After reading Scott Hanselman's Developer and Power User Tools List, I took inventory of my system and, surprisingly, found very little overlap. Other than the typical stuff, like SysInternals, of course.
My list tends toward the developer productivity tools, the things that makes you lazy and make your life convenient. I actually have a lot more utilities, but these are totally essential, awesome and are in use every day. On to the list.
- Agent Ransack - the built in windows search is basically next to useless (particularly on Windows XP) when looking for some nugget of text. Agent Ransack makes it really simply find anything. Start it from the Folder context menu, enter a file mask, type in some text, boom - you got hitz. Free.
- Royal TS - Remote desktop connection manager. When you have to log into multiple boxes day in and day out, this is a godsend. Free and Open Source.
- Egg Timer - Basically, it's a countdown timer. Nothing less, nothing more. People come over to my desk all day long asking for help with this or that. Sometimes I'm busy, so I'll give them "In 10 minutes" rain check. Egg Timer does not let me forget. They have a trial version, which works fine. If you need the extra features, drop them $5. The app was clearly designed for XP as it looks kind of odd on Vista, but it does the job.
- Super Tray - Yet another program launcher. A tool I wrote shortly after Windows 95 came out in VB4, then upgraded it to VB6. Basically, it's an icon that sits in the system tray + plus the associated context. You can add often used programs to the context menu. The program became a bit less useful after Windows 98 introduced the Quick Launch toolbar, but use it to this day, even on Vista. Free and source available.
- FinePrint - The app is great at saving paper and letting you customize your print out. I was introduced to the app from Hanselman.com and I totally agree with Scott's call for Microsoft to just buy them. MS should definitely build the technology into Windows. The environmental impact of FinePrint being present on 1 billion desktops would be immeasurable. Entire countries could be reforested.
- Quick Search - Back in the primitive old days of Windows 95, I wrote this app to speed up searching of files, because the standard Start/Search mechanism was just far too slow. Basically the app indexes all the files into an .MDB file and then finding it is sub second. The application predates Google Desktop, MSN Desktop, Spotlight, etc... One caveat: the indexing is not real time. It's a scheduled activity - for it happens at night. Free. I'd make the source available, but I'm just too lazy to go looking for the source of an 10 year old program.
- FileZilla - an FTP client that is good enough. There are better ones, like SmartFTP, but FileZilla is free. The project has also built a lightweight FTP server that is excellent. Free and OSS.
- Apex SQL Edit - The ultimate SQL Editor, second to none. It's what Query Analyzer and it's successor should have been. The list of features is bewildering: schema intellisense, sql language intellisense, intellisense for variables (yep, just like VS2005), source control integration, scc to database mapping, code snippet, templates, expandable regions, dependency analysis, access style data editing. On the flip side, the app is a bit slow to start up and is pretty pricey at $349. This editor does NOT suck.
- Object Dock - This program has a lot of features, but I only use Tabbed Docks. Basically you can set up a little tab to appear on either edge of your screen. When you move the mouse over it a toolbar appears with your custom applications. Huge time saver. The rest of the app is a bit of a CPU drain, so I don't use it. To really grok it, see the video. Note, that tabbed docks are not available in the free version. $20.
- SQL Effects Clarity - Schema comparison for MS SQL Server and Sybase. The software used to be called SQL Effects Clarity. There is also a Community Edition (CE), which is slightly less feature rich, but free.
- Sourcegear Vault - Source Control software that's free for up to 2 accounts (one admin and one user accounts). If you are coding all by yourself, why go with less friendly SCC packages? Yeah, I am talking to you, Subversion. Kind of free.
- GhostDoc - How can you call yourself lazy and not have this tool? 'nough said. Free.
- Fiddler - HTTP Debugging Proxy - logs all the HTTP traffic. This tool really should cost a lot of money because it is so useful. For me, it was instrumental in solving several high profile performance problems for a large C# app. Free.
- TreeSize - exactly what it sounds like. Graphical representation of your folders and the space they take. Free.
- Baretail - this is NOT what it sounds like. In fact, nothing to do with porn at all. It's a graphical version of Unix's tail command, which follows the tail of the file. It's awesome for viewing log files in real time. Sports a tab interface, which allows tailing multiple files.
- XmlPad - I was looking for a light-weight XML editor that does not try to be everything under the sun. Visual Studio and XML Spy take too long to start. XmlPad is simply awesome. I provides an editor, intellisense, formatting capability and then it gets out of the way. The startup is very fast. Just an all around excellent tool. Free.