Which windows programs do you use? Trying to compile a list for fresh install


Platinum Member
Feb 22, 2008
I end up doing a lot of windows installs, and have been keeping a list of which programs I install, as well as adjustments and other tweaks I do as soon as I install windows.

Just wondering if anyone else wants to add to any of my chosen programs. Yes this is specific to me, so yours may be different (eg. chrome vs firefox etc), but I still would like to know what everybody else uses around here. I forget about useful apps if I haven't used them in a while, and if they aren't installed on my pc (eg. filebot is really good for batch renaming tv shows). I also included my process of getting windows set up.

Anyways here's my list (sorry for the formatting):

As soon as windows 10 boots - do these things first:
  • uncheck everything windows wants checked
  • sign in with a local account (I have no reason to use an MS account)
  • format any partitions that need it
  • windows update repeatedly until up to date
  • turn off UAC
  • adjust power settings
  • remove windows 10 bloatware (games, apps, etc)
  • download all motherboard drivers
  • download NVIDIA/AMD drivers
  • adjust notification settings
  • adjust settings to group similar items only when taskbar is full
  • change default folder to "This PC"
  • Clean out all shortcuts on start menu (more windows crap)
  • disable cortana (as much as possible)
  • remove searchbar and task vew button from taskbar
  • turn off telemetry
  • create a windows password
  • remove any bloatware again (windows likes to reinstall it automatically)
  • install any device drivers (printer, scanner, etc)
  • after installing all below programs - go into settings and set program defaults again

Most essential programs (programs I'd put on someone else's computer if they asked me to set it up for them):
  • chrome (with ublock origin)
  • VLC
  • qbittorent
  • 7zip
  • flux
  • sumatrapdf
  • .NET framework and java and all that crap
  • windows photo viewer (from windows 8 - need to edit registry to get it back)

also essential for me (not necessarily needed for someone else):
  • other browsers (Firefox, Pale Moon, Chromium, Opera)
  • steam
  • VPN (Private Internet Access)
  • realtemp
  • google drive
  • libreoffice
  • enhanced steam - chrome extension

Other programs I use - but not needed as soon as I do an install

  • imgburn
  • handbrake
  • filebot
  • autover
  • image resizer
  • revo uninstaller
  • windirstat/overdisk
  • convertXtodvd (is there a free alternative???)
  • paint.net
  • rufus - bootable usb maker
  • unified remote (use android phone as trackpad/keyboard)
  • win32diskimager
  • pdfSAM
  • fraps for benchmarking games

That's pretty much all I use and how I get everything set up. I'm interested in if anyone has any suggestions on better alternatives to any of the programs listed, or if I'm missing something I should be doing in my process of setting up windows.

I didn't list any premium programs like photoshop or office or anything like that since the free versions are good enough for me. Also - I left off CCleaner and malwarebytes sine I don't really use them anymore - are they worth using at this point? And does anyone have an alternative to having windows photo viewer? Id prefer an open source alternative that does the same basic functions as windows photo viewer (windows 10 "photos" app is a piece of crap.

So lemme know what you think, and list the windows apps you guys use.
Last edited:


Elite Member & Kitchen Overlord
Feb 14, 2004
For PDF, if you're using Chrome, you can set Chrome to be your default PDF viewer (it has a PDF viewer built into the browser), that way you don't need an Adobe alternative. Also, I use CutePDF, which installs a virtual PDF printer, so you can "print" anything you want to PDF:


Snagit is awesome for screen capture (both photo & video), although it's pay-for; for a free alternative, check out Greenshot: (includes a nice basic editor too!)


For a ConvertXtoDVD, check out DVD Flick: (it's free)


Pismo File Mount lets you mount ISO images as drives: (useful if you still have software on disc that you want to digitize)


MakeMKV is great for converting disc movies to MKV format: (although it's pay-for)


The Video Download Helper plugin for Firefox is excellent for snagging videos online:


Yout is also excellent for specifically downloading either Youtube videos or MP3's of the Youtube video's audio: (you can just replace the Youtube link in your address bar by deleting "ube" and hitting enter, pretty slick!)


Everything Search is basically a filename search engine for your boot drive (you can select other volumes as well). Instant results. Think of DOS's dir command, but live & in a Windows interface:


If local search is important for you, UltraFileSearch is pretty awesome:


I've also been experimenting with Lookeen, which is the spiritual successor to the previously awesome Google Desktop Search:


I still like Picasa, even though they aren't updating it anymore. Like Everything Search, it can scan all of your drives for images, so you have a single place to look for images at, resize them, etc:


I also use Irfanview (with the plugin set) to handle virtually all image formats:


If you like notifications, check out Growl for Windows:


Binary Fortress has some great software, such as Display Fusion: (among other things, lets you save your icon layout on your desktop)


One of their packages is Clipboard Fusion, which has a ton of awesome macros available:


If you have a wireless keyboard, Tray Status shows you if Caps Lock & Numlock are on or off:


For backup, I like Macrium Reflect. It basically makes an image of your system (similar to ImgBurn), and then you can add incremental updates to that. Free version is manual, paid version has a scheduler. Also, the paid version is up to v7 now, which adds much faster incremental updates, which is useful if you want to backup your system automatically multiple times a day:


I also use Backblaze, which is a secure cloud-based backup system for $5 a month, unlimited files: (bleh @ Carbonite, Mozy, etc.)


TinyWall is a great free firewall:


Although I recently shelled out for GlassWire & love it:


SpaceSniffer is a nice little tool to show hard drive storage usage:


I like TeraCopy for copying & moving stuff:


Geek Uninstaller for removing stubborn programs & also for fully cleaning out all remnants of programs:


CCleaner has a really good registry cleaner, and the new professional version adds real-time monitoring: (although I use Malwarebytes Live & find Piriform's live system annoying, so I just use their reg fixer tool manually)


For reference notes, I use Keynote, which is dead, but there's a small project called KeyNote NF that is pretty decent. Although the GUI is very outdated for most people, so a lot of people have migrated over to CherryTree:


For reference information, I switched from EverNote to OneNote. For lists, I use Wunderlist, although Microsoft bought them out & is turning them into a new product called To Do (beta right now). Hmm, what else. Chrome Remote Desktop is super awesome for remoting in away from home. RIP Teamviewer & LogMeIn.


Senior member
Mar 21, 2008
Just an FYI: Turning off UAC is NOT a good thing. Its a bad idea to be logged in as an administrator all the time and its a bad idea to turn off UAC. We all think "no, I'd never click on that!" But no matter how safe we think we are...we aren't :)
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Junior Member
Jul 7, 2017
Great program list of Essential and Also Essential for you. Actually, these are essential/ important for almost eveyone.
I would like to add in my list following Photo Viewer/ editor programs also as I work in graphics:

KrojamSoft PhotoViewerPro

Need to metion one more thing, alone Chrome is not sufficient, add:
Mozilla Firefox and Maxthon Cloud :)


Platinum Member
Jan 8, 2013
There is a lot of crap listed in the OP that I would never put on a PC.


Diamond Member
Aug 20, 2004
On Win 10 machines, you do not need to install .NET ... it is already installed by Microsoft with the OS


Diamond Member
Oct 9, 1999
John's background switcher is a great little tool to rotate different backgrounds on each monitor from many sources. I've been using this for years and my wife loves (LOVES!) the collage feature that pulls randomly from our local photos. This is a mandatory install on new builds. Try it with your builds for older people and they will love you forever.

+1 vote for faststone - it's what acdsee used to be until it became a bloated mess


Diamond Member
Oct 9, 1999
SUMo ("Lite" version: software update monitoring tool)
Adobe Air (& Flash: 3 versions available, for various browser types)
Belarc Advisor
AOMEI Partition Assistant
Classic Shell
Iobit: Driver Booster, Uninstaller
Foxit PDF Reader
K-Lite Standard Codec Pack
Kaspersky Cleaner
SSD manager & firmware updater (each SSD brand has their own software)
Tweaking.com Windows Repair
Unlocker (Cedric Collomb)
Rufus (for making a bootable Windows USB thumb drive)
WindowsUpdateFixer (Zerobyte)

All the above free software's download links can be found at MajorGeeks.com; some also offer upgraded paid versions.
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No Lifer
Jul 15, 2003
The first things I download with a new installation are:

Open Office

Then I dig up my purchased copies of ACDSee and other programs. Steam is usually the last thing I reinstall after all the utility programs.


Elite Member & Kitchen Overlord
Feb 14, 2004
Those of you that install Thunderbird do you use POP or IMAP for email ?

It really depends on the purpose of the email, but usually IMAP so that it keeps a copy in the cloud for you to check through a browser, rather than downloading it all to your local computer.


May 19, 2011
Those of you that install Thunderbird do you use POP or IMAP for email ?

It really depends on the purpose of the email, but usually POP because I'd rather trust myself to keep my historical e-mail safe than some company whose competence is always an unknown quantity and whose priorities are unlikely to be in line with my own should they make a mistake or decide to change their policies in a way that affects my data.