Jump to content

Essential Windows Programs


160 posts in this topic

Recommended Posts

Registry Mechanic (it costs about US$50), which makes your computer's performance improve (if it's about 5 months old) about 20%, Firefox 3.6 (fast, thousands of add ons, boots up phenomenally fast, Active ISO (better than that Windows Disc Image Burner garbage that Windows 7 comes with), and uTorrent (not to pirate which 99.9% of people use it for, to download files you wouldn't find on rapidshare).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Firefox - The best browser in my oppinion.

Thunderbird - Much easier than Microsoft Outlook.

K-Lite Codec Pack - Haven`t had any problems with any video formats since using this. Runs perfect, even HD movies.

Irfanview - Little, simple, exactly what you need in an image viewer.

nVidia PhysX System Software - Needed in some games.

Yahoo Messenger - Keeps boredom away.

Microsoft Office 2007 - I`m a college student, can`t live without it.


This is mostly what I need to survive in front of my PC.


It's time that we had a thread for you to let us know the Windows apps that you think are essential!


My list:


Firefox and Opera

I feel like you should have both. Opera is my main browser and use FF for a few other things.



This is the quickest image editing program I've seen - it's free, fast, and good for those times when photoshop is too much.



Best downloading app ever.



Until we get a Windows port of Adium, this is the IM client to go with



I switched from Azureus and have been very impressed. Small footprint.



If you check your adsense totals a lot like I tend to do, this app sits in the taskbar and updates itself automatically. Very handy. (Google Ads are the only thing keeping this up, so it's always nice to know how much is in the bank)



For finding free wifi.



A great little app that tells you the color codes of whatever you mouseover.



The best FTP app I've seen for Windows.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Google Chrome is awesome for surfing the net.

ATI catalyst cuz i have ati GPU.

utorrent is also important to download the latest stuff.

kapersky is the best, for me, antivirus.

winrar or 7-zip

daemon tools.

DFX audio enhancer is really nice. makes everything sounds much better.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Some software that I recommend: (This is kind of a tutorial-post so I'll divide it into two posts cause it is very long)


In the graphics department Inkscape is the best free vector drawing (illustration) program out there so if you can't afford to buy CorelDraw or Illustrator or the like that's the one to get. It's available for Linux, Windows and Mac and you can get it at:




For 3D modeling and animation software Blender 3D is the best free one and in summer when the new 2.5x version (currently at beta 4) is done is going to be much, much better. If you are going to get into Blender at this time (if you are a newbie) I suggest that you wait until winter of this year when the final changes to 2.5x are done it is released cause the interface has changed drastically so that way you don't have to re-learn it in 2.5x. The wait will be well worth it. In the meantime if you still want to try it you can use the latest stable production version which is version 2.49b. It's available for Linux, Windows and Mac and you can get that one at:




The Gimp is a very good image editor that is very, very capable. It is not Photoshop but it can do a whole lot of things that Photoshop can do. I have used both of them extensively and I can tell you that most of the things that the average person does with photos and images can be done with The Gimp. It doesn't have support for higher bit images like Photoshop does already (that feature is still in early stages in the The Gimp) but many people out there do not need such higher end features and I've done many photo restoration and touch up jobs with The Gimp that had excellent results to say the least.


The Gimp offers many things such as layers, masks, all kinds of selection with feathering, customizable brushes, scripts and plug-ins of many kinds, compatibility with Photoshop brushes and other things, opens and writes Photoshops files very nicely with all layers, etc. With the layers effects script it can even do very nice and similar layer effects to those of Photoshop although is not as easy to use in that respect as Photoshop but it does a very good job and it is way better than to do this manually.


The only thing with this is that you have to install several other things for that last feature to work (Python and three libraries to make Python support work in Windows and you have to install all this in this order: Python first, the 3 libraries after, then The Gimp and last is to download the Layer Effects script file layerfx.py file and place it in the The Gimp plugin folder) and during The Gimp installation you have to be sure that you select custom install and select Python support in the check box, if Python and the 3 libraries are not installed first this option will appear grayed out) but they are relatively easy to install and there are tutorials out there on how to do this.


The new version 2.8 that will come out later this year (at about Fall 2010) will have the option of using only one window for the program like Photoshop for those that hate the multiple window interface (such as me but I have used it like that with no problem anyway) and it will be a toggle for those that like it the older way. Also the new version will have text editable on canvas and layer groups that Photoshop users ask so much for. I highly recommend this program for people that do not have the budget to buy Photoshop cause I believe that it is the best free image editor out there. You can get this open source program here and it is also available for Linux and Mac:




You can get full Python in (install this before the libraries and before The Gimp):




I recommend that you install Python 2.6.5 with Windows installer (32 bit) in Windows instead of version 3 cause it is more compatible with the current production Blender which is 2.49b and many of the current Blender scripts.


These are the 3 libraries that you need to install to make Python support work in The Gimp in Windows (install after Python and install before The Gimp, if you already installed The Gimp first then deinstall it). All of them have Windows automatic installers so they are very easy to install.














The last thing to install which is the Layer Effects script is available here:




After downloading the file you have to place it in the The Gimp plugin folder and then you start The Gimp and the Layer Effects item will appear at the bottom of the Layers menu.


Instructions about all this are available in this page:




For CAD software I don't think that there is yet a really, really good free 3D CAD software out there (perhaps with the small exception of Google Sketchup) but there are a few good free 2D CAD programs out there (these compete with AutoSketch) and I think that the very best of those is DoubleCAD XT. Even in the free version it is highly praised (For Windows):




There are other few free 2D CAD software out there that are pretty good like FelixCAD from Graebert. "Free for first 1 million users" but it has been like that for quite a while already (For Windows):


http://www.graebert.com/index.php?option=com_cad&Itemid=52&id=Desktop %26 UMPC#://http://www.graebert.com/index.php?o...sktop %26 UMPC#://http://www.graebert.com/index.php?o...sktop %26 UMPC#://http://www.graebert.com/index.php?o...sktop %26 UMPC#


Siemens SolidEdge 2D for Windows (completely free 2D CAD Drafting - the 3D version is commercial):




Google Sketchup is sort of a 3D modeling and light 3D CAD hybrid but even in the free version it is very capable and it's one of the easiest to learn 3D programs out there (For Windows and Mac):




For music one of the best at the moment is LMMS - Linux Multimedia Studio which is also available for Windows now and the name is probably going to change in the near future because of that precisely. This one follows along the line of programs such as Fruity Loops:




For web authoring probably one of the best free ones available is Kompozer (used to be called NVU and it's available for Linux, Windows and Mac):




I know that many people like MS Office but frankly I have used both MS Office and Open Office a lot and Open Office is free and it will do 90% (or more) of what most people want to do with a word processor and the other applications that it includes are not bad either. I mean most people will use it to write a simple letter or a resume or recipes or whatever specially at home and you don't need any bells and whistles for that that MS Office may provide and Open Office has plenty of those anyway for most purposes.


I just wrote an entire 227 pages book in OO Writer with hundreds of illustrations in it including vector illustrations from Open Office Draw and many bitmap images and it worked like a charm. The truth of the matter is that the majority of things that people want to do with a word processor they can do with OO Office so why pay hundreds of dollars for functionality that you don't need? Also the new version 3.2 opens even faster now.


The only thing that I had a bit of trouble with at first was that by default OO Writer anchors images as paragraph and then they start to jump around and blank pages start to appear randomly all over the document when the document becomes a bit large but this have a very simple solution that works like a charm and that is to right mouse click over your inserted images an anchor them as characters, then you place the cursor to the right of the image and center it (or flush them to the left or right) as it was a piece of text and the problem disappears altogether.


What I still find is that MS Power Point is much better than OO Impress but OO Impress is still very usable. Open Office is also available for Linux and Mac:




If you want to import PDF into Open Office you can use this extension (The Sun PDF Import Extension):




OO extensions are very easy to install, all that you have to do after you install OO is to double click on the downloaded extension file and run the installer and OO will install it in the proper place.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Second Part


Again many people mention Winzip and many people mention also Winrar which are both good commercial programs and some people mentioned 7Zip but I have to say again that with 7Zip is no need to use Winzip as 7zip does most of the same things without problems for free and it also unzips .rar files so you don't need Winrar either for most everything that you do.


It has the following supported formats:


• Packing / unpacking: 7z, ZIP, GZIP, BZIP2 and TAR.




It's available here:




IcoFX is a free icon editor that can create Windows and Mac icons and it can even create Vista format icons (which compress 512 pixel images in Png inside the .ico file for small file size – there is an option in the menu for this) and they remain compatible with Win XP. It has support for full 32 bit icons (24 bit + 8 bit full alpha transparency). You can get it here:




It has a free sister application named AniFX to create animated Windows cursors but it is an early version and it is still a wee bit behind IcoFX but it is making progress and it is very usable already.




If you want to listen to or render midi files with much better quality than with those internal synthesizers that Quicktime or Windows offer you can use Synthfont. It can render to a .wav file or to Mp3 format. It is a free program that can use sound fonts to render higher quality midi files that you can listen in your favorite Mp3 player device or application.


For you to really see this program with quality you need at least one good quality General Midi Sound Font file. There are several ones and I personally have used this one a lot cause is very good and is way better than those 2, 4 and 8 megabytes Creative Labs Sound Font files that are so common. This is called Personal Copy (PC51d.sf2) and it is a self extracting .exe file that when uncompressed forms a 57 megabytes Sound Font file. It is originally based on the Sound Blaster Sound Fonts files but it has been modified and improved extensively and it's a very popular Sound Font file for its quality. It is very good for most midi files overall and it is quite good with midi files that were designed for those old Sound Blaster 16, Awe 32 ad Awe 64 cards:




Right below that one is the lite version that takes far less to download and still sounds very good and there are other high quality free Sound Fonts that you can access through that same page.


Another very popular high quality sound font freely available in the net is the Fluid Sound Font that is about 144 megabytes when decompressed. Now, usually higher size means higher quality Sond Fonts but that is not always the case but this one is very good. You can download it here on this page:




Be forewarned that the higher the file size the higher are the memory requirements (read the page where the PC51d Sound Font is mentioned cause there is more info on that there) to load them in an old Sound Blaster card and in software Sound Font players such as Synthfont and that the larger ones may require a more modern higher performance computer and may not play in those old Sound Blaster cards, just try to see for yourself which ones your PC is capable of playing, if it can play all of them then good for you cause you have a choice. If your PC or sound card can't play the larger ones use a smaller one and that's it but most PCs today can play fairly large ones.


Sometimes you find Sound Font files compressed in the Sound Font Ark file format (the ones I mentioned here do not need it except for the Fluid Sound Font). To decompress those you will need this utility that has and automatic Windows installer (it is also available for Mac):




With Synthfont you will be able to listen to midi files with much higher quality and to turn them into Wavs, Mp3s or Ogg Vorbis files with much higher quality too.


For Flight Simulation fans there is a pretty good free flight simulator which is Flight Gear and the new version 2.0 has been released very recently (There are versions for Linux and Windows and the 1.9.1 version is available for Mac):




For children and adult LEGO aficionados as well so they can create virtual LEGO 3D models there are 3 good ones that I know of:


LEGO Digital Designer from LEGO themselves (For Windows and Mac):




LDraw (more like a collection of programs and utilities in different Linux, Windows and Mac versions) from:




And LeoCAD (Linux and Windows) from:




A good paint program for children that is free and very easy to use and has a few special effects like sounds etc. is TuxPaint (Available for Linux, Windows and Mac):




A good couple of free games are Neverball and Neverputt which come together with the same installer. Neverball is a wee bit like Marble Madness and Neverputt is a 3D game with the mini-golf theme. Both of them are fully 3D and physics based and they are available for Windows, Linux and Mac:





Link to comment
Share on other sites

my list is

Adobe Flashplayer and Shockwave

Avira Antivirus

Spybot Search and Destory



daemon tools

Yahoo Mesenger

and Pidgen


I like using the offical yahoo client better then one of those multi messengers but that could be due to the fact people on my list often do photosharing and stuff like that with me.

but for aim I hate the new aim interface and I like pidgen's more simple get the job done with out to much gui in the way.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

A good set of apps i use for my Windows XP install are:


Symantec Antivirus:

Awsome Antivirus!



Good at removing those pesky little Adware scripts that make it onto your PC.


A good app to pass the time, its a fluid simulator in 2D but using shader increases quality.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...
  • 1 month later...

Windows 7

Internet Explorer

Office 2003


All apps are totally free or open source

Avast Antivirus - does not slow down your system like some others.

Windows Defender - built in weekly spyware / malware checking.

MVPS Hosts file - blocks your machine from contacting known advertising / malware sites.

OpenDNS - free DNS service that provides parental filtering (no software installed)


Including your router, Windows Firewall and User Account Control, there are many layers of security, no need for additional firewalls such as Zone Alarm. Also additional registry cleaners and spyware checkers are of questionable benefit and are no substitute for good housekeeping and safe practices.


Emule - for rare stuff

uTorrent - for new stuff

XnView - only picture viewer worthy of replacing ACDSee Classic

Media Player Classic Home Cinema - for video

VLC - for streaming

Windows Media Player - for music

ffdshow - codecs and splitters

MediaPortal - for entertainment centre including TV

GIMP - open source alternative to Photoshop

AVISynth - frameserving AVI files and non-linear editing and scripting

VirtualDub - for editing and capturing

MeGui - for compressing

MediaInfo - for getting properties about videos

7zip - opens absolutely everything incuding iso's

ImgBurn - for burning CD / DVD's

VirtualBox - virtual machine emulator

MSN , Skype


For the home user or hobbyist, you should be able to do almost everything with free or open source software, no need to use pirated or cracked stuff.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 6 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...
  • 5 months later...
  • 1 year later...

Malwarebytes - Anti-Malware

Internet Explorer - "The number one browser for downloading a better browser"

There are many more often needed...


Not really essential for everyone:

R:BASE - relational database

Microsoft Office - office suite

Microsoft Visio - draw UML



Get CrossOver for FREE right now! Run Windows-based applications on your Mac. (CrossOver with 12 Months of Support is FREE for 24 hours starting at 00:00 to 23:59, October 31, 2012)


Link to comment
Share on other sites


  • Create New...