Today I am going to share a few of the programs (on windows) that make life a little bit more easier and I can’t live without. We might make this a series if the other ap.com bloggers want in the action.
Hotkey management and Swiss army knife – AUTOHOTKEY
I have an Autohotkey script always running, which does a bunch of different things. At the core is an autocorrect feature that corrects common spelling errors and typos taken from Wikipedia. It also will function as a text replacement utility (inserting, time, date, signatures etc…). Get it here.
Additionally, I remap some keys of the keyboard – such as Insert is now a minimise window key.
I have some global hotkeys for launching/switching to frequently used applications (such as my favoured music player, 1plus1). They launch the app when its not loaded, switch to it when is it isn’t the active window, and minimises the app when it is the active window.
I have all my numpad button mapped (with right ctrl) to frequently used different applications.
I have a hotkey that takes the current select text and launches a google search.
I have hotkeys for controlling volume using an OSD.
Because I use a ancient buckling spring keyboard, I have my right alt button mapped to the windows key.
I also tend to create hotkeys on the fly for specific functions, essentially macros that replay certain key combinations.
Window Management – WINSPLIT REVOLUTION
A must for window management on large screens and multiple monitors. Hotkeys for moving windows and resizing round the screen in arrangements of your choosing, and I also have a hotkey for sending a window to another monitor.
Desktop management – DEXPOT
Dexpot is extremely German, and extremely good. I have four desktops, each with a different label (work, play, analysis, writing) and desktop wallpaper. I have hotkeys setup so that I can easily switch between them and send applications to each window. A minor plus is that it also adds a context menu, which allows you to set windows to be "always on top" which can be handy.
Office suite – MICROSOFT OFFICE
The only pay for software on this list. If you are on Windows and you don’t have to pay for it, then you don’t have much choice.
Text editing – Notepad2
I have this set up to replace notepad and be the default text editor. It lets you zoom in and out. Which makes me happy.
Browsing – FIREFOX
Firefox is my browser of choice because of the extensibility it offers. Most useful (non cosmetic) extensions that I use are:
Zotero – reference manager/endnote killer
Foxmarks – synchronising bookmarks across machines
Adblock – blocks flashing things
Google Gears – to get offline gmail
Application launcher – SLICKRUN
I have talked about my love of Slickrun here. I have tried other, more fully featured programs, like Ubiquity in Firefox, but the simplicity and reliability of Slickrun keeps me coming back. I put it down to reliability – when I issue a command, it works, and I don’t have to think (or look and choose between the results of a search)
Fixing windows annoyances – Autohide, CCleaner.
Autohide mostly fixes problems with windows auto-hide taskbar settings, and CCleaner does cleans your computer every now and again.
Backup and sync – MS MESH
Microsoft Mesh is one of the tools that has transformed by computing experience. Back in the day I used to take my laptop to work everyday. No more. Mesh syncs selected folders to the “cloud” (the next big thing in computing, apparently) and allows for 5GB of data for free, which is enough for my needs. It syncs all files in any folders you specify across machines and also on Microsoft servers for backup.
It means I can work on a document on my laptop at home, and without being having to do anything I can turn up at my office and continue working on the same document where I left off. No more emailing myself documents, or storing to a flash disk. And it means in theory I should never ever loose data, as anything important is being continually backed with multiple redundancy.
I have a single folder on my local drive which I keep everything I could want to sync, and create ad hoc syncs for particular purposes.
Microsoft was also kind enough to throw in a very handful remote desktop tool for all your computers connected to the MESH, which saves having additional software for this purpose. It also allows for sharing, if you like sharing.