Posted by: kurtsh | January 17, 2017

TOOL: Kurt’s Favorite Tools for Windows

[This is as of 1/17/17]
I recently got a new computer and it reminded me that I’ve never posted about the tools that I use that I consider essential to my Windows PC.

So here’s a list of my favorite tools.  Each of these deserve a a full post but this fiscal year hasn’t granted me nearly the time so here’s a quick synopsis instead.  Enjoy.

  • CCleaner Professional
    http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner
    imageEveryone knows the FREE version of this tool clears Internet history/caches, temp directories, memory dumps, etc. but not everyone knows that the Professional version (which costs $25) also does the following:
          • Removes cookies & trackers DAILY or whatever frequency you need from IE, Edge, Firefox, Chrome, & Opera (with an easy-to-use whitelisting tool to KEEP the cookies you want)
          • Real-time monitoring, to automatically clear cookies & trackers whenever you close the browser or whenever the cache exceeds a certain size.
             
  • DUMeter
    http://www.hageltech.com/dumeter/about
    imageThis is a little desktop tool that shows bandwidth consumption in real-time.  It can show it numerically, graphically in a histogram, or by application so you know what apps are consuming bandwidth on your machine.  Really essential tool.
     
  • AutoHotKey
    https://www.autohotkey.com/

    imageThis is a free automation tool that allows you to program keystrokes to execute macros.  In my case, I love to reprogram CTRL-LEFT ARROW and CTRL-RIGHT ARROW to be Home & End, and AutoHotKey does that for free.
     

  • DrawboardPDF
    https://www.microsoft.com/store/apps/9wzdncrfhwqt
    imageThis is a great tool for modifying & marking up PDF files.  Ever wish you could type into a PDF-based form or add your signature using your Surface Pen?  This is the tool to do it with.  It’s $9.99 but I think it’s worth it to be able to visually sign forms using my stylus and be able to save them digitally.
     
  • Multiplicity
    http://edgerunner.com/multiplicity
    imageI have 3 laptops on my desk at all times: Surface Pro 3, Surface 3, and a Surface Book which is my primary.  Using the mouse & keyboard of my Surface Book, I can move the mouse pointer across all 3 laptops and use the keyboard depending on where the mouse is using Multiplicity.  It costs as little as $20 for 2 PCs and has solid tech support which is – believe me – CRITICAL to ensuring connectivity/troubleshooting support.  I’ve personally tried Synergy, MouseWithoutBorders, SpaceDesk, SplashTop, and others and only Multiplicity had the support I think a tool like this needs.
     
  • FileMinimizer Suite
    http://balesio.com/fileminimizersuite/eng/index.php
    imageThis is a tool that compresses & shrinks Office & PDF documents while keeping the files readable.  This is not a ZIP tool as it keeps the document readable by inspecting it for things like oversized graphics and resizing them, conserving space. 
    The tool is very useful when you want to send a file over email and need to shrink it down in order to attach it and stay under the maximum attachment size threshold.
    It’s not free however.  At $95 a copy, it might be a little beyond a lot of folks but it’s been a good value for me.
     
  • SimplyFile
    http://www.techhit.com/SimplyFile/
    imageTechHit’s SimplyFile is one of my all time favorite tools:  It’s an Outlook add-in that automatically determines what folder an email should be moved/filed in.  Simply clicking on an email displays the predicted folder name on a button & pressing that button moves the email to that folder.  If the folder is incorrect, you can change the prediction directly in the toolbar.  It’s one of the biggest productivity enhancers I’ve had and I’ve used it for over 10 years.
    Warning:  It’s not cheap.  I think it’s something like $50.
     
  • SendIndividually
    http://www.sperrysoftware.com/Email-Tools/product/send-individually/

    imageAnother of my all time favorites, Send Individually is my mail merge tool and it’s something I’ve been using for a decade or so.  It’s an Outlook add-in that allows you to put hundreds of people in the TO: line of an email – including Contact Groups – and send an individual copy of an email to each of them. It doesn’t use BCC: and none of the recipients other than the single destination show on the To: line. 
    You can insert the recipients name in the body of the message using <firstname> or <lastname> and other mark up terms, and it automates the creation of all the individual mails you need, puts them in the Outbox, and you can watch them leave Outlook as they’re sent.  Note: This is also not a cheap tool at $50 but it doesn’t incur ongoing charges like many mail services do.

  • Teracopy
    http://codesector.com/teracopy

    imageTeracopy is a free tool that does one thing:  Copy files reliably and quickly.  It’s special features, compared to a standard Windows file copy, include the ability to check the copy’s CRC, pipeline files for reading & writing to optimize throughput, and provide specific instructions on what to do in case of collisions.  (For example, “Overwrite the destination file, only if it’s smaller than the file being copied.”)
     

  • Open Live Writer
    http://openlivewriter.org/
     
    imageOpen Live Writer is what I’m using to write this post to WordPress.  It’s a free tool that originated from the open sourcing of Windows Live Writer, a lightweight blogging tool created many years ago.
    Open Live Writer is a wonderful blogging tool for folks like me that just need the ability to have a WYSIWYG editor that will create drafts, insert photos & videos, directly publish posts to my blog, edit previously published blog posts, and manage multiple blog accounts.
    It’s sort of like Word… but quick to load, quick to create, and quick to publish.  Like I said, ‘lightweight’.

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