Inspired by Scott Hanselman’s enormous list of tools that he uses, used, or heard of once, here’s three comparatively tiny lists of tools I use every day. The first list is comprised of cross-platform software that I use on both OSX and Windows. The second is OSX-only software and the third is Windows-only software.
I don’t use Linux enough to have a set of tools I recommend. As I’m the only person on the planet to think that Unity is actually a small step in the right direction, even if it does need optimising, my opinion doesn’t count.
- Sublime Text 2 - Without a doubt, the best text editor I’ve used on any platform.
- VLC - The most versatile media playback program around.
- DiffMerge - 3-way diff tool.
- Mercurial - Distributed version control.
- FileZilla - FTP client.
- Dropbox - File syncing in the cloud.
DiffMerge and FileZilla make the list over other more advanced programs by virtue of being free and cross-platform. Mercurial triumphs over Git thanks to its first-rate Windows support and its spectacular command line UI. I recommend TortoiseHg for Windows as it is often handy to see at a glance if anything in a repository has changed without firing up PowerShell.
- iTerm2 - Replacement for the standard Terminal.app featuring tabs.
- Hex Fiend - Because everyone needs a hex editor.
- PlainCalc - Calculator with a console interface.
- Adium - Fantastic IM client.
- KeePassX - Encrypted password storage.
- Acorn - Simple image editor.
- VMWare Fusion - OS virtualisation, great for Windows.
- VirtualBox - OS virtualisation, great for Linux.
- The Unarchiver - Decompressor for zip, 7zip, etc.
- Bean - Simple word processor.
- XBMC - Media player.
VMWare and VirtualBox both make the list because they have different strengths. VirtualBox is open source, free and cross-platform, but it makes no effort to integrate into the host operating system. VMWare Fusion’s full screen mode means I can three-finger-swipe to switch from OSX to Windows, which is almost magical.