bookmarkMy Salon Blog colleague Ted Ritzer keeps a list of Useful Web Sites (for all web users, not just bloggers) originally compiled by Kevin Kelly, of Wired, The Well, and Whole Earth Catalog fame. Kevin no longer maintains his list, and instead has an intriguing Cool Tools site, but it’s only for the rich — virtually everything on the site costs money, often a lot of it. So Ted and I agreed it’s time to update the Useful Web Sites list, and we need your help. What links and free downloads should every self-respecting Internet user have on their desktop?

The list should not include pay sites, nor should it include news sites, blogs or other sites that appear on blogrolls (too many, and too subjective). Nor should it include highly specialized sites (I have a personal list of favourite genealogy sites, but I realize that few people would consider these ‘essential’).

To make the list manageable, I’ve identified 21 categories for the essential links (let me know if you think I’ve missed an entire category). If I get enough response, I’ll publish a list of the Top 3 in each category and keep it on my sidebar or Spurl it (Spurl lets you keep your web bookmarks online and share them with others).

The examples shown for each category are my personal favourites and some of them are eccentric, so they may not make the Top 3 list. Quite a few of them come from the excellent Jason Lefkowitz’ Quality Software list (thanks to Internet Time for the link):

  1. Search engines — e.g. Google
  2. Converters, voice recognition tools and translators — e.g. Reverso Language Translation
  3. Internet browsing tools and aids — e.g. Firefox browser, Xnews newsreader
  4. Website composing and management tools — e.g. HTML-Kit web page editor
  5. Publishing tools – e.g. PDFCreator
  6. Word processing and office productivity — e.g. OpenOffice
  7. File and desktop management — e.g. FilZip compression software, Furl digital filing cabinet
  8. Writing aids — e.g. The 39 Steps, Rhymezone
  9. Reference tools — e.g. IMDB movie & TV show database
  10. Music and book sellers — e.g. FYE, CDBaby, McNally Robinson
  11. Consumer information — e.g. CNet product reviews
  12. File sharing tools
  13. Internet streaming radio/video — e.g. ShoutCast
  14. Connectivity and discussion tools — e.g. Thunderbird e-mail, SightSpeed videoconferencing, Trillian IM and chat integrator, Skype VoIP
  15. Multimedia tools — e.g. PhotoPlus image editor, IrfanView image viewer
  16. Website/RSS feed aggregation tools — e.g. BlogLines site aggregator, Spurl online bookmarking
  17. Network/community builders and expertise finders
  18. Software download sites — e.g., Tucows
  19. Investment tools and information — e.g. MLS real estate finder
  20. Electronic Payment and LETS tools
  21. Anti-spam, anti-virus, anti-spyware/adware utilities — e.g. SpyBot anti-spyware

What are your essential links and invaluable free downloads?

This entry was posted in Our Culture / Ourselves, Using Weblogs and Technology. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. kara says:

    Going to give Spurl a try. Thanks for the link.My bookmark favorites is a monster!–Go Flames!

  2. Gary says:

    A free source of images is not one of your categories, but my single most useful and inspiring web site is The Astronomy Picture of the Day. Astronomers Jerry Bonnell and Robert Nemiroff offer up a new, high-res, beautiful and often startling image every day to help expand your thinking to the global and universal. A terrific archive, too.

  3. Gary says:

    One more time…A free source of images is not one of your categories, but my single most useful and inspiring web site is The Astronomy Picture of the Day. Astronomers Robert Nemiroff and Jerry Bonnell offer up a new, beautiful, often startling hi-res image to expand your thinking to the global and universal. Great archive, too.

  4. Doug Alder says:

    WWhois Version 2.1 Author: Song Huang SoftGears Company Copyright 2001 – 2003 http://www.softgears.comBest damn command line whois program I’ve run across – I use constantly all day in my work

  5. is quickly becoming one of the most useful things on the web.Also:,, spamcop.netI might blog more later.

  6. Dave Pollard says:

    Hmmm — two votes for whois — that’s a surprise to me. Keep ’em coming, everyone.

  7. Kevin Hayden says:

    To keep abreast of search engines/research choices and utilize Google-alternatives, I recommendFagan FinderFor network security, you can’t beat Zone AlarmFor text editing, I’ve long loved the versatility of Note Tab.And a download site I recommend:NONAGS

  8. Dermot Casey says:

    Free AntiVirus – AVGFree Firewall – Zone AlarmcheersDermot

  9. Thomas says:

    The things are cool tools are very pricey. I like Meta-Efficient ( – similar but more focused and takes price in account.

  10. kim says:

    cyberbuddy from built for im, i’ve never used it as such, but it’s a fine mail checker/spam deleter and backup alarm clock.worldtime ( is the absolute best timepiece/synchronizer i’ve found.desktop weather from and zone alarm, absolutely on my computers. when other people tell me that, for whatever reason, they’ve just learned that they should have had av software, i send them to the free online panda service, for emergency cleanup. seems to have worked well for everyone so far.odigo ( can still be good when you get a sudden urge to talk to a total stranger in a specific place. and did i mention that irfanview is not just an image viewer, it’s a great little image editor and file manager too.looking forward to the completed list.thanks dave.

  11. Arjun Singh says:

    I would add Belarc advisor which creates a printable and very comprehensive list of all the specifications and software on your computer. Very good when you need to know detailed details of your

  12. Jay Cross says:

    Dave, I love this idea. Virtual barn-raising. Since I first got on the web (pre-Netscape), I’ve maintained link lists online. They’re becoming an obsolete way to keep one’s online reference library, but the content’s still useful. See, for example, for doing this!

Comments are closed.