Release Notes: My 5 Favorite Apps & Utilities, the Early 2009 Edition


We computer nerds all have our favorite applications and utilities—you know, the software we absolutely cannot live without. You’re certainly already familiar with many of my personal faves (I always install Firefox, Digsby, and Dropbox), but developers are constantly releasing new software, so my list is always evolving. And so, without further delay, I give you my favorite apps and utilities, as selected during the first half of 2009.

5. The Magic Folder

This Vista and Windows 7 widget will keep a constant watch over any folder and automatically sort the files in it based on extension. It’s an incredibly simple concept with a ton of killer uses. I set it to watch my Downloads folder and sort out media files, photos, and applications for maximum effect.

4. Zune Player

I’ve been an iTunes user since it launched, but as the years have gone by, the Windows version has gotten slower and less responsive. Today, it takes roughly 16 weeks to launch iTunes, and starting playback of a single track can take a fortnight. Lucky for me, the Zune player (which requires neither a subscription to the Zune music service nor a Zune hardware device) is totally rad. Fast search, good browsing, killer visualizations, and it will watch my music folder and automatically add new tracks as I add them. That’s awesome.

3. Remember the Milk

As a person who’s chronically disorganized, Remember the Milk gives me a universally accessible task list that helps me keep my priorities straight. RtM is web-based, so I can add to and update my task list from all my devices—laptop, desktop, and iPhone—without worrying about sync problems.

2.  Enso

Given the choice, I’d much rather start an application or run a command using the keyboard than the mouse. Moving your hand to the mouse takes time, and using the mouse increases the likelihood of developing repetitive stress injuries. Enso lets you do everything—opening apps or recent documents, performing simple calculations, or anything else you’d like (it’s customizable)—at a convenient command line.

1. Synergy

I have two computers on my desk, but only one keyboard and mouse. How do I manage it? Synergy. Synergy lets me share the keyboard and mouse with multiple PCs (or Macs, or Linux boxes) using the power of the network. It’s a little bit of a hassle to set up, but once it’s running, it’s OK by me.

That’s my current list. Let me know what your favorite apps are! Email me at or shoot a message to @willsmith on Twitter.

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