Six Free Utilities for Expanding Your App Arsenal

Not long ago, I was in a meeting with some of the people behind the Microsoft Office productivity applications. They were mentioning some data they’ve collected showing that it’s very difficult to get people to use more than about five software applications on a regular basis. People are creatures of habit, but if you spend some time looking around, you can find a lot more than five good software applications to use all the time. In this post, I’ll round up six free or nearly free examples.

Do you move a lot of large files around with colleagues or clients? If so, FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is a great way to do that and iFTP is a quick-and-dirty way to do it. With a footprint of about 900K, you can easily keep this little application on a pocket USB key. It’s completely free.

SnagIt is by far the best screen capture program I’ve ever used. It’s especially good if you do any blogging, as it integrates with all the top blogging applications very well. There’s a free trial for it, but you do need to pay $40 if you like the application.

With SnagIt you can capture whole screens or just partial ones, edit your images in numerous ways, add shadows and watermarks, and much more. I also like the video captures it does. If you’re determined to avoid the $40 fee to keep this program, IrfanView is an excellent free choice, although it doesn’t work with video like SnagIt.
If you’re a Windows user, you probably either don’t use the Notepad text editor or if you do, you get very frustrated with it. NotepadEx is a very good free replacement, and you can find a complete inventory of ways it beats Notepad on its site. Among the top reasons to use it is that it has no problem loading documents larger than 32K in size.
Launchy is a small-footprint utility that you can use to quickly launch programs. It’s an open-source offering, and comes in especially handy if you use a lot of different types of applications. Launchy sits in the background and when you type Alt-Space it will pop up a prompt for you to type an application’s name in. Usually, the app will be loading long before you finish typing its name.

Do you have any good tips on free utilities and applications for daily use?