If you are planning on starting with self-hosted WordPress (i.e. wordpress.org), or even if you have already started, the tools below are sure to make your life a lot easier. All of the software and tools below are free to download and use.
There are numerous free FTP tools available however Filezilla, in my opinion, is the best of the bunch. It is a standalone application (unlike some others that integrate with Internet Browsers) that offers a simple means of storing and managing multiple FTP accounts. Once connected to the server via FTP copying files is as simple as dragging and dropping files to the folder on the server. Filezilla also allows for simultaneous connection to multiple FTP Sites.
The most popular Web Browsers are Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Apple Safari and Opera. I have found that all WordPress Plugins may be configured using Firefox however some can’t be configured using one or all the other Browsers.
Notepad++ should be the default text editor in Operating Systems (it is easy to use Notepad++ as the default text editor and I recommend this)! This software however is way more than merely a text editor in that it is familiar with multiple scripting and programming languages. The advantage of this is that, say to want to edit some HTML, Notepad++ will highlight the various elements making it simple to see where an element starts and ends.
I use Notepad++ mostly for PHP and HTML files that WordPress uses. Without hesitation Notepad++ gets a rating of 5/5 from me.
Whether you need to change the filetype of an image from jpg to png, resize an image or remove a background (‘magic wand’) then Paint.net is the tool for you. This software is also great for creating images with text or drawings to insert into pages and Posts.
Paint.net has been around for awhile and has an active and supportive group of contributors. There are therefore many possibilities to extend the already extensive capabilities of this software. For beginners, Paint.net needs a bit of a learning curve however is simple to use in comparison to some other image software such as Adobe PhotoShop.
Windows Live Writer
Microsoft Windows Live Writer is a great productivity tool that will save you a lot of time with writing and publishing Posts to your Blog. This software has been available for years however the latest release (Windows live Writer 2011) has better integration with WordPress than before.
I use Live Writer to create and publish Posts when I am on the train. This allows me to create Posts whilst offline (not connected to the internet) and provides a quicker means of publishing Posts than having to login to the WordPress dashboard.
Live Writer also allows for multiple accounts/connections so if you have many Blogs you use this one piece of software to Post to any of your Blogs.
I use all of the Tools listed above often. I recommend downloading and installing the above if you want to go beyond the basics of WordPress.