I am frequently asked what windows programs I regularly use for Productivity, Utilities, etc. I’ve decided to share this information in my post for you to reference. Keep in mind that this is only for Windows. If you’ve just re-installed Windows or if you need to add any software from this list, you can grab it all in one simple installer.
I highly recommend Ninite because it’s a one-click installer for all the apps identified below, except Sandboxie. You are able to install all the identified apps or just the ones you’re missing. To download the installer, click on the link below and checkmark the apps you want. When you’ve got them all together, just hit the “Get Installer” button at the bottom of the page and Ninite will begin installing all your apps for you.
I’ve got brief explanations for what each program does and why I use it. If you want to skip to a specific category? Use these links:
Music, Pictures and Video
There are many torrent sites out there, but µTorrent is my favorite BitTorrent client for Windows because it is both lightweight and full-featured. Beyond the basic downloading of torrents, you can easily share files with your friends, remote control torrents from the web interface, and even stream videos as you download them. You can even tweak these settings for increased speed and privacy.
I believe Dropbox is the best file syncing tool around. It lets you back up files to the web and sync them between all of your machines and mobile devices. You get 2GB of space to start, but it’s easy to get more space for free, and useful for so much more than just syncing documents. This is a must have software.
If you haven’t noticed, hard drives gets filled up with leftover files, temporary caches, and other ”stuff” that can slow your computer down. CCleaner is the best tool around for cleaning it up, and you can even run it on a schedule so you never have to think about it. If you’re using Windows, it’s an essential tool.
Windows is a target for viruses, yet I highly recommend this software. I’m a huge advocate of FREE software and you should know that you really don’t need to pay money for good internet security. Microsoft’s tools are great at catching viruses, integrate well with Windows, and do their job in the background without ever nagging your for money. It’s also lightweight, which is a big plus in the security department. Save your money. Microsoft Security Essentials is all you need.
Another software that is FREE and also a must-have is Sandboxie. This enables you to test out new software without making any permanent changes to your system. As mentioned above, Sandboxie is the only software not offered by Ninite.
Don’t quote me on this, but I believe that Chrome has overtaken Firefox as the most popular browser among power users, and it’s easy to see why. It’s fast, syncs your preferences, extensions, passwords, and more all through your Google account. Plus, it updates frequently, improving itself every few weeks through small, incremental updates.
You’re probably not a fan of this software, but much of the web community continues to use it to play videos or just navigate through sites. So, while it may not be the most stable or speedy plugin around, I still recommend you install it for a better web experience. If it’s causing a lot of problems, you can always block it using FlashBlock for Chrome and/or FlashBlock for Firefox, too.
Skype’s the biggest name in video chat. It is one of the cheapest ways to make international phone calls, and it’s available on nearly every platform imaginable, including Windows, Mac, Linux, iPhone, Android, and more. Even if you aren’t a Skype fan yourself, it’s a program you’ll want to have on hand. Chances are someone you know uses it—and when it comes time to chat with them, you’ll have it at the ready.
Of course, when given the option, I’m a fan of the new Hangouts feature in Google+.
When you edit text documents, you use the plain old Notepad. I needed something more specialized. Notepad++ adds a ton of features to plain text editing, like text searching, tabbed editing, syntax coloring for code, and built-in scripting that let you add pretty much any feature you want.
I never liked how long Adobe Reader took to start itself up and load the document. I’m sure that you felt the same way about opening your PDF files. SumatraPDF is everything Adobe Reader isn’t: simple, fast, and easy to use. It opens PDFs almost instantly, and supports most PDF features like tables of contents. Plus, since I’m a keyboard junkie, it has some nice shortcuts for flipping through those PDFs at lightning speed.
Honestly, iTunes isn’t my favorite music player, but it is the most ubiquitous. If you have any Apple devices, you’re going to need iTunes to manage them. It’s got more than enough basic library functions to satisfy the average user, and chances are, it’s the music program that most of you need.
I really like VLC, and it’s one of the best and most popular video player out there. It is also pretty lightweight and not to mention FREE.
If you have photos to manage, Picasa’s the program to use. Just import your mishmash of photo folders, and Picasa will help you organize them into an easy-to-browse library, and even give you some dead simple editing tools while you’re at it. Plus, with Picasa Web Albums, you can upload them to share them with your friends or just keep them backed up.
So head over to Ninite and select the above apps or any others that you you want. It’ll give them all to you in one, unified, hassle-free installer. Got any other Windows apps you can’t get by without? Share your favorites with me in the comments.