Lot’s of bloggers have written a post just like this.  It’s almost a staple for the tech-blogger.  I’ve avoided it until now because there are lots of posts like it out there already.  Wow, really makes you want to read on, huh?  Well since I am in the process of installing Windows 7 RC on my laptop, I couldn’t help but notice my list of favorite utility programs. So here they are in no particular order.  Check em out!

Disclaimer/Note – I am not affiliated with any of these products in any way, I just like them. 

Virtual Clone Drive:  This tool is great because it allows you to take an ISO image and treat it like it is a drive on your computer.  So if you download an install CD/DVD image, you don’t need to burn it onto a disk in order to install it.  Just use Virtual Clone Drive and you can click on it like any other drive on your computer and browse or run files.  Very Cool!  Plus, they’ve got one of the coolest logos around.

Paint.Net:  I’m a developer, not a professional designer.  Paint.Net is similar to programs like PhotoShop but it is free.  It certainly doesn’t have as many features as PhotoShop but most of the time, for me, it gets the job done.  I’ve been using this tool a lot for years!  And it is FREE! If you think you need photoshop, but just for casual use, check out Paint.Net.

Visual Color Picker:  This is a great tool to use if you need to figure out what color something is on your computer.  Just open a web page, application, or whatever you want to investigate and use Visual Color Picker to “pick” the color with it’s dropper tool.  Piece of cake.  Then just copy the color name or code into the application you are working on and you are all set.  Off all the tools on my list, this one seems to be the “best kept secret”.  You should really try this out, it is awesome.

BurnCDCC:  I just learned about this one from an old post Scott Hanselman’s blog.  (If I ever need a cool tool, I search his blog!)  Burn CDCC lets you put an ISO image on DVD as a true image, not just data.  This is important when you download a cd/dvd and need it to actually run off of disk (such as to install some software).

Zoomit:  This is a great little app for when you are doing presentations.  It allows you to easily zoom in on a portion of your screen, and scribble on it too!  This one is written by Mark Russinovich but available for free from Microsoft.

Lastly, an Honorable Mention…

Windows Snipping Tool:  Honorable mention, because it is already included on most computers with Vista or Windows 7.  If you need to highlight and clip just a portion of a screen shot and paste it somewhere (like into a Word doc or a blog post) Snipping Tool makes it easy.  Like some of the other tools listed above, there are some great products available out there for purchase.  In this case, Snipping Tool is similar to SnagIt, which is a cooler, better product.  And actually, SnagIt isn’t priced too highly.  But Snipping Tool makes for a decent, free version.  Oddly, up until a few weeks ago, I didn’t even know I had it!  And In 1 week, two different people told me about it.  Turns out, in an effort to enhance the performance of my computer while using the processor/memory hog Vista, I shut down a lot of things, including the Tablet PC Features in Vista.  For some reason, Snipping Tool is included in that package.  So for all this time, I didn’t have access to a really neat little feature.  Oh well.  Now I’ve got it, and I use it all the time!

 

While I’m at it, I may as well list the software getting installed on my laptop too.

Things I can’t do without:

Firefox (with Firebug, WaveToolbar, and YSlow addons), Live Writer (for composing blog posts like this one!), Digsby (for Instant Messaging), Twirl (twitter client), Live Mesh

And then:

Office 2007 and Outlook, SQL Server, Visual Studio 2008, ReSharper (my favorite VS Add on!), Bit Defender (Anti Virus), Tortoise SVN (source control) and more…

Something tells me that after I publish this, I’ll think of a bunch of stuff that I left off the list

 

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