In 2011, I compiled a list of my favourite programs, and I did the same in 2013 and 2015. So here I am now, continuing my biennial tradition by once again listing my favourite programs. Why? I don’t know. Just like Christmas, it’s a tradition that people do that doesn’t make sense anymore. Oh well, here we go…
I use Excel every day. I use it to track my finances, my work, and numerous other things. For that reason, I’m putting it at the top of my list of favourite programs. What surprises me is that I’ve been using Excel for years I’m still finding new features in it. This year, for example, I started using pivot tables for the first time. They’re tricky to set up but powerful once you know how.
Google Sheets is like a crap version of Excel EXCEPT for one important feature – Google Sheets are stored in the cloud and therefore multiple people can work on the same spreadsheet at once. This makes collaboration easy.
Photoshop is still the best way to edit photos and images. I’m still using Photoshop CS6 even though Photoshop CC is out. That’s because I have a pirated copy of Photoshop CS6 but I don’t have a pirated copy of Photoshop CC.
I sometimes write essays for money. It’s not an ethical job but I still do it. Two years ago I recommended Endnote, which is software that makes the referencing part of writing essays easy. Since then however I’ve switched to Menderley, which is essentially the same as Endnote but slightly better.
This year I’ve gotten more into programming. I used to write code using a text editor called Notepad++, but one time it erased the contents of a file I was working on. I therefore switched to Sublime Text, and I haven’t had the problem happen since. Sublime Text seems to be a decent text editor with useful features for coders.
SmartFTP is a “FTP client”, which means you can use it to upload and download files to and from your server. That’s assuming you have a server. I used to use FileZilla, but it was annoying because I had to click a dialog box every time I wanted to upload a file. SmartFTP costs $79.95 for the first year and then $49.95 for subsequent years. It’s expensive but I think for me it’s worth it.
The Windows search bar is an efficient way at finding files. However, it’s not as efficient as Everything, which is a program that searches everywhere on your computer. Type in the name of the name of a file and Everything will search your entire drive (plus any external drives you have plugged in) and give you results almost instantaneously. Everything displays its results as text, which is better than Windows search, which provides results as icons for some reason.
Autohotkey is keyboard and mouse automation software. You tell the software what keys to press, and then the software will press those for you. It’s helpful if you have to do some repetitive activity, like rename a bunch of files or edit a long Word document. One of my favourite things has been typing the right control key to a right-click. So now, whenever I press the right control key, it simulates a right-click. This saves me from having to reach down to the touchpad.
Wunderlist is basically a glorified to do list. Except this to do list syncs across your phone and computer, so you always have it with you wherever you go. My favourite thing about Wunderlist is the satisfying ‘ding’ sound when you cross off a task as completed.
You’ll probably already be familiar with speedtest.com, a website where you can check your internet download and upload speeds. Well, there’s also a small program you can download to your computer. What’s the point of downloading a program if you can us the website instead? The program saves the results so you can track your speeds over time.
Audacity is free sound editing software. It lets you make minor changes to sound files. There’s not much else to say really, except it’s free. Oh wait, I already said that. Well, now I don’t know what else to say.
Clipboard History is a program that increases the size of your clipboard. Normally, when you copy text, you can only copy one piece of text at a time. Clipboard History makes it so you can copy up to twenty pieces of text at a time. By pressing a shortcut (I’ve set mine to Alt + Shift + V), a menu pops up that lets you select from the last twenty things you’ve copied. I find it invaluable.
For this first time I’m including software I made myself. Yes, you heard that right. I made this program myself in C# using Visual Studio. As the name suggests, it’s a very simple program. It’s just five stopwatches. I use it to keep track of how long I’ve worked on different projects. I would release it as freeware but the program has a few bugs in it I’ve yet to fix.
Greenshot is a ‘screenshot program”. I bet you never thought you’d want a screenshot program, but Greenshot is actually quite useful. You can take screenshots of just certain parts of the screen instead of the whole screen. This saves you from having to crop the screenshot in Microsoft Paint.
Everyone should get Adblock. It hides adverts on internet websites so you never see them. Without Adblock, surfing the net is a pain in the ass because you’re always distracted by banner ads and pop ups. Adblock block’s youtube’s adverts too, thank god.
Vimium is an extension that adds keyboard shortcuts to use your internet browser. When you’re navigating any page, you can press the F key and keyboard shortcuts will appear for every link in sight. It makes it possible to navigate the web only using keyboard shortcuts.
Hover Zoom +
When you hover your mouse cursor over an image, Hover Zoom + magnifies the image. This makes it easy to see images close up. Also when you hover your cursor over a link to an image, Hover Zoom immediately shows the image. There’s no need to click on the link.
If you visit Piratebay, you might notice that your CPU suddenly goes up. That’s because Piratebay hijacks your computer and uses it for mining bitcoin. No Coin prevents that. You can still use Piratebay as normal, but Piratebay will no longer be able to use your commputer as a bitcoin miner.
This year for the first time I’m mentioning smartphone apps. Believe it or not, I only got my first smartphone three years ago. That’s why I haven’t included smartphone apps in my previous lists.
If you’re like me, then you browse reddit for an hour or two each day. I don’t know if it’s healthy to receive so many misinformed opinions and childish jokes. Another thing that’s not healthy is bacon. And that leads us to Baconreader, an app for viewing Reddit on your phone. it basically mkes the reddit browsing experience a lot of more easy and enjooyable on mobile. It’s available for Android iOS
OurGroceries is a shopping list app. You add what you need to buy and then you cross it off when you’ve bought it. The app can synchronise data across several phones, which means you and your partner can share the same shopping list. This feature is so useful that I’ve started using it to make lists for other things, such as baby names. If I think of a baby name, then I add it to the list and the name appears on the list on my girlfriend’s phone as well.
Ever find yourself wandering down streets looking for a good restaurant? TripAdvisor makes the process easier by providing a list of all the restaurants nearby sorted by their review score. Thanks to the TripAdvisor app, I found a great sushi restaurant while in Kyoto that I wouldn’t have otherwise found. You can also use it to find attractions. You probably already know about TripAdvisor, don’t you? You think I’m behind the times? Well, I am behind the times. Did I mention I got my first smartphone only three years ago?