Starting the new job, you start with a new machine. I thought it would be interesting to go through my 'bag-o-tricks' as far as what I install.

These apps are free. Some are free as in beer; some are free as in speech (or as Stallman says, free as in freedom).

I'd love to know what other people have in their must-install list for a new machine. I might be missing something awesome.

Windows Live Messenger & Writer:

Still going strong with two great apps. My humble requests:

  • Messenger guys: please save my preferences on the server. I hate re-configuring tabs, welcome screen, contact grouping, sounds, etc.
  • Writer guys: please fix your support for images in Blogger. This is my only complaint.

Paint .NET:

I will admit to frequently lusting after a licence to Adobe Photoshop. No longer. An amazing app that just keeps getting better and keeps staying free. Awesome.

.NET Reflector:

If you code .NET, this gets installed before VS. Amazing. Also keeps getting better.


Yes, I'm one of those guys.
Yes, I have friends that work on IE.
Yes, I wish them well.


I believe in open standards. The only way to protect and encourage open standards is to have many prevalent implementations of said standards.

Firefox is just better. Even when it crashes, it remembers where I was flawlessly...something IE never does. It scales web sites in a (more) rational way. The extensibility is also amazing, as I share below.


What a clever concept. I really only use it for one script, though. Would love to know more good ones.

Google Secure Pro Greasemonkey Script:

Later, I will go through all of the web apps and services I use, but here's a hit: I use a lot of Google stuff.

Google supports HTTPS (SSL) on most of it's properties, but not by default. You have to put https:// manually in the URL.

This script does that automatically for a whole host of Google properties. It's also extensible for any web site. (Like sneakemail, which I'll go into in another post.)

Flash Blocker:

Another great Firefox add-on. This one replaces all flash content with a little arrow. When you press it, the flash loads but not before.

Great for seeing only the content you want to see and nothing else.

Sumartra PDF: 

See my comment about many implementations of open standards. This is a solid client. It doesn't support all of the bells and whistles of Adobe Acrobat, but it's super small and doesn't install any tray icons or run any background services. Kudos.


Great for chatting with the folks and the brothers.

My parents are doing video conferencing.



You can guess: a better version of notepad. Much better.

Support for syntax highlighting for multiple formats (C#, Xml, Ruby, etc.), a convenient shell context menu, tabs, the whole sha-bang.

I discovered this years ago. It keeps getting better.

For those times when you don't want to wait for VS to load.

Process Explorer:

Last, but not least.

Ever want to delete a file and not know which process was keeping it open? This is the tool.

From our friends at SysInternals (that are now our friends in the Windows Kernel team).

What did I miss?

I'd love to know about *your* bag-o-tricks. I'll re-post anything I find useful.

Share the love and have a great Saturday.