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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
What is some of the must-have utility software that you install on a Windows computer? I'm not talking about the web browsers, extensions, or your office suite, but rather those little utilities to make my work and personal life easier, and to improve my productivity. Here's my list:

  • ShareX - This is a free swiss army knife of a screen capture utility that puts the Microsoft Snipping Tool to shame. Want to capture only a selected window? No problem. Edit the screenshot before capture with a highlight, a balloon for annotation, or even a blur to hide confidential information? No problem. Automatically save the screen shot to a folder with a specific pattern that has the date/time of the screen shot plus the window name? No problem. Upload it to a file sharing service? You got it. Generate a MP4 recording of a section of the screen? I use it all the time when collaborating with a team that is in another time zone.
  • Notepad++ - I can't believe I forgot this in my original posting. What initially attacted me to Notepad++ many years ago was that it was a tabbed text editor, but anyone who has used it for any length of time can tell you it is extremely functional, especially with the code format functions and the plug-ins. Thanks to the DSpellCheck plug-in, I am often pre-composing my replies in Notepad, spell-checking them, and then pasting it into email or a board entry. And, with MIME Tools and XML Tools, I am able to decode a SAML assertion for Single Sign On (SSO) and then make the resulting XML into something human-readable.
  • Ditto - I've been utilizing this clipboard manager for over a decade so that I can have multiple items available for pasting, including a "Plain Text Paste". In addition, there are some items that I am constantly re-pasting, including some templates, and I can have those as persistent entries that don't expire. Also, there is an editor in Ditto allowing me to edit the clipboard entries.
  • Path Copy Copy - Path Copy Copy is a Windows Explorer extension that adds entries to the contextual menu shown for files and folders, allowing the user to copy the item's name or path in a variety of formats. This is invaluable in my role of writing up software documentation and support case notes.
  • Microsoft Powertoys - A couple of nice add-ons developed by Microsoft. One of the new features of the .49 release is the "Find My Mouse", which is handy because I have both my personal desktop and my work laptop hooked up to the same monitor, and am switching between the two. By hitting Control twice, I know where my mouse pointer is located. In addition, it includes PowerRename which is a decent bulk renaming utility and a easy image resizer.
  • Métamorphose - This bulk renaming utility allows me to set up a series of rule when renaming a batch of files, including pulling the date of when I took a photo. Whats annoying is that this utility hasn't been updated in TEN years. I am trying out Bulk Rename Utility and Advanced Renamer as modern alternatives, but they are free only for personal use.
  • 7-Zip - This free archive utility unpacks archives from multiple formats (including RAR), but also does creates the high-compressable 7z and zip archives as well.
  • KeePass - It's my master password manager, with a subset of the passwords stored in LastPass. Yes, I believe in strong, unique passwords for all the sites that I access. My password file are stored on a cloud drive which is backed up to a personal-owned server.
  • Paint.net - Although I don't use this as often now for screen shot annotation, it is still a very impressive image editing program.
  • WinMerge - Open Source differentiating and merging tool for Windows. WinMerge can compare both folders and files, presenting differences in a visual text format that is easy to understand and handle.
  • PuTTY - SSH/Telnet program that is free.
 

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One of the new features of the .49 release is the "Find My Mouse"
That's been built into Windows for years.

If you don't have a TON of files in a Zip, then just use Explorer or WinZip, they're prettier (and likely safer since 7-Zip hasn't been updated in like 3 yrs now). If you have a TON of files in a zip, then I'll go 7-zip for speed. By a TON of files, the only time I ever have a scale that needs 7-Zip is when I'm installing Kibana which has like 130,000 files in the zip.

paint.net
Used to use it for UI stuff back when I was dumb enough to work on UI :D.

  • KeePass - It's my master password manager, with a subset of the passwords stored in LastPass. Yes, I believe in strong, unique passwords for all the sites that I access. My password file are stored on a cloud drive which is backed up to a personal-owned server
Well, that's not safe.
 

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Beware the Attack Basset
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If you don't have a TON of files in a Zip, then just use Explorer or WinZip, they're prettier (and likely safer since 7-Zip hasn't been updated in like 3 yrs now).
Winzip is eeeevilllllle. It can produce .zip files that can't be handled by Explorer and that's just asking for trouble. It also features a certain amount if Internet interaction which is inherently dangerous.

Of course much of the free world is using RAR now which 7zip and WinZip can handle (but Explorer cannot).

Just because 7zip hasn't been updated since February of 2019 doesn't mean that it is somehow outdated. It does what it is supposed to do and because it is open source, there's lots of eyeballs on it. The one striking absence is that there isn't an official Mac version.

On the topic of KeePass (I use KeePass XC), it has built-in multi-factor authentication so unless your storing one of the factors along with with your database, it is pretty darn secure (even if your cloud storage isn't).
 

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Here are a few of my favorites:

FilelistCreator- This is a great little utility that can easily compile lists of folders/directories with a ton of options and export them to Excel, Text, Image files, etc.

Freebyte Task Scheduler- Lightweight portable task scheduler for Windows. I use this on a Mini PC to automate a lot of things around the house. I even use it to send IP commands and change the channels on our DirecTV boxes during the night so when we wake up in the morning the local news is on. (Note: the author's website appears to be down, but I found another site that links and describes it)

NAPS2 (Not Another PDF Scanner 2)- Portable, lightweight program for scanning documents to image files or .pdfs. It allows profiles that you can easily configure and assign to function keys. For example, at work B&W scan is F2, Greyscale is F3, Color is F4. One great feature is that it also allows you to import .pdf and image files, so if you need to scan pages and combine them with an existing file you can.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
That's been built into Windows for years.
  • KeePass - It's my master password manager, with a subset of the passwords stored in LastPass. Yes, I believe in strong, unique passwords for all the sites that I access. My password file are stored on a cloud drive which is backed up to a personal-owned server.
Well, that's not safe.
Oh Really? Per the KeePass page....

Database files are encrypted using the best and most secure encryption algorithms currently known (AES-256, ChaCha20 and Twofish).
 

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Oh Really? Per the KeePass page....
Lol... yeah, Keepass is going to tell you they've been hacked?

  • In 2019, serious vulnerabilities were found in the code of Dashlane, LastPass, 1Password, and KeePass. This applied to Windows 10 users and only if the right malware was installed. Once again, the users didn't suffer any reported casualties.
Cloud drives have also been hacked. I'll let you google "The Fappening" for example.

KeePass will tell you themselves that if somebody gains access to your database, its game over, for example with Keefarce.
 

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Just because 7zip hasn't been updated since February of 2019 doesn't mean that it is somehow outdated. It does what it is supposed to do and because it is open source, there's lots of eyeballs on it.
It does what it's supposed to, but something from 2019 will be vulnerable to 2 yrs of attacks. Great way to install Keefarce ;) for example if you get Mark to open a malicious zip that newer software might be protected against.

That being said, as a software engineer myself, you typically want to be on the latest version so you have all the security patches. CAVEAT being if the software developer didn't update a vulnerable DEPENDENCY, then newer is not better. But with software from 2019, you know NOTHING has been updated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Lol... yeah, Keepass is going to tell you they've been hacked?
Yes.... Security Issues - KeePass . And they specifically address Keefarce.

(7-Zip) does what it's supposed to, but something from 2019 will be vulnerable to 2 yrs of attacks. Great way to install Keefarce ;) for example if you get Mark to open a malicious zip that newer software might be protected against.
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Looks like it's under active development, just that Version 21 is in beta. It's just a single person doing the development for free software, so it's tends to be slow. And, yes, I have used it for tar.gz files as well.... like my Plex database backup. I'm still wondering how WinZIP remains in business.

That being said, as a software engineer myself, you typically want to be on the latest version so you have all the security patches. CAVEAT being if the software developer didn't update a vulnerable DEPENDENCY, then newer is not better. But with software from 2019, you know NOTHING has been updated.
Are you sure? One of the software had a long period between releases:

2017-07-08 PuTTY 0.70 released
2019-03-16 PuTTY 0.71 released

I understand a bit why you want "up-to-date" software. Take a look at "I'm totally screwed." WD My Book Live users wake up to find their data deleted. That was an issue that was reported back on June 23rd of this year for a piece of hardware with software that stopped being supported in 2015. Although I didn't own such as device (that's why I have TrueNAS), it caused me to investigate an online/offside backup for several critical directories.
 

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Looks like it's under active development, just that Version 21 is in beta. It's just a single person doing the development for free software, so it's tends to be slow. And, yes, I have used it for tar.gz files as well.... like my Plex database backup. I'm still wondering how WinZIP remains in business.
Yep, the new version has been in beta for quite a while ;). I'm not a heavy archive user, so Explorer is good enough for my daily tasks. Winzip has gotten slow and bloated, so don't use it that much either, just have it installed if I need to do "advanced" things. Only thing I'll use 7zip for, like I noted, is the 130,000 file zip for Kibana because it can do it a LOT faster then Winzip or Explorer, but for normal sized zips, the difference is negligible.

Are you sure? One of the software had a long period between releases:

2017-07-08 PuTTY 0.70 released
2019-03-16 PuTTY 0.71 released

I understand a bit why you want "up-to-date" software. Take a look at "I'm totally screwed." WD My Book Live users wake up to find their data deleted. That was an issue that was reported back on June 23rd of this year for a piece of hardware with software that stopped being supported in 2015. Although I didn't own such as device (that's why I have TrueNAS), it caused me to investigate an online/offside backup for several critical directories.
If you are a saavy PC user, you are smart enough not to open dangerous files of ANY kind, then its not that big of a deal if you are a few versions behind. Windows 10 will protect you from quite a bit.

But you are talking about life as a client/user. As a software developer, I have to think about life as a server. For some odd reason, bored kids out there tend to enjoy trying to hack stuff for fun, so you have to stay on top of security stuff.

As for putty, if I want to remote into a PC from a PC, I'll use RDP. Only reason I use telnet is when I need to check port connectivity. At my new job, we're on Macs, so it's VNC in a gui scenario which can't hold a candle to RDP. And for going into servers, we have custom command line tools which are basically command line ssh.
 

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2017-07-08 PuTTY 0.70 released
2019-03-16 PuTTY 0.71 released
The length of time between updates is less important that the length of time between the discovery of a vunerabilty and the resolution.
I could write software and release a new version every month and still leave a two year old vulnerability intact.
 

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I figured that this was likely going to degenerate into yet another one of "those threads," which it apparently already has, but in spite of that, and in an attempt to simply offer my own experience, and in no particular order, except for number one:

1. Password manager: Bitwarden
2. Archive manager: WinRAR
3. Quick-and-dirty picture/photo viewer/editor: IrfanView
4. A rockin' and rollin' must-have Windows SFTP and FTP client on any Windows box (PuTTY also resides on my box): WinSCP
5. Local and remote (S)FTP access and manipulation: FileZilla
6. ADB manager for connected Android devices (KODI users, trust me, you want this app): adbLink
7. Telling me about my computer: Belarc Advisor
8. Notepad++, a text editor on hyper-steroids--the best ever (it has also never been part of Microsoft PowerToys, so am glad to see that reference removed): Notepad++
9. VLC Player, which, after you learn how to use it, plays pretty much any and every format: VLC Player

Sharing is caring, so let's go, Brandon!
 

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New Texan
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I figured that this was likely going to degenerate into yet another one of "those threads," which it apparently already has, but in spite of that, and in an attempt to simply offer my own experience, and in no particular order, except for number one:

3. Quick-and-dirty picture/photo viewer/editor: IrfanView
4. A rockin' and rollin' must-have Windows SFTP and FTP client on any Windows box (PuTTY also resides on my box): WinSCP
5. Local and remote (S)FTP access and manipulation: FileZilla
8. Notepad++, a text editor on hyper-steroids--the best ever (it has also never been part of Microsoft PowerToys, so am glad to see that reference removed): Notepad++
9. VLC Player, which, after you learn how to use it, plays pretty much any and every format: VLC Player
Notepad++ - I can't believe I forgot this in my original posting. What initially attacted me to Notepad++ many years ago was that it was a tabbed text editor, but anyone who has used it for any length of time can tell you it is extremely functional, especially with the code format functions and the plug-ins. Thanks to the DSpellCheck plug-in, I am often pre-composing my replies in Notepad, spell-checking them, and then pasting it into email or a board entry. And, with MIME Tools and XML Tools, I am able to decode a SAML assertion for Single Sign On (SSO) and then make the resulting XML into something human-readable.

As for the others you mentioned.... not bad choices. I didn't include a FTP program since I use FTP so rarely nowadays. IrfanView is good once you install all of the plug-ins, but isn't free (Yes, I registered it), and I'm split between VLC and Media Player Classic that comes with the K-Lite Codec pack.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Microsoft Powertoys - A couple of nice add-ons developed by Microsoft. One of the new features of the .49 release is the "Find My Mouse", which is handy because I have both my personal desktop and my work laptop hooked up to the same monitor, and am switching between the two. By hitting Control twice, I know where my mouse pointer is located.
That's been built into Windows for years.
True, true, but compare the implementation between the one in Control Panel (just a bunch of circles) and the one in Powertoys.

PuTTY - SSH/Telnet program that is free.
As for putty, if I want to remote into a PC from a PC, I'll use RDP. Only reason I use telnet is when I need to check port connectivity.
Different points of view then since you are a software developer, and I'm a technical support team lead in SaaS cloud collaboration.

Who said anything about remote desktops? At home, I use PuTTY to SSH into my TrueNAS box when I need to do something at the command line level beyond a simple upgrade to Plex. At work, PuTTY is used to set up a secure tunnel to several servers to download logs for analysis.
 

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I like Irfanview, Notepad++, WinSCP, BelArc Advisor and even the built-in Snipping Tool on my HP desktop. VLC Player works well on my Linux laptop.
 

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Beware the Attack Basset
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I could write software and release a new version every month and still leave a two year old vulnerability intact.
Apple and Microsoft have been both been tagged for having documented vulnerabilities in excess of two years old in just the last month.

One particular Microsoft flaw was noticed to them at a black hat conference four years ago and they were panicking when the researcher publicly released the details just a couple of weeks ago since nothing had been done. Microsoft was indignant.

If you want to see a tragedy, search the vulnerability databases for mention of Google Chrome, Adobe or Cisco fails. Apple's fundamental Webkit usually gets a mention in the vulnerability databases at least once every few months.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Looks like (7-Zip) under active development, just that Version 21 is in beta. It's just a single person doing the development for free software, so it's tends to be slow. And, yes, I have used it for tar.gz files as well.... like my Plex database backup.
7-Zip 21.05 was released today.
 

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Beware the Attack Basset
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As a collector of large numbers of picture files from newsgroups (mostly JPEG), I find CloneSpy indispensable.
 

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If that tool is the standard issue Windows app, know that it is currently missing from Windows 11.
No, the snipping tool is working on my Windows 11 desktop. PrntScr key brings it up with choices of Rectangular, Freeform, Windows, or FullScreen snip. Alternate shortcut is Win+Shift+S.
 
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