Super UserPrograms that make you more productive
[+23] [55] guillermooo
[2009-07-15 08:32:21]
[ windows productivity ]

Name programs that make you more productive when you work on/use your computer.

My absolute winner would be:

SlickRun [1]

SlickRun is a free-floating command line utility for Windows. SlickRun gives you almost instant access to any program or website. SlickRun allows you to create command aliases (known as MagicWords), so C:\Program Files\Outlook Express\msimn.exe becomes MAIL.


Please try to:

(4) This Question should be wiki. - MicTech
"3 programs" is making it messy. Answers should be limited to only one program, to keep it clear. Editing the question in this objective. - Gnoupi
[+29] [2009-07-15 08:33:28] Mark Turner

Notepad++ [1]. By far the easiest editor for any file's I'm always editing... on windows anyways.


Please don't be mad Mark :) - MrBrutal
LOL! Trust me, I'm a vim guy. There is nothing you can do to piss me off in the world of windows editors. hehe They all make me upset. - Mark Turner
I've used VI which I remember as short for View which is good as it means I don't accidental edit anything, beyond that I'm lost (and dangerous) :) - MrBrutal
Crap! I got that wrong didn't I! It's VIEW for editing - I told you I'm dangerous! - MrBrutal
(8) vi has two modes: beep incessantly, and destroy everything :) Actually, I love VIM... GVIM on Windows isn't too bad... I like it much better than notepad++ - Mikeage
@Mikeage - so do nuclear power plants. But still, people of the world like them, and aparently there are some out there who know how to operate them :) - ldigas
VI is short for VIsual Editor, not "view". View is the read-only form of the vi command, though. - kmarsh
(1) I can't edit wiki's yet, but one reason why notepad++ is so powerfull is you can search and replace using full regular expressions or even just simple \t=tab \r\n=newline expressions. I use it all the time to clean up text. - Greg Bray
[+24] [2009-07-15 08:42:31] Alistair Knock

AutoHotKey [1] - purely for tiny little things like my Insert key opens up a new notepad window to take notes in, and for pasting little frequently used snippets of text. There are much better ways for me to do all these things but take longer to set up and potentially slower to use.


(2) +1 Autohotkey let's you "program Windows". Shame the programming language is very fiddly. - user1129
Insert opens up Notepad? What if you want to change the insertion mode? Then what would you do? - Shivasubramanian A
(2) I have never had cause to use another insertion mode, and have only found that the existence of 'overwrite' increases my IT support support load unnecessarily. ("HELP ITs Chewing My Text!") - Alistair Knock
@Shiv: Set Winkey and insert to change mode. Winkey barely gets used otherwise. - Phoshi
[+16] [2009-07-16 00:27:35] erichui

These are the 3 programs that make me more productive on everything that I do on Windows.

  1. cygwin [1]. Aside from the programming/development aspects, the bash shell is great. For me, this is the best way to navigate/traverse the file system. I love being able to navigate the file system and perform operations w/o having to touch the mouse or even look at the monitor.
  2. VirtuaWin [2]. IMHO, this is one of the best virtual desktop solutions. I find virtual desktops a must when multi-tasking and managing many, many windows. I detest window management. With this, I can set up my windows an separate desktops and never have to move/re-size them. For me, the big win with VirtuaWin is that it supports spacial navigation so that you can move to the desktop to the right/left/up/down. Quite convenient with you have 9 desktops in a 3x3 configuration.
  3. FinePrint [3]. This is a virtual printer that lets you do n-up printing. For me, this satisfies 2 needs. First, it reduces paper consumption (does anyone remember the aptly named SaveATree software for the old Mac operating systems?) Secondly, I work at many different locations (including home) and favor hardcopy for carrying around documentation/source code printouts... n-up greatly reduces the weight and bulk of what I have to lug around. (Aside, my proudest moment, using a2ps from cygwin and FinePrint to 36-up and duplex a large log file... just barely readable... was able to fit the 200 page printout on 3 pieces of paper). Well worth the $50.

"I love being able to navigate the file system and perform operations w/o having to touch the mouse or even look at the monitor" Did you try Far or another OFM already? :) - Joey
Have briefly tried some Orthodox File Managers. I need to look at the monitor to use them. With cygwin (bash really) I can just type away, since I have the most of my frequently used paths and files committed to memory. - erichui
(5) +1 for FinePrint - absolutely wonderful tool - marc_s
I love the concept of cygwin, but I've had too many various random weirdnesses with it. Last time I used it, there wasn't a clear updating method other than reinstall either (or I'm just confused). I ended up just installing Solaris in VirtualBox and mapping drives because it's easier to do *nix commands on my Windows files that way. - Brian Knoblauch
Someone knows a FilePrint-like software? I do prefer free solutions :) - kokbira
[+15] [2009-07-15 08:51:05] jan

" ClipX [1] is a tiny clipboard history manager. It is sweet, it is free, use it."


+3. if I could... - Tobias Kienzler
[+15] [2009-07-15 08:34:01] jjnguy

I'm gonna have to go with: Firefox. What would I do without all of the distractions of my browser?

Better with Adblock Plus so you don't get double distracted by all the ads that are blinded out anyway. - random
Leechblock helps keep the Firefox at bay - Matthew Lock
I can't think how firefox could make me more productive :) - ldigas
Yeah, it was supposed to be sarcastic. - jjnguy
Yeah, sarcasm should remain in comments. - Gnoupi
I love add-ons also - kokbira
[+14] [2009-07-15 08:34:06] MrBrutal

Notepad2. By far the easiest editor for any file's I'm always editing... on windows anyways.

Notepad2 is the best text editor by far. - Sam152
+1. My second fav win editor! - ldigas
and you can even replace notepad with notepad2 on windows :) - nXqd
[+11] [2009-07-16 00:38:34] kishore

Though you have asked for programs, adding second monitor, better keyboard, mouse drastically improves performance.

(5) Though for a second monitor to be useful, Ultramon is practically essential. - Peter Boughton
(1) +1 for second monitor - Kells
A better keyboard. With standard arrangement of keys. And remember the firm feeling of the old ibm keyboard with real springs under the keys? - PA
+1 for a better mouse. Get one with extra buttons you can map to common functions like switching tabs in a browser: - Greg Bray
[+9] [2009-07-15 19:45:19] Marshall
  1. Launchy
  2. Notepad++
  3. Firefox

First three things that get installed on any new PC or fresh install.

[+7] [2009-07-15 11:26:12] Richard

PowerShell [1].

A decent command line/scripting language, especially with a few snappins (e.g. TFS PowerToys).


[+7] [2009-07-15 08:33:49] cobbal

cygwin [1], emacs [2], a real internet browser (almost anything but IE, Chrome [3] preferred)


+1 for Cygwin . - RichieHindle
+1 for Emacs and Chrome. - Brian Knoblauch
[+7] [2009-07-15 08:38:42] Matt Hamilton

Without a doubt, PureText [1]. Lets me paste the clipboard contents as plain text using Win+V. Saves me heaps of time!


Same here - some much crap gets carried across from Word/Browsers/Etc when you just want the plaintext... - CJM
Or you could just use an AutoHotKey script. :) - musicfreak
Or use the aforementioned ClipX which does pure text pasting in addition to extending your clipboard. - DanH
[+7] [2009-07-15 08:52:48] Oscar Reyes


  1. Enso [1]
  2. Google Chrome [2]
  3. gVim [3] ( believe it or not )

Enso is amazing. It's as simple as that. - ThisTime
[+6] [2009-10-08 15:20:58] Dour High Arch

RescueTime [1], an unobtrusive app that tracks the time you spend on tasks. Not only is this required for contract work, I find it useful every day to keep me focused on tasks.


Aww... I was gonna add this one :p I have it running at work and it works great. Get to see what actually does make me more or less productive and how my time is spent while at work. - Svish
Svish: So vote it up. :) - Ernie Dunbar
do you use the free version? or the one where you pay by the month!!! - barlop
[+4] [2009-08-04 21:33:08] Vdex

Textpad [1] I actually prefer it to Notepad++, for me its macros are better, mainly the fact that as part of your macro you can do a search.


[+4] [2009-08-04 19:43:39] Umber Ferrule

Launchy [1] - I'm lost without this now - speedy keyboard access to everything I need

ClipX [2] - unobtrusive clipboard history tool allows me to cut and paste in one go rather than having to flick back and forth between apps

Freemind [3] - keeps track of my knowledge and musings and helps me organise


[+4] [2009-08-04 19:58:22] musicfreak

Taskbar Shuffle [1] - Let's you move your taskbar items around on Windows versions prior to Windows 7. My favorite feature of this is actually the ability to middle-click on taskbar items to close them.

gMote [2] - System-wide mouse gestures that don't suck. The nice thing about this over StrokeIt (besides the fact that it works on Vista) is that you can draw your own gestures instead of being restricted to the usual left/right/up/down directions.

Console [3] - A replacement for the Windows cmd.exe command-line shell. Much friendlier and less...stupid.


[+3] [2009-09-12 05:23:24] Blade

Windows 7 Startmenu search box.

It's like an improved version of launchy.

It search for programs in the start menu, files on the computer, email title and content in outlook, recently opened stuff, program and feature in the control pannel, etc.

It's been 3 weeks I installed w7 and I didn't have to open a single thing that would normally be in the start menu with my mouse. Typing the first letters of the wanted program is so faster than the mouse.

[+3] [2009-09-12 06:12:37] outsideblasts

Everything [1] NTFS searcher. Thorough, very quick, possible as portable. Hugely recommended.

Fast Copy [2] Does what it says.

And, [erm only 3? OK...]

Volumous [3] Control volume with mouse scroll button.

Also +1 for Autohotkey!


[+3] [2009-09-12 09:27:22] Mahin

Foxit Reader [1] : Best PDF reader available.. so fast...

WindirStat [2] : disk usage statistics viewer and cleanup tool for Microsoft Windows

CCleaner [3] : CCleaner is a freeware system optimization, privacy and cleaning tool. It removes unused files from your system - allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space.


[+3] [2009-10-08 15:25:36] Keith

Dropbox [1] is a must for me to sync files between multiple PCs.

Pilot G-2 Gel Pens [2] for writing on...

Freebee notebooks from conferences as it has no equal for me to organize my to do's.


[+3] [2009-07-15 09:00:20] Aron Rotteveel
  1. Enso [1] for quick access to pretty much anything
  2. Delicious [2] plugin for FireFox to easily manage loads of bookmarks
  3. Xobni [3] for easily making sense of my email

(2) Just checked out Enso. WOW? Where has that been all my life? - prestomation
[+3] [2009-07-16 00:50:57] Oskar Duveborn

Directory Opus [1] - replacing Windows Explorer is my first goal anywhere. Can be used from an usb stick without being installed as well. The constant management of files would be a pain without it and it brings back some of the joy in just using a computer from the Amiga Workbench era.

Google Chrome [2] - replacing IE makes for more intuitive (and in this case quicker) surfing. Though I prefer IE over Firefox and Safari, I sometimes use Opera instead. Chrome is quick of course, but the biggest reason is it's the most user-friendly and elegantly layed-out browser out there. And since IE dropped inline auto-complete I'm hating that team with a passion ><

Miranda IM [3] - keeping in touch with people is important even during work days - many tricky problems are more easily and/or quicker solved with some on-a-specific-topic knowledgeable friend(s).


[+2] [2009-07-16 00:50:42] Paul Nathan
  1. Emacs

  2. Mercurial

  3. Powershell

[+2] [2009-10-08 12:45:18] domen
  1. Notepad++ [1] - needs no explanation :-)

  2. ManicTime [2] - a great way to track your daily activity (absolutely love statistics tab)

  3. ArsClip [3] - "extended" clipboard.

used to have Launchy [4] on the list, but Win7 search box made it useless.


+1 for ManicTime - Michael La Voie
[+2] [2009-09-12 05:10:04] Blade

Ctrl2Cap [1] to replace the caps lock key with a ctrl key.

This will ease the strain on you fingers and allow a better position of your hand.


[+2] [2009-10-08 15:49:09] Tom

WinAmp. Being able to listen to teachings from my pastor goes a long ways towards keeping me focused, and my headphones keep outside distractions to a minimum.

[+2] [2010-02-21 17:46:00] user21952-is-a-great-name

Find and Run Robot [1]. In my (very humble) opinion, it does everything slickrun does, but better (and more). Screenshot captor, by the same people, is also very good (but not a productivity app).

gVim and cygwin also, but this has been beaten to death already.


[+1] [2009-08-04 21:26:16] akf
  1. Quicksilver [1] for my Mac - so I can keep my desktop clean.
  2. CommandPromptHere for my Windows box( part of the Windows Power Tools [2]set) to let me launch a command prompt already cd'd to a specific directory from Windows Explorer.
  3. Textpad [3] (Windows again). Although, thanks to SO,etc, I am giving NotePad++ a try. The point is that something more than Notepad - a glorified DOS Edit app, is a boon.

[+1] [2009-10-11 23:20:19] alexeit

CLCL [1] is an awesome clipboard manager. Lots of configuration options and really easy to use, other ones I've tried couldn't compare. I think i have been using it for over 5 years now.


[+1] [2010-01-18 09:54:51] Epaga

Wow I'm shocked - all these programs, and not one has mentioned one from my top 3: Everything Search [1]. If all you've known till now was Windows' Search or Spotlight, its speed will seriously shock you: after refreshing its cache once at startup for 20-30 seconds, it's INSTANT search for the rest of the day. INSTANT, I tell you.

It has completely changed how I view my file system: I now care a lot less where I store stuff and much more that I give the file a good name because then I can find it instantly whenever I want.


Already did, sorry. I agree though! - outsideblasts
[+1] [2010-01-21 11:20:01] Baztoune

I'd highlight Power Off 3.0 [1] which let you schedule to open or close a program. So if you are the kind of people who is easily distracted and forget the time when you chat or browse the internet, this is for you!

Power Off screenshot

Just decide when you want to close Firefox/some other distracting thing, launch your working environment, or add a warning message by launching the executable, and setting it according to your needs. You can even prevent you from canceling it by disabling "Allow cancel".

Simple and efficient. After's just up to you to be productive ;)


[+1] [2009-09-12 05:13:11] Blade

WinMover [1] to easily move and resize windows using hotkey. It's a must have for any linux poweruser on windows.


[+1] [2009-10-08 09:46:32] Irfy

For desktop management, while mutliple screens im using:

  1. VirtuaWin
  2. WinSplit Revolution

(Both of which are freeware.)

This lets me control from my keyboard, which desktop i am looking at, and quickly lets me reposition my window from one screen to another, and also to a segment of that screen. Having this setup has really kept me sane many a day when i have more than 20 windows open!

[+1] [2009-10-08 12:32:19] secureBadshah

(1) gVim - definitely. I use it for all my typing, including this post.

(2) If Gmail qualifies as a email client, then I would vote for Gmail. The concept of tagging has really changed the way we organize emails. Its simple, intuitive, fast, and has reduced the search time. I no more worry about which folder should my emails go. I simply tag it and can get the same email in various different contexts.

Unfortunately, I am not allowed to use Gmail or Thunderbird for my Office mails and am stuck with un-productive MS outlook.

(3) MS Power point - Yes some products are not as bad as they are made out to be. I regularly use it to even draw diagrams/flowchart as I do not have visio.

[+1] [2009-10-08 12:43:38] dogbane

UnxUtils [1] gives me the power of Unix commands on Windows and is not as heavy as Cygwin.

xplorer² [2] for dual-paned, tabbed-browsing of the filesystem.

Password Safe [3] for managing all my passwords.


[+1] [2009-10-08 12:58:47] TuxGeek

I use programs by liberkey [1] :)


[+1] [2009-10-08 13:57:03] Wesley Werner

Speedkeys -- a tiny global hot-key application launcher I wrote

Console [1] -- a tabbed windows shell replacement

Foobar 2K -- Who can be productive without music?


[+1] [2009-10-08 15:34:13] Jhonny D. Cano -Leftware-

EditPlus [1] has worked for me as the best notepad replacement, in which I can work up my text requirements very easily. I love the column select functionality and the regex replace functionality is very sharp.


[+1] [2009-08-04 20:13:42] Martin

SimplyFile [1] Filing assistance for Outlook. The functionality should be in Outlook by default but because it isn't this addin is a must. It's not free but the low price will soon be made back in time saved.

IrFanView [2] The best image viewer in the world.

Foxit Reader [3] PDF the way it was meant to be! Adobe can rot in hell.


Have you tried xobni? Xobni lets me treat Outlook like gmail...everything is just in a big inbox and then I can search very easily - prestomation
Funny you should say that - I downloaded it a few days ago and have just started playing with it. - Martin
+1 for Irfanview - CJM
[+1] [2009-07-18 13:40:02] Andreas Thomas

The first program I install on every fresh Windows installation: Total Commander [1]. I just can't live without it. I also use it at every customer site via USB stick.

Not one program, but a collection of essential tools: Sysinternals Suite [2].

Also +1 for Notepad2 [3].


[+1] [2009-07-29 06:08:24] Marina Martin

I'm primarily a Mac user these days, but I find it hard to use clients' Windows machines when they don't have ActiveWords [1] installed. It's like Quicksilver + TextExpander + other productivity goodies all wrapped up into one.

Another vote for Notepad2, as well as Firefox. Even after using it for years, I still click in all the wrong places in IE7. (Menus don't belong in the upper-right. It should be a law.)


[0] [2009-07-15 08:55:35] spinodal

Someone wrote them in different answers but those are my 3 apps:

  1. Notepad++ [1]
  2. ClipX [2]
  3. SlickRun [3]

Just tried clipx - noticed that text cut from MS word loses its formatting. - Mick
[0] [2009-07-15 08:33:30] MrValdez

Window's built-in applications: notepad, mspaint and calc

I can't say much for Paint or Notepad, but Calc is useful ... I enable Scientific view, and assign it to CTRL+ALT+C. It gets used a few times a day, at least. And when there's something Calc can't do, I fire up Excel :-) - Chris W. Rea
(1) With Paint.Net being free it's a must have replacement for Paint, with layer support and lots of extensions that can be added if needed. Plus you can have more than one image open at once. - Bratch
[0] [2009-08-04 20:21:48] Mark Struzinski

Dexpot [1] - Once I got into virtual desktops (Spaces) on the Mac, I had to have them for Windows, too. This is the best client I've found on Windows so far.


[0] [2009-10-08 09:39:08] Umber Ferrule

Somebody has already mentioned UltraMon, and although good, it still costs money. A really pared-down, free alternative could be allSnap [1].

allSnap [2] is a small system tray app that makes all top level windows automatically align like they do in programs such as Winamp or Photoshop. You can make windows snap to a horizontal or vertical grid, other windows or the vertical/horizontal centres.

I find allSnap [3] is just enough to keep windows in check on a multi-monitor setup in XP. Although I'm unsure if I'll still need it in Windows 7.


[0] [2010-01-21 11:32:52] Mick

The standard NVIDIA control panel software lets me rotate the displays from my two Geforce 8500 GT cards. I have four 1920x1200 monitors, one in the normal orientation, three of them sideways. Large sideways monitors are great for editing documents and source code.

[0] [2010-01-21 11:42:47] Drake

RAM Disk any!

You can put your most used "open/close" application on it (like Notepad++, Firefox, Paint.NET, ecc.) and have them ready in milliseconds

[0] [2010-02-21 16:01:44] Shaihi

Visual Studio... Can{t do right click and go to definition without it...
Also, IVT [1] - simply the best terminal ever.
Oh and TaskBar Shuffle [2] - makes my task-bar more organized.
Oh and Babylon [3] to understand what I am reading :)


[0] [2010-02-21 16:20:24] kez

Memento [1] for storing notes on your desktop.

Just a minimalistic notes program that sits in the system tray. It saves you trying to find that scrap of paper you lost down the back of your desk months ago. Much quicker and more productive having all your notes in one place and easily accessible.


[0] [2010-02-21 17:37:42] Greg Bray

Resolver One [1] - An IronPython powered spreadsheet that makes it much easier to create complex spreadsheets. Here is a Texas Holdem spreadsheet [2] I created, and here are some other cool examples [3].


[0] [2010-02-21 17:41:44] Greg Bray

VirtualBox [1] - Free software for running virtual machines. Best way to keep your computer clean is to install questionable applications in a virtual machine (betas, RC builds, etc). Plus it will let you setup entire testing environments on a single machine.


[0] [2010-01-18 10:28:26] Artur Carvalho so you can keep track of your goals.

Although sometimes the lack of some programs make me more productive. For instance, when I turn off the internet I dont use the browser or IM clients. Also not having some addictive games installed helps.

[0] [2009-10-20 12:52:14] eric.a.booth
  1. iGTD
  2. Text Wrangler
  3. Teleport [1]

[0] [2010-02-21 18:22:37] fluxtendu

Everything [1] search engine

It have an amazing speed because it use the NTFS USN journal for indexing... And it support regexp for advanced search

Locate files and folders by name instantly.

  • Small installation file
  • Clean and simple user interface
  • Quick file indexing
  • Quick searching
  • Minimal resource usage
  • Share files with others easily
  • Real-time updating

[0] [2010-02-21 18:31:07] fluxtendu

ArsClip [1]

The best clipboard manager I know

  • Multiple permanent items groups
  • Picture, RichText, File Copy, Unicode, HTML support
  • Keypress emulation
  • Form Mode for pasting multiple fields
  • Highly configurable