You really should use an FTP program. (No, don’t use your web hosting company’s HTML file browser. Not as fast, easy, reliable. Also, don’t edit plugin or theme files using WordPress built-in editor, you need a programmers editor, and then FTP.) Windows FileZilla or FileZilla Portable; OS/X FileZilla Client or just search for FileZilla on download.cnet.com, it’s completely free and well done. Find out from your hosting provider if you can connect securely (SFTP is most common).
If you don’t already have a good programmers editor, get Notepad++, Notepad++ Portable, or for OS/X TextWrangler or BBEdit look like good choices (but I haven’t used either). TextWrangler vs BBEdit Comparison. Both are from the same company, so get TextWrangler (free) until you know you Need a feature in BBEdit.
I have clients who use CoffeeCup Free HTML editor, or who have purchased the full version. Very nice. I haven’t used their other tools, I either already had free tools that work great, or wasn’t interested, but those tools all look well done. http://coffeecup.com/
Having a development server lets you put only working pages on your public web site. I use XAMPP, a full free Apache server, with PHP, Perl, MySQL, and more, to run on your Windows computer. Even a portable version (install on a USB drive, have a web site development server on any Windows computer). Changes the development flow; instead of making updates with edit-upload-refresh browser-repeat, updates become edit-refresh browser. Small change, but it really adds up. Plus of course, it enforces developing and testing on one server, putting the working product on the production server. Develop WordPress plugins on your notebook, without crashing your production WordPress multi-site setup with 30 client blogs.
For website development you have to have Firefox, with the Firebug addon. And it’s really good to have Google Chrome too, there are occasional CSS slight differences; mostly I’ve found I was sloppy with CSS sometimes, Chrome would show my sloppiness where Firefox would interpret my CSS to do what I meant. Chrome has the developer tools built in (the Inspector), that look a lot like Firebug; both let you see all the CSS statements are loaded for the element, which are over-ridden vs active, and adjust the CSS until you see the results you want. Both have a lot more, and that’s the feature you’ll use every time something on any page doesn’t look right.
(I don’t use Internet Explorer except occasionally I quickly check my site displays in an older version; IE9 came on my new computer. Any version of IE older than that gets the same standards compliant, responsive, minimal HTML, formatted by CSS web site that I give to any smart phone, plus a very small IE-specific CSS file that makes it display simply; anyone using old IE today is used to web pages not looking great.)
I use the Fireshot plugin for screen captures, Firefox/Chrome/IE. Excellent for communicating technical visual things with other people.
Check out Xplorer2 for file browsing, much easier to have two panes in a single window, than using Windows Explorer. Use bookmarks for your favorite folders, instead of endlessly navigating up and down the tree of folders. (on download.cnet.com)
For images, I use IrfanView for viewing and minor edits such as cropping and color balance. GIMP is the best free image editor; I barely know how to use it for simple things; graphic artists compare its features to PhotoShop.
For keeping all my passwords for all those sites and banks and stores, settings for FTP sites, settings for databases, etc, I use KeePass Portable (on download.cnet.com)
GMail and Google Hangouts have custom email accounts for free, view email from any web browser, forward GMail messages to any POP or IMAP account (e.g. on Thunderbird). Google Hangouts is connected to a GMail account, chat audio or webcam audio/video. Screen sharing, if you do any technical support you can guide the other person as you watch their screen. Completely free calls to any USA phone number.
VLC Media Player: http://videolan.org/vlc excellent media player capable of reading most audio and video formats.
7 Zip: http://7-zip.org An open source, free alternative to WinZip, has higher compression, great integration with Windows Explorer or xplorer2.
Adobe Reader: http://get.adobe.com/reader the standard free PDF viewer.
Audacity: http://audacity.sourceforge.net for recording & editing audio files, a lot of professional-level multi-track editing capabilities. Easy for trimming audio (e.g. the long pause from starting recording to start of talking), and making people who talked at different volumes sound the same. Open source.
Evernote: http://evernote.com Scan your notes, receipts, etc, will OCR the content, save it, and make it searchable. Free.
GIMP: http://gimp.org (free download)
An open source program used to create & edit – free alternative to Photoshop.
Open Office: http://openoffice.org (free download)
Open source office suite software – word processing, spreadsheets, databases, presentations. Reads .csv files better than Microsoft Office (if a text field has multiple lines, MSOffice can’t read it).
Panda Cloud Antivirus (download.cnet.com) or AVG: http://free.avg.com (free download)
Anti-virus and anti-spyware protection.
BrowserShots: http://browsershots.org (free online tool)
Use this to see how your website look in various browsers, browser versions, operating systems.
Other Software, Others Recommended
CamStudio: http://camstudio.org (free download)
Lets you record all screen & audio activity on your computer and create video files.
CCleaner: http://ccleaner.com (free download)
Removes unused files from your pc allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up space.
Color Cop: http://colorcop.net (free online tool)
A multi-purpose color picker – great for web designers and programmers.
Down For Everyone: http://downforeveryoneorjustme.com (free online tool)
Is your site down? Use this tool to see if your website is down for other people.
DupeFree: http://dupefreepro.com (free download)
Quickly check for duplicate content & LSI keywords.
Give Away Of The Day: http://giveawayoftheday.com (free download)
Unique site that offers you a free license digital product daily.
Launchy: http://launchy.net (free download)
Opens your documents, project files, folders, and bookmarks with just a few keystrokes .
NicheBot Classic: http://nichebotclassic.com (free online tool)
Online keyword research tool helps you target the correct keywords.
OSWD: http://oswd.org/ (free downloads)
Open Source Web Design offers free web design templates.
PDF995: http://pdf995.com (free download)
Use this tool to easily convert files to PSD format.
PDF to Word Converter: http://pdftoword.com (free online tool)
Easily create editable Word Doc files from PDF content – for legit purposes only! 🙂
Pixie: http://nattyware.com/pixie.php (free download)
Great for web designers – just point to a color and it will tell you the code value for that color.
Private Label Rights Forum: http://resell-rights-weekly.com/forum (free online tool)
Very helpful forum with lots of good info on internet marketing. Friendly members too.
Resell Rights Weekly: http://resell-rights-weekly.com/ (free downloads)
Free membership where you can download over 150 PLR/RR products for free.
Roboform: http://roboform.com (free download)
Easily & safely manage your passwords.
ScreenHunter: http://wisdom-soft.com/sh/sh_free.htm (free download)
Software that allows you to “capture” any part of your desktop, a window or full screen.
ShortKeys: http://shortkeys.com (free download)
Allows you to set up replacement text or paragraphs for any user defined keystrokes.
SpyBot: http://safer-networking.org (free download)
Effectively detects and removes spyware from your PC.
Textpad: http://textpad.com (free download)
A powerful text editor, for editing HTML code.
TimeLeft: http://nestersoft.com/timeleft (free download)
A countdown, reminder, clock, alarm clock, stopwatch, timer, & web countdown tool.
Tweet Deck: http://tweetdeck.com (free download)
Great for staying in touch with your contacts across Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and more.
Kompozer: http://kompozer.net (free download)
An easy to use WYSIWYG HTML editor. Less buggy than NVU (the project was picked up where NVU left off). But doesn’t know anything about PHP, won’t even open a PHP file (copy/paste results into your PHP file, in NotePad++.) As of 9/1/2013: “Latest development version: 0.8b3 (2010-02-28)”, so the project has halted. I recommend get the CoffeeCup Free HTML Editor, which displays the preview in a portion of the screen. Or if you really want to have WYSIWYG web editing, use WordPress!