When I started writing software on my own, I quickly realized how much work it was, especially when trying to build it in a way that was both foolproof and intuitive to use. I spend a reasonable amount of my time fighting tools and programs that are the exact opposite, so I would like to take a moment and praise some stuff that I found to be great. They are small programs that aid in my daily work (links are in the headers):
This is basically a wrapper for shells/commandlines. I usually have at least two or three git bash opened, depending on the current projects I am working on. ConEmu helps me to keep my sanity by bundling them together in any way I like, via tabs or split screen. You can modify almost every aspect of the software, be it standard shell settings, keyboard shortcuts or simply visuals (transparency is pretty cool with this and you have the common colorschemes like Solarized or Monokai).You can even go crazy and wrap other programs like 3ds Max into it.
I am not yet aware how the Windows file explorer may have changed in Windows 8 and above, but in Windows 7 it is still very very basic. I find it hard to work without tabs, having to manually sort out which of my 20 opened explorer windows is the one I need. Clover is simply a plugin for the native file explorer, adding chrome-like tabs and additional favourites functionality. You can get back a tab that you accidently closed with Ctrl+Shift+W which is a damn lifesaver 🙂
This is probably the tool that keeps my sanity and helps me being more productive the most. You DO NEED a clipboard cache. It is SO USEFUL. Hit ALT-C and it will pop up. It will store an arbitrary amount of clipboard contents across sessions and make them searchable for reuse. Fully customizable, no need to install.
Sometimes you want to do a specific thing, that you rarely do otherwise. I recently wanted to record a simple .gif based on me clicking things in some other application. With this tool, I could finish it within minutes. After recording it allows you to further edit and enhance the .gif, allowing for abritrary frame and image resolutions as output. No installation needed.
There are many great free tools out their that help you solve problems and aid in daily business. If you find something that you really like and use a lot, take a moment to acknowledge that even for small programs someone put dozens if not hundreds of hours into it to make it easy to use for you.
The required user-interface-work can easily take more time than the development of the actual functionality and is often not something that developers are eager to do or can learn much from. Since the person will usually not benefit from it financially in a way that justifies his additional effort, it really shows how passionate that person is about the tool and the benefit for its users.
Sadly this is often forgotten or not appreciated at all, just take a look at (free) app ratings and comments in the Google Play store…