Software/Programs/Apps I love – Part 1: PC/Windows

I decided to kickstart my blog by sharing some of my personal favorite software/programs/apps.  This list does not include very popular ones like Dropbox, and I’ll begin with the PC/Windows platform. You can find a lot more great software here. The following software are all free (at least for now, 08/15/2014):

1. Ninite

Install and Update All Your Programs at Once.

It’s really helpful when you want to install a lot of software on your new computer.

2. CCleaner

CCleaner is the number-one tool for cleaning your Windows PC. It protects your privacy online and makes your computer faster and more secure. Easy to use and a small, fast download.

It’s the best of its kind.

3. f.lux

f.lux makes your computer screen look like the room you’re in, all the time. When the sun sets, it makes your computer look like your indoor lights. In the morning, it makes things look like sunlight again.

I know it sounds strange at first, but trust me, you’ll love it. Also available on iOS (requires jailbreak).

4. FreeFileSync

FreeFileSync is a folder comparison and synchronization tool providing highly optimized performance and usability without a needlessly complex user interface.

If you need more space on Dropbox, try to move less important files out of Dropbox and sync them with FreeFileSync.

5. Launchy

Launchy is a free cross-platform utility designed to help you forget about your start menu, the icons on your desktop, and even your file manager.
Launchy indexes the programs in your start menu and can launch your documents, project files, folders, and bookmarks with just a few keystrokes!

It’s easy to set up and really saves a lot of time. For example, if I want to open a folder/file called “software”, all I need to do is:
0) index the folder containing the folder/file (I just had my whole hard drive indexed, and I only have to do this once);
1) press “Alt+Space” to bring out Launchy;
2) type “software” in Launchy;
3) when it shows up (usually I don’t have to complete the whole word), press “Enter”.

6. Keepass

KeePass is a free open source password manager, which helps you to manage your passwords in a secure way. You can put all your passwords in one database, which is locked with one master key or a key file. So you only have to remember one single master password or select the key file to unlock the whole database.

One trick: if you sync the database file in Dropbox, you can add/modify it from anywhere. One Drawback: I have not found a way to access the database easily from my iPhone.

7. SpaceSniffer

SpaceSniffer is a freeWare and portable tool application that lets you understand how folders and files are structured on your disks.

It’s really helpful when I want to know where are the largest files/folders so I can delete them to get more free space on my hard drive. It’s fast and straightforward.

8. OneNote

All your notes, on all your devices, all up to date.

You probably did not expect a Microsoft product on this list. There are a lot of comparisons between OneNote and EverNote (e.g. here, here, and here),  and I feel OneNote is more useful for me because it’s good for compiling and organizing every kind of information you can think of (so in theory it can serve as your personal knowledge base). On the other hand, EverNote is less useful for me since I don’t clip things from webpages that often. Instead, I save them to Pocket. OneNote is free and available on a lot of platforms, and it syncs in the cloud. If you want to organize tons of Word doc files you saved for future reading on your computer, give it a try.