalent of AppleScript for Windows. (That's a very good thing.)
    • Make sure you get the "AutoCorrect for English" script on the Other Download page. It's got 4700 common English Misspellings. It gives you autocorrect everywhere in Windows. Every program, always. It's just the tip of the iceberg.
  • Paint.NET - The Paint Program that Microsoft forgot, written in .NET. If you like to live on the edge, go get the Paint.NET 3.5 Alpha build with enhanced Windows 7 features.
  • Fiddler - The easy, clean, and powerful debugging proxy for checking out HTTP between here and there. It even supports sniffing SSL traffic.
  • PowerShell - The full power of .NET, WMI and COM all from a command line. PowerShell has a steep learning curve, much like the tango, but oh, my, when you really start dancing...woof. I also use PowerShell Prompt Here. It's built into Windows 7, by the way.
    • I also recommend after installing PowerShell that you immediately go get PowerTab to enable amazing "ANSI-art" style command-line tab completion.
    • Next, go get the PowerShell Community Extensions to add dozens of useful commands to PowerShell.
    • If you're willing to pay (and wait a little) keep an eye on PowerShell Plus. Certainly not required, but very shiny.
  • Windows 7 - I almost didn't put this on the list, but let's be serious. Windows Vista was death by a thousand tiny cuts. Windows 7 fixes all these little nits and adds hundreds more little gems. I discover something pleasant and useful every day.
  • Evernote and RememberTheMilk - These two apps manage notes and todos and they do it in an elegant and cross platform way. Evernote works on the Mac, Windows, iPhone, Palm Pre, Windows Mobile and BlackBerry and your notes live in the cloud. Remember The Milk is your todos any way you like them, from Google Calendar, Twitter, BlackBerry and Bookmarklets.
  • 7-Zip - It's over and 7zip won. Time to get on board. The 7z format is fast becoming the compression format that choosey hardcore users choose. You'll typically get between 2% and 10% better compression than ZIP. This app integrates into Windows Explorer nicely and opens basically EVERYTHING you could ever want to open from TARs to ISOs, from RARs to CABs.
  • SysInternals - I want to call out specifically ProcExp and AutoRuns, but anything Mark and Bryce do is pure gold. ProcExp is a great Taskman replacement and includes the invaluable "Find DLL" feature. It can also highlight any .NET processes. AutoRuns is an amazing aggregated view of any and all things that run at startup on your box.
    • A great new addition to the SysInternals Family is Process Monitor, a utility that eclipses both Filemon and Regmon. It runs on any version of Windows and lets you see exactly what a process is doing. Indispensable for developing.
    • It's also worth calling out the legendary Process Explorer as a standout and must-have utility.
  • Windows Live Writer - If you've got a blog (and if not, why not?) then this is THE app. They've also got a thriving plugin community. It's the second app I install. 

Rocking Sweet Windows 7 Specific Stuff

"Windows 7 is so full of win" - Overheard at Starbucks

  • Gmail Notifier Plus for Windows 7 - This is a Gmail notifier that's specifically written for Windows 7 and meant to light-up the Windows 7 "SuperBar." It adds an overlay icon showing them number of unread messages, a "toast" window with a preview of your emails, common tasks, and a Jump List to open emails directly. It also supports multiple languages and multiple accounts.
  • Ultramon Beta or DisplayFusion - Also see below in "Stuff Windows Forgot." Go get Ultramon 3.0.7 Beta or above or get Display Fusion. They both add multiple-taskbar support for Windows (all versions, including Windows 7) that's very compelling. Unfortunately they each are 90% of the way there, just a different 90% and as of the time of this writing, it's unclear who will run. I'm running trials of both. Ultramon has the very nice "light tracking" feature as you roll over their multiple monitor buttons and no preview, but DisplayFusion also supports the "Aero Preview" thumbnailing, but their light tracking looks wrong. Either way, it's great that someday, and soon, the missing multiple monitor taskbar problem will at least be fixed by a 3rd party.
  • 7stacks - The free little app does one thing. It gives you "stacks" of icons that fly up from your Windows 7 (or XP or Vista) taskbar.
  • Virtual Windows XP - Not yet released as of the time of this writing, but available as a "Release Candidate" this new version of Windows Virtual PC lets you run Windows XP applications next to your Windows 7 apps for the ultimate in backward-compatibility. You can run Vista and other VMs as well.

A (.NET) Developer's Life

"Sometimes I think sensitive people are more capable of reflection because they have to shut the world out to function." - @mfeathers

  • LINQPad - Interactively query your databases with LINQ with this tool from Joseph Albahari. A fantastic learning tool for those who are just getting into LINQ or for those who want a code snippet IDE to execute any C# or VB expression. Free and wonderful. There's a whole list of LINQ related tools on Jim Wooley's site as well.
  • FireBug - Arguably the most powerful in-browser IDE available. It's a complete x-ray into your browser including HTML, CSS and JavaScript, all live on the page. A must have.
  • Microsoft Web Platform Installer - When I need to take a machine from fresh install to developer machine quickly, I start at and use the Platform Installer to get SQL Express, Visual Studio Express and several dozen other applications installed fast. It's also nice in that it'll setup PHP and ASP.NET open source applications easily.
  • .NET Reflector - If you haven't heard of Reflector you're probably not a .NET developer. The tool that changed the world and the way we learn about .NET. Download it, select an interesting method and hit the space bar. Take the time to install the Add-Ins and check out the amazing static analysis you can do with things like the Diff and Graph.
  • THREE WAY TIE: Notepad2 or Notepad++ (Scite also uses the same codebase) or E-TextEditor - The first two are great text editors. Each has first class CR/LF support, ANSI to Unicode switching, whitespace and line ending graphics and Mouse Wheel Zooming. A must. Here's how to completely replacenotepad.exe. Personally I renamed Notepad2.exe to "n.exe" which saves me a few dozen "otepad"s a day. Here's how to have Notepad2 be your View Source Editor. Here's how to add Notepad2 to the Explorer context menu. E-TextEditor is new on the block this year, inspired by TextMate in the Macintosh. It includes a "bundle" system that uses the scripting power of the Cygwin Linux-like environment for Windows to provide a more IDE-like experience than Notepad2 or Notepad++. It costs, though, but you should absolutely try it's 30-day trial before you shell out your US$35.
    • Notepad++ is built on the same fundamental codebase as Notepad2, and includes tabbed editing and more language syntax highlighting. Is one better than the other? They are different. I use Notepad2 as a better Notepad, but more and more I find myself using E-TextEditor aka TextMate for Windows when I need to crunch serious text. As with all opinions, there's no right answer, and I think there's room for multiple text editors in my life. These are the three I use.
    • I'm spending time in HippoEdit lately as well. It may just be the perfect combination of all of the above...the jury is still out, but it's worth a look.
  • CodeRush and Refactor! (and DxCore) - Apparently my enthusiasm for CodeRush has been noticed by a few. It just keeps getting better. However, the best kept secret about CodeRush isn't all the shiny stuff, it's the free Extensibility Engine called DxCore that brings VS.NET plugins to the masses. Don't miss out on free add-ins like CR_Documentor and ElectricEditing.
    • Also, spend some time with Resharper. The fight between them and CodeRush is truly a religious one and folks SWEAR by R#. Try both and decide for yourself!
  • ZoomIt - You need to present? Make your stuff seen. ZoomIt is so elegant and so fast, it has taken over as my #1 screen magnifier. Do try it, and spend more time with happy audiences and less time dragging a magnified window around. Believe me, I've tried at least ten different magnifiers, and ZoomIt continues to be the best. Even though there's magnification built into Windows 7 via the "Window + Plus" key, I keep ZoomIt around so I can draw on the screen like John Madden.
  • WinMerge or BeyondCompare - I'm a BeyondCompare person and have purchased it, but WinMerge is getting better and better. It's free, it's open source and it'll compare files and folders and help you merge your conflicted source code files like a champ.
    • KDiff3 is another free option with very configurable color schemas, multi-paned view, and it's cross platform on Linux, Windows and Mac.
  • Storm - You test a lot of Web Services? Check out Storm, it's Open Source and written in F#, but it'll let you test Web Services (of course) written in anything. A fine way to smoke test multiple web services from a single place.
  • NirSoft Utilities Collection - Nearly everything NirSoft does is work looking at. My favorites areMyUninstaller, a replacement for Remove Programs, and WhoIsThisDomain.
    • Also check out ZipInstaller; it installs utilities that don't provide their own installer! It creates icons, puts them in the folder you want and adds an uninstaller.
  • BugShooting - Funny how you don't know if you need an application until you need one. BugShooting is very specific - it takes screenshots, sure, but more importantly it sends them directly into your Bug Tracking system.
  • WinCheat - Not a tool to cheat Windows or in games, WinCheat is like Spy++ in that it lets you dig deep into the internals of the PE format and the Win32 Windowing subsystems. I'm consistently surprised how often I need an app like this.
  • Telerik Code Converter - Website that converts C# to VB and VB to C#.
  • Kaxaml - The original and still the most awesome notepad for XAML, a must for WPF or Silverlight developers.
  • MSBuildShellExtension - Really ought to be built in. Right-click on any .NET project and build it directly from Explorer.
  • FireBug - Arguably the most powerful in-browser IDE available. It's a complete x-ray into your browser including HTML, CSS and JavaScript, all live on the page. A must have. It's on the list twice. Go get it.
  • WebDeveloper for FireFox - If you're the last developer to download FireFox, or you're holding off, WebDeveloper is a solid reason to switch to FireFox NOW. It's amazing and has to be used to be believed. It consolidates at least 2 dozens useful functions for those who sling ASP.NET or HTML. And if you're a CSS person, the realtime CSS editing is pretty hot.
  • CodePaste.NET - When you write code, you need to share it.
  • TestDriven.NET (integrated with NCoverExplorer) - The perfect combination of Unit Testing with Visual Studio.NET. Right click and "Run Test." The output window says "Build" then switches to "Test." The best part, though, is "Test With...Debugger" as a right click that automatically starts up an external process runner, loads and starts your test. Compatible with NUnit, MBUnit and Team System. TD.NET also works with Silverlight.
  • Silverlight Spy - If you ask anyone who does Silverlight, they'll say there's only one must-have tool. Silverlight Spy and this is it.
  • NDepend - This amazing app does dependency analysis on your .NET application and presents the findings as a TreeMap.
  • Query Express - Wow, a Query Analyzer look-alike that doesn't suck, doesn't need an install, is wicked fast, is free and is only 100k. Pinch me, I'm dreaming.
  • WatiN Test Recorder - WatiN is Web Application Testing in .NET, and this Test Recorder will generate chunks of source for you by recording your clicks in an embedded IE browser. It makes my old WatirRecorder pale in comparison.
  • Jeff Key's Snippet Compiler - Sits quietly waiting for you to test a quick snippet of code or algorithm.  No need to even start VS.NET! Jeff hasn't updated it in a while, but perhaps its *re-inclusion* on this list will pressure him to get working on it again. Seriously. Jeff. Give it to me and I'll update it myself.
  • TreeTrim or Jeff Atwood's CleanSourcesPlus - Jeff extends on Omar's idea of a quick Explorer utility that lets you right click on any folder with code in it and get your bin,obj,debug,release directories blown away. Jeff's includes configuration options for deleting things like Resharper folders and Source Control bindings. TreeTrim is a similar command-line tool for cleaning up, but on steroids, including a plugin model.
  • Visual Studio Gallery - All the world's extensions to Visual Studio in one place, and ranked by the public. Easy to search and sort.
  • FileHelpers - This open source library is the easiest way I've found to get data out of fixed-length or delimited text files and into Sql or Excel.
  • MemProfiler - The amount of information this tool offers is obscene. We used this at my last job to track down a number of funky memory leak
  • LogParser - Get to know it, as it's a free command-line tool from Microsoft that lets you run SQL queries against a variety of log files and other system data sources, and get the results out to an array of destinations, from SQL tables to CSV files. I dig it and use it to parse my own logs

The Angle Bracket Tax (XML/HTML Stuff)

"If you use XML you have to pay the Angle Bracket Tax" - John Lam

  • XPathMania and Mvp.XML - This is an extension to the XML Editor within Visual Studio 2005 that allows you to execute XPath queries against the current document dynamically. Created under the Mvp.Xml umbrella project - also a kickbutt XML extension library.
  • SketchPath for XPath - SketchPath does for XPath what Regulator did for Regular Expressions. It's totally hardcore.
  • XmlSpy - Just buy it.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Toolkit - Got broken links on your site? Is your HTML SEO optimized? This fantastic free tool answers all these questions and hundreds more as it chews your angle brackets for you, creating flexible reports and a full queryable database of your site.

Regular Expressions

Some people, when confronted with a problem, think "I know, I'll use regular expressions." Now they have two problems.  - Jamie Zawinski

  • TextCrawler - I used to use Funduc's Search and Replace for multi-file search and replace with regular expressions, but somehow the interface of TextCrawler is more intuitive to me.
  • David Seruyange's "NRegEx" Ajax-based RegEx Tester - An very minimalist online Ajax-based ASP.NET site, I keep turning to this via a bookmark when I want to test a quick RegEx. It'll tell me how a RegEx will work in .NET.
  • gSkinner - An amazing Flash-based online RegEx tool for writing and testing RegEx.
  • RexV - Another excellent, better laid out RegEx evaluator, useful for RegEx's that'll run in JavaScript.
  • Roy Osherove's Regulator - Roy entered the RegEx fray with a bang, and with syntax highlighting and web services integration with The very definition of slick.
    • Regulazy - Currently at version 1.01, this tool is a great way for newbies to start using Regular Expressions. Write regular expressions without prior knowledge of the syntax!
  • Collection of Regular Expressions Toolbox - When I'm overwhelmed, I start here. A huge list of all the basics of Regular Expressions, laid out cleanly and logically. I also like these 8 Regular Expressions You Should Know.
  • RegexDesigner.NET from Chris Sells - Simple, elegant, small. A great little application.


Scott's Note: Personally, I'm all about Windows 7 now, so I'm not using a 3rd party launcher any more as I don't see the need. However, here are some stand-outs I've used in the past that you might want to check out.

"Engage." - Jean-Luc Picard

  • Slickrun - still the sexy favorite, this little floating magic bar keeps me moving fast, launching programs, macros and explorer with its shiny simplicity.
    Tell them I sent you.
    • Also available is an Open Source project called MagicWords (not updated since Feb 07) that looks similar to SlickRun.
  • Martin Plante has created SlimKeys and continues to innovate his a "universal hotkey manager" with a .NET plugin architecture. If you've got ideas or thoughts, visit the slimCODE Forums.
    Have you ever wanted to bind something to Shift-Ctrl-Alt-Window-Q but didn't know how to grab a global hotkey? This will launch programs, watch folders, and find files. There's a growing plugin community.
  • Humanized Enso - Unquestionably the smoothest and most interesting user interface of the launchers, Enso pops up as the Caps-Lock key is held down, and performs the command when the key is released. It takes a minute to understand, but it's a very clean UI metaphor. They are now bringing Enso's metaphor to Firefox as "Ubiquity."
  • Colibri - The closest thing so far, IMHO, to Quicksilver on Windows, although this little gem has a slow startup time, it runs fast! It's being actively developed and promises integration with a dozen third party programs. It also formally supports "Portable Mode" for those of you who like to carry your apps around on a USB key.
  • Launchy - Another do it all application, Launchy binds to Alt-Space by default. This app also has the potential to be Quicksilver like if it start including support for stringing together verb-noun combos. It's pretty as hell and totally skinnable (there's TWO Quicksilver skins included!)

Stuff I Just Dig

"Sweet sassy molassey." - Karl Malone

  • Hulu Desktop - Forgive me ahead of time if you don't live in the US, but Hulu Desktop is so awesome it's insane. It's all the goodness of Hulu including TV shows and movies, with the "lean-back" convenience of a Media Center. Seriously, tell your friends.
  • Mesh - It synchronizes all your files across all your machines and the cloud. It also gives you remote desktop access to your computers when you're away. You can even access files from your mobile phone or access a "Web Desktop" from anywhere.
  • µTorrent - I say "u-torrent" but I suppose "micro-torrent" is more correct. When you need a BitTorrent Client to download your Legal Torrents or my podcast torrent, there's no better, faster, cleaner or more powerful client out there. Love it.
  • xplorer2 - Norton Commander-like functionality for Windows. It's one better than Explorer. There's 32-bit and 64-bit versions and it supports Windows 7.
  • RescueTime - Are you productive? Are you spending time on what you need to be spending time on? RescueTime keeps track of what you are doing and tells you just that with fantastic reports. Very good stuff if you're trying to GTD and TCB. ;)
  • SyncBack - How can you not like a company named 2BrightSparks? There's a Freeware SE version as well. Golden, with a clean crisp configuration UI, I use this tool internally for scheduled backups and syncs between machines within my family network.
  • EtherPad - This web-based multi-person interactive notepad has quickly become my #1 tool for brainstorming online with my remote team.
  • TimeSnapper - Tivo for your desktop? Kind of. TimeSnapper can't give you files back, but it'll take a screenshot in the background at user-configurable intervals and let you answer the burning question - What was I doing all day at work? Free and only 80k. Another brilliant idea blatantly stolen off my list of things to do and executed by folks more clever than I. Kudos.
  • Jing - Jing is a weird little app that is a screenshot app, a screencast app and a sharing app. It's incredibly easy to use and includes a free account at for sharing your videos. It keeps pulling me back into it's strange gravity.
  • WinSnap and Window Clippings - I'm torn between two of the finest screenshot utilities I've ever found. WinSnap has as many (or as few) options as you'd like. Also does wonders with rounded corners and transparency, as does Window Clippings. Both include a 32-bit and 64-bit version, as well as a portable no-install version and WinSnap offers Windows 7 taskbar features. However, Window Clippings also has no install, includes 32 and 64-bit, has a plugin model and is only $18. It's a tough one. I use Window Clippings at least daily, and I use WinSnap a few times a week. Kenny Kerr of Window Clippings is actively adding new features and has a nice clean add-in model on his Developers site. Both these apps are worth your download.
  • BabySmash! - OK, I snuck it in. So sue me. It's not a tool, or is it? If you've got an infant and you need to entertain them while you sneak in some coding, it's invaluable. ;)
  • DarkRoom - When I just want everything to go away so I can think, I don't just want a clean desktop, I want a Dark Room to work in. I love this text editor for getting my thoughts straight. I also use it for more dramatic presentations.
  • Foxit Reader for Windows - Fast as hell. Version 3.1 is even better. This little PDF reader requires no installer and is tiny and fast. Did I mention fast? Good bye, Acrobat. Sorry.
  • Visual Studio Theme Generator and Best Visual Studio Themes - This online application will actually dynamically generate a new Visual Studio color theme file for you. Or you can download a hand-built one and make Visual Studio yours.
  • Virtual TI-89 [Emulator] - Sometimes CALC.EXE doesn't cut it, and I want a REAL scientific calculator for Windows, so I emulate the one I used in college. Nerdy? Yes.
  • VLC Media Player - Screw all other media players. When you just want to watch video. Bam.
  • FAR File Manager - Norton Commander is back, it is still text mode, it's still lightning speed and it's from the makers of RAR File Archiver. I'll race you. I get FAR, you get Explorer.
  • Skype - Internet VOIP Calls with better sound than the POTS phone? Free? Conference calls as well? Sign me up.
  • DOSBox - When you're off floating in 64-bit super-Windows-7-Ultimate land, sometimes you forget that there ARE some old programs you can't run anymore now that DOS isn't really there. Enter DOSBox, an x86 DOS Emulator! Whew, now I can play Bard's Tale from 1988 on Windows 7 from 2009.
  • Cygwin - Remind yourself of your roots and give yourself a proper Unix prompt within Windows. However, it's less about the prompt as it is about the wealth of command-line tools you'll gain access to.
  • SketchFlow or Balsamiq - All good designs started out as sketches, but rather than using paper and pencil, use a UX (User Experience) sketching tool to decide what your application should look like and how it should behave.
    • Others to check out are Pencil for UI prototyping and IxEdit for interaction design without JavaScript.
  • FinePrint - This virtual printer lets you save paper, print booklets, delete pages and graphics, and provides print preview for every application. I love these guys so much it's inappropriate.
  • Fraps - DirectX video capture! Exactly what you need when you want full screen video of a DirectX or OpenGL application.
  • Expression Encoder 3 - When I do videos for the web, I record in 720p but I squish all my stuff with Expression Encoder. Version 3 added screen capture as well as better H.264 support.
  • Tor Anonymous Browsing - This tool lets your anonymous your web browsing and publishing. Use it when you're on the road, or staying in a hotel. Try PortableTor if you want to run it all of your USB key.

Low-Level Utilities

"Unix is user-friendly. It's just very selective about who its friends are."

  • The Ultimate Boot CD and the Ultimate Boot CD for Windows - I've downloaded and saved everything from, including Win95 and Win98 boot disks and a DOS 6.22 disk. The boot CDs are life-savers and should be taken to all family gatherings where the relatives KNOW you're a computer person. They'll expect you to save their machines before the turkey is served.
  • GSpot - If you are Deeply Interested in know what codec that video is using, GSpot will likely be able to tell you more than you could possible care to.
  • Bart's Preinstalled Enviroment (BartPE) - Ever want to just boot quickly off a CD and get some data off an NTFS drive? What about network access? This is a bootdisk you'll keep in your bag all the time. Unfortunately, it's not been updated in a while, but I keep it around anyway.
  • DllFiles - You never know when you might need an old-ass dll.
  • PInvoke.NET - When you've got to call into a system DLL from managed code, at least do it with the help of this wiki that's FULL of the correct DllImport statements.
  • Videroa Converters - I love these guys. They have Video convertors for iPhones, PSPs, XBox360, Tivos, AppleTVs, everything. They are all free, but do donate to them if you can.
  • Snoop and Mole - These amazing WPF developer utilities help you visually debug your applications at runtime. What's on top of what? Where's that panel? These are how you find out.
  • DVDDecrypter and other utils -  When you just need to make an archival backup copy of a DVD.
    • PSPVideo9 - Meant for the Playstation Portable, this utility is more useful that you think. It creates MP4 squished video you can use anywhere.
  • WireShark - Used to be called Ethereal, but it's Wireshark. Very free, and very good. Although, I've needed it less and less as I find myself using...
  • ...the Microsoft Network Monitor 3.3 - Version 3.x was a fine upgrade to NetMon, overhauling the guts. This is a very full featured sniffer and I've never had a problem with it.
  • Top 100 Network Security Tools - Ever useful network security tool there is in a fantastic list.
  • Process Explorer - The ultimate replacement for TaskManager. Includes the amazing Find DLL feature to find out what processes have your DLL in memory.
  • Strings - Gives you more detail that you can handle about text hidden within binaries.

Websites and Bookmarklets

"The Internet...It's a series of tubes." - Former U.S. Senator Ted Stevens

  • - Makes big urls tiny. For when you're emailing a long URL to someone and you KNOW they will freakout it if wraps. Great for making URLs that the family will understand, although, the REAL heir to the Tiny Url throne is:
    • - All the goodness of TinyUrl with statistics, real-time tracking, accounts and much, much more. If you get a url, add a + to the end of it to see lots of statistics!
  • BrowserShots - What's your site look like in MSIE4.0? Opera 9.64? This site will show you.
  • Visibone HTML/JavaScript Reference - These guys make a great physical paper reference, but they also have a great .HTML file you can download for free that has ASCII charts and Color references.  It's a link I keep close by.
  • StackOverflow - Get your questions answered here! If you haven't heard, you better ask someone.
  • SQL Designer - A web-based DHTML/AJAX SQL Entity Relationship Designer that exports .SQL files. Seriously. Drink that in, then visit it.
  • BugMeNot - Being forced to log into a website or news organization but you don't have a username or don't want one? BugMeNot.
  • - A social distributed bookmarks manager. It took me a bit to get into it, but their Bookmarklets that you drag into your Links toolbar won me over. All my bookmarks are here now and I can always find what I need, wherever I am. Very RESTful. I have used this for YEARS.
  • Color Scheme Designer - I'm not a designer and I have no style, but I do know what I like. This site makes it easy to brainstorm, design and tweak a color scheme for your next big project.
  • TypeTester - The very best way to compare up to three different web-typefaces.
    • What the Font? - This website will let you upload an image with a font and it'll guess (usually right) what font it is.
  • 32 Bookmarklets for Web Designers - I use these when I'm DEEP into some thing CSSy and it's tearing me apart.
  • - Is that Website Down For Everyone Or Just Me? Enough said.
  • QuirksMode - Over 150 pages of details on CSS and JavaScript. When my brain is overflowing with the HTML of it all, I head here.
  • Google Maps + - Google Maps is cool, but Paul Rademacher's HousingMaps.comis synergy. It was the first great Mashup of Web 2.0 and I keep it around to remind me of what's possible if you keep an idea fresh and simple.
  • YouGetSignal - Amazingly helpful collection of online networking tools.
  • XRay - This sleek little bookmarklet lets you quickly see all the CSS attributes attached to any HTML element.
  • The Morning Brew - The website I read every work day that helps me keep up on what's new in .NET.
  • - Take all your favorite apps with you on a USB key without installing them! All your settings remain. Be sure to get PStart, the handy Portable Apps Launcher for the Tray.
  • JSLint - Just what is sounds like, it's a JavaScript "Lint" tool that will tidy up your JavaScript and also tell you why your code sucks.

Tools for Bloggers and Those Who Read Blogs

"Never trust a computer you can’t throw out a window." - Steve Wozniak


Browser Add-Ins/Extensions

"The Internet?  Is that thing still around?" - Homer Simpson

  • GetRight - Downloads, resumes and most importantly, splits up large downloads over HTTP or FTP into as many as 10 concurrent streams. Great with FlashGot for FireFox.
  • Delicious - Be sure to get their IE Buttons and shiny Firefox extension. However, if you use Firefox and you REALLY want a seamless experience for your bookmarks, use the Yahoo! Bookmarks extension.
  • WebDeveloper for FireFox - If you're the last developer to download FireFox, or you're holding off, WebDeveloper is a solid reason to switch to FireFox NOW. It's amazing and has to be used to be believed. It consolidates at least 2 dozens useful functions for those who sling ASP.NET or HTML. And if you're a CSS person, the realtime CSS editing is pretty hot.
  • IEView and ViewInFireFox - These two utils go together. Both are FireFox extensions, but they are yin to the others yang. They add View in Internet Explorer and View in FireFox context menu items to their respective browsers. Great if you develop, but also great if you tend to visit sites that aren't browser agnostic.
  • FireFox Extensions - Stunning! Extensions for my browser that won't kill my family! CopyPlainText, DownloadManagerTweak, AdBlockPlus, and GreaseMonkey.

Things Windows Forgot

"I didn't know anything about this. So I called up some folks at Microsoft, and apparently we make a lot of different image editors." - Steve Balmer

  • Ultramon Beta or DisplayFusion - It's not clear why, but Windows 7 doesn't have a taskbar on every monitor. However, these two tools add this functionality back.
  • ClipX - "ClipX is a tiny clipboard history manager. It is sweet, it is free, use it."
  • Console2 - An open source Windows console enhancement with transparency, different styles, and more. Yum. I found this one a few years ago and it keeps getting better.
  • ImgBurn - Well, yes and no. Windows 7 includes a basic ISO burning app, but ImgBurn has the right balance of clean interface and piles of technical information. I like to know exact what's happening when I burn a disk and Free ImgBurn is a joy to use. Don't let their website freak you out. It's THE burning app to get.
  • PureText - Ever wish Ctrl-V didn't suck? And when I say "suck" I mean, wouldn't you rather spend less of your live in Edit|Paste Special? PureText pastes plain text, purely, plainly. Free and glorious. Thanks Steve Miller
  • MagicISO/MagicDisk - Another great utility with a scary website. The trial is a little crippled, but you can mount ISOs on Windows (including Windows 7), create and extract image files, make bootable CDs and DVDs and more.
  • Paint.NET - The Paint Program that Microsoft forgot, written in .NET. If you like to live on the edge, go get the Paint.NET 3.5 Alpha build with enhanced Windows 7 features.
  • Wim2VHD - This is REALLY advanced stuff and Windows didn't really "forget" it as it didn't include it out of the box. If you want to make a bootable and "sys-prepped" Windows 7 Virtual Machine from your Windows 7 DVD media, this is the script for you.
  • TrueCrypt - I love that this is free. Create a file or partition and encrypt the heck out of it. You can even encrypt a secret drive that'll have "decoy" documents that you can give the bad guys when they torture the password out of you. Prepare your getaway drive now.
  • TeraCopy - I'm not sure/convinced yet that TeraCopy is really faster than RoboCopy, but it feels faster. I do a lot of network file copies that go on for hours, and TeraCopy has the right balance of a clean interface and badassness to make the list. The error recovery is top-notch also.
  • BareGrep and BareTail - Really everything these guys do is worth your time. There's lots of ways to get this functionality, including the GNU Utils for Windows and BareTail. The point is, it should have been included! A "tail -f" for Windows.  Great if you work with programs that write to log files and you want to watch the log as it's being written.  Also has keyword highlighting so you can see things get visually flagged as they go by. Also, who doesn't want to Grep?
  • PassPack or KeePass - If you have a crapload of secrets and passwords and you'd like to keep them as such, take a look at these two utils. PassPack is largely online while KeePass is totally offline. KeePass is free and open source with a very clean and very powerful interface.
  • Everything - You wouldn't think with Windows 7's search being awesome that there'd be a search tool on the list. However, Everything is a little different. Sometimes you just want to search everything on your system by filename. Not contents, just files. Where's "hosts" stored? Where's that Visual Studio project item zip file? Everything finds those things quickly.
  • SpaceSniffer - Everyone's always looking for a great tool to find out what's taking up all the space on your hard drive. SpaceSniffer is fast, pretty, fun to watch and powerful. I'm using SpaceSniffer today, but I've also liked:
    • DiskView - The most powerful disk usage program I've found, DiskView integrates nicely with Explorer and includes SMART disk health statistics.
    • SequoiaView - A fast Treemap of your disk usage. The original.
    • WinDirStat - There's a lot of Disk Visualization Tools out there, but this one just seems to tell me exactly what I need to know and it can be run without installation.
    • OverDisk - This one's stuck at version 0.11b but it's still worth a download. It's a pie chart view of your disk space usage. It runs really slow - takes forever, really - however, it's worth the wait.
  • Prish Image Resizer - Yes, you heard me right, son. That means Right-Click an image in Explorer and freaking RESIZE IT BABY. Lovely. Reliable. Wife loves it. Works in 32-bit and 64-bit.
  • BgInfo from SysInternals - If you log into a lot of boxes remotely and always wonder, where the hell is this? This wallpaper tool creates custom wallpapers with all the information you'd need, like IP Address, Box Name, Disk Space, and it's totally configurable.
  • SmartFtp - Say what you like, but I've tried them all, and SmartFtp is flat-out the best FTP app out there for Windows. And they get a +1 charisma for having a 64-bit version.
  • SharpKeys - Do you want your Right-CTRL key to map to the Windows Key? I do. Why can't I do it with Windows' Control Panel? Because Windows forgot. Thankfully Randy didn't. Remap any key in Windows.
  • PC De-Crapifier - So you just bought a Dell for $300 and it has a $4000 value worth of Crapware. Get ride of that poo with the De-Crapifier.
  • Spybot - The first thing I install when I visit a relatives house. Seriously. Step One.
  • Magical Jelly Bean KeyFinder - Misplace your Windows and Office Product Keys?  Find them with this.
  • Bulk Rename Utility - A graphical and incredible versatile way to rename large numbers of files using a myriad of patterns. Invaluable.
  • PSTools from SysInternals - All the command-line tools that Windows forgot...kill, loggedon, remote exec, shutdown, getsid, etc.
  • Terminals - An Open Source multi-tabbed Remote Desktop client. Simple and useful. In danger of fading away! Support Open Source.
  • TouchCursor - If you move the cursor a lot, but you don't like moving your hands, why not make I,J,K,L (where you right hand is already) move the cursor? I'm not sure it's worth $20, but it works exactly as advertised.
  • Synchronex - A file synchronizer, sure, but not just any file synchronizer, this one supports local, UNC, FTP, SFTP, WebDAV, ZIP and versioning. And only $20. Oy. I use it for backing up my blog on a schedule. An obtuse scripting format, more complex than SyncBack SE, but more detail oriented and powerful. Once you set it and forget it, IJW (It Just Works.) Brilliant and bananas.
  • Visual Studio Prompt Here - Right click on a folder and get four different "prompt here" options; cmd.exe, Visual Studio 2003, 2005, 2008, and PowerShell. Travis has the complete round-up.

Outlook AddIns and Life Organizers

"So is Outlook the Operating System now?" - Me

  • Evernote and RememberTheMilk - Gotta show these twice! These two apps manage notes and todos and they do it in an elegant and cross platform way. Evernote works on the Mac, Windows, iPhone, Palm Pre, Windows Mobile and BlackBerry and your notes live in the cloud. Remember The Milk is your todos any way you like them, from Google Calendar, Twitter, BlackBerry and Bookmarklets.
  • SyncMyCal - I've got data in Outlook Calendar and Google Calendar, and SyncMyCal was the easiest and least expensive way for me to get these two calendars in sync.
  • PocketMod - Has nothing to do with Outlook, but everything to do with getting organized. This tiny book is created by some creative folding and your printer. Design it and print it yourself for free.
  • Getting Things Done (GTD) with Outlook
    • ClearContext - Artificial Intelligence for your Outlook Inbox.
    • Speedfiler - A replacement for Move To Folder in Outlook; file your messages as fast as your can press Enter.
    • Taglocity - A learning system, Taglocity tags, filters, searches, and teaches itself about your mail.
  • Xobni - I have a love-hate relationship with this add-in. Sometimes I think it's crashing Outlook, but then I remove it and Outlook crashes anyway. It''s an amazing little connector that lives in Outlook and connects your Outlook Contacts with their LinkedIn and Facebook profiles, but that's just a tiny part of it. It also brings together conversations, threads, files exchanged and more. 
  • OutSync - Got a lot of contacts? Got a lot of Facebook Friends? Why not get those faces into Outlook? This'll cause the new photos in your Outlook contacts to then sync with you Windows Mobile device. Boom, someone calls, you see their face. Lightweight and clean, and free from Mel Sampat.

Contents Copyright © 2003-2009 Scott Hanselman - Please link, don't copy this list...hyperlinks to are most welcome. Please follow me on Twitter.

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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September 02, 2009 14:48
Your tools list has been a point of reference whenever I re-build my machine. Thanks for a refreshing update. You included Windows 7 as a tool. I couldn't stop laughing. How about create a category such as "Mother of all tools" and slide Windows 7 in there.

September 02, 2009 14:49
I do believe you forgot this very important website ;)
September 02, 2009 15:00
Brilliantly useful, as always, thanks Scott.
September 02, 2009 15:03
Great to see a number of new entries in this list. Definitely going to check out a few I didn't know yet.

A small question: how long does it take you to rebuild your machine from scratch (if you ever do that?)?
September 02, 2009 15:22
I've found a replacement for ClipX. Try Ditto.
September 02, 2009 15:29

i love the updates for this year!! Teracopy might not be faster than robocopy but it is "safer". i wont say much since i i failed to use robocopy :-(. the latest teracopy is a big fail though due to its non-intuitive interface
September 02, 2009 15:36
µTorrent... wouldn't it be more like "my torrent", from the greek letter, mu (or "my" in many other languages)? Just a thought.
September 02, 2009 15:37
MultiMon also gives you the all-important second (or third) taskbar, but has a free version as well. The free version doesn't do themes, so it looks like ass - but all the functionality is there (and up to Windows 7, I ran in classic mode anyway).

Requirements state "XP, 2000, or Vista" - but I can at least vouch for it on Server 2008 as well. Haven't tried it on Win7 yet though.
September 02, 2009 15:51
Hi Scott,

thanks for this great compilation of tools!

The only thing that would be very nice is a Mac Section ...


September 02, 2009 15:55
I was also using MagicDisc until I discovered StarBurn
It's as usefull as Nero, but it's Free
And you can also mount ISO ...
September 02, 2009 16:05
Looks like Firebug is listed twice. It must really be good! :-)
September 02, 2009 16:27
One tool I find really useful is Input Director.

It's a keyboard/mouse sharing tool - much like Multiplicity or Synergy - which works well with Windows 7 and lets me control a couple of laptops from my desktop.
September 02, 2009 16:34
Another tool that Windows(and Scott;)) forgot is Start++. This tool gives you the sudo command at the prompt and start menu.
September 02, 2009 16:46
Great aggregation of tools Scott. I really enjoying many of them especially Firebug, Balsamiq, reflector, ZoomIt ..
Nice post
September 02, 2009 16:53

Thank you for compiling an updated version of this list. I know it must be an enormous amount of work for you, but I really appreciate it.
September 02, 2009 17:06
Have you ever tried Araxis Marge as a comparing/marging tool? It is expensive, but way better than Bayond Compare.
September 02, 2009 17:11
I enjoyed the list, especially the anecdotes. Surprised you mentioned so many things that I use... AutoHotKey, Launchy, SciTE, Cygwin, PSTools, FireBug, Fiddler, RTM, Reflector, WinMerge, WebDeveloper, µTorrent, VLC, BugMeNot, Delicious, Wireshark, Strings, and many of the others.

In addition to 7-Zip, I also use IzArc, and find myself using it over 7-Zip more and more for various reasons.

The biggest utility you missed is called "CLCL", which does clipboard caching. Especially useful following a spurious reboot, or just whenever. Link at
September 02, 2009 17:22
Dude, you forgot Total Commander :-o WTF or did I missed it ?
September 02, 2009 17:33
Great list as always! Now I have a ton of stuff that I have to download, build CDs of and put on my PortableApps USB drive. Thanks.

If you don’t mind, I thought I would mention a few things that I can’t live without that didn’t make your list.

WinSplit Revolution – Freeware. If you have a wide monitor and don’t have Windows 7, this utility allows you to place windows to any side or corner of your screen with a keystroke. Jeff Atwood turned me onto it.

PhotoFiltre 6.2.3 – Freeware. Has a much more intuitive interface than Paint.NET. Also works much better on a USB drive.

.NET Source Code – Reflector is nice, but now you can actually download the .NET source code and F11 right into it. (Surprised you didn’t mention it.)

Notepad++ has some nice plug-ins for XML now, including Pretty Print and XSLT Transform. No need to buy XML Spy for me anymore.

Expresso – The best RegEx builder to convert your newbie coworkers on .NET. It also provides the code with documentation in C# or VB.

CD Burner XP Pro – The easiest and freest CD Burning program for Windows. Works fine in 7 and 2008 R2.

“Ever want to just boot quickly off a CD and get some data off an NTFS drive? What about network access?” – I use a Ubuntu Live CD. It includes network access, automounting read/write support of NTFS drives, Firefox to look things up online and USB flash drive support, etc.

Virtual Clone Drive – The fastest and best ISO mounter for Windows by far from the AnyDVD people.

Filezilla – I think this is the best FTP application especially because it’s open source and cross platform (and from the Firefox people). And does SFTP and FTP over SSL.
September 02, 2009 17:49
I find it odd that you prefer those disk space visualization programs over tools like FolderSizes (, which has been around forever and proven itself to be a true, business-grade disk space management application. DiskView hasn't been updated in years (!) and has a fraction of the features - and the freeware apps are very thin indeed (I guess if you only need a treemap, they're OK).

Trust me, I've tried them all and FolderSizes kicks the snot out of everything else, especially for serious disk space slicing and dicing. It's even certified for Windows 7 already.

The other tool I love and wanted to mention is SmartAssembly, which was just recently (and I mean VERY recently) acquired by Red Gate. Awesome tool.
September 02, 2009 18:07
No Twitter clients?
September 02, 2009 18:12
Hey Now Scott,

Great List & Info,

Hanselminutes Fan,
September 02, 2009 18:24
Love the tool list as always. You will probably get lots of suggestions of tools to try or add, my suggestion is:

Linquer - This tool attempts to convert your SQL to LINQ it's great for learning LINQ in conjunction with LINQpad
September 02, 2009 18:25
Any tool to Synchronize Google Contacts & Outlook Contacts? Anybody?
September 02, 2009 18:30
Hi Scott,

Thank you very much for including Storm. I've got another one for WCF, it's WCFStorm. Hope it makes your list next time you update :)

September 02, 2009 18:30
Great list! Some awesome apps I never knew about. But no ffdshow?
September 02, 2009 18:54
I'm surprised EmEditor is not on the list of editors. FAR faster than any windows editor, especially the 64-bit version. Try opening a 20MB log file in any other text editor and you'll see the difference. The upcoming version has support for snippets (i use powershell for snippets). I have tried all the others you have in your list. E-TextEditor (buggy, slow), Notepad2 and Notepad++ did not support snippets nor could they handle large files.

September 02, 2009 19:08
I always look forward to your list and usually find a few new toys to play with...

I would add two utilities that I use a lot...

Executor is another Launcher (free) -

SQLinForm is a SQL formatting tool with loads of options (online is free, offline version available) -
September 02, 2009 19:38
Great list! Now my only problem is finding enough time to actually read the whole thing (instead of skimming it), much less try them all out :)

I do have a couple of questions:

1) Why is Reflector in the "Windows 7 Specific" section? Seems like it belongs in the next section, ".NET Developer's Life"

2) Can you comment on what you use AutoHotKey for? It sounds interesting, but I can't imagine when I would ever need that.
September 02, 2009 19:49
URL Rewriters are no longer something that is needed in 2009? Since when?
September 02, 2009 19:56
I used Foxit Reader for several years until I had the unfortunate experience of using it to save a PDF I'd downloaded from the web and fowarding it to coworkers. It continued to open for anyone who had Foxit Reader, but was totally broken for normal Acrobat Reader users. So, don't use the Save feature of Foxit if you want compatibility with Acrobat Reader. Download the file with Save As instead.
September 02, 2009 20:15
IETester: Test your webpage with IE6,7,8. Free
PageSpy: View IE's real time html. $
FastStone Capture: Screen capture including scrolling windows. Free.
NextPlease: FF extension. Use the keyboard to page through any webpage which has a page index list (ie, Google search result). Using Page up/down & (ctrl + right arrow) enabled me to browse thru pages in seconds.
Xmarks: FF extension. Synchronize your FF bookmarks, passwords..etc
Unlocker: unlock any file in use. Free.
Syncplicity: Sync folders between computers. Free
Roadkil's Unstoppable Copier: skips bad files residing on bad sectors and moves on. Option to not overwrite existing files. An annoying 'feature' of File Explorer is the absence of 'No All' for overwriting existing files or a 'No All' or 'Yes All' for moving Readonly files. ( I am still using XP). Never understood why these basic features are missing.

September 02, 2009 20:42
Great list. Too bad I'll have to spend 10 hour checking all the stuff I don't already use :)

One question... no Anti Virus?
September 02, 2009 20:42
Thanks for the updated list Scott.

I was a MagicDisc user for mounting ISOs, but there were several posts to one of your blog posts mentioning Virtual Clone Drive. I find it to be even better than MagicDisc.
September 02, 2009 20:45
i think you should update your powershell section. PowerShell plus has been out of beta for a long time, and now sold by Idera
September 02, 2009 21:05
Check out for Infrarecorder, IMHO the best free CD/DVD recorder.
September 02, 2009 21:05
The WinMerge link points to a post about some kind of console application.
September 02, 2009 21:09
How can you live without "Total Commander" ? Especially considering how many apps above this would replace, and how it can be configured to integrate with a lot of the other ones. And all that with fast keyboard shortcuts so I don't have to use the mouse all the time. It's THE productivity tool. It's my file comparer (integrates with WinMerge), it's my commandline, its my file explorer, its my editor (integrates with any editor), its my start menu (more or less), its my FTP client, its my (un)zipper (treats zips and iso's, etc as file folders), its my file handler, etc etc etc.
September 02, 2009 21:10
Those 8 Regular Expressions You Should Know are a pretty good teaching tool, but as production code are pretty deeply flawed (see my comment on the page).
September 02, 2009 21:16
>Paint.NET - The Paint Program that Microsoft forgot, written in .NET.

So then it'll do most of the things that Paint does, twice as slow as Paint does it while eating 100 MB of RAM? :P
September 02, 2009 21:58
Hi Scott,

Just a tiny nitpick. NP++ and NP2 don't share the Scite codebase, they share the same editing component, which is Scintilla.

And you forgot Cropper :)

Other than that, thanks for the list. Useful as always.
September 02, 2009 22:13
bobfrank -- Just try using it ... especially the v3.5 alpha, it's quite fast :)
-Rick (author of Paint.NET)
September 02, 2009 22:30
Amazing stuff! Thanks Scott!
September 02, 2009 23:14
Did you forget to add tweetdeck?
September 02, 2009 23:55
September 03, 2009 0:28
About time! :-) Seriously, thanks for this, they are always excellent and we know it takes time to compile the list.
September 03, 2009 0:55
Thanks Scott ! Wonderful job. It will take me months to try out each one :)
September 03, 2009 1:35
I've pimped it before I'll pimp it again...

The most pain-free way to "replace" notepad.exe with only a registry change and a small JS wrapper.

The wrapper is necessary to get rid of the full path to the executable which is passed through by Windows. Edit paths below to reflect your installed locations.

With this registry change, it doesn't matter how something tries to call notepad.exe, or where it does it from, it always ends up using Notepad2, no matter what, across Windows service packs, updates and whatnot.

--- ExecuteNotepad2IFEO.reg --

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\notepad.exe]
"Debugger"="wscript C:\\Utilities\\ExecuteNotepad2IFEO.js"

-- ExecuteNotepad2IFEO.js --

// Wrapper for executables executed via HKLM\...\Image File Execution Options
// First argument: Executable full path, ignore.
// Remainder: command-line parameters

if( WScript.Arguments.length>0 )
var shell=new ActiveXObject("WScript.Shell");
var args="";

for( i=1; i<WScript.Arguments.Length; i++ )
args+=WScript.Arguments(i)+" ";

shell.Exec("C:\\Utilities\\Notepad2.exe " + args);

September 03, 2009 1:37
Very very useful.
September 03, 2009 2:11

What... no password manager? I used RoboForm for quite a while. But, my new love is LastPass. Does everything RoboForm does and is cross plat form and auto syncs my Mac/PC password db.

Also, I notice you use Delicious. If you don't use thier plug in you MUST get XMarks (used to be FoxMarks). It keeps your bookmarks/favorites synced across browsers and PCs.

So, try em, love em... add em to the list, LastPass and XMarks.

September 03, 2009 5:25
I have a man-crush on your for this. It's embarrassing. But it's true.
September 03, 2009 7:44

What... no password manager? I used RoboForm for quite a while. But, my new love is LastPass. Does everything RoboForm does and is cross plat form and auto syncs my Mac/PC password db.

Actually, he did mention Keepass in the Things Windows Forgot. Awesome tool.

Awesome list by the way, Scott. I've been waiting a long time for an update from you. All very cool stuff!
September 03, 2009 8:04
I just upgraded to Win7 ultimate, and I find the windows-key launcher to be weak compared to Launchy. Scott, you mentioned now that you're windows 7 you're not using any launcher program, but I'm finding Win7 to be lacking. Is there something I'm missing about the Win7 launcher?

A couple quick items I used all the time from launchy was the Wikipedia and Dictionary lookup integration. Even the simple built in calculator is handy. Does the Win7 launcher offer any of that sort of goodness, or perhaps it can be extended or something to do so?
September 03, 2009 8:40
Just want to say thank you! It takes time and effort to come up with this wonderful list of tools. Well done Scott!
September 03, 2009 8:53
Great list as always, if Firefox is your browser of choice: Secure Login and NoScript are also very handy extensions to have.
September 03, 2009 9:21
Check out Wizmouse - - you'll wonder how you've lived so long without it (BTW : it doesn't work with multi pane Excel docs, but it seems to work with everything else, including multipane Word and Powerpoint - you figure I can't - seems that not all ribbons are alike, even those from M$). brilliant if you run multiple tab groups in VS or you just want to scroll your browsers sidebar

For the guy who wanted to synch Google & Outlook contacts, I thought Google recently announced something that did it native, otherwise Dave Levinson has a gadget called gSynchIt - - not free though, but it works.

FileMenu Tools is a pretty useful set of shell extensions - overlaps a bit with x2, but doesn't clash. There's no sticky notes app, I like Stickies. HandyFind is a universal find that works in just about everything and Locate32 is still the fastest folder & file find by name that I know of. Finally WordWeb & The Sage are useful if you're into words/dictionaries etc.
September 03, 2009 10:01
Hi Scott....

A very good replacement for the windows search is InfoRapid (Search & replace)

It's a bloody fast searcher that can replace stuff as well....

Have a look here :

Wondering if this will ever make it to your great list ....
September 03, 2009 10:06
I use The Guide ( instead of EverNote. Much lighter, and notes can live on USB sticks.
September 03, 2009 10:53
Hi Scott,

just wanted to say thanks for a really useful post. Great resource!

cheers mate!
September 03, 2009 11:58
Love the list.
Here are a couple:

Windows Resizer - no install needed, just right click the Title Bar and select the size.
Sizer v3.3

Scroll all windows. Where your mouse goes, you can scroll if there is a slider.
September 03, 2009 12:44
Much better than TerraCopy, try SuperCopier2 ( ).
September 03, 2009 13:11
Thanx Scott, very useful post.
IM using some of them b4, but now i have lot of tools to check.

September 03, 2009 13:20
I know it's a typo, but it's an unfortunate one: "ZoomstIt".

I just wanted to pause to allow the jokes to die down.

Yeah, you should patent fix that.
September 03, 2009 15:06
Thanks Scott. It was so useful.
Maybe I should use it too :-)
September 03, 2009 16:05
Excellent post. It'll take me days to go through all the ones which I don't know already.

If you do your GTD on Outlook, Fingertips is a nice application launcher. It lets you create Outlook tasks from the launch bar itself. If you end the task subject with a ";", it won't even open Outlook: the task will be stored automatically, so that you don't have to switch context.

I have differents shortcuts for new actions at home, at work, someday/maybe, etc.... I have never found a way to do the same thing with Slickrun.

It's not just the Outlook integration that is good. I use it for everything (open Visual Studio solutions, web searches, etc..).
September 03, 2009 17:07
Great Post , Thanks for sharing those.

You have missed this wonderful utility MonitorES which do so many things when you lock your machine.

September 03, 2009 17:10
Wow. I'm now in love with LINQPad. I also can't believe I've never come across Documentor before! Working hand-in-hand with Ghostdoc, it's a great addition. brilliant post, Ta.
September 03, 2009 17:36
Most of these tools I use and love. I'll look into the ones that I don't use. I'll probably love and use those too.

One of the features I love of 7-zip is that i can right click an office 2007 document and choose Open Archive to see the contents of the document. Open a part of the archive or get one of the files out very quickly.

I dynamically create a lot of office docs and this is a really helpful way to get at the contents quickly when I do something stupid.
September 03, 2009 18:28
Hi Scott,
Great list. I see lots of old friends and some new ones to check out.

Regarding PowerShell tools, you should definitely take a look at PowerGUI ( It is free and inaddition to giving you the ability to work with PowerShell in a GUI, it has a great PowerShell script editor that has replaced PowerShell Plus in my toolbox - and I own a license of PowerShell Plus.

September 03, 2009 19:21
Wanted to put a plug in for FreeLaunchBar, what quick launch should be. I've used it for years in XP and now in Win7.

Thanks for the great list!
September 03, 2009 20:36
I was just checking a few days ago to see if you'd posted an update to this since the 2007 edition. Great, comprehensive list. Thanks Scott!
September 03, 2009 20:38
It's Mu-Torrent. Just had to get that off my chest... GREAT list by the way.
September 03, 2009 21:54
What, no link to the regular expression library under regular expressions?
September 03, 2009 22:28
September 03, 2009 23:09
Great List - I'm not sure I'll get through it before the next version comes out... :-]

Without comaprison, I tend to amass utilities and never understood Microsoft's insistence on having to scroll the programs menu (started in Win 95 SP2? or Win 98, and people eventually gave up protesting with Vista?). Anyway, I have a few very highly recommended items:

For the Professional Developer (spend you money on these two, because there are no free alternatives that will get you even close ATM):

Araxis Merge - makes the process of comparing files and folders, merging complex differences, 2-way or 3-way, etc. almost fun... Nothing even comes close. Not free but affordable. After buying the core development tools for your job, this is the #1 or #2 tool I'd recommend spending money on. Stable, Easy to use, stayed at the top (i.e. as #1) of my most used apps list (in Windows XP) for well over a year during a major project. It also integrates with VS as the diff engine.

SQL Prompt - (by Red-Gate). Intellisense for SQL takes the tedium out of writing queries. A little more expensive than Araxis Merge IIRC, but still affordable and worth every penny. Productivity in SSMS is through the roof. Has a few quirks, but I can live with them. But I don't know how I lived without intellisense when writing SQL. This is the other of the top two tools I'd recommend spending money on. Determine which one is #1 or #2 based on how much SQL you write as opposed to how often you have to perform compare and merge operations.

For Everyone (no money required):

FF Add-on: CoolPreviews/CoolIris Preview lets you browse (and interact with) a preview of a page from a link. I open more pages through this than any other way.

Gizmo's Freeware - this started as a list of the 46 best freeware apps, and just took off. While not catering specifically to developers, the list is kept up-to-date, and contains a number of apps organized in categories. Any time I need to do something for which I don't have the right tool, I check his list out ( And now I'll check your list out, too...

Other tools I also like:

Gizmo turned me onto Microsoft ICE (Image Composite Editor). Simple, single purpose app. Before you can say "stitch these images together", ICE did (well, if you're from the South and talk real slow like). No muss, no fuss.

LiquidXML - I won't say I've tried all the XML tools out there - and I'm not a heavy user, but this one did the job for me in the past. Free community version or pay to get full VS integration etc. Create XSL from XML, create .NET code snippets for XML (the version I have does not generate LINQ to XML...), and of course edit and validate XML.
September 03, 2009 23:26
Great list Scott!

Recently, I had to use LogParser to process a few IIS log files, and I found Visual LogParser invaluable.

Keep up the good work.
September 04, 2009 3:06
2 things I'm surprised you missed:
- OneNote Maybe it's too obvious b/c it's part of office? I live half my computer life there and it supersedes some of the utilities on the list. It's not obvious just how useful it is until you start using it.
- LifeHacker. Keep this in your blog list to get more ideas like utilities on this page daily.

Also, my vote for best text editor: UltraEdit. I had to use it b/c nothing else would open a gigantic text file I needed to open. Then I discovered how useful it was. Has all the good stuff every other text editor has and more (like the ability to write javascript against it's own object model). It's been in active development perhaps longer than any other windows text editor.
September 05, 2009 3:35
If you don't mind I would like to suggest my very own creation, Minime, to you. It has helped me out quite a lot as a developer.
Check out this page for information and a download link to the Sourceforge project page:
September 05, 2009 6:29
Screenr ( > Jing.
September 05, 2009 9:11
hello scott
i am anirudha
i am beginner in mvc so
send me a list of your article blog video for mvc

for supports in mvc
September 05, 2009 10:17
I think you should add's BuildIT tool as a simple but powerful automated build tool ... its also very useful for any repetitive tasks and its FREE.
September 05, 2009 10:41
Ooh you should also add as an excellent password generator/manager. What is so great about this tool is that, using a master password, will generate a unique and secure password for each site domain you visit and auto-fillout the fields. Its gr8 and invaluable.
September 05, 2009 11:08
Hi Scott,

As always a great list, my C:\utils is filling up with an abundance of cool tool as we speak!

But you forgot the amazing multi-protocol mRemote admin tool, for all the Ops guys like me, who live in a world full of RDP, SSH, VNC, ICA etc.

It's free, it's GPL. and it really should replace "Terminals" on your list.

September 07, 2009 16:26
Haha, you've got a CodeCrush...
September 08, 2009 4:48
wow, lots of information, hope i can go through them in several days :)
September 08, 2009 14:57
What happened to InstallPad? Have you gone off it or is there something better now? Did anyone come up with an applist for all this lot?

With thanks from a fan of the list and podcast, Rob.
September 08, 2009 23:39
What about It's great in a multi-monitor environment.
September 09, 2009 0:24
Here's something that's saved me lots of work when trying to recover from a disk crash or 'wetware failure'. Ping is free, at There's nothing like having a complete image of a machine that just went down hard.
September 09, 2009 16:45
Awesome list.

I'd like to recomend Replacer as an alternative for text search and replace.
September 10, 2009 11:19
Instead of spacesniffer, I recommend SpaceMonger here:
Although no updates were released for more than 1 year, the last beta is kind of stable and has pretty cool functions.

Yes, you will have to pay a few bucks because this is not freeware, but it is really worth it. One of the few programs that I purchased, and I do not regret it!
September 10, 2009 11:27
There's a typo in the sentence: "Nearly everything NirSoft does is work looking at."

In the Launchers section another one deserves to be mentioned: A year ago I replaced SlickRun - which isn't actively developed anymore - with Executor and I'm very pleased with it.
September 10, 2009 22:59
Hi Scott,

I am a current user of Citrix's GoToMeeting/Webinar, which I use in conjunction with my multi-monitor set up.

Unfortunately, GoTo only allows you to present one screen (or all) screens for viewing by attendees.

I have looked high and low for a similar app which would permit viewing at least two screens at one time.

Any thoughts?


September 11, 2009 6:57
RE: Darkroom

An althenative is Q10 at
September 11, 2009 17:47

Have you tried RD Tabs by Avian Waves? It is not open source but it is freeware and it works great (and it is .NET). I'm in no way affiliated with them except as a happy user. It uses tabs across the top (like VMWare QuickSwitch) exactly the way I was looking for. I've not tried Terminals yet and didn't now about it-but I think I will download it and check it out.

September 13, 2009 5:37
ohh HanselMan... if Alfred Nobel were around today, he'd create an all new prize just for you.

with Respect,
September 16, 2009 14:02
Hey Scott,

i am looking for a multitab telnet app that is OSS. Does Terminal do this?

September 17, 2009 12:55
Awesome list! How about SuperPreview for web development?
September 21, 2009 19:44
for antirvirus I use: AVG Free -
and a way better FTP util is: FileZilla (client and server available, open source, free) -
September 23, 2009 1:54
I've tried a couple of NET-based web service tools, including Storm, and have always come away feeling that they were raw, unstable, hard to use -- or some combination of those. SoapUI has always proven to be the most reliable workhorse of all these tools for me. There is a free version, and it is probably worth a look for those of you wanting Storm-like capabilities (or more).
September 29, 2009 17:22
If you're like me and your desktop is almost filled with shortcuts, icons and files that you haven't decided where to put them yet, you should checkout Fences ( It lets you organize your icons into nice logical groups so you can find things easily in all the clutter.
September 30, 2009 14:41
For file managers / explorer replacements, there are many possibilities, some of which you mention above, and most of which I've tried.

You get what you pay for. It's commercial software, it's not cheap, but for power users it's worth its weight in (insert precious material of your choice).

Directory Opus. is its home.

Seriously. Even for the seasoned user, it can take a while to get used to how to get the best out of it, but it goes like sugar off a well-shined shovel and just does everything you want along with a heap of things you didn't know you wanted until Opus showed you how.

There's a portable version as well, so you can take it with you everywhere.

No, I'm just a (very) happy user. And, believe me, if I could find something that good that was open source / freeware, I'd be using it instead.
September 30, 2009 18:46
GREAT SCOTt! You must be exhausted,,, Thank you this marvellous encyclopedia. Bob.
September 30, 2009 22:23
I was wondering what is the best method / tool to avoid data loss from crashed hard drive. As in, Can I make an exact (including the operating system and everything) image of my current hard drive (which has windows xp). So that in case my current hard drive crashes I can just replace that with the duplicate one, and bingo !
October 04, 2009 11:13
May I suggest, under launch programs, RocketDock ( It's much like the Apple dock, but works in Windows. Free, easy to use, and tiny.
October 06, 2009 19:08
@techtalk: Awesome tool to synchronize/backup of data from microsoft called synctoy.
October 07, 2009 22:14
x-windows in windows.

I didnt come up in the windows world. I "came up" as an intern creating websites on a Sun Sparq machine.
When i transferred to the windows world to make some real money I always fondly remembered the X-Windows interface. Miss that thing.

I knew there were similar things you could download in windows but i guess i was too busy over the years.

Well i just hooked up my windows 7 desktop with ...
Dexpot 1.4.

there are many desktop window managers for the Windows platform, but since i dont have time to test em all i found Dexpot to be easy to use and configure.
Supposedly it works well with every version of Windows, including the Windows 7 of course which I have it currently installed on.

-handles the video compositing of Vista and 7 well
-large number of configuration options
- lean memory footprint.

-add virtual copies of your current workspace and easily switch between them,
-personalize each workspace--including changing the background, icons, and screen resolution.
-configure the hotkeys you use to switch between virtual windows
-set your desktop to automatically switch workspaces on a preset interval.

October 08, 2009 2:57
Spybot is no longer the recommended freeware anti-spyware from most reviewers. Most people give the honours to Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware with SUPERAntiSpyware as second place holder.

One malware cleaner that I've only just heard of but is applauded by users on Slashdot is Combofix. When you've got something nasty that you can't get rid of, Slashdotters recommend running Combofix first then Malwarebytes afterwards (maybe twice or more).
October 09, 2009 15:04
Scott, as you advocate both Windows 7 and Windows Live Writer here, might you have any suggestions on how one installs Live Writer on Wondows 7 64-bit? The installer throws an OnCatalogResult error as soon as it starts and suggestions I've found for bypassing 64-bit install problems require getting past this step or having access to an x86 machine to obtain the *msi files from. You wouldn't be aware of any tricks that don't require either of these?
October 09, 2009 18:25
thank you for this awesome list :D
October 10, 2009 20:36
Hey Scott - You should check out Executor as an alternative to SlickRun. I've been trying it since yesterday. I exported my SlickRun keywords, massaged the output, then imported them into Executor. It's under active development. I like how it shows an auto-completion drop-down. Also, SlickRun sometimes caused my windows to go all flickery after launching a keyword - Executor doesn't seem to have this problem. It also looks cool.
October 12, 2009 5:58

This is one of the greatest tech post I have ever read in my life. This is something which will help mass computer users that includes technical and non technical persons. Thanks a loot for sharing this with everyone.

Have a great day!
October 17, 2009 2:45
No mention of visual studio - or is that one just obvious? (or does the cost keep it off this list?)

Ever been a fan of UltraEdit?
October 17, 2009 13:08
Just wanted to throw in another comment for Araxis Merge. It is awesome.
I like pasting bits of text into its editor textboxes to compare output of different builds or analysis tools on different files. Makes spotting subtle differences in dozens of lines quite simple.

Also for editors: Slickedit. Language support and indexing make it so very handy when trying to walk through code for the first time. Finding references to functions or going to the definition is very handy.
October 19, 2009 10:31
The problem with Notepad2 is it completely fails when it comes to Regex search/replace. Even if you can get the regex working - it is a sad joke when you have to escape () brackets and even after trying to figure out what you need to escape and what you don't - it still may not work, for no apparent reason at all. And the whole \r\n newline nonsense.
Then you open up something like Ted's Notepad (beta) or EmEditor, and can do something like:
Search: \n \n
Replace: \n

I still use Notepad2, but not as much now, with EmEditor and Ted's Notepad filling in many gaps. UltraEdit-32, unfortunately, has gotten that oft-seen disease: BloatyFeaturitis.

I'll also vouch for CLCL (Clipboard Util) - though it does have a learning curve for it's more advanced features.

And while Total Commander does replace many of the utilities mentioned above, it's definitely not a user friendly tool; requiring extensive customization by the end-user to get it working "just right" -- though it is a bonus, in that it does allow for said customization.
October 19, 2009 10:49
I'm suprise that GIT hasn't been mentioned - hands down the most convenient version control system in any developers toolbox.
October 19, 2009 15:01

That link is dead
October 20, 2009 0:36
Hi Scott

Are you using "mouse gestures"?
You mentioned something in your autohotkey entry about automating your mice...

NICE list
my comments
October 20, 2009 18:25
Check out the Remote Desktop Manager (Standard version is free and has plenty of features) - The best!! Beats both the Terminals and RD Tabs.
October 22, 2009 3:16
Thank you so much for this list--very helpful, and quite a few new items for me to learn about.

Don't know if you use such a thing, but when designing on web, photoshop, acrobat, finale or sibelius, etc., the Screen Calipers by Iconico are the very best onscreen ruler products I've come across.

Also, XnView is a great graphics tool (viewer and some amount of image manipulation).

For passwords, I like Password Safe -- now open source, but originally created by security expert Bruce Schneier.

Lastly, I use PhraseExpress to store code snippets and use keyboard shortcuts to insert those snippets into my web pages.

Again, many thanks for this great article!
October 23, 2009 19:37
Hi Scott,

Great article! Have you ever tried the Agile Platform? The visual development, debug and merge features are well worth a look.

Cheers, Tiago
October 24, 2009 10:32
Hi Scott,
Great, usefull list. Thx!

Regulator has moved =>

Another suggestion iso TeraCopy, I use FastCopy (also to sync!)
November 15, 2009 6:04
File manager w/ ftp client -
November 24, 2009 18:58
AutoPager is a very cool Firefox extension that lets you stream multiple pages of a web page (much like Customize Google's streaming results option but with almost any web page).
Also you may want to check Greasefire. It's a companion for Greasemonkey and helps you automatically find Greasemonkey scripts on
To easily create your own Greasemonkey scripts you should try Platypus. It's a very powerful and visual (WYSIWYG) way to create your scripts.

Great list and keep them coming!
January 06, 2010 21:51
Very useful list! I've found a better syntax highlighter for my blog and a mockup tool that I've been looking for some time now.
January 08, 2010 23:57
FYI: TouchCursor is now free (and open source).
January 10, 2010 0:42
Texter monitors what you type. When you type in a pre-defined series of keystrokes (a ‘hotstring’), Texter replaces those characters with a longer section of text. Works in any windows application.

license: GPL
January 23, 2010 1:05
I have to slightly disagree with your hulu desktop choice. Zinc TV is far, far better, and it also accesses hulu. I look forward to the arrival of each new list, by the way. Great stuff as always!
January 30, 2010 23:53
Consider Find And Run Robot as launcher. I've looked at all of the launchers and I like this one best. There are plugins to allow integration with the search tool "Everything" (also mentioned by Scott above) and even Windows Search index.
February 02, 2010 17:12
So good and informative this post. Also have educational theme for tools. Thanks and willing to share here.
February 14, 2010 15:59
Hi, my friend, are you able to give more post like this!! As I was very pleased to find this post on this site. I wanted to thank you for this great read. I definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I have bookmarked you to check out new stuff you post. It sounds, like you’re on the up and up.
February 25, 2010 13:58
Couldn't agree more about Stack Overflow, Process Explorer, and will have to try XRay. A great list Scott much appreciated! There's always something new to discover. However, RenameMaestro is a way better file renamer. Give it a go and see what I mean.

Thanks again, Bobby
February 28, 2010 9:55
Some time ago I downloaded an incredible personal task manager program, which I think I hear is available for the iPhone and Blackberry, called TaskR? was the site back when... It helps a LOT during multiple development projects.
March 05, 2010 1:13
One suggestion to your awesome list would be EQATEC Profiler for .NET apps. Because:

A code profiler is a real developer's tool, yet there are currently none on your list; this is the only profiler that also can profile .NET Compact Framework and Silverlight applications; and it's completely free for non-commercial use.
March 11, 2010 23:04
And what about documentation writing tools: help file authoring software, code documenting utilities, software manual generators, etc?

I think this is another essential category of tools for software developers.
March 13, 2010 10:48
Just tried installing Smart FTP and found out that it is not free any more :(
March 16, 2010 20:04
I swear by synergy for managing multiple PC's. And since google took down Etherpad, I've been looking for a replacement. looks a goer. I assume it's based around the open-sourced code.

For development, there's also cross-database comparison tool which may be of interest. It's not free, but there's a trial.

Great list. Very useful. Thanks.
May 16, 2010 6:31
MSBuildShellExtension has been idle for a very long time. So you may consider MSBuild Launch Pad,

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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.