Scripters' Favorite Free Utilities

Your favorite tool not on this list? Let us know.

Here's a list of the free tools used and recommended by fellow scripters. If your favorite utility isn't on the list, please email us about that utility, so that we can add it to the list. Note that the utility must be free and not a Microsoft utility. (Most people are already familiar with the Microsoft utilities.)


  • ConTEXT: ConTEXT is a flexible and extensible editor that you can use with many scripting and programming languages. With this editor, you can have an unlimited number of files open and an unlimited editing file size. ConTEXT sports many features, including a custom-defined syntax highlighter, code templates, a macro recorder, bookmarks, search-and-replace capabilities, and a file explorer with a favorites list.
  • Notepad++: Notepad++ is a simple but useful editor that supports a wide variety of scripting and programming languages, including VBScript, KiXtart, Perl, XML, HTML, Active Server Pages (ASP), and Visual Basic (VB). It offers features such as syntax highlighting and auto-completion.
  • PSPad: PSPad is an editor that supports many scripting and programming languages, including VBScript, JScript, Perl, HTML, MySQL, PHP, and Pascal. The features include syntax highlighting, code templates, a macro recorder, a full hex editor, a spell-checker, and the ability to handle plaintext.
  • SciTE: SciTE is an editor that's part of AutoIT v3. (See the "Scripting Languages/Environments" category for more information about AutoIT). However, you can download SciTE separately. SciTE works with the AutoIt v3 language and other scripting languages. In addition to syntax highlighting, SciTE offers auto-completion and auto-indentation.
  • Vim: Vim is an improved version of the VI editor distributed with most UNIX systems, but Vim also offers a GUI for people who like menus and clicking. The Web site states that Vim is an advanced editor that isn't "designed to hold its users' hands." However, it's well suited for cross-platform environments. This editor supports many scripting and programming languages and is customizable. Its features include vertical split windows, flexible indenting, and support for Unicode editing.


  • Blat: Blat is a Win32 command-line utility that uses SMTP to send email and Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP) to post to Usenet.

Program Add-Ons

  • CodeKeep Add-In: CodeKeep is an online repository of code snippets written in a variety of scripting and programming languages, including VBScript, HTML, and Visual Basic .NET. This Web site offers a free utility—the CodeKeep Add-In for Visual Studio (VS)—that is a code snippet manager.
  • WinZip Command Line Support Add-On:WinZip offers a free WinZip Command Line Support Add-On that lets you use WinZip directly from the command line and from batch files and other types of scripts.

Regular Expressions

  • Regular Expression Laboratory: The Regular Expression Laboratory lets you create regular expressions, then test those expressions by applying them to arbitrary text.

Scripting Languages/Environments

  • AutoIt v3: AutoIt v3 is a standalone (no external DLL files or registry entries required) scripting language for automating the Windows GUI and general scripting. It uses a combination of simulated keystrokes, mouse movements, and window/control manipulation to automate tasks. The latest version includes the new AutoIt v3 language, which the developer says has a more standard syntax (similar to VBScript and BASIC) than the previous version. Plus, the AutoIt v3 language supports complex expressions, user functions, looping, and other advanced features.
  • Python: Although Python is a dynamic object-oriented programming language, you can use it to develop scripts. One scripter who is a DBA says, "I can develop scripts quickly and easily, and given the nature of Python code to be easily readable, I can understand my own code months after it was written. (This is not always a given!)"


  • DumpSec: DumpSec is a Windows security auditing program that you can use to produce reports on NTFS permissions for file systems, printers, shared folders, and even registry hives. It can also provide information about groups, users, rights, policies, and services.
  • MD5WIN: Message-Digest algorithm 5 (MD5) provides a way to verify data integrity. MD5WIN is a graphical-mode Windows program for computing and comparing MD5 digest strings for files and text strings.

Web Sites with Many Different Types of Utilities

  • Joeware: Among the tools you'll find on the Joeware site are AdFind, AdMod, and ExchMbx. You can use AdFind and AdMod to query and modify Active Directory (AD). ExchMbx is command-line tool for working with Microsoft Exchange mailboxes.
  • NirSoft: Among the tools you'll find on the NirSoft Web site are MessenPass and NirCmd. MessenPass is a password recovery tool that reveals the passwords of IM applications. NirCmd is a command-line utility that lets you perform different types of tasks (e.g., write and delete registry values and keys, open the door of a CD-ROM drive) without going through a UI.
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