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Your Top Favorite Windows Apps

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Here is my addition to what has already been posted here.. I tried to keep it all freeware or open source..

Most of this stuff I use on a daily basis

DM2 :

DM2 provides several Windows enhancements that may help in every-day work. One of the nicest and most popular features of DM2 is minimizing windows to floating icons® (unique feature!) freeing both task bar and tray bar space. Moreover, DM2 can manipulate windows in various ways: minimize to tray, make them standing always on-top over all other windows, roll to caption, resize, align to screen borders, hide, set the opacity etc. DM2 also helps with Open/Save dialog boxes, by providing user-defined menu with favorites and recent files and folders. Plenty of program's settings options will satisfy most of requirements.


Visual Task Tips is a lightweight shell enhancement utility. It provides thumbnail preview image for each task in the Windows Taskbar, as seen in the upcoming Microsoft Windows Vista.

Fluid Studios Color Picker 2.4:

Adobe's PhotoShop product really nailed the color selection process on the head. I personally saw no need to improve on that, but I wanted a stand-alone tool that encompassed a few extra features (such as picking colors from the desktop & other windows, copying various color RGB formats to the clipboard, etc.) FSColor includes these features and more.


This tool helps you to close all running applications with one click. It does not use system resources because it only sends close signal to all open windows on the desktop and goes out. Just place a shortcut to it in the Start Menu, Quick Launch or somewhere.

Startup Control Panel:

Startup Control Panel is a nifty control panel applet that allows you to easily configure which programs run when your computer starts. It's simple to use and, like all my programs, is very small and won't burden your system. A valuable tool for system administrators!

Who Lock Me:

WhoLockMe is a little extension for your Microsoft Explorer. It permeets you to list all the process locking your selected file.

NinoTech Path Copy:

Ninotech Path Copy is a shell extension for Windows 95, 98, NT4, 2000, and XP that enables to copy the path of a file or directory to the Clipboard. You can then paste the path in to your document, e-mail, etc. You copy the path of a file or directory by right-clicking it in the Windows Explorer and choosing Copy Path from the context menu. The context menu then offers nine standard ways of copying the path, in addition to the user defined copying methods that you create yourself.


Shell Extensions are in-process COM objects which extends the abilities of Windows operating system. Most shell extensions are automatically installed by the operating system, but there are also many other applications that install additional shell extension components. The ShellExView utility displays the details of shell extensions installed on your computer, and allows you to easily disable and enable each shell extension.


Restoration is a free program that can scan your hard drive, floppy diskette or USB thumb drive and find files that have been deleted (Windows doesn't actually destroy files that you delete: it just marks the space they occupy as being available). It can then recover any recently deleted files it finds with a single mouse click.

Character Map Pro & Extended Character Map:

Extended Character Map 1.41 (last freeware version) is like the Windows Character Map utility but uses much bigger, easier-to-see characters. The utility is especially useful for viewing the pictures in a symbol or Dingbat font. Characters can be seen up to 100pt size. The keystroke name is displayed in the program's status bar. The Decimal/Hex/Oct/Binary values are also displayed. Additionally, you can view the fonts with one or more attributes selected (Bold, Italic, Underline, Strikeout).

Character Map Pro 1.81 (last freeware version) is a character map program that allows you to view all characters of a selected font from 0 to 255. You can view individual characters, or font names on a separate window of any size , or view them on the clipboard. It allows you to add bold and italic style for any font, or find any font quickly by typing first letters of the font name in the font search box.

ASCII Table 2.0:

ASCII Table displays the ASCII character set along with the decimal, hexadecimal, and octal codes for each character. The table also displays the characters' names and corresponding control-key combinations.

API Handle Explorer:

When you run this program, it will list all the objects currently loaded in the system along with their handles, classes, and captions. Objects are sorted into a tree grouped by ownership for easy organization. This program is written in non-MFC Win32 C++, and should not need any additional files to run.


ExamDiff is a freeware Windows tool for visual file comparison. It has a number of simple and convenient features that many users have been asking for a long time from a file comparison tool.


This utility handles numbers in decimal, hexadecimal, binary, text and IP address form simultaneously. A change to any type of number is immediately reflected in its other forms with a mouseclick or return press.

The Font Thing:

The Font Thing is a freeware program for managing TrueType fonts in Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows NT 4.0.


Ever wanted to follow a log file or capture debug messages without having a debugger at hand?

Then this product is for you! Featuring multiple types of monitors: file monitor, event log, syslog, OutputDebugString and coloring of lines based on regular expression rules.

Best of all: it docks to the top or bottom of your desktop like ICQ and other windows resize accordingly.


A comprehensive HEX file viewer specially developed for people who need to inspect a file on a binary level.

From V1.2 some new features were added like: byte/word/long base conversions, advanced searching, printing, file chunking, etc...


WinSCP is an open source freeware SFTP client for Windows using SSH. Legacy SCP protocol is also supported. Its main function is safe copying of files between a local and a remote computer.


WinDirStat is a disk usage statistics viewer and cleanup tool for Microsoft Windows (all current variants)

The Berkeley Utilities:

40 unix commands ported to DOS

CD-DA Xtractor:

CD-DA X-Tractor, a CD ripper for 32-bit Windows platforms. It features intelligent jitter correction, internet CDDB support, on-the-fly MP3 encoding via BladeEnc or Lame_enc, and of course, it's 100% free!

Greatis WinDowse:

An extremely convenient tool for obtaining necessary technical information about any window, best Borland's WinSight replacement. Place a mouse cursor on a window, and WinDowse will show all about the window.


Winspector is a Windows application that allows you to look at the messages being sent in the system. When developing your own applications you can see the messages and you can inspect them, but you can't do the same with other running applications. With Winspector you can.


Replace text in multiple files in a single operation. Make backup copies of your original files, select case sensitive or insensitive searches, or choose between replacing whole or partial text strings. New features in version 2.0 includes improved user interface (Win XP compatible), a new scan folder(s) option, etc.

Rad Video Tools:

Video convertion tool


finds duplicate and near duplicate images by opening and reading image pixel data. The program is easy to use, just specify the path and start the scan. You can specify a match % that is required to consider the image a duplicate and preview all found dups side by side with an option to delete either one.

Video Thumb 2:

Uses DirectX9 to display any webcam at any size. With full-screen and desktop mode, presets for window size and is command line operable.


Call Trace is a freeware TAPI compliant caller ID application for Windows 95/98/Me/2000/XP

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iTunes Folder Watch 2.0.1

Publisher's website:


This useful FREE tool allows you to set up watch folders and to evaluate whether there are any new tracks in them which do not exist in iTunes, and allows you to add them selectively or fully automatically. It can be run as a taskbar process and so will continually monitor the watch folders, alternatively it may be run in the foreground on demand. Version may include unspecified updates, enhancements, or bug fixes.


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yeah, there are some good ones.. but are there any that work like topdesk (and are virus/spyware free) that are completely free? Or am I pushing my luck?

i think the only thing like that would be to download vista rc1, and then use the winkey+tab functionality, sorry. :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

I don't know of a free equivalent to Topdesk in terms of reliability, but one should pop up (ha).

Here are some apps I like that are free:

Start Right (http://www.joejoesoft.com/)

Controls what programs run at startup, in what order, and with what length pause in between processes. Powerfully alters registry so use only if you have startup problems.

Flurry (http://www.maddogsw.com/flurry/)

Beautiful Mac screensaver for your pc.

Finder Bar (http://www.toms-stuff.net/)

Mac style sidebar for explorer. Note: for me, the icon browser didn't function - had to work around that. Never crashes.

Google Desktop (http://desktop.google.com/?promo=mp-gds-v1-1)

Not as nice as Spotlight but very stable. Disable search across multiple machines or your stuff will be on Google's servers.

Vmware player (http://www.vmware.com/products/player/)

Run Firefox on Ubuntu Linux within a virtual machine within Windows, to avoid spyware, etc.

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WinDirStat is based on Stefan Hundhammers; KDE (Linux) program KDirStat. Ever find yourself staring at your hard drive volume and asking yourself: "How the f**k did it fill up...Where the f**k did it all go!?" WindDirStat reads and presents your hard drive with visual aid to clearly see where the f**k it all went.


  • The directory list, which resembles the tree view of the Windows Explorer but is sorted by file/subtree size,
  • The treemap, which shows the whole contents of the directory tree straight away,
  • The extension list, which serves as a legend and shows statistics about the file types
  • Coupling. Select an item in the directory list: The treemap highlights it; and vice versa
  • Zooming
  • Built-in cleanup actions including Open, Show Properties, Delete
  • User-defined cleanups (command line based)
  • Works with network drives and UNC paths
  • 'Create disk usage report' option
  • 'Submit bug report/Feedback' option
  • Online help
  • setup.exe
  • Language can be set to Czech, German, English, Spanish, French, Hungarian, Italian, Polish and Russian


Download (Via; Download.com)

WinDitStat Site



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1- Firefox. take back the web. Mozilla. free, customisable, expandable, reilable, flexible, skinnable= good.

2- Windows desktop search. Better integration than alternatives such as Google desktop search and looks the part, skin matches Luna and media center royale themes.

3- RKLauncher. Raduking. Dock application. looks good, customisable, skinnable.

4- Azureus. Free. for downloading legal torrents *ahem*.

5-Findexer- Awesome Finder-like sidebar for windowxs explorer.

mmm.... cant think of many more...

the windows media center royale theme is something i cant live without, but thats not a program as such.

EDIT- OOPS how could I forget Photoshop?

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  • 1 month later...

Okay this stuff is OUTSTANDING

For The Developer

TrueSpace 7.5 + V-Ray This is 3D like no other! It might not be as powerful as 3DSMax but it rocks with V-Ray 1.5, and it is REALLY easy to use! Seriously, any of them out there are a PAIN. Around $500-$600 new users but really cheap upgrades.VERY EASY TO USE Plug-In support and also ability to make truePlace maps, Caligari's 3D Instant Messenger Thingy. www.caligari.com


Yeah, it is hard to use and learn, like PhotoShop, but it has a gigantic community and NEARLY as much functionality as PhotoShop. It is also FREE and has quite a few documentation books released on it(if you buy books about software tutorials etc.). Plug in support which is explained during the installation. www.gimp.org

For The Insecure

SpywareBlaster Combined with Spybot Search&Destroy Immunize Feature

The main reason I use FireFox really, Opera is better but is not really enhanceable and secureable. These 2 things will safeguard your FireFox from Spyware, Adware , Trojans, Keyloggers, and more before they get installed/downloaded on your system

Spyware Terminator

NO, THIS IS NOT A ROGUE ANTI-SPYWARE. It is made by a company called Crawler that used to make Spyware but now it fights it. It has better detection than the dead popular Windows Defender and is less memory hungry. Most of you folks think that Ad-Aware is good enough, but its detection is WORSE than ST, and it doesn't have a real-time shield. Also, ST , aside from the real-time shield has a HIPS that YOU SHOULD ONLY TURN ON IF YOU KNOW HOW TO USE IT and the not-excellent Clam AntiVirus can be integrated in the HIPS. From the download page don't download the toolbar if you do not use Internet Explorer, scroll down and download ST without the toolbar. It is really is worth it. Freware www.spywareterminator.com



Ah yes, the very popular and FREE CCleaner. It actually stands for CrapCleaner but it is really great, people like me who use it, YOU ARE NUMBER #1! It features many options for cleaning, it has many software in its 'clean library', eg. it can delete 'tracks' you left in windows media player or adobe flash or...loads more that are so not popular. You can delete in secure deletion, simple overwrite, quick delete, or NSA(COOL, 7 Rounds, overkills files). It is very easy to use and also has an uninstaller built right in, a startup monitor, and a registry cleaner! Freeware http://www.ccleaner.com/

Darik's Boot & Nuke

NOTE: This can be VERY DANGEROUS in the hands of begginers. It can be used to do Secure file deletion's, wip out hard drives, hard drive partitions, USB Drives and pretty much everything. It can create Nuke Boot Disks *BOOM*. Freeware www.dban.sourceforge.net


If you are newer or maybe Boot and Nuke is an overkill for you system, try Eraser. It has a good level of security , it easy to install and use(by far easier than boot and nuke), and it can create nuke boot disks(Yay!). It is for more basic needs than Boot and Nuke, but still, for absolute beginners... www.heidi.ie

Simple File Shredder

This is dead easy to use, has stopped development(I think, not sure cos site was down last time I checked). This does NOT need installing, alright? It is an executable file and you can drag-and-drop files from Windows Explorer(AKA A FOLDER) and it will securely delete it. Thats all. Nothing else. This is very basic. But deadly easy to use.

Well, I hope my Arsenal Helped you! I am Glad You read this! I am sorry that I could not provide a link for Simple File Shredder but cmon, use a search engine!

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My favorite apps

RK Launcher - best launcher for launching all these other cool apps http://home.cogeco.ca/~rklauncher/

Firefox2 - best web browser by far - http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/

Photoshop cs2 - "awesome" - http://www.adobe.com/products/photoshop/index.html

VLC Player - Plays everything I need it to - http://www.videolan.org/vlc/

Winroll - for rolling up windows - http://www.palma.com.au/winroll/

Trillian Pro 3.1 - messenger that works the way I want it to - http://www.ceruleanstudios.com/downloads/

Winrar - infinitely better than winzip - http://www.rarlab.com/

QTtabbar - tabs for explorer, lifesaver - http://quizo.at.infoseek.co.jp/freeware/indexEn.html

Other VERY honorable mentions..

Ccleaner - for cleaning crap from your computer - http://www.ccleaner.com/

uTorrent - favourite torrent manager - http://www.utorrent.com/

AVG Antivirus - excellent anti-virus - http://free.grisoft.com/

Mozilla Thunderbird - excellent mail browser- http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/thunderbird/

Microsoft Office - omg did I say Microsoft?! - http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/default.aspx

transbar - transparent taskbar - google search for download links

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This thread is for a list of software that you think is in the "Must Have" or "Must Use" category.

  • Mozilla FireFox - Web Browser. The highest rated, most secure, and best friendly-to-use browser on the net.
  • Mozilla Thunderbird - Email Client. One of the highest rated, most secure, and easiest to use email client on the net.
  • uTorrent - BitTorrent client, very light footprint and easy to use.
  • Safari - Now available for Windows also, Apple's famously fast browser. Mix of beauty and speed.
  • Pidgin - Instant Messaging client, similar to Miranda IM, only lacking customizing features. Vast list of protocols.
  • iTunes - Music management program from Apple. Highest rated and most used.
  • 7-Zip - Archive manager. Some archive filetypes include RAR, 7z, and ZIP.
  • Google Earth - Giant view of the world. Period. Serves for directions, address book, etc etc.
  • Notepad ++ Notepad replacement for Windows, also good use in coding.
  • Yahoo Widget Engine - Descendant of Konfabulator, similar to Dashboard for the Mac; places widget useful widgets on your desktop.
  • avast! Anti-virus - Free, easy to use, trusted, and reliable Anti-virus program.

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