In this post I will expose the freewares and apps that make my life much easier as a freelance designer. Of course I’ll put aside the expensive design software that most designers out there probably own and use.

FREEWARE

FastStone Capture
The best screenshot software I have found so far. You can do all kind of captures, and it features a nice screen magnifier to be accurate when capturing.
http://www.faststone.org/FSCaptureDetail.htm

7-Zip
This is my favourite to quickly compress or unzip files in about any format. Even better, it’s open source.
http://www.7-zip.org/

Skype
Everybody knows this software already, a great money saver and nice communication device. I think this is ideal for the freelancer since it will probably the most frequently used by your customers.
http://skype.com

FileZilla
Great and easy open source FTP software. Suits all my designers need, even if it will probably not be good enough for the programmer.
http://filezilla.sourceforge.net/

Freemind
Mindmapping software (open source too). I use it a lot now to handle my own promotion or get organize for bigger projects.
http://freemind.sourceforge.net

Multiple IEs
I hate it, but it’s necessary for website testing (these browsershots websites never work for me…).
http://tredosoft.com/Multiple_IE

FIREFOX ADDONS

Firebug
I use it mostly to debug Javascript, but it’s much more powerful than that.
http://www.getfirebug.com/

Web Developer toolbar
My favourite, I use it to edit CSS mainly, but it has many functionalities (validating stuff, resizing windows, get ID and classes details,…).
http://chrispederick.com/work/web-developer/

ColorZilla
Great tool to find out which color the logo your customer’s logo is. I use it all the time.
http://www.iosart.com/firefox/colorzilla/

MeasureIt
Measure any element on a page.
http://www.kevinfreitas.net/extensions/measureit/

HTML Validator
Quickly see if a page is valid. Gives you errors and warning based on Tidy. Even helps you fix it sometimes.
http://users.skynet.be/mgueury/mozilla/

IE Tab
Unfortunately you must have this one too. Renders a page in IE or in a tab.
http://ietab.mozdev.org/

ONLINE TOOLS

Gmail
I’ve never been so confortable using emails than with gmail, I would really recommand it to any freelancer on the productivity point of view.
http://www.gmail.com

Google Reader
Thanks to RSS, I keep it all in one place: design news, friends blogs, job boards, twits,…
http://reader.google.com

Google Calendar
I keep my meetings and deadlines on this, and get alerted via Google Reader in case I forgot something.
http://calendar.google.com

Remember The Milk
The first to-do list application that I really use, simple and straightforward.
http://www.rememberthemilk.com

Delicious
Bookmark and share links online. A great place to find tutorials when you are stucked.
http://del.icio.us