Scott Hanselman

Scott Hanselman's 2014 Ultimate Developer and Power Users Tool List for Windows

December 21, 2013 Comment on this post [196] Posted in Tools
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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 very likely worth your money.

This is the Updated for 2014 Version of my 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2011 List, and currently subsumes all my other lists. I’ve been doing this for a decade! 

These are all well loved and oft-used utilities.  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: If this list is the first time you and I have met, you should subscribe to my blog, and check out my podcasts, and sign up for my newsletter of Wonderful Things.

Please 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 2014 Ultimate Tools are in red. There are dozens of additions and many updated and corrected entries and fixed links.

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?


"Productivity is being able to do things that you were never able to do before." - Franz Kafka

  • Chocolatey – It’s a weird name, but it’s apt-get for Windows and once you start using it, you’ll be hooked. I tend to use it by default, even before Googling, to install stuff. For example, just today I went 'cinst filezilla' and 'cinst winscp' and was correct on both assumptions. Consider a "favoriteutils" batch file for building new machines and you'll be off and running in no time. Even better, use...
    • Boxstarter - Build on top of Chocolatey and NuGet and create complete Windows environments and push them to your machines with Gists from your friends or your own GitHub. Even deploy to remote machines or Hyper-V with 100% unattended installs.
  • TeraCopy - While I use the excellent built in copy features of Windows 8.1 the most, when I want to move a LOT of files as FAST as possible, nothing beats TeraCopy, an app that does just that - move stuff fast.
  • NimbleText - Regular Expressions are hard and I'm not very smart. NimbleText lets me do crazy stuff with large amounts of text without it hurting so much.
  • GOW Gnu on Windows - Sometimes Cygwin is just overkill. Gow is 130 useful *nix command line utilities recompiled as native Win32 binaries.
  • F.lux - I admit, I thought this was stupid when I started using it. It took a few days, but now, given that I have 3 large monitors, I can't live without it. It slowly, imperceptibly, changes the color temperature of your monitor's color as the sky itself changes. It prevents (for me) headaches and eyestrain from running bright blue and white monitors late at night. Love it. Try it.
  • 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 "AuftoCorrect 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.
    • Note that Window Pad - a great util on its own - is actually written in AutoHotKey. Amazing!
  • Paint.NET - The Paint Program that Microsoft forgot, written in .NET. It's 80% of Photoshop and it's free. Paint.NET is also still actively being developed and version 4 is well on its way
  • 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.
  • DropBox - There's so many great cloud storage systems today. SkyDrive, DropBox, Google Drive, and others. I keep coming back to DropBox though. It's on every platform I want it on. It works great with large stores (mine is over 60gigs) and also allows selective sync for small amounts of data in just certain folders. Ultimately, though, get yourself some cloud storage because when your stuff is just "there", life is better.
  • Windows Live Writer - If you've got a blog (and if not, why not?) then this is THE app. They've also got a great plugin community. It's the second app I install. It may be done, but it's not dead.


"If you don't pay appropriate attention to what has your attention, it will take more of your attention than it deserves. " - David Allen

Now that I've upgraded to Windows 8.1 on all my machines, I really like it. Take a few minutes and learn the hot keys and you'll be flying. I went and created a series of YouTube videos to train folks on how to use Windows 8 and 8.1 effectively. Check them out! Even if Windows 8 moved your cheese, you can find it again.

It's also worth pointing out that on Windows 8 and 8.1 that you don't actually NEED a lot of utilities anymore. There's an antivirus, a firewall, partition manager, ISO file mounter, a cleanup app, an app startup manager, multiple monitor taskbars, and even virtual machine creation, all built in.

Here's a list of the best stuff that you already have but maybe didn't realize.

  • Disk Cleanup - It's improved, built-in and  much easier to find free space in Windows
  • Reliability History - In the Windows 8 Start screen, type reliability, click Settings, and then select View Reliability History. You'll get a fantastic view into how your machine is running, what works and what doesn't. Often I'll find that it's a specific or driver that's causing my troubles, rather than Windows itself. This is a great unused tool for getting to the bottom of reliability issues.
  • Display Calibration - Another app I once had to install, now built-in. Type calibrate from Start, and get all your monitors' colors correct and clear. Crucial for those who work on the web or in PhotoShop.
  • Problem Steps Recorder - This gem was also in Windows 7. I often have my Mom use it to show me bugs or issues she runs into.
  • Hyper-V Virtual Machines - Windows 8 Pro includes Virtual Machines out of the box. Search for Features and Add "Hyper-V" to get a complete hypervisor that can run Ubuntu or older versions of Windows at near full-speed.
    • NOTE: Your processor needs SLAT to use Hyper-V
  • Task Scheduler - An oldie, to be sure, but one even I forget I have. If you have to do something often, scheduled it. From the Start screen type "Task."
  • Memory Diagnostic -  Concerned about bad RAM? Type "memory" as Windows now has a built-in diagnostic tool!
  • Resource Monitor - Type "Resource" from Start and get deep info into what Windows is doing, even beyond what Task Manager tells you. I use this to find rogue services.
  • File History - It's like Time Machine. I've got File History backing up my files hourly. More than once this has saved me when I needed a file off my desktop...that was deleted last month.
  • Storage Spaces makes a giant drive out of a bunch drives. I actually copy my File History to a number of drives added into a Storage Pool with Storage Spaces. All built in.
  • OblyTile - This quirky little app exists for one reason: to make prettier Tiles for your Windows 8 Start Screen to replace the ugly ones your regular desktop apps make. You can also pin Folders, commands like Shutdown, and generally make your Start Screen lovelier than it is now.


"If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done." - Bruce Lee

The store is growing and there's a number of store apps I use all the time.

  • OneNote - While not as good as the desktop app, I run them both as I have a touchscreen. It's even better if you have a stylus.
  • Google for Windows 8 - The Google apps is effectively a wrapper around Google's web properties, but its voice recognition technology is absolutely brilliant. It's worth installing just to ask questions like "How old is Oprah?"
  • Screen shot 1Bing Translator - The Bing Translator is deceptively deep. It supports dozens of languages and even supports offline translation! It'll also read the translation to you, allowing you and a guest to have a chat in two languages, switching back and forth. The most amazing part is the camera translation. Just point your webcam at some words and Bing will overlay the translation on the image itself.
  • Comixology - I am a HUGE fan of Digital Comics. Guided View is a great way to enjoy comics on your laptop or tablet, and I hope Comixology continues to develop this fantastic app.
  • Fresh Paint - Definitely a showcase/showoff app, but also incredibly deep and broad it its support for the tools artists need. The color mixing is amazing. You can paint with your mouse, finger, or stylus. Awesome for a pro, or just for the kids.
  • Movie Moments - A great little app for making 60 second movies with captions, effects, add music, etc.
  • TuneIn Radio - Lets you listen to the radio in the background while you work.
  • - The best Pomodoro timer in the Windows 8 store. Simple and does it well.
  • Modern Delicious - I've long managed all my bookmarks in the cloud with the Delicious bookmarking services. This great Windows 8 app adds Delicious support to modern apps AND supports the Share Charm, so I can Share links directly to Delicious from modern IE...or any app!
  • Music Maker Jam - Really deep music creation app that lets you jam and export to MP3.
  • Mint Finance Manager - Takes everything that's great about the Mint finance service and adds a brilliant UX and a Live Tile. Love it.


"Hofstadter's Law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's Law." - Douglas Hofstadter

  • 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.
    • Want a more advanced GUI for PowerShell? Get the free PowerGUI.
  • 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.
  • MarkdownPad 2 - For the longest time there were only attempts at a good Markdown editor on Windows. Now there's an awesome one and it puts others to shame. Get MarkdownPad 2, it's lovely.
  • scriptcs - You can easily install scriptcs with Chocolatey, and you'll quickly be able to execute C# scripts with no need to compile. Just make a .csx file, no need for even a class if you like, and you're off. It's C# and PowerShell and something more. Definitely a project to watch in 2014.
  • 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. ;
  • webessentialsWeb Essentials for Visual Studio - So essential, in fact, that Web Essentials is our official/unofficial "ASP.NET Web Tools Labs" where Mads Kristensen and friends put all their crazy ideas for future version of Visual Studio. The best features graduate into the released product! And it's open source!
  • GitHub for Windows - Truly one of the best WPF apps out there, and it's not just for GitHub, it's a great Git client in its own right. Pro Tip: Press ~ while you're browsing within a repo to get a PowerShell console with PoshGit preconfigured! Awesome.
    • Also of note is SourceTree, it supports not only Git but also Mercurial and is very clean. Talks to any remote Git or HG service.
  • JetBrains dotPeek .NET decompiler - The original .NET Reflector is no longer free, but JetBrains dotPeek is. Dig into the internals of any .NET assembly from .NET 1.0 to .NET 4 and beyond.
    • Want a Reflector tool but want it to be Open Source? Check out ILSpy from the folks that brought you SharpDevelop.
  • TWO WAY TIE: Notepad2 and Sublime Text. The world of text editing has conflated to these two contenders. I use notepad2 for my better notepad, but Sublime fills that space between a full IDE (although it's very close!) and a text editor. Get them both! And make sure you add Sublime's Package Control.
  • CodeRush (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.
    • CodeRush just added a cool new feature in 13.2 called Unit Test Builder that is truly amazing.
  • ReSharper - Whether you're working in large existing codebases or practicing TDD, ReSharper is one of the top Developer Productivity Tools on the market. Give it a try.
  • 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.
  • Fiddler - The easy, clean, and powerful debugging proxy for checking out HTTP between here and there. It even supports sniffing SSL traffic.
  • Mite2 - A free desktop-based tool for testing and verification of mobile Web content. A must have for sites that need broad mobile coverage.
  • BrowserStack - Browser Stack is an amazing cloud of virtual machines running dozens of browsers on as many operating system. A fantastic cross-browser testing tool that has optional Visual Studio integration.
  • 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.
  • Postman - Amazing HTTP and REST client that runs inside Google Chrome. It's TiVo for your Web Service.
  • NirSoft Utilities Collection - Nearly everything NirSoft does is worth 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.
    • You love to Ctrl-Scroll with your mouse to zoom the size of text, right? Why not use Volumouse to control your system's sound volume with the mouse wheel. Magical.
  • 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.
  • NuGet - If you're using .NET you've gotta be using NuGet. It's Package Management for .NET and it's about time.
    • NuGet Package Explorer - This essential NuGet Explorer installs quickly as a Click Once application and lets you open NuGet Packages, search the NuGet website directly as well as author specs and publish NuGet packages directly from the GUI.
  • MSBuildShellExtension - Really ought to be built in. Right-click on any .NET project and build it directly from Explorer.
  • FireBug - 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.
  • Jabbr - A fresh alternative to IRC.
  • NCrunch - Automated unit testing for .NET. Runs them in parallel and automatically, inserting the results inline inside Visual Studio. Familiar with Continuous Integration? Meet Continuous Testing.
  • Pixie - Simple, cute and portable. It's a color picker.
  • Siren of Shame - If you've got a continuous integration server setup, you really need a way to guilt people that break the build. You need a Siren of Shame.
  • NDepend - This amazing app does dependency analysis on your .NET application and presents the findings as a TreeMap.
  • NCover - The leader in .NET code coverage tools. Deep and broad. Free for students and educational users.
  • 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. It's 6 years old and I still like it. 
  • PostSharp - Take your code beyond code generation and stay DRY with aspect oriented programming. Inject repetitive code directly into your application with frameworks that cross cut concerns.
  • Help+Manual - There's few good options for creating Help Files on Windows but while Help+Manual does cost money, it's a pretty amazing and complete system.
    • HelpNDoc - Not sure how I missed this one. Free for personal use and greats PDFs, CHMs, and more.
  • 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.
  • SQL Complete - Adds Intellisense to SQL Server Management Studio and it's free. How can you not like that?
  • 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 leaks
  • HeidiSQL - Complete tiny MySQL and SqlServer management app. Supported by apps.
  • 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


"This one goes to eleven..." - Nigel Tufnel

  • Productivity Power Tools - Two dozen cool new enhancements to Visual Studio. The best features get into the next version of VS. Check out PeekHelp, TimeStampMargin, RecentlyClosedTabs, and LOTS more.
  • Electric Plum iPhone Mobile Simulator - A nice little iOS browsing experience emulator. Saves me time when writing jQuery Mobile sites.
  • Web Essentials - Add Browser Link features, improved CSS editing, color preview, font preview and lots more to Visual Studio with this lightweight and actively developed "playground" extension. Yes, I mentioned it twice.
  • CodeMaid - Deep and powerful open source code cleanup tool that supports not just C# and VB, but also F#, XAML, CSS and much more!
  • OzCode - Formerly BugAid, OzCode takes the concept of a Debug Visualizer to the next level. Visualize forloops and their future, compare expressions, dig deep and compare arrays and much more. Free while in Beta.
  • NuGet Package Manager - NuGet integrates into the References node of the Solution Explorer, enables Package Management and brings PowerShell directy into to Visual Studio.
  • VsVim - Obsessed with the Vim editor but also like Visual Studio? Why not like them both? It's also open source.
  • StyleCop - StyleCop analyzes C# source code to enforce a set of style and consistency rules. It can be run from inside of Visual Studio or integrated into an MSBuild project. Totally useful by yourself or with a team.
    • Use StyleCop.MSBuild to integrate StyleCop into your system's build with NuGet!
  • Code Digger (based on Pex) - Amazing Visual Studio addin that finds edge cases in your code that ordinary unit testing never can.
  • WiX Toolset - Creating setup projects got harder with VS2013 as deployment projects were removed. Consider the Free and Open Source WiX Toolset, recently updated to support 2013! Extremely mature and trusted.
  • Atomineer - The last word in code documentation generation, this tool lets you take unruly code comments across 7 languages and lets you turn it into Qt, JavaDoc, Doxygen, and Documentation XML.


Scott's Note: Personally, I'm all about Windows 8.1 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.

"Oh, yes, little Bobby Tables, we call him." -

  • 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.
  • Promptu - A new entry into the lauching space, Promptu ups the ante with new features like syncing between computers.
  • 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!)


"Great googlely moogley!" - Johnny Carson

  • Carnac - This wonderful little open source utility shows the hotkey's you're pressing as you press them, showing up as little overlays in the corner. I use it during coding presentations.
  • 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. ;)
  • Total Commander - The original, classic, and still the king, Total Commander is a high-speed, low glitz complete two-pane file manager for Windows. Remember Norton Commander? It's like that.
  • 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.
  • Listary - A truly amazing and polished search utility that is somewhere between a launcher and a file manager, both but neither. Listary lives next to your major file management apps and makes managing their lists and finding files a breeze. Really something special and worth your download.
  • Tortoise source control for all!
    • TortoiseHG - a Windows shell extension for Mercurial source control.
    • TortoiseSVN - a Windows shell extension for Subversion source control
    • TortoiseGit - What's that? Oh, yes, a Windows shell extension for Git source control. When you just gotta have a GUI and you love tolerate Explorer.
  • Don't like to mix your source control and your Explorer? Then integrate your favorite SCC into Visual Studio!
    • VisualHG - Source Control Plugin for Visual Studio and Mercurial
    • AnkhSVN - Subversion + Visual Studio = Crazy Delicious
    • GitSCC - Git source control tools inside Visual Studio? Linus would be mad, but we're happy!
  • EtherPad is gone but they've put it up a fork at PiratePad - 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.
  • IcoFx - There is just no better icon editor for Windows out there. Any input, any output, it's super modern and just works. It does cost money, though.
  • 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.
  • Chameleon Window Manager - Frankly all the Neosoft tools on this site are amazing, but Window Manager is particularly powerful. It lets you have total control over your windows, what goes where, how they move and resize.
  • 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. Both these apps are worth your download.
    • Shotty - Shotty is another great little screenshot utility with a nicely streamlined workflow. Most importantly, it also does transparent PNGs and respects Aero glass.
  • 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. ;)
  • GBridge - I used to use Hamachi as a private VPN system to log into multiple machines across my personal networks but I've recently started preferring GBridge. It gives you VPN, VNC, and file sharing security over Google's GTalk network. Ya, crazy, I know.
  • 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.
  • - 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.
  • Visual Studio Wallpapers - A site dedicated to making your desktop pretty with community-submitted Visual Studio wallpapers? What else could you want?
  • VLC Media Player - Screw all other media players. When you just want to watch video. Bam.
  • foobar2000 - Extremely efficient freeware audio player for Windows.
  • FAR File Manager - Norton Commander is back and still in 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. Works great with ConEmu above.
  • 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. It's a large system, perhaps too large, but it's very popular and very powerful.
  • 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.
  • Tor Anonymous Browsing - This tool lets your anonymize your web browsing and publishing. Use it when you're on the road, or staying in a hotel.


"If you know how to use Process Monitor competently, people of both sexes will immediately find you more attractive." - Scott Hanselman

  • 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.
    • Hiren's BootCD - More up to date and more hardcore, Hiren's BootCD is essential for saving machines from rootkits and other evil.
    • Darik's Boot and Nuke - When you just need to completely torch a machine and you don't want to use a hammer.
  • WinToBootic - It won't win any beauty contests, but it will make it WAY easier for you to create bootable Windows media!
  • BlueScreenView - Got a Windows crash dump from a blue screen and you really want to know whatreally happened? BlueScreenView almost always can tell you the culprit. 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.
  • SoX Sound eXchange - I do a lot with audio files and SoX is the swiss army knife of audio utilities.
  • 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.
  • HandBrake - There's dozens of video converters out there but I keep coming back to HandBrake. Great way to make those 8 processor machines work hard.
  • cURL - Throw this in your PATH right away. You never know when you want to issue an HTTP request from the command line. Once you know you can, you'll do it all the time.
  • Snoop - This amazing WPF developer util helps you visually debug your applications at runtime. What's on top of what? Where's that panel? Snoop will help you find out.
  • InspectExe - Explore and diagnose problems with Win32 applications. Display all import and export functions of an executable file, shows function definition for decorated (mangled) function names. Sometimes you just gotta crack it open.
  • 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.
  • Bitvise Tunnelier SSH Client - Lots of folks use Putty to SSH into things, but frankly, it's hard. Bitvise Tunnelier will handle anything you can throw at it.
  • Top 125 Network Security Tools - Every 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.


"So why is “Shut down” on the Start menu? When we asked people to shut down their computers, they clicked the Start button. Because, after all, when you want to shut down, you have to start somewhere." - Raymond Chen

  • - Genius. Explains how a unix chained-together command works and what does what.
  • JSFiddle - Sometimes you just want to fiddle with JavaScript. Fire up a text editor, IDE or Firebug? Naw, man. Use JSFiddle, load your framework of choice and get to work. HTML, CSS and JavaScript plus your results. Then share with a friend!
  • CSSDeck - Three boxes and online! HTML, CSS, and JavaScript all combined into one of the most creative places on the internet. You'll learn more about CSS here than in any book. 
  • Responsinator - Get a quick idea of what your website would look like on a mobile device or tablet.
  • - 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!
  • - So smart. Got a webpage to markup? Don't download an app. Use this bookmarklet, mark it up directly in the browser, then share a marked up URL. Magic. Like this.
  • 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.
  • - VNC remote into any OS with any browser, even super obscure ones, and test your web app.
  • ViewPure - Watch a YouTube video. Just the video and not the rest of the crap or ads or other videos around it. It's readability for YouTube.
  • Design - Overlay grids, rules, and crosshairs on your Web Site design, using only a bookmarklet.
  • - A social distributed bookmarks manager. It took me a bit to get into it, but theirBookmarklets 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.
  • Kuler - A wonderful color scheme chooser for when you aren't a designer but you wish you were.
  • 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.
  • smtp4dev - I often write apps that fire out emails and notifications. It's great to fire up a little SMTP mail server and have the emails delivered to a local folder. Great for testing and debugging anything that sends mail.
  • HTML5 Boilerplate - A good place to start when you're learning about HTML5 and are ready to create sites that look great and work great everywhere.
  • 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.
  • BuiltWith - What was that site BUILT WITH?
  • Google Maps + - Google Maps is cool, but Paul Rademacher's is 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.
  • ProxySwitcher - Always on the road and switching between client networks? Now switch your proxy servers as fast as you change pants.
  • 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.
    • There's also JSHint which is a prettier than JSLint.


"You can do anything, but not everything." - David Allen

  • Google Reader is dead. Some folks think RSS aggregators are slowly dying, but I think there's lots of alternatives.
    • Feedly - Feedly is the prettiest and most polished of the new feed readers. Great mobile apps and a fast web client.
    • NewsBlur - Fast and written by a one-man shop, but with support on lots of platforms and an actively developed web client. 
    • The Old Reader - This one is the most "Google Reader faithful" reader. If you just want Reader back, try The Old Reader.
  • Many folks still read with a Windows app like...
  • PNGGauntlet and PNGOut - If you've got PNGs, don't put them online without compressing them first! This is SO important to bloggers that care about their user's experiences.
  • InstaPaper - InstaPaper and it's "ReadLater" functionality is absolutely essential for dealing with the large amounts of information that bloggers come across. Read anything on the web on your time on anydevice. I use InstaPaper daily.
  • FeedValidator - If your RSS/Atom feed doesn't pass FeedValidator's tests, it's crap. Seriously. Crap.
  • IFTTT (IfThisThenThat) - A social workflow manager that lets you combine everything on the web with everything else. IFTTT is now an essential tool in everything I do on the social web.
  • OneNote with cloud syncing and OneNote for iPhone - I recently switched off of EverNote and over to OneNote when the OneNote iPhone app came out. That means I can use all my Office apps with OneNote, sync them to the cloud and they are already on my iPhone. I can also edit my cloud notes at on machines that don't have OneNote.
    • 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.
  • Windows Live Writer - The ultimate offline Blog Post tool. It has an easy SDK. If you don't like it, change it.
  • CallBurner - If you blog, you may also podcast. CallBurner is a great way to record your Skype calls. Lots of options and creates both stereo MP3s as well as a WAV file for each side of the call. Their Video versionVodBurner will record video as well.


"Tomorrow is 11/11/11, not 11/11/11. Bloody Americans." - Laurentme0w


"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

  • Ditto - It's TiVo for your Windows Clipboard. Open source work well with any clipboard format.
    • ClipX - "ClipX is a tiny clipboard history manager. It is sweet, it is free, use it."
  • Cmder and ConEmu - I've long been on a quest for a prettier Windows Console. I think that the Cmder-modified distro that includes ConEmu is as close as Windows has got. Recommended.
    • Do note that Cmder includes ConEmu and the amazing Clink utility that brings Bash Readline style command-line editing to Windows' CMD.EXE.
  • PSReadline - Amazingly powerful improvement to the PowerShell command line experience, it emulates the GNU readline library, adds syntax highlighting, brace matching and much more.
  • ImgBurn - Well, yes and no. Windows 7 includes an 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.
  • WiFi Manager command line - It's easy to connect to WiFi but often hard to delete those auto-connect open hotspot profiles in Windows. Now you can do it all from the command line.
  • VoidTools Everything Search Engine -  Sometimes you just want a text box, a 300k application and you want to Search Everything. This tiny utility makes it super easy to search your entire hard drive (all of them actually) instantly. You can Google the whole internet with Bing in a second, why shouldn't you be able to do the same with your hard drive. Best part is that it works on any version of Windows, even Windows 2000.
  • SoundSwitcher - If you've got a lot of sound profiles, headphones, bluetooth and more, you'll appreciate this little util that streamlines switching and toggling sound devices.
  • Recuva - This will save your butt the next time you delete a photo from a memory card. Nice undelete util.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • DoPDF - Want to print to a virtual printer and have a PDF pop out? Bam.
  • 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.
  • 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? These haven't changed since 2006 but they still work great.
  • LockHunter - Can't delete a file? Who has it open? Thanks Windows for NOT telling me. Unlock will, though.  
  • 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.
    • I've recently switched to 1Password for my primary password manager. It syncs great and runs anywhere.
  • TreeSize Free - This one may be the new app I use the most. It may be the best and clearest space finder today. The Pro version does even deeper analysis.
    • 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. Why is this not part of Windows 7?
    • NOTE: Try to get the Direct Download to Prish, and not the evil CNET Adware stuff.
  • Synergy - A virtual KVM. Share your mouse and keyboard between multiple computers on your desk, even if those computers run all different operating systems. Free and open source.
  • 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. Also works nicely in Windows 8.1.
  • 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.
  • Magical Jelly Bean KeyFinder - Misplace your Windows and Office Product Keys?  Find them with this.
  • KatMouse - Wish you could scroll windows without changing focus to that Window? Katmouse lets you scroll just by moving the mouse over the need to click before wheel-scrolling.
  • 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. Freshly updated!
    • RoyalTS - If all you do all day long is remote into machines, then RoyalTS is the app you've always wanted. It's Outlook for Terminal Services. I'm not sure if that's a thing but it sounds impressive. RoyalTS is amazing.
  • 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.

Contents Copyright © 2003-2014 Scott Hanselman - Please link, don't copy and reblog this list...hyperlinks to are most welcome. Also follow me on Twitter.

TAX DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONS: If you enjoyed this post, or this blog, please make a secure tax-deductible donation directly to the American Diabetes Association. Please read my personal story about life as a diabetic and donate today. ALL PROCEEDS will go to Diabetes Research.

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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December 21, 2013 14:52
An awesome list Scott. Thanks for putting this together each year. I always find some gem in it. Happy Christmas. Iain
December 21, 2013 15:05
Thanks once again for the awesome list after a long time. Always inspirational. Windows 8.1 and Web Essentials top the list.
December 21, 2013 15:13
This is the most awaited list for me. Thanks Scott.

Chrome extension section was much needed. Also very happy to see some of my oft-used tools now being at the #1 spot in their category.
December 21, 2013 16:00
Thanks for the list. Quick question, in the NimbleText entry you said 'with' but I suspect you meant 'without'. Or maybe you're a masochist.
December 21, 2013 16:07
Just a note, Prish Image Resizer from CNet is wrapped in an adware stub-downloader. There doesn't seem to be a reliable non-CNet download for this little app, which is sad.
December 21, 2013 16:09
Actually, sorry, there is a small Direct Download link on the CNet page for Prish Image Resizer. Also, there is apparently a 64-bit version floating around. I wonder if I can find some contact details for Shahar Prish and ask them to open source the app - or at least provide known-good installers.
December 21, 2013 16:12
For docs: Zeal -
December 21, 2013 17:10
Try Sumatra PDF instead of Foxit Reader -- smaller, faster and portable, source code available, x64 version not yet.

Keep up the good work!
December 21, 2013 17:14
Scott, for your next review, can you take into account SpyStudio? SpyStudio.

It offers clear advantages to troubleshoot windows issues. Disclaimer: my company develops it but I can give you third party references from Microsoft MVPs and companies such as VMware.
December 21, 2013 17:15
Tnx Scott. Its great
December 21, 2013 17:29
Any Dev should work onto Windows, even if you need to create Windows app you could use a VMWare for this job.

December 21, 2013 17:32
Your pixie link appears to be broken.

Excellent list.
December 21, 2013 18:27
Wow Scott! Awesome list! Thank you!
December 21, 2013 18:56
I will save some of your life for network sniffing when a hard bug bits you.
Please, put wireshark in the bin.

Here are two better alternative, sadly undervalued and both from microsoft.

-Network Monitor (
-Microsoft Message Analyzer (

It hurts my heart seeing such great tools completely ignored by so much people where I firmly believe they are one of the most "complex - made simple" software I ever seen.

You can correlate which process sent what message, provide your own parsers, see graphs, correlation of TCP sessions and more.
December 21, 2013 19:09
"Derek's Boot and Nuke". Actually, it's Darik's Boot and Nuke! (DBAN).
December 21, 2013 19:12
Search Everything is an amazing util. It searches all the files on your machine in seconds, and then has a simple UI yo filter. It might be called everything.exe, it my goto, over explorer to get to a file. Drives me nuts now to see people fumbling their way around Explorer to find a file.
December 21, 2013 19:47
Great list Scott! Consider EventSentry for free system health and event log monitoring. It is a great Windows utility that alerts you when something has run-a-muck.
December 21, 2013 19:54
HTTP:// - perfect for when copying code to markdown.

I often copy code from my IDE to my blog or other Markdown formatters. I always have to add four spaces or convert tabs to spaces so that it gets formatted as code block. This extremely fast and simply site just brings a simple and easy solution to my problem.
December 21, 2013 20:08
I used to use jsfiddle, I use plunkr now (

has tons of features, like easily adding commonly used libraries like knockout, angular, etc. Simple to add new files as well.
December 21, 2013 20:21
A great tool that's missing from the list (about which, by the way, I learnt from your post, Scott) is scriptcs ( - offering a C# scripting experience, REPL and lots of ready made extensions.
December 21, 2013 20:24
One alternative and one addition. I think Foxit has lost itself to bloatware (like Paint Shop Pro did years ago) and use Sumatra now. Just as fast (or faster) and works like the dickens. Also add .NET fiddle ( it's the C# version of jsfiddle and is better than having to write a console app.
December 21, 2013 20:52
Not sure why you recommend DiskView and the others over FolderSizes (, which has been under active development since forever and ROCKS. Scheduler, trend analysis, file reports, and tons more. Also has a native 64 bit build, which is awesomely scalable for large file systems. FolderSizes gets far less attention than it deserves, IMO.
December 21, 2013 21:14
Actually there is one more I wanted to mention - Farticus ( by Mads K.

Absolutely essential VS extension, farts on every broken build :-)
December 21, 2013 21:16
Scott -

Thanks for the updated list!!! Hey, do you have f.lux working with your X1 Carbon with the docking station? For me f.lux doesn't seem to recognize the two other monitors so it only dims my laptop. I know you run the same config as me (I bought based on your recommendation) so I figured I'd ask.

I'm running the Lenovo USB 3.0 docking station with the X1 Carbon and two ASUS monitors connected to DVI.

Merry Christmas to you and your beautiful family!

December 21, 2013 21:24
Mhj, you didnt mention the Process Explorer von SysInternals?
I think its really the best task/process tool out there, its free.
December 21, 2013 21:26
That's a great list. There's something I couldn't even find it in your list: Source Code Analyzer for VS.
In Eclipse there's this wonderful plugin called jDeodorant that analyzes source code and finds code smells like Feature Envy, God Class, Long Method, etc.
Have you ever come by such a tools for VS?
December 21, 2013 21:33
I love ClipMate for clipboard management because it has short and long term collections plus handy text munging features. Strip out formatting and get rid of weird line breaks and odd characters to turn fragments into paragraphs. What I want is an RT equivalent?
December 21, 2013 22:24
Finally Resharper made it. I know there's a huge rivalry between CodeRush and R# users. While a big R# fan, I believe CodeRush is a very good productivity tool. I like its debug visualizer (OzCode has a similar feature).

TeamViewer is a remote control and file transfer tool which can work with most firewalls because it uses port 80 (http) which any firewall will have open.

.Net Demon from Red Gate compiles your project while you code. I never have to wait for a compile to start and finish. There's no slowdown when you type.

Mole from Molosoft is the best Visual Studio visualizer. Lots of easy to find information. You can export the contents of any collection plus more.

Use the free Sandboxie to run any app in a sandbox from file explorer without launching big VMs.

December 21, 2013 23:00
Copying software is Teracopy (as in Terabytes), not Terracopy (as in Earth). The download link is good.
December 21, 2013 23:01
Where is Directory Opus?
December 21, 2013 23:01
The link to Pixie is broken, it points to a local file.
Clover would very well fit too. It adds tabs (and optionally an additional bookmark list) to the Explorer.
December 21, 2013 23:44
Mobaxterm missing I guess.
December 22, 2013 0:20
(P.S. The links for Paint.NET in "Things Windows Forgot" are broken / out-of-date :) )
December 22, 2013 0:59
"...with it hurting so much."

Probably meant the opposite :-)
December 22, 2013 1:50
This is the second year I read this list and I must say that it is amazing!
On the other hand I blame you for making me not do what I was supposed to do (actual work), since I spent about five hours trying several of these tools.
Also, thanks for introducing me to Chocolatey and Boxstarter!
Waiting for the next year list!
December 22, 2013 2:01
Similar to chocolatey is scoop.
December 22, 2013 2:02
Thanks once again for this wonderful contribution to developerkind.

Sorry to be a pendant but here are typos I didnt see mentioned yet. Please feel free to delete this post after (or before!) you've read it:

funky memory leak: missing an s
now build it / now built in
anonymous / anonymize
see exactly what / stray URL beside it
process explorer has too many dups (even before considering procmon)

already mentioned: is not as alpha as it sounds, being released on aug 2013

You mention DXCode. Documentor is a good example of a dxcore plugin - renders msdn-ish view of an xmldoc comment 1s after you put your caret on it

Not mentioned: GIT-TF. Was on TFS08 and VS2013 wouldn't talk to it. GIT-TF can gen a faithful mirror with complete history of a TF repo. Then there are simple simple commands to sync stuff up/down from the git repo. (and then once you come to your senses you upload your local GIT-TF repo into a git hosting solution and point your CI server at it!)

Also, in general advice, you should be linking to your don't develop without multi-mon advice, and I reckon "just use an SSD already" belongs there too by now.
December 22, 2013 2:23
Hi Scott,
Thank you for such comprehensive list of awesome tools.
I would like to add my tool of the year.

It is Meld – an open source code merge tool written in Python. It is a great alternative to WinMerge and a compare tool included into VS2013+TFS and can be installed via

cinst meld
December 22, 2013 2:56
While these are not tools per say. I highly recommend the fonts Anonymous Pro and Source Code Pro over consolas.
December 22, 2013 3:11
cmder is quite a gem!
December 22, 2013 3:16
I highly recommend psake for build automation. I release everything using this Powershell module.
December 22, 2013 3:16
Excellent list, as always. I found a couple new tools, as always :)

On Chrome extension I really like that didn't make your list is Google Analytics Debugger which decodes all that finely crafted detail emitted by the ga ping-backs.
December 22, 2013 4:53
Thanks for putting this list together every year. I always find a few new things to make my life as a developer a little more enjoyable :)
December 22, 2013 5:04
lol, Windows.
December 22, 2013 5:51
Windows 8.1 Enterprise, which I thought was supposed to be a step up from Pro, does not include Resource Manager.
December 22, 2013 6:05
Definitely needs Directory Opus. That thing removes the need for at least 5-6 other utilities and probably more. Copying, renaming, management, image resizing and tagging, FTP, split panes etc... Truly amazing bit of software, check it out!
December 22, 2013 6:05
Thanks a ton for the nice list Scott. BTW the link to Pencil (GUI sketching tool) seems to be broken. It should be I guess. (u cud have used the web developer checklist :))
December 22, 2013 6:23
You also might want to try LTF Viewer, for those times when you want to large really large text files. I'm talking GIGABYTES of text here. Most other text editors die or just plain refuse to open really big text files.
December 22, 2013 7:39
Thanks for a great list!

For git related tools, I don't see mention of gitextensions. Having tried Tortoise, I much prefer gitextensions.

* Free.
* Open Source, actively developed.
* Context sensitive Explorer menu.
* Full feature GUI.
* Visual Studio integration.
* Single installer handles all dependencies.
* More...
December 22, 2013 9:47
Nice list. Kudos to Leon for NimbleText and TimeSnapper in the list.
December 22, 2013 12:10
As a web developer, I can't live without Node.js with grunt (and bower if you don't use nuget).

Running all js tests, jshint, compiling LESS files, minifying js/css etc with a single command in PowerShell etc.. THAT is power. :)
December 22, 2013 12:42
Mailtrap is a great fake SMTP server.
December 22, 2013 12:48
what a great list!

i have only four more tools i don't wanna live without: - taskbar organizer - desktop area manager for quickly resizing windows - a remote desktop managing tool just like royal ts (free in standard edition) - screen shot tool with some nice filters / tools

December 22, 2013 12:59
As a cloud storage I suggest OwnCloud. If you have a azure account (the one included in MSDN is perfect) you can install it very quickly via the image in vmdepot, after that is quite easy to manage and you can have a private storage you can crypt and expand as you wish.

As a substitute for log parser try also qure analyzer from dbsophic, very simple but also very fast to analyze large SQL traces.
December 22, 2013 14:12
Awesome list, Scott!

For a F/OSS scriptable reverse engineering tool with python and .NET bindings, check out a@

Binaries a@

It also runs on Mac, Linux and iOS.
December 22, 2013 15:02
Thank you for this fantastic list. I'll try some of the proposed tools.
Here are two additions:
  • StExBar for regex renaming file in the explorer. Open cmd in the current dir or enter a cmd command in the current dir. Very handy!

  • unetbootin for creating bootable (linux-, rescue-, ...) usb media

December 22, 2013 15:09
Awesome list, thanks a lot! You put a huge smile on my face when I saw Total Commander :)
December 22, 2013 15:15
Very helpfull list. thanks a lot ..
December 22, 2013 16:23
Thanks so much for this ...
just a little typo under NirSoft Utilities Collection
Nearly everything NirSoft does is worth looking at
December 22, 2013 17:30
Please, please get a Mac and do one for OSX too. I've been a fan of your list for years but I shifted to Mac recently and would love to have your take on that also. Meanwhile, fantastic list as always.
December 22, 2013 17:44
Great list as always.
I'd add VSCommands extension to it though:
December 22, 2013 19:06
Thank you for this list, it is very useful.
Do you have a recommendation for a replacement of Win XP's stereo mixer?
December 22, 2013 20:27
Incredible list. Here are a few corrections:

1) "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."

"lets you anonymize"

2) " - A social distributed bookmarks manager. It took me a bit to get into it, but theirBookmarklets 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."

(space missing between "their" and "Bookmarklets" link)

3) "OneNote with cloud syncing and OneNote for iPhone - I recently switched off of EverNote and over to OneNote when the OneNote iPhone app came out. That means I can use all my Office apps with OneNote, sync them to the cloud and they are already on my iPhone. I can also edit my cloud notes at on machines that don't have OneNote."

(space missing between "at" and "" link.

-- roschler
December 22, 2013 22:11
Best list of 2013, let's see what gets added at the end of 2014!
December 22, 2013 22:49
Another program for Windows people who have to connect to more than a few machines to do maintenance and stuff you should consider is MRemoteNG (open-source offshoot of a discontinued application.) You can store a number of variants of connections in it - VNC, Windows Remote Desktop, SSH... as well as storing the login passwords for them as well (the entire program can be password protected so it's not as bad security-wise as it sounds.) This is an amazing time and effort saver when you need to access a specific machine fast remotely.
December 23, 2013 0:17
Have you actually gotten the Comixology app to work for Windows 8? I have not been able to download a single comic on my Surface.
December 23, 2013 3:09
Thanks, Scott. What a wonderful collection! :-)
December 23, 2013 5:29
Great to see Total Commander on the list.

Take a look at Total Commander Ultimate Prime Edition for probably the most useful package out there (
December 23, 2013 6:41
Comparare & Merge

Give a try to Meld (Windows Installers) for a great compare and merge tool. I met this tool in Linux and for me KDiff3, WinMerge or BeyondCompare never made for an easy and enjoyable 3 way diff experience on Windows.

Text Editors

It is worth to consider Geany. You can even edit multiple lines (Sublime Text style) on Geany, just use "Shift+Alt" instead of "Ctrl+Alt", although Sublime Text seems more practical I still prefer Geany for HTML, JavaScript, CSS, PHP, even SQL and I would be using it for Markdown if it weren't because MarkdownPad and Visual Studio Web Essentials.

By the way in earlier iterations you had notepad++.


7-Zip maybe everywhere, yet you should give a look to IZArc for a stunning list of supported formats, and also FreeArc Archiver that can beat 7-Zip in compression rate and speed.

Code Test and Demo

jsFiddle is so... last dacade! I prefer the slick interface of CodePen, it has a versitile layout and adding libraries is much easier. But there is only too much that can be done there... sometimes I want to put some PHP, C#, Java, F#, Python, Lua?, Go? Haskell? Assembler?, BrainF**k? What have you?... then it's time for Ideone.


You had the old Lutz's Reflector (that now belongs to red-gate) listed on some of your old lists... Although that tools is no longer free. The solution: Telerik JustDecompile, Telerik says that it is "Free, For Everyone, Forever" and I don't want to doubt it.

Regular Expressions

You had a Regex Section before... for testing Regex online I give you: My Regex Texter that does not only test your regex, but also explains what does it do, just mark the "Explain" chekbox, you can also ask for the code to use it in C#, PHP, JavaScript among others languages. For a lighter alternative try regexpal's Regex Tester it uses JavaScript regex and it's great test a regex against a list of test input and share the results thanks to it's permalink option.


Fences is not dead. You haven't added it to recent iterations of the list fo resons unknown... I'm using it in Windows 8.1, it works nicely.

By the way, I'm one of those who like the Star Menu... call me retro, but I'm using Star Menu 8 by IOBit. The drawback of this (and all of the others alternatives I have tested) is that it makes your desktop take a little more time to load. [Talking about IOBit, check the Game Booster]

Remote Desktop

A call out from the Past (you had this in old versions of the list): is excelent for remote control or presentations.

On the other hand TeamViewer is the best option for support.
December 23, 2013 7:38
Thanks a lot Scott. This is a perfect list and I'm glad that I'm using some of them. :)
I do have my own list of tools for Windows & Windows Phone development, mostly add-ons and NuGet packages. I just published them here :)
December 23, 2013 8:31
Have you looked at Chrome's dev tools?
December 23, 2013 8:44
Note 1: I use or have used all the software I mention.

Note 2: I forgot to mention that Fences is PAID. all other software I mention here is Gratis unless said otherwise.

I want to thank @lb for suggesting Clover. It is a worthy addition to this list. And a call out to @Dmytro who also mentioned Meld.


More Tools for the Edge cases

Don't you miss the time when the Search tool in winows was powerful (Windows 98, Windows 2000) [Yes, before that dog]? These days I can't tell it to search in the content of the file! To solve that problem we have AgentRansak that support Regex patterns, you can save your results, and more. Just go get it.

JoyToKey is a tool that maps the input of your joystick to keyboard and mouse input. This means you can control your computer from your favorite gaming control. If need more power... you can use Pinacle Game Profiler to remap your gaming control, for example you can use it to run a game that wants a XBox controller with a PlayStation 2 one.

SmartDeblur will take those pictures out of focus and make then sharp, it will take that unreable text from a photo and make sense of it. NeatImage is to noise what SmarDeblur is to blur. Excelent to remove those noise patterns from paper scans.

SubtitleWorkshop from URUSoft will allow you to covert, sync and edit those subtitle files. If you can find the subtitles... but they are in a wrong format or out of sync, SubtitleWorkshop saves the day.

The disk had problems and... "FILE0000.chk" what? Got some mysterious recovered files? You can use the Hex Editor HxD to try to look at them... but better yet! use TrID that will discover the format, you even use it to set appropiate extensions in batch.

Oh no... now the MP3s has names like "FILE0000.mp3". Gotta use Mp3tag that lets you edit the metadata of the MP3s and use them to rename your files. Ah, but apparently some of the MP3 in the collection aren't working correctly after the disk had problems. Want to know which files has problems? Try MP3Diags.

WinDirStat will allow you to discover where are the files that are eating all the free space. It gives you visuals that show you the relative space taken for each folder in your volume.

Got to free some space? CCleaner from Piriform got your back, it will not only clean temporal files from Windows, but also detect installed software that may be eating space in temporals, recents or logs. You can also use it as an alternative to Uninstall softwares and to fix registry problems.

Also from Piriform check Defraggler to defrag the hard disk, and Recuva to recover deleted files.

For the case where the computer cannot connect to the Internet to download the driver for the network adpater because it doesn't have the driver for network adapter... and nobody knows the version of the network adapter to download it in another machine... you need <a href=""l>3DP Net</a>, it is a package with generic network drivers from all knwon manufacturers, it will detect your network adapter and operating system to setup an appropiate driver that will allow you connect to the network and update your drivers... maybe using 3DP Chip that does similar tricks for all your hardware (not just network adapters).

Use GPU-Z from TechPowerup to discover the capabilities of your GPU. And use CPU-Z from CPUID to disvoer the capabilities of your CPU.

RealTemp also from TechPowerup will monitor and display the CPU temperature as an icon on your taskbar. You set a high temperature alarm or configure it to shutdown the computer.

Virtual Floppy DrivePuts Virtual Diskette in your Windows. Very useful to open Floppy images used in virtual machines (VirtualBox?) in particular when you don't want to start a virtual machine to just read a floppy image.

DVD Flick + ImgBurn to burn DVDs because, it is not just burning, it is also creating multiple tracks and building the menus.

Speaking of DVDs... Daemon Tools is an excelent software for virtual CDs and DVDs, can get the Lite edition gratis for personal use.

I recommend Macrium Reflect To schedule automatic backups, and to restore them.

And if you wish you could download the public contents of a webpage and have it navigable offline, you can make it happen with HTtrack.

And let me throw SketchUp for democratic 3D design.

For screen recording CamStudio [You should read CamStudio's History at their web]. If you can go for a PAID solution then Camtasia Studio by TechSmith that also edits video and allows you to decide on what parts to show the mouse pointer and where to zoom... After the recording is done!


Some Editors Free and Open Source:

  • Audacity for Audio, add the Lame plugin to allow it export MP3.

  • GIMP for photo edition.

  • InkScape for vectorial graphics (It uses SVG).

  • LibreOffice for offimatics.
    December 23, 2013 9:20
    Incredible list and well done, but why not post the Dev Mode key? Make folder on desktop - name (whatever) as folder_name.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}

    I don't think I saw this in the article, and it's not a secret matter, this is probably the best list I've seen in regards to Windows. Thanks!
    December 23, 2013 11:06
    Excellent post! Really really helpful links. Thanks Scott.
    December 23, 2013 11:53
    Thanks Scot. I moved from synergy to Mouse without Frontiers after problems. It's not open or cross platform, but does just work.
    December 23, 2013 12:16
    Thanks Scot.This is a perfect list and I'm using them.
    December 23, 2013 12:28
    Thanks for the decade work.
    December 23, 2013 12:46
    Instead of Dropbox try using Bittorrent Sync, works fine for me. =D
    December 23, 2013 13:47
    I've been using TotalRecorder to rip shout cast streams into properly named MP3 files for years. It's also great when ripping those old vinyls and cassettes.
    December 23, 2013 13:59
    Thanks for the list Scott.

    I appreciate the effort that goes into something like this. I have read your util round up list for the past few years and each year there is something that stands out and surprise me. This year is no exception. I was however surprised at the exclusion of notepad++ (my preferred notepad replacement); but I have recently been turned on to sublime and I am loving it. I will be giving notepad 2 a bash, to see what I am missing. Talking of bash how beautiful is cmder, this too will be getting a turn as my shell replacement. I have tried a few in the past and hopefully this one will live up to expectation. I notice that you included powertab I am not sure why I know a lot of people love it but tab completion is baked into powershell and to be frank I never got it working 100% of the time.

    Once again thanks for the hard work. I have followed your blog for years and would like to show my genuine appreciation for all the effort that been put into each blog post.
    Thanks for keeping me current...
    December 23, 2013 14:38
    What about Ripple Emulator Chrome extension? Great for testing phone gap apps and mobile websites.

    December 23, 2013 14:58
    Great list... must be a pain when you do a fresh install of Windows.
    December 23, 2013 16:13
    Thanks! for sharing such usefull tools.
    December 23, 2013 16:32
    As usual, a superb and comprehensive list Scott - many thanks. I can't believe how many items on this year's list I hadn't discovered before.
    December 23, 2013 17:45
    There's a little trick to use the run dialog (WIN+R) as a quick launcher.
    1. Create a new directory where you'll place your shortcuts (e.g. C:\Shortcuts )
    2. Add this directory to your PATH environment variable
    3. Add the extension ".LNK" to your environment variable PATHEXT

    Now create Windows shortcuts to the C:\Shortcuts directory and give them simple names: vs for Visual Studio, gitb for a git bash, halt for shutdown on Windows 8,...

    After that you can hit Win+R anywhere enter your small shortcut name to open the desired tools and programs.

    Example shortcuts:

    • vs - Visual Studio

    • gitb - Git Bash

    • halt - shutdown -s -f -t 0

    • xampp - Xampp GUI

    • projectname1 - A git bash with "Run In" set to a specific git directory

    • npp - Notepad++

    December 23, 2013 18:03
    Thanks Scott for the awesome and comprehensive list
    December 23, 2013 18:33
    Thanks for the list Scott, always enjoy trying out the new stuff!

    Found a couple of typo's:

  • NirSoft Utilities Collection - Nearly everything NirSoft does is worth looking at.

  • Also a missing space between "are" and "MyUninstaller" on the next line.

  • HelpNDoc - Not sure how I missed this one. Free for personal use and creates PDFs, CHMs, and more.

  • Jing - ... It keeps pulling me back into its strange gravity.

  • December 23, 2013 19:04
    smtp4dev!! QoL just stepped up a notch.

    I found myself installing a companion .eml-viewer to save me from installing outlook or windows live.

    Of the two free versions I tried, Kernel EML Viewer and SysTools EML Viewer, I chose the latter because it decodes base64. But it's painfully slow starting up, displaying a not so flashy fade in/out flash and I need to give it special privileges. This wouldn't be awful if it could reuse the process, but it can't.

    If anyone knows of a better app, please tell me.
    December 23, 2013 19:12
    Umm, actually neither opens the double-clicked email. You need to first save it to disk and then.... good grief, uninstall.

    The inspect button in smtp4dev works just fine.
    December 23, 2013 19:16
    Hi Scott,

    The link to Web Essentials is broken, it should be:
    December 23, 2013 20:14
    Fantastic list! Just missing .NET Demon. :/
    December 23, 2013 20:21
    NCrunch is pretty slick,

    You might want to include Mighty Moose ( too, which will run your tests "as-you-type" or "on file save". It's amazing to see the demos of it in action.
    December 23, 2013 20:39
    I officially nominate GitExtensions.

    Great tool for working with Git in a Windows environment.
    December 23, 2013 21:13
    That's a very detailed list. Thanks for putting it together.

    For Markdown I personally like Markpad ( more than MarkdownPad. Did you try it?

    Merry Xmas!

    // Martin
    December 23, 2013 21:30
    This list is mind blowing - its impossible to keep up with all the great stuff out there!

    I'm a big fan of Stack Edit markdown editor from Chrome (
    December 23, 2013 21:31
    ""Great googlely moogley!" - Johnny Carson"

    And I always thought it was Frank Zappa who said, "Great Googly Moogly"!
    December 23, 2013 22:37
    Agree 200% that Autohotkey is THE most under-appreciated powertool for Windows users, both dev and non-dev types. As you point out, AHK is simple enough to learn just enough to 'scratch your itch' for the non-dev or there are LOTS of useful scripts to pick up and tweak, etc. But if you know what you are doing, watch out! It is awesome what you can do with something free and so lightweight. Heck, its ultra-easy key-remapping is a MUST HAVE reason enough for left-handed gameplayers when game devs 'forget' to provide configurable keyboard-commands.

    Anyway, the AHK site seems to be remapped, so your link to the ultra-useful autocorrect script won't help folks. The script itself is here:

    (at least as of this post). And you are right, AHK is AppleScript for Windows. It AMAZES me that Microsoft didn't acquire this for the base OS. But the fact that AHK is forever free, SO POWERFUL, and actively supported is wonderful. (Active enough, that is, AHK is ultra stable and has so much in it that there isn't much to add even as the OS evolves.)

    BTW, anyone who gets AHK should also pick up its lightweight and powerful 'IDE light'/editor, SciTE4AutoHotkey:

    Thanks for doing the head and legwork to round this up for folks.

    December 23, 2013 22:39
    This is really superb. I'll definitely come straight to this page next time I'm looking for a tool/utility. If I could have you add one thing, it would be PropertyChanged.Fody, which I genuinely can't live without.
    December 23, 2013 23:11
    Preme would make an excellent addition to the "Stuff Windows Forgot" section. It replaced Katmouse on my PC, and I cannot live without it. It will improve your Windows experience drastically by keeping you from having to target those tiny minimize/maximize buttons. Instead you just flick the mouse pointer to the top of the window and roll the mousewheel down or up. As a bundle of interface tweaks, it's without equal.
    December 23, 2013 23:20

    Noticed that your discussion of Process Monitor under BlueScreenView has an embedded link in the middle of it that I don't think you intended.

    Otherwise, an embarassment of riches that will take weeks to appreciate.

    Thanks for all you do to make us better!
    December 24, 2013 0:07
    FeedDemon no longer syncs with Google Reader.
    December 24, 2013 3:10
    Thanks for this endeavor Scott.
    Have you considered LastPass ?
    Merry Cheristmas ...
    December 24, 2013 3:16
    Hi Scott. Great list! Just to let you know that the link to Pixie is invalid.
    Looks like this: http://"C:\Users\Scott\Downloads\pixie.exe"
    December 24, 2013 5:13
    7-Zip, Dropbox, Paint.NET, and many more of the items in this list can be installed by a terrific utility called Ninite. It lets you mass-install software silently and very quickly. It is greatly recommended.

    Furthermore, if you keep the downloaded executable somewhere in your drive, it will auto-update all software you have previously selected every time you run it. I have setup mine to run daily as a scheduled task and now all my software updates automagically.
    December 24, 2013 11:00
    Very good list. However, please update the Hamachi link to put a http:// before.
    December 24, 2013 14:03
    GREAT! Thanks Scott, Hope someone can add these sweeties to chocolatey :D
    and make a boxstarter
    December 24, 2013 14:36
    Thank you for the list. You don't need LockHunter use Process Explorer instead by typing the full path for the file or folder into the input box for "Find Handle or DLL".
    December 24, 2013 15:34
    Hi Scott. Thanks for this.

    Merry Christmas and a Happy new Year !!
    December 24, 2013 16:11
    Hi Scott,

    Just a few comments:

    > Problem Steps Recorder is available in every version of Windows since Vista -- which makes it even better.

    > Isn't PowerShell Prompt Here redundant in Windows 8 now that "Open powershell here" is on File Explorer's "File" menu?

    > Isn't PowerTab redundant if you use the ISE? Then you get much better intellisense-style completion -- even for things like .NET objects or namespaces.

    > Your link to PowerGUI seems broken. works.

    > "conflated" doesn't mean what you think it means.

    > Foxit Reader: have you tried SumatraPDF? I've found it smaller and faster.

    > Snoop: have you seen XAML Spy? It's like Snoop but generalised to Silverlight, Windows Store (and phone I think).

    > WinDirStat: I always find the graph this produces impossible to decipher. Have you tried SpaceMonger? It produces a much clearer graph in my experience.
    December 24, 2013 18:42
    Great list Scott. I think I'm ready to move off of some the older apps I've been using thanks for your recommendations. I

    Btw - I'll definitely give the clipboard managers a whirl but I've always been a fan of Clip Cube (

    December 24, 2013 19:01
    I use Snaggit for screen recording. It can record skype meetings and I also use it to create images, icons, diagrams etc.
    December 24, 2013 20:19
    Awesome list of course, perhaps the profilers from Hibernating Rhinos deserve a mention - if you are working with Nhibernate or entity framework then their profilers are must haves
    December 24, 2013 22:26
    Maybe "Snipping Tool" deserve some attention. For me it's useful.
    December 25, 2013 0:11
    Great list Scott! I am amazed at the attention to detail here. Thanks for putting in all the effort!
    December 25, 2013 10:50
    Awesome list. It saves a lot of searching time. Thanks for your effort in putting the list up.
    December 25, 2013 11:47
    Instead of ViewPure, you can use a simple bookmarklet. I wrote a blog post with the code of the bookmarklet.
    December 25, 2013 15:01
    Process Hacker would honor this list easily, too:
    December 25, 2013 21:55
    Synergy never recovered from the UAC model introduced by Microsoft. If the service is running with user permissions and you have focus on an application running with administrator permissions, you will notice you cant 'travel' to the other computers!

    Synergy has the nice cross-plataform feature but if you are using only on windows platforms(pre 8.1) I would recommend Input Director. Its so much better and being able to map keys to run automatically on the other machines without focus its awesome!

    Sadly, it seems to have some problems with windows 8.1 being the server. In that case, I recommend Mouse Without Borders.

    December 26, 2013 1:22
    Thanks as always for this list. My downloads folder looks a lot like your lists.
    there is a lot of stuff i use from here and now ther is new stuff for me to check out.
    Let me just add a few more:

    I prefer SpaceSniffer over the rest when it comes to analyzing diskspace. Its similar to spacemonger/WindirStats.

    PDF-XChange Editor [available in Free/PRO versions]. Its really the best pdf viewer avalaible.

    devart's SQLComplete is pretty cool when it comes to SQL Intellisense, prefer it over the default SSMS.

    The SSMStoolpack for sql is also useful. It keeps a history of script execution, can find values in the results tab and scripts table data. free for SSMS versions before SSMS 2012.

    I also like the Win8 Start Screen but it does not have tiles for shutdown, restart etc...(I know about the power button ;) ), in his list scott does say you can script your own. But i like this solution. An instller with a good set of icons(good enough).

    Ever gave Pocket a try? this bookmarks extension for chrome is also pretty good.

    and a shout out to plasticscm's semantic merge. just mentioned them cause the product seems cool(merges C#, Java only...javascript support in the future).

    dabblet is to css what jsfiddle is to javascript.

    and heres another fiddle.

    In addition to sublime i also use Notepad++. Ithink its still hot. Its search menu lets me use different highlights for different search results on the same file.(yes this is useful, for me anyway)

    December 26, 2013 1:54
    Just Remembered
    Shark codec pack. Now even media player can play mkv and flv.

    Mmm FREE v2.02. Declutters your context menu.pretty useful when you have to many tools.

    Others have already mentioned this but its worth mentioning again. Clover Its like chrome for explorer, Use it.

    Some useful explorer Extensions QTTabBar, Listary.

    if you need virtual desktops or mac style expose try or

    December 26, 2013 6:27
    This is always my favourite post for the year. This positively rocks!
    Thank you Scott. This is much appreciated!
    December 26, 2013 9:20
    Nice to see the inclusion of WinDirStat --- it's my go-to program when cleaning up files.
    December 26, 2013 12:03

    This tool indexes source code files and returns search results in the code within seconds. Many times quicker than Visual Studio & Notepad++ built-in file search. It is very simple to use.
    December 26, 2013 20:05
    Great list Scott, but there's only one utility that I just can't live without, and it hasn't made the list: Directory Opus. At a basic level it's a file manager in the Norton Commander mold, but its SO much deeper. File management, image management, EXIF, FTP, automation, archives, regex search & replace in files, etc etc.

    It's completely awesome, been using it since version 6 (its currently on v10) and its absolutely the first thing I install on a new PC. Check it out, you'll never use Windows Explorer again...
    December 27, 2013 2:18
    Excellent list Scott. Thanks for always sharing so much with the community.
    December 27, 2013 15:21

    Royal TS and Royal TSX (for OS X) is also free in shareware license mode (although with different limitations). The companion apps Royal TSi (for iOS) and Royal TSD (for Android) are free.
    December 28, 2013 0:29
    Head = Blown!
    December 28, 2013 12:18
    I wan't to hug this guy. My giddy Aunt, somebody hold me back!
    December 28, 2013 16:36
    For updating all your NirSoft and Sysinternals tools, check out KLS SOFT's WSCC - Windows System Control Center :)
    December 28, 2013 16:40
    Awesome list, by the way!!!
    December 28, 2013 21:51
    Just curious, Scott. Have you tried FFMPEG for media conversion? Or play, may be. I use it all the time couple of purposes. 1. Convert one media type to any other (like when you need to convert a youtube download from flv to mp3). 2- Play any media file format of which is usually not supported by popular/built-in apps.
    I just get static FFMPEG programs and place them in %PATH% and I am done.
    December 28, 2013 22:46
    Considering my heavy development on Ubuntu, My Top catch is Chocolatey.
    I would certainly have a close watch on scriptcs, OzCode, CodeMaid, Atomineer, Code Digger and Terminals

    Thanks Scott for the compilation!!
    December 29, 2013 6:44
    @Adam Baxter: MSI installers for the Prish Image Resizer in 32 and 64 bit versions are here:
    December 29, 2013 6:55
    @Steve: "I will be giving notepad 2 a bash, to see what I am missing."

    I use Notepad2 here. Like Notepad++, which is also installed, it's based on Neil Hodgson's Scintilla edit control.

    Notepad2 gets most usage, because it starts up fast, and has a registry hack included to let it replace Windows Notepad. It doesn't have all of the bells and whistles of Notepad++, but for what I do with it it doesn't need them. The only thing I really miss is tabs.

    I actually use a fork called Notepad2-mod:

    It adds:
    Code folding
    Support for bookmarks
    Option to mark all occurrences of a word
    Word auto-completion
    Syntax highlighting support for AutoHotkey, AutoIt3, AviSynth, Bash, CMake, Inno Setup, LaTeX, Lua, Markdown, NSIS, Ruby, Tcl and YAML scripts
    Improved support for NFO ANSI art
    Support for replacing Windows Notepad using a clean, unintrusive registry-based method
    December 29, 2013 13:11
    It is a great collection. Some of them are new to me, I will try. Thanks.
    December 29, 2013 14:40
    Really this is an *awesome* list!

    I strongly suggest, under the category File Managers, the fantastic XYplorer: I cannot imagine a better file manager than it!

    Go to the XYplorer site ( and just see yourself how many amazing features this products has to offers.

    If you are a developer you will shortly fall in love with it.
    December 29, 2013 18:29
    Fabulous list, quite a few things on here that almost make me want to get back into work so I can try them out ;) Good to see fiddler on it, that tool really is a life saver.
    December 30, 2013 6:56
    You should share a boxstarter script for all of these things :) btw that look looks amazing
    December 30, 2013 13:40
    Hello Scott,

    Great list as always! I would add following:

    LastPass - life changer, multi-platform, integrated, easy to use. I have literally hundreds of unique passwords since I've started using it and it's great to share some sites with your families (food delivery etc.)

    Mouse Without Borders - I've always had problems with reliability of Synergy. While MWB is not cross-platform, it works just great (including WinPhone app)

    XML Notepad - It's very old, but I haven't found any better alternative so far

    Cameyo - Think App-V without infrastructure and with built-in client (single executable). I'm storing these packages in my SkyDrive, so they're available everywhere

    Ketarin - Hidden gem for downloading sources\detecting new versions. You can easily create your own definitions (HUGE plus compared to Chocolatey) and allows custom scripted actions.

    Vimium - Great Chrome extension, allows you to use keyboard for browsing

    Clearly - Chrome extension, converts web articles to easy to read format without any bloat

    December 30, 2013 19:27
    Great list. BTW, the link to install Paint.NET installs the malware. I recommend using another download site.
    December 30, 2013 19:41
    Love this post, I find I use many of the tools you list which is reassuring. I'd like to submit two extensions for Visual Studio that are simple, but that I've found incredibly helpful!

    Colors builds and debug output, makes it easier to parse visually:

    Highlights all selected occurences of text in editor, better than others.
    December 30, 2013 21:47
    Great list. Saw some "good old friends of mine", but also some interesting new tools.
    Thank you, Scott!
    December 31, 2013 2:47
    TouchCursor doesn't seem to cost any money at all.
    December 31, 2013 7:23
    So many utilities ...
    so little time.

    Thanks Scott - great resource.
    December 31, 2013 10:00
    Great list Scott!

    I noticed that within Websites & Bookmarklets section is not an actual URL.

    Also, I would look into Mouse Without Borders as a possible alternative to Synergy. It's a great tool for working with multiple PC's.
    January 01, 2014 14:04

    great list, couple of additional tools I am using:

    Expresso - regular expression designer and tester.

    HttpMaster - for HTTP and REST testing.

    Cobian backup - for backups.

    PDF Xchange Viewer - great PDF reader.

    Icon Workshop - excellent icon tool.
    January 02, 2014 9:06
    Hi Janez, thanks for sharing those useful tools, good list especially Expresso and HTTPMaster.
    January 03, 2014 10:48
    Love each new edition of this list. Thanks!

    (Also testing my replacement for
    January 03, 2014 10:50
    (D'oh. Nevermind, no authentication anymore.)

    Why no OpenID (or any authentication) anymore?
    January 03, 2014 13:18
    Great compilation, thanks!
    January 03, 2014 18:12
    Great list, privilege to go through it. thanks
    January 03, 2014 21:23
    Love this list, I always pick up a few tips here. One thing that is strange is how people want you to add their favs to your list. People, these are tools that Scott uses.

    That said... I am surprised by two category omissions.

    1. Plex It bookmarklet. This is like Instapaper for videos. You can "plex it" youtube, vimeo, etc videos. Then when you have time, you can access your Queue with any Plex client, or even the plex website to watch your queue.

    2. I am surprised that you have no snippet expander on your list. Is a coderush like snippet expander for windows... so it works with any app. Also, it will share snippets with TextExpander which is the best app to do this on a Mac... Great combo if you use both Mac and windows machines and want your snippets on both. It also does things like correct common misspellings... which is great for me!

    Love the list... Happy Newyear.

    January 03, 2014 23:34
    Thanks for the list. Previously I also used the "curl", but fully replace him with httpie ;-)
    January 04, 2014 2:12
    An interesting take on a tiling window manager in Windows is bug.n
    January 04, 2014 17:48
    Great list of utils Scott!
    I would also add the folowing ...
    For people that work with multiple monitors I would highly recommend DisplayFusion (I think I bought it for £10 @Steam sale).
    Additionally, Source Preview Handler (, highly recommended! (Uses explorer's preview panel to show the source code while the source file is selected; with colour highlighting etc ...)

    Many thanks, Peter.
    January 04, 2014 18:55
    Thanks for the list, Scott. Here's two additions of mine.

    See a file checksum through the file properties in Windows Explorer. HashTab is just that. Adds a tab to the file properties dialog box in windows explorer. Supports 14 different hash types and as a bonus allows you to compare checksums between files.

    Alternatively, you can get HashCheck. It works the exact same way, except that instead of allowing you to compare checksums, its bonus feature allows you to quickly verify files against their checksum files.

    Or do as I did and install both!

    Happy 2014.
    January 05, 2014 12:34
    Great list Scott, thanks!

    But if you need a Mercurial plugin for Visual Studio, HgScc is way better:
    January 06, 2014 4:00
    Great list.

    Just one addition from me - SnagIt. It helps you to capture anything on your screen including image, video, or text
    January 06, 2014 18:41
    Ah, Scott? I think has not been in alpha for a while now :-)

    "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."

    As always, the list I look forward to every year, thank you for all your efforts!
    January 07, 2014 6:14
    TimeSnapper is not free.
    January 07, 2014 11:56
    Here is a tool I always use..

    PicPick is an all-in-one program that provides a full-featured screen capture tool, an intuitive image editor, a color picker, a color palette, a pixel- ruler, a protractor, a crosshair and even a whiteboard.

    This software is distributed as a freeware for personal use only. In this case, you are granted the right to use this program free of charge. Otherwise, you need to pay for a license for commercial use.
    January 08, 2014 7:16
    I can't believe that you didn't include ffmpeg... you can do any kind of video manipulation and conversion with this.
    January 10, 2014 12:48
    Nice list, especially .NET section. You shared very cool utility tools that I am using everyday, but also found some that never used before, for example Git Hub for Windows and Postman.
    January 11, 2014 14:23
    Hey Scott, love this list, and have been using it as reference for a few years now... so it's time I contributed something too.

    A personal itch that I've always had with windows, is how it is up to the application to decide whether or not to respect the 'hide cursor whilst typing' setting.

    Case in point, Visual Studio does not respect this. So I've written a little utility that hides the cursor whilst typing at an OS level, it works for every application, even VS.

    Give it a spin when you have some time -> Windows Cursor Hider
    January 13, 2014 12:04
    Thanks for this great list Scott!

    Do you happen to know what's the deal with Live Writer though? Is it really dead? Couldn't Microsoft just put in on GitHub or CodePlexx and let the community maintain it?
    ... or ASP.NET team take it over and you open source it :)
    January 14, 2014 10:16

    really nice list few tools I am using but i didn't thought about their crazy use case to achieve maximum efficiency like Chocolatey. Many of tools are new to me i will look into them.

    One question one kind of dev pc you have and how many of the tools you keep running. for example you always have one cygwin open or you have powershell or you keep them both open.

    January 14, 2014 14:08
    I'd like to give a shout for WizTree from Antibody Software.

    This is a disk usage mapper, but unlike the others out there it interrogates the MFT rather than walking the entire folder tree. As a result it'll finish examining a very large hard drive and show you the results in under a minute.

    January 15, 2014 0:31
    I agree @Joshua Preme one of the best forgotten tools I can't live without.

    Hey Scott, What do you think about Preme ? Have you used it?
    January 15, 2014 2:12
    Thank's for bringing up old and new usefull programs and utilities.
    I had great time going through, and learn new thimgs.
    January 15, 2014 3:08
    Total Commander is NOT THE ORIGIONAL!

    That would be WINDOWS COMMANDER

    TC Ripped the code off
    January 15, 2014 3:57
    @Scott, Thanks</b> for an amazing list :). Ditto with the Sysinternals kudos. I use several of their tools.

    @Jim Salmons, agree about "Autohotkey". I've been using it since Win 7 was installed 3 years ago.

    My favorites from your list:

    Autohotkey: What a gem for keyBd geeks. I'm running out of hotkey combo's :d. It's also a great script tool for simple tasks, copying files, etc.

    Autoruns (Sysinternals): Startup control made easy.

    Process Explorer (Sysinternals): "Superman" Task Scheduler :)

    BlueScreenView (Sysinternals): Comes in handy but hopefully not often :)

    VLC Player: If there's a better freeware media player out there, I'd be surprised :) VLC plays just about everything I have in my playlists.

    ImgBurn: Hard to believe this one's free :) I've used it for everything from ISO's to photo DVD's, near perfect results, errors are very rare.

    Ultimate Boot CD: Stocked full of HDD and other tools for recovery & troubleshooting needs.

    Hiren's Boot CD: This one's got one of the best HDD-erase tools around, "HDDerase" which, unlike some other HDD-wipe tools, can access a couple of lesser-known areas* of HDD's where rootkits can remain present after using some HDD-wipe tools.

    * One such area that some HDD's use is the "Host Protected Area", an area of a HDD that DBAN doesn't access when performing a HDD-wipe (stated in DBAN's FAQ on their site).

    January 15, 2014 11:29
    January 15, 2014 22:22
    Looks like is down and being retooled, your link no longer works. (2014-01-15)
    January 15, 2014 22:25
    Fraps is to old and expensive. Check out free and open source !
    January 22, 2014 23:22
    Awesome, Is there something you do not know?

    Do you have any suggestions for free FTP/SFTP Servers? I use "Sysax Multi Server" and like it? What is your thoughts?
    January 23, 2014 20:58
    What do you use for XPath queries?
    January 24, 2014 7:13
    You forgot 2 great tools for Win7 and Win8.

    1. Fences For Windows: Great way to organize icons on you desktop. Also let's you hide all the icons just by double clicking on the screen. Another nice feature is that it let's you create fences based on folders.

    2. Bins For Windows: Great way to organize / group the icons pinned to you task bar. I used this in Win7 and never used start menu.
    January 25, 2014 20:04
    Great List,

    I would like to mention Executor from

    An everday tool for me. Keeps me a little Mouse Free :-)
    January 29, 2014 2:17
    If you doing prototyping for UIs of either Mobile Apps or Web Apps a better and even faster way is with JustInMind There is a free and paid version and even the freebie is rather amazing. Flesh out a full prototype and write zero code for it.
    January 31, 2014 16:14
    ECO - Model Driven Framework for .Net
    Multi Layered Applications, UML, OCL, DDD, Persistence mapping, …
    February 05, 2014 3:04
    Great list of utilities!
    I personally recommend this awesome File search utility.
    February 05, 2014 11:30
    Greatr list but i have nice alternative to FinePrint: iPrint (
    February 07, 2014 1:04
    You might want to check out these two:

    February 14, 2014 23:12
    Why not just use Ubuntu? All the functionality a software engineer would ever need is already there. With Windows on the way out, and Linux powering the lion's share of servers, I'd think one could do much worse than to switch to Ubuntu for software development. Most of these utilities you're having to add to Windows to make it actually do useful stuff, are already there in Ubuntu.
    February 16, 2014 20:38
    You might want to add
    >Revo uninstaller
    >edit this cookie chrome extension
    >User-Agent Switcher chrome extension

    Hope this helps
    February 19, 2014 17:23

    This is an amazing list, thanks.

    Chocolately, especially, is a huge timesaver, which of course I discovered just one week after rebuilding a new Windows box (shakes fist at sky!).

    February 20, 2014 0:38
    Thanks for taking time to produce this list.

    February 23, 2014 23:48
    Wow, great list!
    February 23, 2014 23:49
    That's a lot of stuff, added to my bookmarks.
    February 26, 2014 2:53
    Great list Scott. Thank you!

    Can I recommend another small diskfree/treeview related app?

    Absolutely great for discovering why C: is a 2.4% free space yet again :-)
    February 27, 2014 2:40
    Thank you so much, instabookmarked !!
    A LOT of cool stuff here !!
    March 19, 2014 17:45
    Thank you taking the time to list these. It took a non-trivial amount of time to investigate these suggestions, but I have already saved at least that much time by using some of these programs, not to mention the harder to quantify benefit of feeling that certain tasks are more accessible. Seriously, thank you.
    March 21, 2014 2:50
    Doug Finke always has these snazzy gifs for illustrating PowerShell:
    Example blog post

    He uses GifCam. This is now in my standard set of tools. Surprised it hasn't been mentioned here!

    Thanks for keeping up with this list, it has been a fantastic resource over the years.

    March 21, 2014 7:46
    You ought to be a part of a contest for one of the finest blogs on the net.

    I will highly recommend this web site!
    March 21, 2014 14:00
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    Comments are closed.

    Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.