Productivity is a extremely important to all of us, IT Pros, as we struggle to get our multiple tasks done. Efficiency has a critical role in achieving productivity, to be more effective I believe it is important to work Smarter, not harder. Below is a list of my own favorite programs (for windows) that helps me do just that – work smarter. Over they years I found myself installing these apps on every new PC that I owned.

Why do I like them so much?

  • They are easy to use
  • They help me keep my data well organized
  • They help me access my important data whenever, wherever, I need
  • They have very short learning curve
  • They are free (while some of the apps have a paid version)

The Generalist IT Free Productivity Pack

The Generalist IT Free Productivity Pack is a one-click installer that bundles and automates the setup of all the tools covered in this post. It is provided free of charge as a tribute to my fellow IT Professionals, where ever they are. Click here for additional information and free download.

Ableword – Plain text PDF Editor

I believe we all need to edit pdf documents occasionally, but why spend money on it? Ableword is “a very capable word processing application that can read and write most popular document formats including PDF’s…” Ableword supports image formatting, tables, headers & footers and includes spell checking and print preview functions, and can also be used commercially for free.

Wrap up Decent free pdf editor for personal and business use. Free, Windows only, Home Page:

Launchy – Much more than a launcher

According to the makers, Launchy is a free cross-platform utility designed to help you forget about your start menu, the icons on your desktop, and even your file manager. Well, it say what it does and  does what it says! Launchy will add a floating widget on top of your desktop, and will automatically catalog all your applications. Want to open an app? Forget searching the Start / Programs menu. Just type any part of the app name in the box, and launch it in a click. Launchy can very easily index your documents so you can open them simply by type any part of the file name in the box. In the catalog settings window, add your documents folder, select all file types, including subfolders and you are good to go (see 2nd screenshot to the left). And the best part? It works on network drives as well!

Wrap up Launch your documents, project files, folders, and bookmarks with just a few keystrokes. Free, Open Source, Cross Platfrom, Home Page:

PSPAD – Powerful text editor with FTP support

PSPad is an advanced text editor for Windows OS, it is by far better than the built-in notepad app. Some of the features are

  • work with multiple documents at the same time
  • FTP client – edit files directly from the web – Great for web developers
  • Internal HTML preview using IE and Mozilla – Also great for web developers
  • syntax highlighting according to file type – Great for programmers
  • macro recorder to record, save and load macros – Great for automation
  • search and replace in files
  • text difference with color-coded differences highlighted

Much more… PSPad is my number one choice for text editing.

Wrap up Advanced text editor with a lot of useful features for programmers, web developers, and advanced users in general. Free, Windows only, Home Page:

Evernote – Your notes and ideas, everywhere

Everynote is very useful and powerful note taking tool. From short, little, text-only notes. to advanced web-clipping, research documents and meeting minutes. Evernote also makes it super easy to sync your notes and ideas between devices with Evernote for iOS and Android apps, So your notes and ideas are with you at all times. You can even record voice and video memos with your smartphone and sync them with your home or office computer, set reminder dates to address them later, or share them with friend and colleagues. Personally, I use Evernote heavily in my work. For meeting minutes, to do lists, and collaboration with my team members. Evernote is very useful for project management and documentation.

Wrap up One place to capture all your thoughts,notes and web clips. Share and collaborate with family, friends and colleagues. Free (paid versions also avialable), CrossPlatform, Home Page:

Xmind – Powerful, Intuitive, Elegant Mind Mapping tool

XMind is a mind mapping software. It can also be used for brainstorming. XMind help capturing ideas and storing them in a visual way, manage complex information and relationship between topics. Brainstorming and project management features also help in promoting team collaboration. XMind is one of the most popular mind mapping tools, and as of version 6 it is now possible to integrate it with Evenote by exporting mind maps from XMind to Evernote. Additional features include exporting mind maps as images,  and into Microsoft Office documents.

Wrap up Mind mapping, brainstorming and project management in one place. Visualize  ideas and handle complex data and relationship between data. Free (paid versions also avialable), CrossPlatform, Home Page:

Greenshot – Screen Capture and Annotation

When I document my work, projects, or just create a manual I often need to add a screenshot of a screen, window, or a region. Greenshot makes it easy is quickly take the screenshots I need. Also by using the built-in editor Greenshot makes it easy to

  • Annotate, highlight and obfuscate the image
  • Capture complete (scrolling) web pages from Internet Explorer
  • Export the screenshot in various ways: save to file, send to printer, copy to clipboard, attach to e-mail, send Office programs

One of my favorite features is the option to export to a specific office document. For example if you have several open email messages, and you wish to add the attachment to a specific email reply, just select it in the editor (see attached demo screenshot).

Wrap up Quickly create and annotate any part of you screen. Export taken screenshot to e-mail, office programs and photo sites. Free, Windows only, Home Page:

Firefox – Effective Web Browser

If you’re looking for a fast, stable, reliable browser,I believe the Firefox is the right choice for you. In fact Firefox is my default browser on desktops and laptops. I like the clean interface, the speed of which it works, and the tons of add-ons that can be downloaded from the add-ons gallery. Speaking of add-ons the following are my top 3 favorites

  • Lastpass – Free password manage, or as the makers say – “The Last Password You’ll Have to Remember”. Premium version also available ($12/year) that enables mobile device support. Basically a cloud services that stores all you websites login information in an encrypted vault, and auto-fills the login forms for you on each site. Perfect!
  • Privacy Badger – Firefox (also available for chrome) add-on that stops advertisers and other third-party trackers from secretly tracking where you go and what pages you look at on the web. You can choose to white-list specific trackers, or black-list others, if they are not detected automatically.
  • DownThemAll! – Advanced, fast and reliable download manager for Firefox that lets you download all the links or images contained in a webpage in a click. You can even define criteria, for example only zip or image files to download.

Wrap up Fast, stable, reliable Internet browser with tons of add-ons that helps to better customize it to your needs. Free, Open Source, Multiple platforms, Home Page:

mRemoteNG- Remote Control made easy

mRemoteNG is an open source, tabbed, multi-protocol, remote connections manager. It allows you to view all of your remote connections in a simple yet powerful tabbed interface. mRemoteNG supports the following protocols:

  • RDP (Remote Desktop/Terminal Server)
  • VNC (Virtual Network Computing)
  • ICA (Citrix Independent Computing Architecture)
  • SSH (Secure Shell)
  • Telnet (TELecommunication NETwork)
  • HTTP/HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol)
  • rlogin
  • Raw Socket Connections

mRemoteNG saves connection parameters in XML file. If you use multiple computers like I do, you can save the xml file in a dropbox or “Copy” enabled folder so every time you make a change it will be synced between all you devices (as soon as you close mRemoteNG)

Wrap up Multi-protocol remote connections manager. Access all your devices in a click. Free, Open Source, Windows platform, Home Page:

Copy – Cloud Backup and Collaboration

Update 22/2/2016.

Barracuda has announced that Copy service will not be available as of May 1st 2016.

For a detailed review of Copy alternatives please read: Sorry, you can’t copy anymore.

Paint.NET- Free Powerful Image Editor

If you are looking for a free way to edit you photos (in Windows environment) then Paint.NET is probably one of the best choices you have. Paint.NET is a free image and photo editing software. It is very intuitive and feature rich. Main features include support for layers, unlimited undo, special effects, and many more useful and powerful tools. Paint.Net functionality can be extended by any one of the plugins available for it. Personally, whenever I need advanced image editing I go directly to Paint.NET.

Wrap up Great, stable. feature rich image and photo editing software. Highly recommended. Free, Windows only, Home

The Generalist IT Free Productivity Pack

The Generalist IT Free Productivity Pack is a one-click installer that bundles and automates the setup of all the tools covered in this post. It is provided free of charge as a tribute to my fellow IT Professionals, where ever they are. Click here for additional information and free download.

Legal note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links to the respected publisher / owner site. If you choose to buy or subscribe to a paid service from them after clicking on a link, I share some revenue.

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