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Ask HN: What are your favorite utility desktop apps?
92 points by ezekg on March 28, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 50 comments
I'm a big fan of small, often indie, utility apps. Some apps I really dig:

- Monodraw: https://monodraw.helftone.com/

- Postgres.app: https://postgresapp.com/

- Lungo: https://sindresorhus.com/lungo

- Duet: https://www.duetdisplay.com/

- Magnet: http://magnet.crowdcafe.com/

What do you like?

MacOS utilities I rely on:

-- Typinator - text expander / autocorrector - https://www.ergonis.com/products/typinator/

-- Keyboard Maestro - indispensable macro program - https://www.keyboardmaestro.com/main/

-- PopClip - use this 50 times a day - https://pilotmoon.com/popclip/

-- HazeOver – dims inactive windows/monitors – https://hazeover.com/

-- Paste – clipboard manager - https://pasteapp.me/

-- ScreenFloat - screenshot app - https://www.screenfloatapp.com/

-- Spectacle - window manager https://www.spectacleapp.com/

-- Window Tidy - another window manager (I use them both) - https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/window-tidy/id456609775?mt=1...

-- Dash - developer docs browser - https://kapeli.com/dash

-- Cold Turkey - Internet distraction blocker - https://getcoldturkey.com/

-- Bartender - https://www.macbartender.com/

Ditto - Clipboard manager for Windows. The nicest I've used on any OS. Great for managing the last N items (set to remove items after a week for me) and it's easy to delete or modify entries.

Klipper - Clipboard manager for Linux. It's part of KDE so I'm not sure if it counts but it doesn't seem to be well known. Basically the same as Ditto for Linux but a bit clunkier.

7+ Taskbar Tweaker - Tool that modifies the Windows taskbar. My favorite two features: 1. Hiding the Windows logo/start button so Win+1 correlates with the first icon, Win+2 with the second, etc. 2. Making it such that if I click an application icon with multiple windows, the first window will just come to the front (and the second if the first is already at the front, etc.) instead of having to click from a list of windows.

SharpKeys - Windows tool to remap keyboard keys. Equivalent to using the Registry but more pleasant.

With ditto, can you copy a few things into the clipboard, then paste them in order somehow?

So for example I copy my password, then my username, then you can press, say, ctrl-shift-v and it will paste your password and remove the topmost item so the next paste will be my username? Or something like that?

Is there any clipboard manager that can do this? It sounds like a good idea.

Edit: it would be easy enough to whip this up using Autokey (Linux) or AutoHotkey (Windows), but I wouldn't be too keen on having a password in plain text in a script... At least with a clipboard manager you can clear that password right after use.

Arsclip is meant to be able to do it, but I couldn't work out how to do it.

Windows 10 seems to have built-in clipboard manager:


Anyone using it? Not my thing, but I thought I might mention it, maybe somone finds it useful.

- Sizer http://www.brianapps.net/sizer (because I prefer my windows spawning with customized size and placement; pretty sure KDE offers similar stuff by default)

- Xlaunchpad http://www.xwidget.com/ (mimicking OSX Launchpad feature on Windows; I'm using it with double-click the desktop to invoke setting)

- Everything https://www.voidtools.com/ (default W10 files indexing and search replacement)

- Notepad2-mod https://xhmikosr.github.io/notepad2-mod/ (Notepad replacement)

Sizer - I have been using a custom script in DisplayFusion* to accomplish a similar purpose but I like the interface with sizer more (especially the ability to make preset sizes). Thanks for sharing.


I'd suggest using 4.0 version and set it to run with administrator rights - I'm not sure if author has already solved this but context menu invoked on window border tend to bug in the past under W10.

I can't speak about KDE in particular, but I use a command line program called wmctrl to size windows to specific pixel dimensions.


ImageOptim is incredible: https://imageoptim.com/mac

It does lossless and lossy image compression, removes metadata, the UI is excellent, and it's FOSS. It's effortless to use - just drag in images from any directory and it'll replace them with the optimized versions.

AutoHotkey is amazing. On Linux, there is also Autokey.


Can be very handy for automation (I ended up automating ice mining in Eve Online with it as an experiment)

- z (Linux): https://github.com/rupa/z builds a database of every folder I ever go to on the command-line and uses fuzzy search to open the most likely folder when I give z any string argument. It's been such a huge improvement for my CLI workflow. I no longer need to traverse entire directories if I've been there before. I just need to enter the shortest possible part of the path that'll take me to my destination, often just a couple of characters.

- chocolatey (Windows): https://chocolatey.org/ Package manager for Windows which means I only rarely need to manually download and install programs anymore. I can even tell it to update all installed programs, which is a decent time saver.

+1 for Everything mentioned in another comment.

- Alfred https://www.alfredapp.com/

- BetterTouchTool https://folivora.ai/

- Sip https://sipapp.io (even tho the new pricing isn't great)

- Spectacle https://www.spectacleapp.com/ (if you want a Magnet alternative)

- Calibre https://calibre-ebook.com/ (not sure if this counts)

Re: sip, why not just use a custom HTML file. I store vast majority of my data in custom HTML files custom written with custom js and CSS and custom elements. Level of customizability is extremely high and you can represent the data with infinite flexibility and you can display your data via an infinite number of views and it's just a matter of switching stylesheets. All hail the age of custom written HTML pages intended for personal use! Hooray for the practice of keeping your data in HTML! Boo markdown which is tremendously tremendously overrated. The age of writing HTML for other people is over. The age of writing HTML for your own private consumption is on us!!!

I was actually wondering if there was anyone storing textual data in html, I also think it is pretty useful and nice. Do you have any additional information? Such as your html organizations etc.?

Sip looks very useful! I'm going to try that one out.

Bulk Rename Utility (Windows) is something I’ve been using for years to rename my music and video libraries in a uniform way. I usually just use it to rename seasons and episodes of shows incrementally, but it's capable of a lot more advanced rules.

It works well, does everything I ask of it, and it’s just totally free of bloat. Hasn’t changed in years in fact. Just does what it says on the tin. Renames your files in bulk.



Dash - Snippet Manager and API Doc Browser https://kapeli.com/dash

Flycut - Clipboard Manager https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/flycut-clipboard-manager/id4...

Spectacle - Window sizing Manager https://www.spectacleapp.com/

Greenshot - the best screenshot software out there. Open source and beats all the paid options.

Maps to print screen key. Let's you draw a box around what you want to snip, then you can send it straight to the clipboard, or open in a quick editor for notes, or go straight to imgur or a myriad of other programs.

If you're using windows I'd also recommend checking out share-x (https://getsharex.com/). I'm not exactly a power user for this type of application but share-x appears to have some more advanced features that some here may appreciate.

Ooh, I'm a sucker for a slick interface. And this one looks a bit more polished than greenshot. I will be checking it out. Thanks

TotalCommander - (https://www.ghisler.com/) the only way to drive on Windows

MidniteCommander (apt-get install mc) not as good as totalcommander but still way better than simple bash/whatever commands

I had never used a side-by-side window manager before but, after seeing a coworker using TotalCommander, I stumbled across Double Commander (https://doublecmd.sourceforge.io/). It's open source, cross platform, and "is inspired by Total Commander and features some new ideas."

While I cannot comment on how it stacks up to Total Commander, I've ended up liking it quite a bit.

On Windows, Rainmeter: https://www.rainmeter.net/

On Linux, Guake: http://guake-project.org/

Rainmeter gave me a nostalgia trip back to Windows Vista widgets.

Man I haven't used Guake in a long time!

Did you go to UVa?

I work there.

I like 1Clipboard on Windows http://1clipboard.io/ but I'd love to find a Windows version of Flycut for Mac https://github.com/TermiT/Flycut where you can use a shortut to view & toggle through the latest clips (since that's usually my use-case). Any ideas?

Click.to http://www.clicktoapp.com/ is also super useful (I use it mostly for looking up German translations & wikipedia stuff)

- Focus Window for macOS https://focuswindow.app/

- ByWord for macOS https://bywordapp.com/

"Focus Window" looks great, thanks for recommending!

Beyond Compare (Windows)compares Drives, Folders, & Files. Very fast and flexible -- both of which are important. Can also be used to copy files, to synchronize folders.

Aye, it's my goto for viewing diffed files from mercurial and git. Really nice tool.

KeePassXC - https://keepassxc.org/

One of the Best cross platform password managers at the moment!

+1. It’s pulled me out of a few jams, and the GUI is simple and without bloat.

Keyboard Maestro (https://www.keyboardmaestro.com/main/) lets you automate tedious tasks on a Mac

  brew cask install fluor
I have it set up so Fn keys automatically behave like Fn keys in Terminal (?), Emacs.app, Screen Sharing, VMWare Fusion.

Directory Report - Find hidden disk hogs on Windows: http://www.file-utilities.com

rofi (https://github.com/davatorium/rofi). I use it as my primary window switcher.

I use dmenu with i3 now, but I have considered switching to rofi for a while. Do you know the advantages over dmenu?







- LittleSnitch

- Unclutter

- Magnet

- PDFStudio

- GoldWave

- Dash (macOS)

- TexturePacker


- Mp3Tag

- Daemon Tools (Image Mounting)

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