My Choices for Best Software of 2013

We’re coming to the end of the year and that of course means lists! Lists for the best and worst of everything. And I would be remiss if I didn’t offer up my own list of some of the best stuff out there. With so much amazing (and crap) software out there it’s hard to know what to download and install. It can also be an overwhelming blur of what’s good and what’s hype. So in the tradition of year end lists, here are some of the best that I’ve come across this year.

These are "general" types of tools. They aren’t geared toward solving a particular problem or toward a specific group. These are apps that everyone can benefit from. You may not use them everyday, but more than likely you will come across a need for them. I’ve included some "must have" apps for the iPad. These are apps I use with great frequency.

Norton Internet Security 2013 – Protect your system and protect yourself. Excellent anti-virus and firewall and you can always find a good deal.

SuperAntiSpyware or MalwareBytes – Always have a backup plan when it comes to Spyware. Both of these are fast, efficient and trustworthy. If NIS doesn’t catch it first, rely on these as your second line of defense.

RoboForm – Store all your passwords and credit card information. Makes filling out forms a snap. All my account info is safely stored away and I can log into every website with ease. A must have for the online traveler.

Ccleaner – Clean out all those leftover and unnecessary files. A tidy machine is a safe machine.

XYPlorer – What the Windows File Explorer should have been. Incredibly powerful, incredibly fast. You’ll never use another file management tool again.

TeraCopy – What the Windows File Copy function should have been. Handle large files, bad network, thousands of files in a batch or copy an external drive with confidence.

Index Your Files – Got files? Index them. Finding files on a single 3TB drive is hard enough, think about 10 of them. And my file library is ever growing. I need this to find out where I put things. Brilliant and free!

WinRAR – The only archive tool worth having. Yes Winzip is good, but WinRAR is better. It handles everything.

DisplayFusion – If you have multiple monitors you need to manage them with DisplayFusion. End of story. Incredibly useful. I can’t use my machines without it.

Irfanview – If you ever look at a downloaded image, do it with Irfanview. This is the de-facto standard for file viewing. View, crop, convert, rotate, enhance, resize, capture. Always updated. Always free.

FastStone Image Viewer – Need to sort through thousands of images? As the name implies, it’s fast, makes viewing folders of images easy and comes with a slew of tools for rotate, resize, move, copy, tag, batch convert, adjust and so much more. If you have image collections, Image Viewer will help you.

Corel Paint Shop Pro – Simple photo editing done right. You can rotate or crop a picture as easily as you can build multiple layers and use masks. If you move beyond Irfanview, steps into Paint Shop Pro.

Freemake Video Converter/Video Downloader – If you ever have to convert, crop or download a video, these are the tools for you. Incredibly easy to use and extremely powerful. If you want to get movies on your iPad you’ll end up with these eventually.

Audials One – Find, record and play just about everything the world has to offer. Listen to radio stations from around the world, record what you hear. Watch streaming media and capture it for later. This is an amazing tool. I never cease to be amazed with the entertainment I can find with this.

Ashampoo Burning Studio – If you need to make CD/DVD/Blu Ray discs, this is the tool for the job. Dead simple and accurate. It’s a 3 click process to make a disc, what could be easier than that?

Ashampoo Uninstaller 5 – Install what you want then make it all go away. Log every program you install so you can remove all traces later. Keep your system clean after playtime.

Dropbox – It’s the Cloud. Transfer files across machines and devices, make backups and keep things safe. I love Dropbox and use it all the time. Such a great way to keep your files in sync.

OneNote – Simply the best tool for writing and note taking. Down played by Microsoft, but loved by those of us who use it. Write down an idea, make a ToDo list, scribble a drawing or plan, organize and write a first draft. OneNote can handle all of it. If you gather information or do a lot of writing OneNote is a must.

AllMyNotes Organizer – Note quite the little brother of OneNote, but a damn good companion. It’s fantastic when you write repeatedly short notes or emails and then delete them. I use this for my tech work to copy and paste computer output before sending off a response. Handles RTF and screenshots with ease. Keeps things organized in folders in case you do find yourself repeating yourself. Makes a nice Journal tool as well.

FocusWriter – Excellent multi-tabbed RTF editor. When you don’t need the power of Word and want to focus on the draft at hand, this is an amazing tool.

Notepad++ – The standard in text editors. Need to clean up or make plain text? Here you go. Also great for coding as it understands PHP, HTML, ASP and lots of others. Always have it open and at the ready.

Kingsoft Office Professional Suite 2013 – The dependency on Word and Office has come to an end. A fantastic alternative at fraction of the price. Supports all the formatting, tables, TOC, headers, footers and page numbering you could need. For some people there is still a need for Word. For those that are tired of Word getting in the way of itself Kingsoft is a must.

Cailbre – Got Books? In today’s world of PDF, TXT, .ePub, .Mobi and who knows what else, you need a way to store and organize them all. Calibre is just that tool. Convert between formats and make any book available on your mobile device. You can even make all your store bought books available on any device. Amazing piece of software. And even better because it’s free.

Pandora – Say what you will, I like it.

Best Apps for the iPad

Goodreader – Read PDF, TXT, DOC and everything else in one place. Also watch movies and listen to music. Copy to and from your machine wirelessly and get files from Dropbox. Brilliant!

AirDisk Pro – Get anything on or off your iPad wirelessly. Drag and drop through your browser. Even if the iPad can’t read it, it can still store it. Turns the iPad or iPod into a nice thumbdrive.

Notebooks for iPad – Amazing text editor that supports TXT, RTF and HTML. Organize your writing into folders like you see in OneNote. Incredibly fast and powerful. The best editor for the iPad.

Voice Dream – Turn every book or document into an audiobook. Listen to any written text while you tackle any chore.

AppShopper – Keep track of updates, price drops and the top selling apps. Save yourself some money and download this free app.

Camera+ – Far superior version of the built in camera app. Crop, enhance, use FX, image stabilizer and color enhance. Line up and level your shot with the grid and level. There’s so much you can do without ever leaving the app.

Dead Man’s Draw – One of my favorite games of the year. It’s so nice to have a card game that isn’t Texas Hold Em!

Ace Patrol – Easy to pick up aerial combat. Fly missions, dog fight, destroy enemy bases and make daring raids behind enemy lines. So simple, yet so much fun.

Dirt 2 – I love playing in the Dirt. Ken Block says that could have gone smoother, but it was a perfectly valid maneuver!

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