When I read Marshall Kirkpatrick’s post Five Tools Everyone Working Online Should Have (IMHO) this morning on ReadWriteWeb, it triggered the thought about the five tools (ok call ’em utilities) that I can’t do without, especially when off line. This is somewhat ironical as I have over the last thirty days tried to move my entire electronic content on-line – basically trying to use my (now borrowed) laptop as a thin client. But that’s for another day, another post.

Yesterday my wife finally got her Dell Inspiron 1525 (in a truly inspiring blue) that your’s truly volunteered to set up and I realized that even without thought I loaded the following utilities first, so that her (and therefore my) off line experience stayed blissful (ok, maybe that’s stretching it). So without much ado, here are the five utilities without which I cannot get through my offline work day:

WordWeb its hard to say which was the chicken and which was the egg. That fact that I had WordWeb made me the local authority (not just to my two kids, but to colleagues) on words from the (not always) Queen’s language or that I positioned myself as the LA and found I could not maintain it without the help of WordWeb. Nevertheless, this tiny little program is an incredible dictionary and thesaurus, when offline and even better when you are off line. Get it today!

Gadwin ScreenPrint – for whatever reason I seem to need screenshots at the most inopportune moments and that too without the cursor, or with it and a delay built-in, or I need only portion of the screen/dialog box, want to save it file, clipboard or printer – you get the picture. Gadwin ScreenPrint is that it-slices-dices-makes-breakfast screen printing tool that doesn’t need even a high school diploma to operate.

Google Desktop is likely the second most used combo on my keyboard. This is one of those tools that make me wonder how we ever made do without it. Sure I hear muttering out there about how someone’s system got crawling after they installed GoogleDesktop but having installed this on five computers at last count, including my parents, I know that I’d install this in a moment’s notice again in my next computer as well. Never had much use for the sidebar but primarily use the quick search. I have probably improved my file naming protocols but am likely overly dependent on this utility to find that document I created last year on Why mushrooms don’t get their due credit or the scanned copy of my father-in-law’s passport.

Picassa – I’d have thought I’d have picked IrfanView as the utility of choice – but it turns out that I don’t do a whole lot of image gimmickry besides, storing, sorting and acting as the family image repository manager. And truth is we presently have far too much vested in Picassa, with location tagging as well as comments. Also I love the time based viewing of (searched) images so for instance, I can view a slide show of all pictures of my daughter Roz taken in Singapore in chronological order (don’t even ask why!)

iTunes – I am just spoilt. Despite its reluctance to easily convert my wife’s 300+ cassettes into digital music, iTunes is the music player of choice in our household and so it’s got to be there. This is particularly weird since none of the three (I can’t even find that original Shuffle) iPods we have in our house are actually used. But I never said this made sense.

Special mention (the only not-for-free app in my top list)

David RM’s Journal – journaling and practically most of my writing is done in this. You gotta experience it. Comes with an addictive free to use for forty five days trial period.

Even putting this list down helped me gain some insight on how I work – do most of my work with words (hence The Journal, WordWeb, Google Desktop), use pictures reasonably (Gadwin Screenshot, Picassa and IrfanView) and actually listen to music (even though moving all our content on to the 500Gb HDD remains a dream) from the computer (iTunes).

What gems do you have to work off line?