Essential Software for Windows Machine

Update 20100915: added WinSplit
Update 20090830: took out anti-virus software. I now run Windows without it. Also, added CDBurnerXP.

This entry was originally posted on November 22, 2005. I made some modifications to it. Right now I am giving Google Reader a try. Therefore FeedDemon is not part of my essentials anymore.

I recently rebuilt my laptop. On my workstation, I have used a few things that do not come with Windows, like VIM, Firefox, SSH client, Desktop Search, RSS / Atom reader, etc. I have also did some customization settings change to suit my tastes and needs. I thought I would do this many more times in the future, so I prepared this list. I will update this post as I move along or remember things.

0. Save off setting files from the machine before rebuild. Currently I need to save _vimrc, SlickRun MagicWords, Oracle glogin.ini, tnsname.ora, sqlnet.ora, ldap.ora, favorites in my Firefox, registered Sql Servers and groups, opml files, sqlcmd initialization file, my work folders and files, and VPN certificate;
1. AVG Free Edition anti virus software
1. CDBurnerXP
2. Enable ClearType for display, this is good especially if you have a flat monitor
3. Google Desktop searchNot sure if I need it anymore.
4. Open up explorer and adjust the view options of folders: show all hidden files and folders, display full path in the address bar, unhide system files, use Windows classic display, enable QuickEdit for DOS window.
5. Firefox
6. PuTTY
7. Adobe Acrobat Reader
8. SlickRun
9. VIM
10. Put putty into vim executable folder, add that folder to system PATH variable so I can launch PuTTY and vi from anywhere. Associate txt and sql extension to VIM
11. Chinese Language Pack. This will be prompted when I visit a Chinese site in IE. Windows installation media is needed.
12. Flickr Uploadr
13. Microsoft Office. I don’t use Office personally, but I need to have it for my better half
14. ZiGuang for Chinese entry. See my post here for setup instructions.Google Pinyin
15. 7Zip
16. Sql Server 2005 Developer edition and latest Sql Server Book on line
17. CygwinInstall as necessary.
18. Disable Outlook new mail notification
19. ActiveState Perl
20. Toad for OracleInstall as necessary
21. ISO Recorder if CD-RW drive is present on the machine
22. CutePDFNot sure if I need it.
23. WinSplit

Firefox customizations and extensions
1. adblock+
2. BugMeNot
3. coComment
4. Forecastfox
5. Google NotebookNo longer exists
6. Google Web Comments
7. Greasemonkey
8. IE View
9. Nuke Anything Enhanced
10. PDF Download
11. vimperator
12. FireFTP

Greasemonkey Scripts:
1. Flickr Titles + Descriptions Batch Tools
2. FlickrAllSizes+

So what software do you consider essential? Share that with me by commenting below.

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11 responses to “Essential Software for Windows Machine”

  1. I have three FireFox plugins (apart from some of those you mentioned) that I cannot live without:

    1. Open Link In… (
    2. Customize Google (
    3. PDF Download (

    Apps not mentioned include a set of IMers (MSN, GoogleTalk) and Skype. A total must have is Keith Brown’s Password Minder for keeping all those passwords safe (I don’t even know most of them myself).

    Also, as a developer I of course need the latest version of NUnit (with TestDriven.NET), NMock and RhinoMocks.

  2. Thanks Bob.

    By the way, I just updated this again to including a few more Firefox extentions and Greasemonkey scripts.

  3. That’s very clever, Brian. Thanks. Now I don’t need PuTTY anymore. One less thing to worry about, definitely a good thing.

    PuTTY will still be in my toolbox though. It is one nifty little app.

  4. In addition to Firefox, I also keep a copy of Internet Explorer. The reason for this is that I design webs and IE has about 83% of the browser market, Firefox about 13%, so between the two I’ve got 96% coverage. I find that some things display one on one browser but not another, so if designing one has to design for both browsers and then check the results on both. Currently, there is a moderate amount of HTML code that doesn’t display in Firefox, as well as some that displays but doesn’t work. On the other hand, I prefer to broswe in Firefox as it is faster than IE.

  5. Thanks Robert. Wish I can visit France someday…

    That’s true, IE definitely has a bigger market share than Firefox. I am not sure if you use an extension in Firefox called Web Developer Extension. I heard good words about it.

    Happy New Year!

  6. Haidong,

    Sounds similar to how I do things. Instead of Cygwin, I download the “Windows-style installer” and get the whole PuTTY Suite, which makes it damned easy to use encrypted keys for authentication. Then, I grab a copy of WinSCP, obviating Cygwin, since all I ever use Cygwin for is rsync.

    Are those Greasemonkey Flickr scripts hella useful? I find sorting albums and other batch operations to be kinda goofy on the Flickr web interface . . . also, how awesome is Google Notebook? I have been looking around for a decent annotation tool . . .


  7. Happy New Year Danny! I’ve been enjoying your pictures on Flickr…

    I really like Flickr Titles + Descriptions Batch Tools Greasemonkey script. It makes pictures annotation so much easier: titles, descriptions, tags, and such. It allows you to apply a generic title and description across all photos in a batch very easily. For example, type NewYear2007PartyTitle and NewYearPartyDescription in their respective fields for the first picture, then click the down arrow. They will all be copied to the rest of pictures you are editing.

    I installed the second Greasemonkey script, FlickrAllSizes+, recently. I haven’t used it much but it looks promising. It allows you to grab the HTML code of the picture easily, therefore streamlining blog writing if I want a picture in the blog.

    I liked Google Notebook too. Annotate a page is a simple click away. You can have different notebook for different categories: Openbsd, mysql, and such. I have abandoned my site since Notebook’s arrival.

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