Good programs

[Note: This post has been updated multiple times since it was first published. Last update was 6 August 2018.]

I’m not sure, when I will really get down to writing more about each of these, but here’s a list with some of the programs which I am currently using (in no particular order). It’s probably not of much use to you, but it helps me to remember what my next postings should be about. I have not deleted but crossed out those programs that I abandoned for some reason in order to give you an idea of my relative preferences.

(please note that the version numbers are not necessarily the latest versions but the ones that I actually use). I will update this list every now and then, to add new software that I like (and which is related to my academic work).

Free software:

  • Asana (for task management)
  • MiKTeX (v 2.9) (LaTeX textprocessing/typesetting)
  • TeXstudio (v2.12.6) (LaTeX editor)
  • biblatex (latex package for bibliographic referencing, bound to outrun bibtex/natbib in a while)
  • tex4ht (Converts LaTeX documents to html or odt format)
  • transcriber (Transcribe recorded interviews and group discussions – with visualization of envelope of audio signal)
  • CLAN (v 14-Jun-2018 11) Currently testing if this is not the best software for transcription when using transcript conventions for conversation analysis. It also offers a lot of analysis features for linguistic analysis but I probably wont use most of those. I think this is a little hidden gem that anyone analyzing talk-in-interaction should check out.
  • CS-RCS (managing different versions of your documents without much hassle) There is nothing wrong with this software, but I’ve stopped using it when I moved to a new workplace.
  • SnagIt (v 7.25) (make screenshots, edit them, and mail/save them)
  • Abby Screenshot Reader (make screenshots and turn them into text)
  • IrfanView (v 4.27) (Image Viewer)
  • Noggle (Desktop search) – it’s not really free software but it’s free for students and academics.
  • Notepad++ (a lot better than the ordinary Windows Notepad!)
  • FileZilla (transfer files to and from server so work on them from home or wherever) (kinda got obsolete when I moved to a new employer that doesn’t have a server that I can access from home. Using dropbox and sugarsync instead)
  • Firefox (Web browser)
  • Chrome (Web browser)
  • Duplicacy (backing up my files)
  • Avira (Personal) (Antivirus application) With Windows Defender having improved drastically, this is no longer needed these days.
  • GnuCash (v 2.2.9) (keep track of your finances, online-banking)
  • VLC (view audio and video material)
  • Dropbox (keep files synchronized between different computers)
  • Sugarsync (same purpose as Dropbox but with some advantages, but also some serious problems) Sugarsync is no longer free and I have stopped using it.
  • Thunderbird (free email client) (I’m not using Thunderbird any longer since its not supported by my employer, basically forcing me to use M$ Outlook 😦   see below…)
  • Prezi (for presentations, much more flexible than PowerPoint)
  • Evernote (among other things: recognizes your handwritten notes and makes them searchable)
  • Xmind (a mindmapping tool that allows you to “drill down” and “drill up”)
  • The Pomodorocrate (quite a nice way to manage your pomodoros. But I’ll probably use it less and less as I am moving to LeanKit Kanban KanbanFlow…)
  • KanbanFlow (The only (?) service than combines a personal kanban and the Pomodorotechnique!)
  • briss (cropping pdf files with multiple pages on them)
  • SumatraPDF (viewing pdf files when using WinEdt)
  •  Easy Mp3 Ogg Wma Wav Cutter (quick and simple cutting up audio files)
  • Make it One MP3 album maker (quich and easy merging of MP3 files)
  • MailstoreHome (Archiving Mail – I only did that when moving from one employer to another, though)
  • Yast – timetracking synced between your mobile and your PC (university teachers can get a free pro account, but also the standard free acount works fine) Switched to TimeCamp which is not free but they offer edu discount.
  • Sprint Reader (speed reading websites and pdf files)
  • Everything (helps you to quickly navigate to any file or folder on your system by typing a few letters contained in the folder name)

Non-free software

  • WinEdt (v 7) (for editing text for LaTeX (see above)) I’ve moved to TeXstudio (see above)
  • TimePanic (getting the grips on how you spend your valuable working time) (I stopped using Timepanic after more than four years and moved to ManicTime because I needed a real time visual representation of how I spent my time. ManicTime lacks much of TimePanic’s functionality, so that ideally, I would want an integration of both.)
  • ManicTime (tracking the time you spend on different programs – and more)
  • Citavi (v5) (managing bibliographic records and citations; english version coming soon! now out!)
  • IRISPen (v 6 Express) (Scanning quotations from paper instead of typing, needs hardware pen scanner. Haven’t used it since a long time though.)
  • Atlas.ti (v 7) (qualitative data analysis, currently the only QDA software handling pdf-files (MaxQDA is catching up but is not quite there yet!)
  • Transana (v 3.21) (qualitative data analysis, specialized for multi-stream video analysis)
  • NVivo (v 11) (qualitative data analysis with server functionality)
  • F4 (Transcribe recorded interviews and group discussions – can be imported into many QDA programs) – unfortunately no longer free
  • TheBat (v5) (Email client) (stopped using it and actually changed to Outlook also for my private email as it was annoying to use two different email programs)
  • MS Outlook (2010) with Exchange Server (yes, I have to admit that the calendar function is working quite well and since recently it even helps me keep my agenda synchronized with my Android phone. I still don’t like outlook as an email-client because of its paternalistic approach. But the IT policy of my employer is increasingly forcing me to use it anyway, [instead of Thunderbird through IMAP])
  • Microsoft Onenote (for notetaking with a stylus on the Surface Pro 3 tablet) (free version available)
  • EmailNotes for Outlook (to attach sticky notes to your Emails) (I stopped using this because it was interfering with other plugins)
  • Scrivener (for writing longer texts and organize the many snippets, ideas, and drafts created in the writing process)
  • Simplyfile (this is the best Outlook plugin I have seen so far: it reliably helps you to sort emails into the right folders with one click)
  • QuickJump (helps you to quickly navigate to any folder on your system by typing a few letters contained in the folder name) replaced with the free Everything. The only thing that Everything doesn’t do but Quickjump does is to jump to a folder in Outlook. So I still use Quickjump for that)
  • TimeCamp (for tracking how I spend my time at work)
  • Adobe Acrobat XI Pro (pdf editor)
  • Notability (taking notes on the ipad in meetings and lectures) (No longer use it because I now carry a Windows Tablet (with OneNote) around with me, instead of the iPad.

– I am trying (though not very hard) to keep this list up to date, and ultimately I want to create a separate post for each program. Let’s see when that will happen… If you are particularly interested in one of these, feel free to drop a comment below and I’ll see what I can do about prioritizing it for the next post –

I’m thinking I should re-organize this page and sort the programs by what you can do with them rather than by whether they are free or paid. What do you think?


7 thoughts on “Good programs

  1. You should add to the non-free programs two major QDA tools: MaxQDA and QDA Miner.

    • Thanks, Ian. By posting this comment, you have already added them. Feel free to elaborate why you like them. As for the list of programs: my intention is not to provide a complete list of good programs, just the ones I use. And since I don’t use the two you mention, they’re not on it. I do have a post or two on MaxQDA on my blog…

  2. I have been using zotero for a while as my go to reference manager. I’m sure you have heard about it, but why don’t you use it?

    • I have tried Zotero some years ago but it was (and still is, I believe) far from offering the functionality of Citavi. I nevertheless continued using it to safe copies of websites (instead of bookmarking them). I particularly liked the possibility to annotate/highlight text on those saved copies of web pages. Unfortunately, this (highlighting) function had to be discontinued for some technical reason. And since I’m now using Evernote to save copies of web pages, I’m don’t need Zotero.

    • Hi Lynn! A lot can be said about how I use Asana. Is there anything in particular you are wondering about? As for Outlook and Asana, I don’t really need that integration. If I want to turn an email into an Asana task, I just forward it to But if you want to explore this more, there is Sendana a Third party Plugin which connects Outlook to Asana (see and more recently, Asana has also released a more basic Outlook-Addon (which is free):

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