This is slightly more complicated than it used to be, because you have to actually create a live AdWords Campaign as part of the process! This puts many people off, as it looks as if you have to actually advertise in order to use the tool. You don’t — you can just setup the campaign and then pause it before it runs so you don’t have to spend a penny.
The Google Keyword Tool is SUPER helpful for building a foundation for your keyword research strategy. At the end of the day, these search numbers are coming straight from the horses mouth. You can filter down to a hyper-local level and see which keywords are getting the largest search volume. Plus, with it’s integration with PPC you can get a quick idea about commercial intent by looking at the bid and competition metrics. How much are people bidding on KWs, higher = more likely to generate a return. Usually its aligned with search intent. That said, the trending data is a little less reliable. I would still use Trends to analyze the popularity/ seasonality of KW search volume.
In a nutshell, Long Tail Pro helps you quickly find keywords in bulk based on a seed keyword that you input. In addition to returning hundreds of related keywords, the tool also shows search volume (monthly search volume), advertiser bid, number of words, rank value, and my favorite Keyword Competitiveness (helps you judge the competition and keyword difficulty).