The first 20 apps I install on a new Windows PC

Windows is bundled with scores of important and useful apps by default, much more than it had in its early days. There are still a lot of other apps I think are incredibly helpful or just really cool, while some third-party apps are essential for specific types of work. Here's a list of 20 of them I typically install before anything else on a new Windows PC.

David
David List by David , last updated 2018-10-26
  1. Google Chrome icon

    The browser is my main work platform as I personally rely on a number of work-critical web services. So the browser is the most important app for me and Chrome is my choice work tool. It's an easy way to carry over things like web bookmarks and login details and lets me easily get back up to speed with communications and work stuff when setting up a new PC. It's usually the first thing I install since I use it to download the rest.

    • Web Browser
    • FreeProprietary
    • Mac
    • Windows
    • Linux
    • Android
    • iPhone
    • Chrome OS
    • Android Tablet
    • iPad
    • PortableApps.com
    • ...
    main window
  2. Awesome Screenshot Minus icon

    Once Chrome is installed, my next task is to get it configured with the main extension I use for work items. This is the uber safe variant of the popular Awesome Screenshot. It's fast, minimal and makes capturing web screenshots a breeze.

    • ...
    Awesome Screenshot Minus screenshot 1
  3. Firefox Developer Edition icon

    I generally install Firefox Developer Edition as an alternative browser. It's handy to have around anytime problems come up in Chrome, I can easily try things out through Firefox to help isolate Chrome issues. The developer edition has lots of helpful tools built in for additional debugging too.

    • Web Browser
    • FreeOpen Source
    • Mac
    • Windows
    • Linux
    • PortableApps.com
    • ...
    Firefox Developer Edition screenshot 1
  4. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware icon

    After removing any pre-installed anti-malware software, I generally install Malwarebytes Anti-Malware as my go-to malware killer. It's just so much faster than the more popular but bulkier apps and has established itself as a trusty, key piece of security software.

    • Anti-Malware App
    • FreemiumProprietary
    • Mac
    • Windows
    • Android
    • iPhone
    • Chrome OS
    • Android Tablet
    • iPad
    • Kindle Fire
    • ...
    Malwarebytes Anti-Malware screenshot 1
  5. HijackThis icon

    HijackThis is a super tiny download that's easily installed by just unzipping it in a folder. I usually install it in a folder near the hard drive root and let it sit there until it's needed.

    • ...
    HijackThis screenshot 1
  6. 7-Zip icon

    Windows works with ZIP files natively but not other formats like ARC or TAR archives. 7ZIP covers all the popular archive formats plus less common ones, but more importantly, it's much faster at extracting archives than Windows is by default.

    • File Archiver
    • FreeOpen Source
    • Mac
    • Windows
    • Linux
    • BSD
    • PortableApps.com
    • ReactOS
    • ...
    Main Window
  7. elementary OS icon

    I love dual-boot systems and it's easiest to install right at the start of a new PC. I usually install elementary OS, which serves as a backup system that allows access to the Windows files in case of malware or other issues. After install, I typically will install all the same apps from the Windows OS as well, sort of mirroring the Windows configuration on Linux.

    • ...
    The boot screen
  8. fish icon

    Fish greatly simplifies work in the terminal. The aesthetics and built-in color highlighted auto-completion are reason enough for me to rely on it and it's generally the first thing I install on elementary OS.

    • Shell
    • FreeOpen Source
    • Mac
    • Windows
    • Linux
    • BSD
    • ...
    fish screenshot 1
  9. Wine icon

    I like being able to run Windows apps right through Linux and WINE makes that relatively easy. It's one of the first apps I install on Linux (elementary OS in my case).

    • ...
    Wine screenshot 1
  10. Cool Retro Term icon

    Totally unnecessary app, but I just love CRT's retro style. I use it to liven up the sometimes boring terminal.

    • ...
    Cool Retro Term screenshot 1
  11. Atom icon

    I typically end up installing Atom a bit early on mainly due to the fact that it provides a sleek interface for working with various text files. I interact with lots of text files even while setting up a new PC.

    • Text Editor
    • Free PersonalOpen Source
    • Mac
    • Windows
    • Linux
    • Chrome OS
    • BSD
    • Electron / Atom Shell
    • ...
    Intro screen
  12. Inkscape icon

    Inkscape is an important work tool for myself, I'm just really accustomed to the keyboard shortcuts and workflow. I use it to create original designs, edit screenshots and for general purpose cropping of images.

    • ...
    Inkscape screenshot 1
  13. OBS Studio icon

    OBS is just plain awesome. It's totally free, cross-platform and makes it super easy to record screencasts. It's one of the last but more important apps I install. I use it for recording bugs to report software issues, for creating walk-throughs and tutorials and for game-play recordings.

    • Screen Recorder
    • FreeOpen Source
    • Mac
    • Windows
    • Linux
    • BSD
    • PortableApps.com
    • Steam
    • FreeBSD
    • Snapcraft
    • Flathub
    • ...
    OBS Studio screenshot 1
  14. Kdenlive icon

    Video and screen recordings need editing and with its recent launch on Windows, kdenlive is my new go-to editor. It sports a commercial workflow that's intuitive and fast, and now works across platforms.

    • Video Editor
    • FreeOpen Source
    • Mac
    • Windows
    • Linux
    • BSD
    • KDE
    • Flathub
    • Flatpak
    • ...
    Logging
  15. FL Studio icon

    Since I work with music and audio files on a commercial level, I need an adept DAW and FL Studio easily fills that need. I personally install both the desktop and mobile versions early on in my new PC setups.

    • ...
    FL Studio screenshot 1
  16. Ocenaudio icon

    I do a lot with audio files and Ocenaudio being one of the fastest audio editors, I use it across Windows and Linux for the same, quick and intuitive workflow. It's free but easily compares with commercial wave editors and can be very useful even for those who don't work with audio professionally.

    • ...
    Ocenaudio version 3.7.19 running on Windows with an audio file open.
  17. Construct 2 icon

    Construct 2 is a 2D game development tool and while I use it for game development, I often use it for prototyping ideas as well. For me, it's a helpful productivity tool that happens to have amazing game design features!

    • ...
    Construct 2 screenshot 1
  18. Hardwood Solitaire IV icon

    I love solitaire and Hardwood Solitaire is the very best solitaire game in my experience. The game helps me to clear my mind and regain focus on busy days. Plus it works great both on Windows and on Linux through WINE.

    • Card Game
    • FreemiumProprietary
    • Mac
    • Windows
    • Online
    • Android
    • iPhone
    • Android Tablet
    • iPad
    • Apple TV
    • Kindle Fire
    • ...
    Hardwood Solitaire IV screenshot 1
  19. 0 A.D. icon

    I install this gem of a game on every new system. It's totally free and the game mechanics are very similar to Age of Empires II, one of my favorite games of all time. It also helps me to quickly test the limits of a system, through massive game maps with scores of enemy units. It's a game, so it's typically one of the last things I install.

    • RTS Game
    • FreeOpen Source
    • Mac
    • Windows
    • Linux
    • BSD
    • ...
    0 A.D. screenshot 1
  20. Steam icon

    What PC would be complete without the Steam gaming platform? Steam even has tons of games that work great on low-end PCs. I usually install it as a finishing touch, then the game downloads begin.

    • Game Store
    • FreemiumProprietary
    • Mac
    • Windows
    • Linux
    • Online
    • Android
    • iPhone
    • Android Tablet
    • Windows Phone
    • iPad
    • Flathub
    • SteamOS
    • ...
    Steam Store

This list was created by David Dec 21, 2016 and was last updated Oct 26, 2018. The list has 20 apps.

You can create your own lists from our large database of apps either for your own sake or if you want to share some great apps with other people.


Comments

Jeff Witty
CommentOct 10, 2020

BEST compression setting in 7z "on average" settings as: 7zip > ultra > LZMA2 > 1536mb > 273 > Solid

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Jeff Witty
CommentOct 10, 2020

7z and paq are the 2 most advanced "common" compression containers, the xzip or zipx is "hit or miss" depending on whats being zipped (much like paq) 7z max everything, solid archive in peazip or 7zip is generally "most ideal" for speed/size and easy of sending someone else a 7z (they know what they are)

1 reply
David

Thanks for that helpful clarification. I use 7zip because it's fast and bloat free, I had no idea the compression was top notch.

Reply written Oct 11, 2020

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JustanotherMalaysian
CommentMar 19, 2020

Thanks for 7Zip! I've always needed something like that. WinRAR is really bad (imo).

1 reply
David

Yeah 7Zip is great! There's also PeaZip, but 7Zip has been around longer. I recall reading that WinRAR's compression rates are still better than the rest. But I only use these tools for decompression myself.

Reply written Mar 20, 2020

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Amir Serbilind
CommentDec 27, 2019

Nice! this list comes in handy

1 reply
David

Thanks! Glad you found it helpful! :)

Reply written Mar 20, 2020

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Gu