My Toolkit

Photo by Ivan Samkov on Pexels.com

Because I’m struggling to come up with some longer blog posts, I thought I’d make a list of my current tools that I rely on, on Windows. Many of them are, however, cross-platform, because I tend to be a digital nomad, and having familiar tools is essential in this line of work.

Web Tools

No tool compilation has a more important section (at least, now-a-days) than web tools. Everything intersects with the web, eventually.

  • Microsoft Edge – (Included) Edge started off as a neat side project to replace Microsoft Internet Explorer. The first iteration was a bit weak and didn’t really do well. Microsoft, smartly, pivoted and saved it by switching to the incredible WebKit (well, actually Blink, but I still prefer WebKit) engine that powers Chrome. Full of actually useful extras, like screen grab with annotation tools, included sharing and Collections.
  • Bitwarden – (Free, $10/yr for family/teams) I used to be a 1Password guy. I was really off-put when they decided that they were going to focus solely on their subscription product, rather than their existing userbase. That said, Bitwarden isn’t as good as 1Password. It’s decent and it works cross-platform (I know, 1Pass does now, too), and it’s inexpensive.
  • Microsoft To-Do – (Comes with pretty much any O365 plan). Much more useful than the built-in Outlook to-do list. Has sub-tasks, grouped lists and more.
  • PicoTorrent – (Free/OSS) A tiny little BitTorrent client. Not flashy, not loaded with features. It does one thing: Download torrents.
  • NewsFlow – (Free) A UWP app that reads RSS feeds, doesn’t look terrible, isn’t slow or out of place and has some okay integration with Windows.

Music/Media

Yes, I do like to enjoy media, on occasion!

  • Foobar2k – (Free) A insanely customizable music player and library organizer. If you can think of a layout you want, you can likely make it happen in FB2k.
  • VLC – (Free/OSS) The swiss army knife of media playback. Plays just about anything from just about any viable source. Insanely useful.
  • Amazon Music Prime – (Prime required) While I’d prefer Apple Music, this doesn’t cost me anything extra, and it has a decent selection of music I can stream.
  • Netflix – ($14/mo) I don’t use this much. I have a tendency to be very picky regarding the shows I watch. My wife, son, inlaws all watch stuff on there, so I have it, too.
  • Paint.net – (Free/OSS) Paint.net fills the gap between Paint’s anemic editing functionality, without crossing into GIMP, Photoshop Elements or Pixelmator territory of Prosumer photo editing.
  • ImageMagick – (Free/OSS) The tool that handles pretty much every website that displays an image. A crazy powerful tool for manipulating images.
  • FFMpeg – (Free/OSS) ImageMagick for videos and audio. Crazy powerful.
  • OptiPNG – (Free/OSS) A tool for crunching those screenshots down into a more manageable size.
  • Snip and Sketch – (Included) This replaces a lot of different screenshot tools.

Productivity

I do some light office work on my computer, too.

  • Microsoft Office 365 – (Your soul, or some dollar figure) Yeah, this is pretty much the gold standard.
  • EarTrumpet – (Free/OSS) A great little widget for the tray that makes it easier to adjust sound sources, volume and output.
  • Minibin – (Free) A tray widget for emptying the trash. I’m lazy.
  • Directory Opus – ($$$) The file manager to end all file managers. Customizable to a fault. The closest I’ve gotten to this tool on GNU/Linux was Dolphin, and that was a pale comparison.
  • Windows Terminal – (Free/OSS) Because I, too, like to dick around with PowerShell on occasion.
  • Breevy – ($$) A TextExpanded tool for Windows. I’m too lazy to make an AutoHotKey script, and this tool (unlike TE) isn’t subscription based.
  • Daemon Tools Ultra – ($$) I got Pro from a Humble Bundle a while back and decided to upgrade to it’s bigger, badder cousin. Great tool.
  • QuickLook – (Free/OSS) A tool modeled after the quicklook functionality on Mac. Works in a variety of file managers, too.
  • AutoRuns – (Free) Find those pesky startup and integration widgets and nuke ’em.
  • Veeam – (Free) Backup software. Crazy good for the price.
  • WinRAR – ($$) Yes, I paid for it. Yes, it’s worth it.
  • mIRC – ($$) The classic IRC client for Windows.

Misc

Stuff I don’t use a lot, but is still useful.

  • Visual Studio Code – (Free/OSS) A great editor, despite being built on Electron. Useful for editing Python or PowerShell.
  • Python – (Free/OSS) A great programming language that makes tough stuff easier to do. I like the syntax.
  • CCleaner – (Free) Because cleaning up old preferences and registry entries is easier to do when a program is doing it.
  • ESET ($$) – My preferred Anti-Virus. I know that Windows Defender gets good ratings in AV Tests, but I’ve been using ESET for ages. They do a good job of staying out of the way and providing lots of options.

By Nathan DeGruchy

IT Support extraordinaire. FOSS lover and proud Husband and Father.

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