Joshua's Docs - Favorite Programs

Meta: Places to Find Good Software

My Starred Github Repos

You can find my starred Github repos here.

Software List


  • Productivity
  • Education
  • Utilities
  • Dev
  • Converters
  • Security
  • Multimedia
  • Design
  • Other
Category Name & URL Free? Platform What it is
Productivity OneNote Yes ALL (+ Web) Ultimate note-taking, organization app
Utilities Nirsoft Yes Win A huge collection of small freeware utility programs, all developed by a single person (Nir Sofer). Most are IT / dev-ops focused.

For an example, check out the most popular download - Wireless Network Watcher.
OS Utilities AquaSnap No Win Advanced window management, snapping, multi-monitor support, etc.
Dev VSCode Yes ALL IDE, focused on web dev
Dev Notepad++ Yes Win In-between notepad and a real IDE. Good for lightweight code editing / scratchpads / quick edits.
Converters DoPDF *Yes Win Print from any app to PDF
Security Eset NOD32 No Win My go-to antivirus/firewall/etc. Very reputable.
Utilities Image Resizer Powertool (Github) Yes Win Instantly resize images with just one or two clicks. Launches from right click menu.
Design Yes Win Somewhere in-between MS Paint and Gimp/Photoshop. Easy to use graphical editor.
Design Photopea Yes ALL Web app - Incredible, full-featured, online, and free version of Photoshop!
Utilities SyncToy Yes Win Keep directories in sync
Multimedia Greenshot Yes Win, Mac Screenshot taker
Converters HandBrake Yes All Video converter
Converters AVS4You Video Converter *Yes Win Video converter
Utilities LockHunter Yes Win Find out what is locking a file or directory
Utilities HWiNFO Yes Win Quickly analyzes your system and generates a report of installed hardware and sensor data. Easy to export and save to file, which can then be shared.

Portable ZIP download option!
Utilities CPU-Z (by CPUID) Yes Win Similar to HWiNFO, generates a summary of your system hardware, with options to export to a file. Also supports portable download.

A little less comprehensive than HWiNFO.
Utilities Open Hardware Monitor Yes Win, Linux Real-Time system monitor, with sensor data and load info.
Utilities MiniTool Partition Wizard *Yes Win, *All Partition manager
Utilities Parted Magic *Yes *All Bootable partition manager, with a ton of extra utilities thrown in (HDD erase tools, system utils, etc).

They went commercial, but the last free version can be found here, on MajorGeeks
Utilities PeaZip Yes Win, *All Zip / Archive tool
Other Cyotek Sitemap Creator Yes Win Crawler / Sitemap creator
Multimedia Videopad Video Editor *Yes Win Slim video editor
Multimedia oCam *Yes Win Video capture Software

Warning: Some downloads come bundled with adware
Multimedia Captura Yes Win Awesome open-source (although discontinued / unmaintained) screen recorder, with lots of export options and bells and whistles.
Multimedia Gifcam Yes Win Quick GIF capture and export tool. Very lightweight, portable, easy to use, etc. Closed source.
Multimedia ScreenToGif Yes Win Full-featured program for capturing and exporting GIFs from your screen, as well as for general screen capture, webcam recording, and more. Lots of export options and advanced features. Open source.

Resizable capture area and single frame export option make this a great workaround to the lack of fixed aspect-ratio support in Greenshot and Windows Snipping. I have some issues with crashes on video exports though.
Multimedia OBS Studio Yes ALL Open-source broadcasting software, but can be much more than that too.

For example, you can remix multiple live inputs (desktop capture, webcam, etc.), and then stream online, record locally, and/or capture screenshots.

Integrated filters and effects are handy.
Utilities theRenamer Yes Win Automatic renaming of TV episodes and movies based on API matching
Utilities den4b Renamer *Yes Win Advanced bulk filename renamer
Dev Yenka Circuit Simulator *Yes Win Circuit simulator
Multimedia PotPlayer Yes Win Video player
Dev Laragon Yes Win WAMP stack
Dev Postman Yes ALL API testing, request sender, etc.
Dev RequestBin *Yes All (web) Provides a public endpoint you can use to capture and inspect HTTP requests.
Dev Ngrok *Yes All Instant reverse-proxy to localhost.
Utilities Eraser Yes Win Secure file eraser
Utilities HWiNFO Yes Win System Hardware readout / sensor info / diagnostics
Other MouseJiggler Yes Win Super simply program - while running, keeps "jiggling" your mouse pointer to stop any screensaver / auto shutoffs from triggering
Other Yumi Yes All Multi-boot USB manager
Other Rufus Yes Win Bootable USB creator. Best-in-class, and perfect for creating OS install media.
Dev HeidiSQL Yes Win SQL Database editor, browser, manager, etc. Very full-featured, yet intuitive to use and well-designed.
Dev DBeaver Yes All Powerful SQL database editor, browser, manager, etc.
Dev SQLite Studio Yes All Portable, lightweight SQLite browser / editor. Easy to use.
Design / Dev ColorPix Yes Win Portable freeware tiny app that lets you grab Hex / RGB / etc. values from pixels on your screen. Super handy for design.
Dev WinSCP Yes Win FTP client. My favorite feature is the special "keep remote directory up to date" sub-feature of the "synchronize" feature. This will auto-upload changed files as you edit them locally, with optional config settings on which files to watch. Hard to find in other FTP clients.
Dev Fork Yes Win, Mac Git GUI client. Probably the only one I have ever tried and actually liked and found value in over the CLI. Very powerful and actually intuitive to use!
Multimedia NAPS2 Yes Win, Linux "Not Another PDF Scanner 2"

Excellent lightweight freeware (and OpenSource!) scanner software. Honestly the best all-in-one tool I've found for bulk scanning to image files or PDFs. Has built in controls for cropping, image adjustment, OCR, reordering files from duplex scans, and much more! Also has CLI tool.
Productivity Typora *Yes ALL Markdown editor, focused on being as minimal as possible. Has dev features, but UI is similar to basic text editor like Word, so non-devs should be comfortable with it as well.

* = free while in beta. Those looking for a free alternative to Typora might want to check out Mark Text (see below).
Productivity Mark Text Yes ALL Markdown editor, very similar to Typora in both UI and functionality, but is free and open-source.
Productivity Markdown Monster *Yes Win Markdown editor, very full-featured and with a dev-focus.

* = Free for evaluation, purchase strongly encouraged.
Dev Firefox Developer Edition Yes All? Pretty close to the regular version of Firefox, but with sensible developer default settings and a separate user profile (which is helpful).
Utilities HTTrack Yes Win, Linux Create a local mirror / archive of any URL, including sub-pages (via crawler). Configurable, fast, and been around for a long time.
Multimedia nomacs Yes Win, Linux Fast image viewer, with built in editing and synchronized viewers. Open-source.
Multimedia ImageGlass Yes Win Fast image viewer, with built in editing and conversion tools. Open-source.
Multimedia Squoosh Yes ALL Image optimizer / compressor by Google. Open source, with both web app and CLI.
Education Mochi Yes* ALL (web, plus apps) MarkDown powered flashcard app, with SRS, card-linking, tags, and more. So far really enjoying it, and free tier is adequate for most needs.

Secure Erasers

  • Lists:
  • Best for windows: Eraser
  • Bootable option:
    • The best option used to be Darik's Boot and Nuke (known by most as DBAN), but it looks like it got bought and is now a commercial product
      • You can still get the old version here
      • Note: Sounds like ISAAC is preferred over Mersenne Twister for PRNG
      • The underlying wipe commands that powered DBAN were forked into nwipe, which is now bundled into other software (see below)
    • nwipe Powered:
      • Shred OS is basically a more up-to-date DBAN, which supports UEFI and is based on nwipe
      • Parted Magic (partition manager) now comes bundled with nwipe
        • However, just like DBAN, they went commercial. The last free version can be found here, on MajorGeeks
      • You could also boot a regular Linux distro off a USB drive, and run nwipe from it
    • CMRR HDDErase from UC San Diego
      • Does NOT use DOD wipe or any other wipe method that involves randomly writing data over blocks - only uses the Secure Erase or Enhanced Secure Erase function, which is built into the HDD by the manufacturer
      • This method tends to have more success with SSDs than others
      • Places a lot of trust in manufacturers... and some drives do not properly implement this!!!

Operating Systems

My go-to OS has pretty much always been Windows, but I also enjoy using Linux.

Linux Distros

In general, although it's not always perfect, I'm good with Ubuntu and its derivatives.

I've been particularly impressed with Lubuntu (aka Lightweight Ubuntu) for breathing new life into very old, under-powered machines. Or as a "rescue" OS, to keep on a thumb drive.

For users uncomfortable with change and wanting a "set and forget", Windows-like experience, Linux Mint (especially the Cinnamon desktop variant) is a fairly safe bet.

Linux - Comprehensive Lists

The Wikipedia page - Comparison of Linux distributions - is probably one of the largest compiled spreadsheets.

Linux Distro Pickers

For picking a new distro to try out, there are a few tools out there that will give you suggestions after you answer a few questions.

Comparing Linux Distros Based on Performance and Resource Usage

Try to remember that it's not always black-and-white when trying to compare distros or desktop environments based on performance. After all, it matters what you are doing with the OS once you have installed it; are you running games? Web browsers? Compiling software?

That being said, here are some helpful points of reference:

In general, my understanding of desktop performance as of right now, is something like (best to worse, in terms of using less resources):

  1. Very close in tying for popular, best low-performance desktop:
    • Xfce
      • Example OSes: Xubuntu, Linux Lite, offered option on many OSes
    • LXQt
      • Example OSes: Lubuntu, offered option on many OSes (such as Manjaro, Debian, etc.)
      • This is the QT port of Lxde, but is also focused on lightweight minimalism
    • LXDE
      • Example OSes: Knoppix, Peppermint
      • Pretty much replaced by LXQt, the QT port which is actively maintained
        • For example, Lubuntu switched from this to LXQt
  2. MATE
    • Example OSes: Ubuntu Mate, option on Linux Mint
    • Fork and continuation of GNOME 2
    • Popular as an option with Linux Mint, as a faster (yet less pretty and more simplified) alternative to Cinnamon.
      • However, with the strides made on Cinnamon, they are pretty close in terms of resource usage now
  3. Cinnamon
    • Example OSes: It is the default desktop on Linux Mint, optional on others
    • Has a MS Windows look, very polished
  4. GNOME Shell (aka Gnome v3+ or GNOME 3)
    • Example OSes: Ubuntu (on 18.04 and above, after dropping Unity), Fedora, Debian, and many others
  5. Unity
    • Example OSes: Ubuntu, but ending with 16.04 LTS (v18.04 LTS switched to GNOME 3)
    • Abandoned by Canonical, not very well received
  6. KDE Plasma (right now at version 5)
    • Example OSes: Kubuntu, Mandriva, Chakra, etc.

Video Editors

Name Free? OS Notes
Shotcut Yes (+Open Source) All I would rank Shotcut as either the best, or one of the top two open-source cross-platform video editors. It has a large array of features, a usable UI (although some questionable UX decisions), and is a lot more intuitive than the competition.

There is definitely still a learning curve, and it is annoying how some stuff is buried (e.g. Video Effects are called "filters", and are not accessible via clip right click menu).

It's also missing good voice-over / narration support, which is a big bummer.
OpenShot Yes (+Open Source) All OpenShot is somewhat comparable to ShotCut, and although more popular and slightly more powerful than Shotcut, I personally just find its UI so awful to use that I can't rank it highly.
Kdenlive Yes (+Open Source) All I would recommend Shotcut over Kdenlive, based on my brief time playing with it, as the UI in Kdenlive just doesn't feel as intuitive as Shotcut, but they share a lot of features.
NCH VideoPad No ($40 - $70) Win / Mac I like VideoPad; it makes a really good "fast" editor, kind of like or Notepad++, where the focus is on ease of use rather than a super large feature-set or flashy UI. That being said, there are a lot of features in VideoPad, which make it suitable for a majority of tasks.

The biggest drawback to VideoPad is the cost. I simply don't feel that it is priced correctly - instead of $40 for basic, and $70 for pro, I would rather see something like $15 / $50, or offer three tiers, with a $15-20 lowest tier. It also suffers from some performance issues, where it is clear the software could be optimized more.
Magix Movie Edit (Pro) No ($70+) Win Although I don't use it much now, I have fond memories of using Magix, and overall, Magix Movie Edit is a really good piece of software. It has been around for a long time, and seems to have grown in the right direction as it has aged.

IIRC, they have also been ahead of the curve on a lot of stuff. I seem to recall them adding support for things like Stereoscopic 3D and 4K, way before they had really caught on in mainstream usage.

Comparison Lists:

Not recommended:

  • Avidemux
    • It's OK if you really just need a super simplistic GUI / scripting environment for a few FFMPEG commands, but other than that, not really usable as a full editor
    • There also doesn't seem to be much effort to add features (which is probably intentional, given goals of software)

Browser Extensions

  • Firefox
    • Tree Style Tab!!!
      • Puts your tabs vertically, and lets you group together
      • This has to be the best browser extension ever invented. ALWAYS the very first thing I install in a fresh Firefox setup!
    • Copy Selected Tabs to Clipboard
      • Works well with Tree Style Tab
  • Multiple:
    • uBlock Origin (adblocker / resource blocker)
    • Requestly
      • I don't use this much anymore, but have found it helpful in the past to modify network requests in real-time, and set up configurable rules

Design Software

I don't do much designing work, but I search around a little for options every once in a while when I want to try my hand at mocking something up. For OSX, the leader seems to be Sketch, but for Windows, or other platforms, some others that seem promising are:

  • Figma: Online-focused collaborative editor.
  • lunacy (by icons8): Freeware Windows desktop alternative to Sketch, including Sketch file compatibility.
  • Gravit Designer: Online, or desktop (cross-OS) design software. Seems like Figma or lunacy would be a better pick for many users.
Markdown Source Last Updated:
Sat Mar 26 2022 05:38:28 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
Markdown Source Created:
Sun Aug 25 2019 23:32:12 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
© 2024 Joshua Tzucker, Built with Gatsby