Tuesday, March 17, 2009

My favorite Windows utilities - Part 1

After using Linux as the desktop OS for a considerable time, I had to migrate to Windows because we have to use Windows for development at office. The peculiarity of Windows as has been noted by many is - it is extremely friendly for a novice but extremely limited for power users esp. those who are used to linux and other command line operated OSes. So, I decided to share some software which i use everyday to make Windows power-user friendly. Most of the software in the list will be available for free(i.e free of cost). Any additions are more than welcome!

Here is the first part of the series:

The biggest problem with Windows is - the mouse! No one wants to repeatedly switch hands between the keyboard and the mouse. Doing so reduces speed quite a lot. In linux/unix most of the things can be done without using the mouse. But, going by the default settings and available options in Windows the mouse is almost indispensable. One essential software I use, to speed up program launching and even document opening is - Find and Run Robot aka FARR.
It is a extremely nifty software! It indexes all the programs from the Start Menu, documents from 'My Documents' and any other folder you wish to specify. Then at the press of a hot key, a small window pops up(similar to Gnome/KDE's Alt+F2 window) where you can quickly type in whatever you wish to run. With excellent auto-completion features builtin, you rarely need to type more than 3-4 characters. An important feature of the search is - the characters you type need not be the first, FARR can search substrings. This feature is an excellent optimisation. For eg. to launch 'Google Talk', I would have other wise need to type 'Google' and then scroll a bit though the searched apps to launch Gtalk. Instead, I just type 'alk' and Google Talk comes as the first one.
Every app is ranked according how frequently it is run. Thus, frequently launched apps always turn up at the top. One can manipulate the ranking by giving the app some additional score. FARR also contains aliases for common tasks. For eg. typing 'wiki gearbox' will take me to wikipedia's page on 'Gearbox'.
Another useful set of features is the set of plugins available for FARR. For example one can set up a short cut such that typing 'g python' will automatically google for 'python' and launch the results in a new tab in the default browser. There is also a calculator plugin. Here is the addons page for FARR - http://www.donationcoder.com/Software/Mouser/findrun/addons/

There are many softwares which provide functionality similar to FARR, FARR's help file contains a long list of those. But, the customizability and SDK availability for FARR allows you to introduce additional features catering your specific need. This was one of the reasons why i chose FARR over some others.

Download FARR from here.

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1 comment:

Tanmay said...

FARR is really good. Thanks for the information!! Keep it up!