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Ask the Readers: What are Your Most Essential Windows Programs?

Windows PCWhile I was setting up a new computer the other day, I thought about the apps I install during the process that I need and use everyday – the ones I can’t live without. That got me thinking about what types of apps you guys use on a regular basis and can’t live without on your Windows system.

Whether it’s a simple utility, favorite media player, browser addons, games, or expensive programs like Photoshop, everyone has favorite applications that they can’t live without.

Here’s a list of five programs that must be installed on all of my computers, in no particular order. Of course there are several more, but these are the first five that popped in my head right away.

Also, when you are about to install your favorite free and open source programs, use Ninite. It’s the fastest way to install multiple apps at once, and it installs them cleanly, i.e, no toolbars or extra crapware some programs try to sneak in.

If you want to install your programs separately for some reason, that’s fine, but remember to go directly to the developer’s site to download them. And please, avoid software download sites like CNET’s That one in particular is riddled with crapware to the Nth degree.

On a side note, I doubt any of you will pick iTunes, since we continually get feedback that it’s the worst software program ever. Especially the latest version, iTunes 12, I don’t think we have ever received such an enormous amount of negative comments about an iTunes version before.

But I digress, I don’t want to make this an iTunes bashing session.

So, what’s your list of must have Windows programs? Let us know in the comment section below!

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22 Responses to Ask the Readers: What are Your Most Essential Windows Programs?

  1. yahooramji April 5, 2015 at 9:55 pm #

    Chrome, ms office, WinZip, fb, firefox

  2. Brian Burgess April 5, 2015 at 10:35 pm #

    A few others I thought of are Revo Uninstaller Pro, Foxit Reader, Spotify and Skype if it’s an older version of Windows and not installed by default.

  3. Alan April 6, 2015 at 12:51 am #

    With me it has to be
    MS Office
    Easus ToDo BackUp
    Your Uninstaller

    and last but by no means least: BitDefender

  4. Brian Burgess April 6, 2015 at 2:51 am #

    Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention VirtualBox

  5. Alan April 6, 2015 at 4:01 am #

    I forgot Peazip as well. It would be interesting to read what you recomend for archive files Brian.

  6. dysert April 6, 2015 at 6:19 am #

    I’m sure I’ll forget some, but my must-haves include:
    – Chrome
    – KeePass
    – Everything
    – Office
    – Agent Ransack
    – AutoHotkey
    – Dropbox

  7. Steve April 6, 2015 at 6:34 am #

    For me, in no particular order:
    Google Chrome
    Libre Office

  8. tadees April 6, 2015 at 7:37 am #

    A few off the top of my head:

    Format Factory (multimedia conversions)
    Pea Zip (compression)
    TeamViewer (remote access/control)
    imgBurn (creating/burning .iso)
    Daum Potplayer (similar to VLC, different look ‘n feel)
    SketchUp (Google’s 3D creation tool)
    MalwareBytes (security)
    Speccy (full system details)
    plex (home/remote multimedia server)

    …and the Adobe CS6 suite. While not free like the rest of the list, it’s simply the best at what it does.

  9. KONRAD POTH April 6, 2015 at 8:39 am #

    Paperport 14 (indispensable but not well-supported!)
    SecondCopy backup (best I have found)
    Malware Bytes

  10. Kyle April 6, 2015 at 9:09 am #

    Itunes – for converting .WAV files to MP3 (recorded music)

  11. Steve Krause April 6, 2015 at 12:10 pm #

    Hmm…. Here’s the apps I install on each box I build (I think…)

    Ninite (of course)
    Snagit (of course)
    1Password (Password Goodness)
    Notepad++ (Code)
    OneDrive (Moving over from Dropbox)
    iTunes (It works for me….)
    Live Writer (However, I’m doing more and more in native WP)
    Malware Bytes
    TeamViewer (Tech support for the fam…)


    • Brian Burgess April 6, 2015 at 1:40 pm #

      If you take iTunes out of your list it would be better 😉

  12. SHawn April 6, 2015 at 2:35 pm #


  13. Anne Edwards April 6, 2015 at 4:42 pm #

    Love all of those suggestions, however can someone recommend a safe data download measuring app please

    • tadees April 6, 2015 at 5:55 pm #

      Hope I’m not stepping on anyone’s Groovy toes – that’s certainly not my intent – but in reply to Anne’s request, I’ve been using gizmo/techsupportalert as a freeware source for many, many years. Their dl/ul monitor recommendations with full write-ups, explanations, and expectations can be found here:

      Hope that helps.

      • Anne Edwards April 6, 2015 at 7:56 pm #

        Thank you so much I had looked at one of those, and your reply helped. THANKYOU groovy post for updating regularly with great info. Anne

  14. Anne Edwards April 6, 2015 at 8:00 pm #

    I also use malware bytes,avg,c cleaner defragmenter and spy bot, all great protection.

  15. Ziggy April 6, 2015 at 9:04 pm #

    No order of preference: Firefox, Duckto, Microsoft Office, Portable, Ccleaner, Picasa, Fotor, MalWareBytes, Agent Ransack, RegSeeker, AutoRuns, BandiZip, Q-Dir, Glary Utilities, ImgBurn, Pop Peeper and Thunderbird.

    For the freebie lovers do check out

    • Steve Krause April 6, 2015 at 10:19 pm #

      No order of preference? Now that’s no fun….

  16. Dima April 11, 2015 at 6:13 pm #

    Adobe Photoshop Elements
    DVD PixPlay
    Image Resizer for Windows
    Karen’s Replicator
    Microsoft Office 365
    Microsoft OneDrive
    My Lockbox
    Password Safe
    Rainlendar 2
    Revo Uninstaller
    Shark007 Advanced Codecs
    Stardock ModernMix
    Windows Live Essentials
    YTD Video Downloader

  17. Forrest Hopkins April 24, 2015 at 7:43 am #

    Gimp, 7zip, Blender, Notepad++, and of course Chrome

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