Earlier this week, I wrote on the best free desktop software for SMBs, where I shared what I consider to be the best free software for a Windows-based desktop. As promised, I am continuing today with a list of applications that I feel will be indispensible to power users or administrators working in small and medium businesses.
Text editing: Notepad++
If you have ever once felt that Windows' built-in notepad application is inadequate, then Notepad++ is the right application for you. It comes with features that power users will appreciate such as tabbed editing, unobtrusive line numbers and advanced search and replace. Administrators who need to edit HTML files or even source code every once in a while will really appreciate the configurable syntax highlighting, syntax folding, and auto-completion, among others. Of course, the fact that Notepad++ was written in C++ using Win32 API means that it is not only extremely lightweight, but blisteringly fast.
Search: Google Desktop Search
Have you ever been in a situation where you just can't seem to locate an e-mail or file that you know you have? You would have realized belatedly then that the default search function in Windows is something of a joke.
Well, if you have Google Desktop installed, finding misplaced files or e-mails is just a simple matter of hitting the CTRL key twice in succession to bring up the default Google Desktop search box. In fact, I only file my e-mails in loose categories such as "Work," "Purchases" and "News" nowadays, opting instead to simply do a search for whatever I need. I'll elaborate more on this in another blog post.
FTP client: FileZilla
If you need an FTP client, you will probably want to look no further than FileZilla. FileZilla is literally the best free and cross-platform FTP client in existence, and is constantly updated with improvements and bug fixes - in fact, the latest version was released earlier this month. Do check it out.
RSS Reader: FeedDemon
Do you have too many Web sites to check every morning? If that is the case, you will do well to monitor RSS feeds instead, and use an RSS reader aggregator such as FeedDemon. I use it on a daily basis, and it has to be the best RSS reader on the Windows platform that I have tried. Despite monitoring dozens of feeds, FeedDemon has proven not only to be fast but also stable.
Media Player: VLC media player
Windows Media Player can play a fair number of audio and video files by default. If being able to play all kinds of video formats is important to you, though, you will want to have VLC media player around. VLC media player is a multimedia player for various audio and video formats ranging from MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, mp3 and ogg, among others.
VLC can handle DVDs and VCDs too, and does so without having to install any external codec or program. This makes it a very useful application to have around, if only for "just in case" scenarios.
As usual, feedback and suggestions are welcome, so feel free to add to the comment thread below.