Whenever I set up a new Windows installation – whether it be because I get a new computer, reformat and repartition my computer, or am helping someone ‘fix’ their computer by reinstalling Windows – there are a few applications that I usually always install. These are the top applications that just about everybody needs to have 0n their computers, consisting mainly of freeware utilities and other applications. Some apps are not free, but I have included freeware applications that are a good alternative where applicable. Also, a few of these applications are not needed by everybody but I typically install them on my computers anyways, so I wrote this list in a vague most-to-least important order so that the most popular and important apps are first and the least important ones are last. Anyways, on with the list:
Chrome – https://www.google.com/chrome/browser/desktop/index.html
Every computer these days needs a browser, and I prefer to use Google’s Chrome as my preferred browser of choice. It allows you to visit any web page you need, as well as having a great built in web developer’s toolkit that lets web developers see and play with the different aspects of a web page as they load, helpful for determining what code is rendered for the browser and what CSS it is using. Chrome also lets you modify the browsing experience by adding different plugins and themes.
Firefox – https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/new/
A close number 2 in my book is Firefox, the contemporary to Chrome. It does just about everything Chrome does, and it is best to have at least 2 browsers installed in case some web site doesn’t load properly in the other. I also keep two different browsers in case you want to log in to 2 different accounts to any given website. This lets you be administrator and user on the same site to make sure both parts of the site are working correctly. Also I like to make sure that every part of the site works in each browser.
VLC – http://www.videolan.org/vlc/download-windows.html
In order to play all the media files that you may download, you need a player that will play them all. The built in Windows Media Player that comes with Windows is not very useful and does not play all file types, so it is usually necessary to have another media player application that can play all your files. VLC is my go-to media player that will play just about every file type and has many great features.
MPlayer – http://www.mplayerhq.hu/design7/dload.html
Another good player that lets you play all the files you may download is MPlayer. MPlayer is lower on my list because it has a few ads that are a little annoying but it still makes the list because of all the great features it has.
WinRAR – http://www.rarlab.com/download.htm
In order to use some of the files that you download that are compressed, you need a good file extraction program such as WinRAR. WinRAR allows you to compress and decompress files in many different formats like .zip, .tar, .gz, and of course .rar. There are both free and paid versions of WinRAR that you can download.
K-Lite Codec Pack – http://codecguide.com/download_kl.htm
Many audio and video files are compressed with a certain codec, and many of these codecs are not included with video players and must be downloaded seperately. One way of downloading them all at once is by downloading the K-lite Codec pack. This pack includes all of today’s popular audio and video codecs.
Microsoft Office – https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/office.aspx?q=office
As the standard for office type applications, Microsoft Office is almost necessary for today’s computer users. I try to install it or an alternative on all systems I work on. Of course the downside to Microsoft Office is that it is expensive and most users don’t want to have to pay for it only to use it every so often. If you don’t already have a copy of Office and don’t use it enough to pay for it, I recommend an alternative such as OpenOffice.
OpenOffice – http://www.openoffice.org/download/
A great alternative to Microsoft Office is OpenOffice, which has programs that are equivalent to Word, Excel, Outlook, and all other MS Office apps. I usually install OpenOffice if I cannot get a license for Microsoft Office because it has much of the same features but you don’t have to pay for it. OpenOffice is not as polished as MS Office but does have just about all the functionality you need and can read MS Office files. So if you want the functionality of Office but don’t want to buy it, give OpenOffice a try!
iTunes – https://www.apple.com/itunes/download/
Apple’s media player, iTunes is a must have for anyone with an iPhone or iPad. I usually install this for most people as a lot of people have iPhones or iPads. Even if someone doesn’t have an Apple device, iTunes has many good features, including the iTunes store for music, movies, TV shows, and more. This allows people to buy or rent videos and music to watch on their computer or portable device. However my favorite feature of iTunes that is the main reason I install it on my own systems is the podcast library. Podcasts are basically radio shows that can be downloaded and listened to at anytime, and there are tens of thousands of podcasts out there. I regularly listen to many podcasts and iTunes is the best way to browse and listen to podcasts on the computer.
NotePad++ – https://notepad-plus-plus.org/download/v7.4.2.html
Any power user needs a good text editor, and there are a few pretty good ones for Windows. My favorite is NotePad++ which is great for developing software and web sites in all different languages. It has automatic formatting and coloring to help you write and read code for all kinds of languages. It is a must have for all developers as well as all general users.
TextPad – http://textpad.com/download/index.html
TextPad is another very good text editor that facilitates the editing of all kinds of files. it automatically recognizes the type of file and helps you edit many different types of source code files for all kinds of languages. It also has many great text editing features like search/replace, macros, regular expressions, etc.