PC/OSX Software & Tips

Windows Applications

This list contains programs and tools most anyone could use, more or less. Programming related applications and more are listed on the Programming Resources page.

Internet Stuff

  • Firefox – a great browser (OSX too)
  • Chrome – another great browser (OSX too)
  • Filezilla – free ftp/sftp client/server suite
  • Thunderbird – great, free, email client (OSX too)
  • Adobe Flash Player – now you can see the youtube videos and all of those annoying animated ads in your browser (OSX too)
  • Adblock Plus – block those annoying animated ads (OSX too)

Anti virus/malware, etc

Documents, Spreadsheets, and so on

  • Open Office – free office alternative for word/excel/etc (OSX too)
  • Adobe Reader – read/edit PDF files (OSX too)
  • Foxit Reader – alternative to Adobe Reader
  • PDFCreator – print directly to a PDF file
  • notepad++ – an amazing, free, and powerful text editor
  • TextPad – another high quality editor, non-free
  • jedit – a cross platform editor (OSX too)


  • Google Talk – IM/Voice/Video (OSX too)
  • Skype – Same as Google Talk, better in some respects, worse in others. (OSX too)
  • mIRC – IRC client
  • Pidgin – multi service client (google talk, yahoo, aim, etc)
  • Trillian – like pidgin

File Tools

  • 7zip – make zip files, unpack all types of other archive formats
  • WinDirStat – figure out where all that hard drive space went.
  • SDelete – securely delete your personal files off that hard drive before you donate it to someone else.
  • Unlocker – free up that file windows won’t let you delete.

Remote Control Tools

  • Mobile Mouse Pro – control your mouse over wifi from your phone/ipod touch/etc. great for home theater setups w/ a computer connected to the tv.
  • TightVNC – a free VNC (desktop sharing/controlling) client / server package. (OSX too)
  • PuTTY – an amazing ssh client.

Sound & Music Authoring

Video & DVD Authoring

Image and Photo Authoring

  • Paint Shop Pro – affordable alternative to photoshop
  • Photoshop Elements – an affordable version of photoshop
  • FastStone image viewer – amazing, free, powerful image management software
  • Picasa – an easier-to-use / not-as-powerful (not as nerdy) image managaement software suite
  • Acdsee Photo Manager – affordable image management software, slightly better than FastStone’s stuff
  • paint.net – free photoshop alternative
  • gimp – another free photoshop alternative (OSX too)
  • inkscape – free illustrator alternative (vector graphics) (OSX too)
  • gifsicle – make animated gifs
  • jhead – read EXIF headers from jpegs
  • png2ico – create .ico files from .png files
  • centarsia – photo collage maker that makes those posters where tiny pictures make up a larger picture

CD/DVD/BDR burning/ripping/etc

  • ImgBurn – superior, free, cd/dvd/blu-ray burning
  • nero – the second, non-free, choice for media burning, a bit more user-friendly than imgburn but bloat-tastic these days.
  • handbrake – rip your dvd movies for playback on your computer or iphone or ps3 or whatever (OSX too)
  • DVD Shrink – copy your dvd (menus and all) to disc, works better than handbrake for tv show type dvds.
  • Daemon Tools – mount .iso and other types of cd/dvd data images as drives on your computer
  • Exact Audio Copy – a great tool for ripping a cd with some scratches on it.
  • CDex – rip your cd audio to mp3, auto looks up track names

Media Players & Media Streaming

  • VLC Media Player – plays almost anything, well. (OSX too)
  • iTunes – music & video management system (OSX too)
  • Winamp – another great media player, like VLC.
  • tversity – stream your music and video files to your XBOX or PS3 or other UPnP player
  • XBMC – another option (OSX too)
  • PS3 Media Server – the best media streamer option there is, transcodes video for the client on the fly, supports more than just PS3 clients (OSX too)


  • Launchy – launch apps and more with the keyboard
  • Cygwin – unix commands / programs on windows
  • cwrsync – rsync for windows with much better performance than the version that comes with cygwin
  • tunnelier – ssh tunnels w/ automatic reconnection
  • Microsoft Virtual PC – Run windows or another OS in a program.. a Virtual Machine, if you will.
  • utorrent – a great bit torrent client
  • Active WebCam – webcam watching software that can save video or frames of a video stream
  • MAME – arcade game emulator
  • Microsoft’s SysInternals suite – all kinds of great utilities
  • Eduke32 – duke nukem 3d updated with internet play and hi res textures

Windows Tips & Tricks

Random Stuff

  • double and triple clicking on words in a text editor will select the whole word/area
  • in windows vista/7 you can drag/drop the displays in the display management control panel to configure which display is on the left/right

Keyboard Shortcuts

  • windows key tricks
    • windows key + e = windows explorer
    • windows key + r = run window
    • windows key + d = show desktop / minimize all, do it again to go back to where you were
    • windows key + i = internet explorer window
    • windows key + l = lock computer
    • windows key + arrow keys = move window around (half screen left, for example) on win7/vista
  • browser hotkeys (for firefox and chrome, at least)
    • ctrl + t = open new tab
    • ctrl + shift + t = open last closed tab
    • ctrl + w = close current tab
  • windows explorer hotkeys
    • shift + right click = more menu items, such as “open command prompt here” (in win 7, at least)
    • shift + delete = delete file without putting it in the recycle bin
  • other windows hotkeys
    • ctrl + c = copy selected item
    • ctrl + v = paste
    • ctrl + x = cut selected item
    • ctrl + z = undo
    • ctrl + y = redo
    • print screen = take a screenshot of the screen (can paste it in ms paint or other image programs)
    • alt + print screen = take a screenshot of the current program window
    • alt + f4 = close program
    • ctrl + p = print (most of the time)
    • f3 or ctrl + f = find (most of the time)
    • ctrl + o = open (most of the time)
    • ctrl + s = save (most of the time)
    • alt + tab = cycle through open windows

You can quickly open many of the built-in windows programs using the windows key + r trick:

  • sol = solitaire
  • calc = calculator
  • cmd = dos command prompt
  • mspaint = paint
  • notepad = notepad
  • wordpad = wordpad