My Top Apps to install on a new PC

Recently, I took advantage of the lull after our new release to update my 2 year old desktop that runs Windows XP to Windows 7. Yes, I still run Windows and it is due to 2 good reasons.

  1. Tonido development requires C++ and Microsoft’s Visual Studio Development platform still is the best development environment if you want to be efficient
  2. I am old school and still play gobs of games that will never be possible on a console

The upgrade was reasonably painless and Windows 7 actually is pretty nice. Quite snappy and as responsive as Windows XP. I like many of the features that allow me to switch rapidly to other apps. It seems less cluttered and I seem to be a bit more productive. (I think)

In anycase, I started installing the apps I would need on a clean PC and thought it is a good list to share with others in case you ever need to do a clean install. Note, I endorse these apps because I use them, not because someone paid me to.

Here’s my list of essential apps:


Firefox, Chrome: I used to use FireFox exclusively for a long time, but I am beginning to grow into Chrome as FF seems to be more unstable and slower. But FF remains my primary browser.


Skype: We run CodeLathe on Skype, it is the #1 pure, no-nonsense communication tool.


Avast AntiVirus, Comodo FireWall: Believe it or not, I used to run Windows without antivirus for a few years, until I got hit by a worm in a USB stick. Now I am extra careful.


Workrave: After being affected by a debilitating RSI type injury to my hands, I now depend upon Workrave to be my mindful companion which reminds me to take breaks as and when needed. Highly recommended.


Adobe Reader: Adobe Reader has got a whole lot less annoying in their version 9 and has maximum compatibility with PDFs.


VLC: To play all those weird video formats out there


IZarc: Handy uncompression utility that handles pretty much any format you throw at it. I like the UI much better than 7-zip.


Treepad: I have a ton of treepad files over the years and it is extremely handy to store various odds and ends of information that would be too hard to store elsewhere.


MS Office: Google Docs doesn’t cut the mustard for any complex document. And even though I like to support OpenOffice, MS Office simply towers over it without equal. This single app keeps me away from Linux sometimes.


TrueCrypt: Creates encrypted files that appear as disks that you can mount in Explorer and use as a normal file system. Nifty for stuff you want to keep away from prying eyes.


Tonido: Of course, I run Tonido. Jukebox is my main music player that runs all day and I use Webshare for sharing files, folders and screen captures working with the dev team. I also use Thots and Workspace.


Steam: A few years ago, I would have nodded in disbelief about buying games via a digital service instead of physical CDs. But it turns out that this is better. Tons of games, nice community features make this a must have.


Rawshooter Essentials: Sadly, this is discontinued, but I shoot RAW CR2 files and I use it for my batch processing of those files. Essential for a stream lined work flow.


FileZilla: Best SFTP solution and open source to boot.


PrimoPDF: This is the easiest way to convert any document to PDF.


Unlocker: Windows Explorer annoys me to to no end when it complains about files in use and not allowing me to delete them. Unlocker allows me to remove the file handles quickly allowing me to workaround the problem.


Paint.NET: The best free small image manipulation out there. You can do a lot of things in Paint.NET.



Visual Studio 2008: For C++ development, this development environment is peerless. It is trivial to debug crashes, figure out memory issues and so on.


VirtualBox: A very cool VM solution for running the myriad configurations Tonido supports.


Microsoft Virtual PC: Useful for some Windows VMs that I run.


TortoiseSVN: Yes, we still use Subversion.(not Git) And Tortoise SVN works pretty well.


Notepad++: The best notepad replacement ever. It is light, has syntax highlighting and a ton of features that I haven’t even explored before. It single-handedly weaned me away from my beloved Emacs!


Putty: SSH Client and much much more. You might have to ask what it doesn’t do. Pretty much a few putty sessions run all the time on my desktop. It is the most used app in my desktop.


MySQL Workbench: Handy for working with MySQL DBs.

It turns out that the list of my essential apps is smaller than I thought. It probably is because of the advent of webapps.

Did I leave anything out, what is your essential list?

3 Responses

  1. Tonido, for sure. Definitely a no brainer there. It’s the first thing installed on my PC on a new install. (aside from updates)

  2. Mike says:

    Have you tried Codeblocks or Eclipse for C++?

  3. Phil says:

    Aren’t you a dropbox user by now? For me it’s a bit of insurance when migrating from system-to-system. Tonido is lovely but not as useful in collaboration, for mea tleast, as Dropbox.

    Big Notepad++ fan for years. Also use Filezilla, MS Office, VLC, Skype, and multiple browsers (in addition to Firefox and Chrome I use Opera and Safari).

    Not mentioned: Evernote, Pocket, ĀµTorrent, Calibre, and Github desktop

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