Seven Free Applications You Should Try

I think all of us who sit in front of a computer for a living have a few free programs that we're particularly fond of.  Here's what I'm liking as of late.


My favorite general-purpose text editor.  Along with pretty much anything else, I find myself writing a lot of T-SQL code in here and then copying/pasting into SSMS.  My favorite features include column editing mode, double-click searches, and a wide variety of plugins.  Supports syntax highlighting for a ton of languages out of the box, but extensions are available that allow it to handle even more.  I used to use another text editor which seemed ultra expensive for what it did.  Notepad++ does everything I need for free.

KeePass Password Safe

I use KeePass for keeping all of my passwords straight.  I used to have 4 or 5 "go-to" passwords that I used for nearly everything.  No longer is that the case, since KeePass stores them for me in an encrypted file.  Since I don't have to remember all my passwords anymore, it's a lot easier to use a different password for everything, and those passwords are much stronger as well.  KeePass also has a rather powerful and customizable password generator built in should you want completely random passwords.  I don't know what I'd do without it.

SSMS Tools Pack

Developed by the SQL Server Community's very own Mladen Prajdić (blog | twitter), SSMS Tools Pack is a great free add-in providing extra features for SQL Server Management Studio.  Some of them are awesome enough that Microsoft has included its own implementation in later releases of SSMS.  It's one of the first installs I make on a development machine.


Great tool for creating encrypted volumes on your computer or thumb drive so you can safely store sensitive info.  Allows you to mount & dismount encrypted volumes quickly and easily, or encrypt an entire drive or partition.  Lets you pick from 3 different encryption algorithms on their own, or 5 different combinations of them.  I've been encrypting my data with this for years and don't plan on using anything else at any price.

Moffsoft FreeCalc

Why not just use the built-in Windows calculator?  Simple – this one is better!  Maybe it's a throwback to my high school days where I spent the summers working for a city finance department, but I really like printing calculators.  FreeCalc has a "tape" that shows what you've been up to.  It's especially useful when adding a bunch of numbers at once.  It's an oldie (copyright 2000-2004), but a goodie!


While this is by no means a replacement for professional tools such as Adobe Photoshop, this free tool can do an awful lot of the basic stuff I need on a day-to-day basis, such as resizing and cropping.  It can also do way more than that, but I'm a DBA, not a graphic designer!


An amazing tool for making and editing screenshots.  Previously I would take a screenshot using ALT + PRNT SCRN and then edit in Paint.Net.  Screenpresso lets you do it all in one place.  You can crop a section of your screen as a screenshot, do basic editing right in the tool (blurs, arrows etc) and then paste into your desired application.  It also saves your screenshots for you in its own library.  Worth every cent you didn't have to pay!