Windows Must-have Apps & Tools 2020

Every now and then I make a post about the Windows apps and/or tools I use on a regular basis. Here is this years’ entry. I hope it helps some of you.

Click on the titles below to head to the respective sites to find out more and download the items listed.


Instant Color Picker

Instant Color Picker Tool Screenshot image

Instant Color Picker is a great tool for designers and digital artists alike, as it allows you to quickly pick, copy and save colors from anywhere on the screen, as well as build and test color palettes and combinations.

You can keep your favourite colours always visible and accessible for copying in any color format you could possibly need (RGB, CMYK, HSL, HEX, etc.). It even includes the ability to allow you to create your own formats!

The best thing about this tool is that it’s completely free.


PhraseExpress

PhraseExpress Screenshot image

With the advent of mobile devices and phones, text-completion has become much more popular and necessary feature for electronic devices, as typing often-used phrases and text can be monotonous and frustrating.

In comes PhraseExpress, a multi-faceted text accelerator—for lack of a better term. Not only does it help you create shortcuts and key combinations that expand to whatever text strings you provide, but it also autocorrects your text as you type, saving you the hassle of having to go back and correct your unintentional typing errors. You can automate any number of repetitive tasks, and with an additional plug-in install, you can also record macros to create your own automations.

At its simplest, for example, you can create a text shortcut so that when you type -wdi, PhraseExpress will automatically expand it to https://digital-impulse.com/. Or you can assign a keyboard shortcut, such as CTRL+ALT+W that will automatically enter whatever text you assign.
This of course leads to incredible time savings and improved workflows in any of your text editing or creation processes where typing in repetitive text is the norm.

I’ve been using some kind of text completion solution since I can remember, as it makes typing in repetitive text a breeze; eMails, URLs, text phrases, coding strings, etc. are all fair game for text-completion. So much so that I’m actually surprised more people don’t think it’s necessary and that it’s not included as a time-saving solution in operating systems by default.

There is a small learning curve to using this app but it’s definitely worth it. Give it a go.


MaxTo

MaxTo Preview image

I’ve always been a big fan of keeping my desktop neat and tidy; from the icon arrangement, to where applications sit on the screen, I’ve always opted for high efficiency and productivity improving layouts. MaxTo helps in this regard to organise your screen real-estate, set up regions, and assign specific space to specific applications and/or screens at the click of a button.

Although Windows 10 now comes with its own window position management tool, I find it rather basic and unintuitive. I prefer to have full control of where applications sit and spawn on the screen. MaxTo allows you to define as many regions as you need on each monitor you have available to suit your own specific needs.
Once these are set, you can move windows between them at will with your mouse or by using keyboard shortcuts. You can also set up more advanced behaviours with the Recipes feature.

All in all, it’s a great tool that’ll help you keep a tight leash on your windows, the only caveat being that it’s unfortunately not free.
A potentially great free alternative which I haven’t used but wish I had seen before I purchased MaxTo is FancyZones, which comes with the Windows 10 PowerToys utilities suite.


ReNamer

ReNamer Screenshot image

Have you ever gone to rename a large number of files and then spent a good part of your day trying to get it done right?
I have on many an occasion before I discovered this little tool.

ReNamer allows you to select a number of files or folders to rename and assign renaming rules which you specify from a number of various options.
You can Insert, Delete, Remove, Replace, Rearrange, modify the Extension, Strip, change the Case, Serialize, Clean Up, Translieterate from other language sets, use RegEx (Regular Expressions), Pascal Scripts, or wait for User Input.
If that’s not enough, I don’t know what else you want because that’s about as much as I can think of ever needing.

Although it’s technically not a free tool, you are allowed to use it for home use in a limited state, and although that is the case, I’ve never felt limited in any way when using it. The free version allows you to use up to 5 rules per renaming process, and I’ve as yet never needed to use that many rules.

An alternative to this which I’ve yet to use myself, is the free PowerRename which is included with the Windows 10 PowerToys utilities suite.


Ditto Clipboard Manager

Ditto Clipboard Manager image

Ditto is a fantastic little tool that helps you keep track of items you’ve added to your Windows clipboard.

Normally, items you copy when working within Windows are immediately replaced when something else is copied. This is a volatile memory process and there’s no way to retrieve any previous items.

Ditto helps you by keeping an itemised list of everything you’ve copied so that you can recall it again at any point. It can handle text, images, HTML, custom formats, among others and offers the ability to employ keyboard shortcuts to save and recall selected items at any time.
It also has a Search feature which is invaluable when you’re trying to track down that recipe you copied from that website last week and all you remember is a mention of Cornflour.

It is incredibly easy to use and once you’re used to it, you’ll wonder how you ever did anything in Windows without it.


Windows 10 PowerToys

Windows 10 PowerToys image

A late addition that I found while writing this article and mentioned earlier was the ever-helpful and always useful Windows PowerToys suite.

These are a collection of utilities created by Microsoft developers designed to augment existing or add new features to the Windows environment. They always aim to improve the user experience and they often leave one wondering why they weren’t included with the Windows operating system in the first place.

The Windows 10 suite includes tools to help you organize your on-screen windows, view the available on-screen shortcuts, rename files, preview specific files in Windows Explorer, resize images, manage keyboard shortcuts, and quickly run applications from anywhere.

They are, in my opinion, always a must-have for every Windows user.


That’s all I have for now, but let me know if you have any cool little apps or tools I should try. I’m always keen to find new ways to improve and speed up my Windows experience.

Also, if you try or have tried any of the above, let me know how they helped your workflow or if you found them to be more trouble than they’re worth

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2 Comments

  • Great Post. The information you provided is really wonderful. Keep up the good work.

    Thanks

    Reply

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