I’m always curious about how people set up their computers and what software packages they have, so I thought I would share mine. So you know where I’m coming from, I use Windows, Mac, and Linux nearly every day. Part of my goal is to make transitioning between these systems as seemless as possible, but the exact setup varies by operating system. For those of you on Windows, many of these can be installed with Ninite. I do a pretty good job of keeping this list up-to-date, so it should reflect pretty well my recommendations for current software.

Table of contents


Text Editors

Sublime Text

  • I absolutely love this. Use it every day
  • With package control
  • Be sure to include the Markdown Editor

Evernote (Ninite)

  • Really good but I just don’t use it that much anymore
  • Good for long-term memory stuff, storing pictures (like receipts)

Office Suite

Google Docs

  • Don’t love it, but great for sharing and multi-person editing

Google Slides

  • I prefer Excel, but it’s free and I don’t use spreadsheets enough to buy Excel

LibreOffice (FOSS, Ninite)

  • I prefer this to Google’s offerings but I don’t use this very much anymore.


File Explorer

Commander One (Mac only)

  • Dual-panel file explorer
  • Much better than Finder

Path Finder (Mac only)

  • Dual-panel file explorer
  • Might become my new file explorer for Mac
  • You might need to customize the hot keys


Files (FOSS, Windows)

  • I recently started using this on Windows and like it
  • Good use of tabs and windows


  • More lightweight than Commander One, so I’m starting to prefer it
  • This website offers good tips on how to get started with it

Searching for files

Agent Ransack (Windows)

  • Perfect search tool. I strongly favor this over the (otherwise also very good) alternatives
  • No equivalent for Linux or Mac, although there are decent built-in options


Greenshot (FOSS, Windows)

  • This is a perfect screenshot tool. It does everything I want

For a mac I just use the built-in tool

  • Note that if you want to select just a part of your screen, you should use command + shift + 4, then if you want to copy it straight to your clipboard (so you can paste it), hold control while you draw the outline

Package Managers

Homebrew (Mac)

  • By far the best pacakge manager for MacOS


7-Zip (Ninite)

  • The clear winner for Windows

Checking disk space

WinDirStat (Ninite, Window)


Web Browsers

I always have three or more web browsers on each computer. I use them for different things. All are very good.

Brower Extensions


Spotify (Ninite)

  • Seems to have won the music player market for now

VLC (FOSS, Ninite)

Audacity (FOSS, Ninite)

Cloud Storage

Google backup and sync (Ninite)

  • Unlimited photos, very good app
  • They keep renaming it, and I expect that to continue. It’s Google

Dropbox (Ninite)

  • Poor website interface but other than that one of my favorites

Microsoft OneDrive (Ninite)

  • This does syncing very well

Yes, I do use many different cloud services. All for slightly different purposes.


Rectangle (FOSS, Mac only)

  • Makes moving and resizing windows easy on a Mac
  • Here are the default hot keys


Alfred (Mac only)

  • In the running for one of the best productivity apps in existence
  • This is probably my favorite app for the Mac
  • Can be as simple or complex as you like


Karabiner-Elements (FOSS, Mac only)


Python Distribution

Anaconda (FOSS)

  • Now a no-brainer for data scientists

Integrated Development Environment (IDE)

VSCode (Ninite)

  • Right now it’s VSCode and I’m very happy with it. I have used many of the alternatives and, in general, I think there are a lot of good options, but I like VSCode.
  • Configuring your IDE that way you like it is essential, and VSCode is incredibly extensible.


  • The clear winner in my opinion for R IDE, although I don’t use R much anymore so this could no longer be true

Version Control





  • The clear winner for Mac and my overall favorite. I wish Linux and Windows had this


In Windows, I use a mix, mostly because none of them are perfect. Here’s a case (unlike browsers) that I would rather just have one


  • Allows Unix style commands, makes switching between Mac and Linux and Windows much easier


  • A top contender for the best terminal in Windows. This is a really good terminal

Windows PowerShell

  • Sometimes I like it and sometimes I don’t…

Anaconda Prompt

  • I only use this for Anaconda stuff

Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL)

  • Promising, definite promising. Keep working on it Microsoft!

Ubuntu terminal

  • Still a work in progress. Gets better all the time but still has room for improvement.
  • Update: This has gotten much better. I’m now using this with zsh like I do on my Mac and am liking it a lot.

As you can see, I’m strewn across half a dozen terminals in Windows and have found the one on Mac. For me, nothing beats iTerm2.



  • Favorite for Linux at the moment



Terminal Add-ons


  • Syntax highlighter
  • I use it so often I alias it to the letter “c”
  • it’s like cat but with colors


  • This is the best way to get around a Unix terminal


Malware Protection

I have no loyalty to any of these. I usually just go with the top free one recommended. I’ve also used paid ones in the past but I don’t know if it’s worth it.

Malware Bytes (Ninite)

Password Managers


  • I feel like I’ve finally found the password manager that I’ve been looking for. Does what I want without being obnoxious

Managing Updates

Patch My PC (Windows only)

  • I’m still looking for something to help me automatically update software on my computer. So far I’ve gone with patch my pc but there’s nothing I like


Discord (Ninite)


  • I can’t believe this took so long to be invented. This is how communication should be


  • Beware: has ads, though I don’t find them particularly intrusive


Navicat for PostgreSQL

  • Not free but this is my favorite for databases

DBeaver (FOSS)

  • My current favorite open source to Navicat

LaTeX Editor


  • Requires a distribution with it. I like MIKTEX
  • I also recommend pdflatex (through miktex)

Hex Editor

Video Conferencing

Zoom (Ninite)

Google Hangouts

Image Editing

Adobe Lightroom (Windows, Mac)

  • As much as I’d like to say GIMP is just as good, it’s no match for the features of Lightroom. For someone who spends serious time editing photos, I don’t think there’s a better alternative.

GIMP (Linux)

  • The Paint program I like on Windows doesn’t exist for Linux, so I use GIMP instead.


Image Composite Editor

  • Free tool from Microsoft to stitch images for panoramas. Works better than Lightroom


  • Great for making star trails
  • A really nice simple piece of software that does one thing well

ISS Transit Finder

  • Online only, no download



  • Pretty good. I hope it keeps getting better as natural language processing improves

Google Earth (Ninite)


Speccy (Windows only)

Astronomy Picture of the Day

  • Get beautiful backgrounds every day

Inkscape (FOSS, Ninite)

Excalidraw (FOSS)

  • Can download it but also words directly on the website
  • Super simple to use
  • Can also make graphs with it


  • Still a pain on Windows Home. Wonderful for Linux and Mac

Wget for Windows

  • just stick in somewhere in your path, C:\Windows

Sumatra PDF (Ninite)

  • For reading pdfs
  • I mainly just my web browser now

Wireshark (FOSS)

  • The clear winner for free network protocol analyzers


  • Cloud-hosted logging

Scroll Reverser (FOSS, Mac)


  • Very nice tool to tracking GPU usage
  • Includes which user is user the GPU, significant upgrade to nvidia-smi


  • Another nice tool for looking at GPU usage



  • The best app for keeping track of scientific papers
  • Definitely use the browser extensions as well

New Tab Page



Belarc Advisor

  • Similar to Speccy

Sysinternals (Windows)

PowerToys (Windows)


  • Might become my new package manager



Wox (Windows, FOSS)

  • Like Alfred for Windows
  • Default is Alt + Spacebar, which is a little different on the keyboard than Alfred.

Boop (Mac, FOSS)


Pixea - good for a scroll through images on a Mac


Static Type Checker - mypy

  • I put my mypy config in ~/.mypy.ini

Honorable Mentions

Azure Data Studio

  • Free and feels like VSCode in many ways
  • FOSS alternative to Navicat for PostgreSQL for me

Postico (Mac only)

  • Not free but still very good