Which freeware / open source apps and utilities make your development life a little more enjoyable? Please provide URLs for anything you recommend.

Here's a brief list of some of my favorites:

Notepad++ is my text editor of choice, it has to be installed on any PC I work on.

Ditto is a lightweight and highly-configurable clipboard manager that I love.

7-zip for file compression, with command line support.

WinMerge is a fantastic file diff tool with plugin support. I even found a plugin to support Visual FoxPro's .VCX class libraries.

+9  A: 
  • gcc, for compiling
  • svn, for source control
  • doxygen, for code documentation
  • trac, for issue tracking
+3  A: 
  • gdb to match the gcc answer
  • Firefox
  • mutt
Rob Wells
+12  A: 

The more tools you have, the more you need a tool like enso or launchy.

these apps kick ass
I can't believe I never heard of launchy before. Installing NOW
With enso, I don't like the idea of holding down capslock and having to type out a command one-handed. Is it configurable to use another option other than holding capslock?
@ Barry : yes it is. right click on the enso logo and go to Enso preferences. And how come you can't type with your pinky finger on the capslock key?
I had a terrible fishing accident I don't like to talk about j/k ;-). I just like the idea of hitting ALT-SPACEBAR in Launchy a little better. I guess I will test-drive both of these and see, thanks.
@ Barry: yup! Launchy was my first app launcher and it was great as well. I just like Enso better cause I don't have to type "Enter" once I find the app I want; I just release the capslock key and bam!
Do you know that Google released a port of "Quick Search Box" on Windows on Feb 24? QSB is only available with IE toolbar! See for more information. I like it as tiny launcher.
Pascal Thivent
I like the Quick Launch Gadget for Google Desktop. These apps are definitely needed. I have no .exe's on my desktop.
+4  A: 


Davy Landman
I don't understand what's so great about GhostDoc. All it does is write redundant documentation generated from method signatures. Of COURSE void VerbNoun() "verbs a noun". Why not use your brain to write *useful* information in the comments?
@Blogbeard: I dont use GhostDoc to generate my comments, but more to start the comment block (typing Ctrl-D adds the same frame as typing /// but a little bit more). Just using the GhostDoc generated comments suck indeed.
Davy Landman
+2  A: 
  • TortoiseSVN
Nik Reiman
+13  A: 


+11  A: 

Finding out those pesky bugs.. .NET Reflector

Davy Landman
Used this today to find a potential bug in some Microsoft dll, very useful tool.
+4  A: 


+13  A: 

Firefox with extensions :

Olivier PAYEN
+1 for the web developer toolbar it's awesome.
+3  A: 
+2  A: 

Mylyn Plugin for Eclipse: absolute must-have for me, as it reduces the signal-to-noise ration in Eclipse and makes coding task-oriented, plus it connects to remote bug repositories. A good place to look is in Scott Hanselman's Ultimate Developer and Power users Tool List (here). It's Windows-oriented and written in 2007, but I still find it relevant.



+1  A: 

Slickrun for launching apps and Fiddler HTTP Debugging

I also use Password Safe for storing my many passwords, and Google Desktop for, you know, searching for stuff.

Gern Blandston
+6  A: 

I couldn't live without KeePass.

Joonas Pulakka
Yep, I will second that.
+4  A: 

Emacs - if God used a text editor, it would be Emacs! And +1 for Firebug - can't live without it!

firebug +1....(flamebait)Emacs are people really still using that?
Gareth Davis
+1  A: 

Wikidpad is a great desktop wiki program.


A new Firebug's extension named FireScope to check out HTML/CSS/JAVASCRIPT references.

FireScope is a new add-on for Firebug, the popular web development tool, that extends it with reference material for HTML and CSS. Using data directly from our reference sites, the tool provides the most accurate and up-to-date information on usage and browser compatibility, and it’s all right there in your browser!

Stefan Koenig
+1  A: 

WinRoll Rollup a window (so you can just see the title bar), make it translucent, make it stay on top, etc. Very useful especially when you just have one monitor.

Dexpot Can be configured to do the same things as winroll and also lets you use virtual desktops. You can assign hotkeys to move windows to another desktop, switch desktop, etc.

Executor App launcher. Don't know what I'd do without it.

+1 for Winroll, I´ve been looking for something like this for a long time!
Decio Lira
+1  A: 

Most of the good ones (Launchy, Reflector, SVN, Firebug) are already taken. Here's a few extra

Productivity CodeRush Xpress

Testing TestDriven.NET PEX

CI CruiseControl.NET NANT

UI IconExtract ColorCop

Jacob Adams
+1  A: 

RocketDoc, AutoIt, Firefox.

And Python, Javascript?


As a web developer, and speaking of editors, I would suggest Geany and Kate.

For web pages debug purposes I find Firebug is a must-have, if you use Firefox and Gecko-based browsers (FirePHP also, if you use Ajax and PHP).

Furthermore, for web pages performance measurements, I'd like to suggest YSlow.

To quickly compact JavaScript and CSS code I find myself comfortable with YUI Compressor.


  • WinSplit Revolution - Keyboard shortcuts to resize and reposition windows. A must for large monitors!
  • Dropbox - File synchronization and online backup.
  • Evernote - Notes and information capture.
  • Chrome - Web browser
Chris Upchurch
+2  A: 

Visual Studio Express Editions

+3  A: 

Scott Hanselman posted a great list of such tools back in 2007. Most of the tools on the list are still applicable today. It is a very comprehensive list. Not all of the tools are free, but many of them are.

Scott Hanselman's 2007 Ultimate Developer and Power Users Tool List for Windows

I am a huge fan of that list, and I check every year for the latest one..even if he is just a .net programmer :)
+1  A: 

I use:

  • LastPass for password generation/auto-completion.
  • meld for diff/merge under Linux.
  • Evernote for note taking.
+1  A: 
+2  A: 

Some more useful programs;

Total Commander - This one is a huge boost of productivity if you learn all the short cuts. Built in diff tool, cmd line etc. This program alone is the reason I haven't fully migrated to linux yet...

Synergy - Mouse over lan, for the 2pc setups.

VirtuaWin - Emulate some more desktops.

Baretail - Colourize them logs.

Daniel T. Magnusson

FARR for app launching, searches, file tree browsing & more

  • Notepad ++
  • NUnit
  • TortoiseSVN
  • SVNMonitor
  • DebugView
  • ProcessExplorer

DotNetNuke CMS - very powerful and free

Notepad++ as code editor

Mindjet Mindmanager for structuring ideas

Firebug to debug HTML code

Marcos Buarque

A Ruler For Windows (which I wrote)


Xenu's Link Sleuth

bk replaceem - which now seems to be called Replace Text


xplorer2 - tabbed, dual pane file browser. I've tried them all and this is the best on Windows. Favourites, macros, it's got everything.

not a freeware.