Make Windows Work Better! (A roundup of 9+ free tools that will make your life easier.)

Hello, Internet Neighbors!

This post runs through my favorite free applications for Windows, I’ll do a quick intro for each program and let me know which ones you’ve used down in the comments below.
Here is the list of programs I’ll be covering in the video:

    Classic shell – Brings back a clone of the Windows 7 start menu
    Everything – Find your files
    Windir stat – See which folders are taking up all the space
    notepad++ – notepad on steroids

These are not in this particular video, but are in the blog

    Keepass – Keep your passwords organized and random.
    Teamviewer – If your machines have Internet access, you can control them remotely

If you’re not using these utilities, you’re doing it wrong!

    7-zip – Freeware and ad-free zip/rar utility – the best compression utility, hands down
    Google Drive – You can synchronize online files (and choose which folders you want to sync offline) – I’ve never had a synchronization issue with Google Drive like I did with OneDrive.
    Sumatra PDF – The most lightweight PDF reader – it has tabs and it saves the page where you last closed – uninstall Adobe Reader now!

The best part is that you can install all these from Ninite.com without clicking next, next, next…
Here are some others that aren’t in Ninite:
FileLocator Lite (contributed by Marty): It is powerful at letting you choose which filenames (with regexes), text in files to search for, more accurate than the default File Explorer, but does not index filenames or contents. It’s still faster than File Explorer, Notepad++, or Visual Studio. Searching my whole C:\ drive for the filename “test” with FileLocator Lite took only 6 seconds, and this is without an index.

Classic Shell

The search on the classic shell start menu actually works faster – the Win 10 start menu still doesn’t cut it (you can still have your old start menu by pressing Shift+Win)
classic_start

Everything

You can search files by extension, filename, what folder they’re in. Once it’s indexed, all files can be searched so quickly (much faster than the start menu)
The query I’m using here is:
*.jpg asp path:appdata
Everything

Windir stat

Don’t know what’s eating up the hard disk space on your machine? This will help you find that folder that should be backed up elsewhere.
windirstat

Notepad++

If you’re not using Notepad++ to edit text files on Windows, you’re doing it wrong. One common thing I use it for is to find and replace those newline characters to make a comma separated list.
To do this, press Ctrl+H.
Find What: \r\n
Replace with:,
Make sure Search Mode is ‘Extended’
Now, [Replace All]

You like the document list on the left? (The red disk means that the file was edited, but not saved). See the screenshot below to enable that.
notepad++_show_documentsnotepad++

KeePass

Remember to use different strong passwords for each online account that you care about! You can set this to use a password AND a key file. What I do is put the .kdbx file on Google Drive so that my passwords are in sync. I keep my .key file on my local hard disk and make sure it’s not uploaded anywhere.
keepass_creating_master_key

TeamViewer

Don’t want to open up your home machine to the Internet? You can use TeamViewer to access it from your phone or other computer. This is what I use for my DIY Home Security system. If the system you want to control has multiple monitors, TeamViewer allows you to easily switch between monitors.

Make sure you enable 2FA and have a strong password (generated with KeePass). Also make sure to whitelist the machines that are allowed to connect in. There are reports that many TeamViewers got compromised, so use this program with caution.
teamviewer_computersteamviewer_multi_monitors