Windows Tools

All-in-one Installer

Ninite is one of several sites that provide the ability to build a single, unattended, installer that includes multiple apps. This one was recommended by Dan because it automatically says “no” to installing toolbars and other shovelware. See each section below for my associated Ninite installer.

Recommend for all new PCs

My Ninite “recommended” installer (Includes apps listed below in italics.)


These are the core tools/apps/etc. every PC should start with – installed in the order presented here.

  1. Firefox
  2. Microsoft Security Essentials – Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware (Free – “Home PC”)
  3. DigestIT 2004 – Integrates right-click hash creation/verification with Explorer.
  4. JRE – Java Runtime Environment. (Free – All)
  5. Notepad2, 64-bit ver – More feature-rich replacement for Notepad. (OSS ?)
  6. 7-Zip – Can handle multiple archive formats. (OSS)
  7. Foxit Reader – PDF reader.
  8. SysInternals Suite (Free – All)
  9. UnLocker – Unlocks locked files. (Free – All)
  10. ISO Recorder – Adds right-click options for CD/DVD/Blu-ray burning. (Free – Any non-multi-seat-deployment install (e.g. Not installed by IT on all computers in a lab)
  11. MyDefrag or Defraggler
  12. Agent Ransack (aka File Locator Lite – just re-branded for companies that might be squirrely about the term “ransack”) – File, and contents, search tool. (Free – All)
  13. CCleaner – Optimizes and cleans Windows.

Drivers, codecs, etc.

  • PDF Creator – “Printer” that creates PDF documents. (OSS)
  • QT Lite – Installs only what is required to play Quicktime files.



  • The SkyDrive app syncs the files you have stored on your SkyDrive with the local computer. (There is also an option to just provide links to the files.) (Free)
  • Free Commander – Feature rich file manager. Designed for dual-pane, but can be configured with one pane and tree. (Free – All)
  • NirSoft applications
    • MyUninstaller – A better uninstaller than Windows provides. (Free)
    • FileTypesMan – Use to easily set Notepad2 as the default viewer for all text-based documents. (Free)
  • Virtual Clone Drive – Virtual CD/DVD emulator. (Free)
    • For more advanced features, including disabling of copy-protection, try Daemon Tools. (Free – Personal)
  • File Menu Tools – GUI for adding/removing right-click menu options for files. From LopeSoft.
  • TrueCrypt – Drive encryption. (OSS)

Shell extensions, etc.


  • Notepad++ – Robust replacement for Notepad. (OSS)
  • FileZilla – FTP client (incl. support for SFTP). WinSCP is also a good choice. (OSS)
  • IrfanView – Image viewer. (Free – non-commercial)
  • VLC – Video player. (OSS)
  • PuTTYTerminal & SSH client. (OSS)

Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit

  • RoboCopy – an enhanced file copy tool provided by Microsoft. Microsoft employees have also provided additional enhancements:


  • MagicISO – a tool for creating/editing/extracting ISO images.
  • Color Cop – a small dialog for selecting colors. Includes dropper tool. Excellent for HTML RGB color codes. Portable. (Free)
  • DNS Benchmark – by Steve Gibson. Helps recommend DNS servers.
  • Double Driver – portable (zero-install) utility for backing up and restoring drivers. From BooZet. (Free)


Software Development

My Ninite “development” installer (Includes apps listed below in italics.)

  • WinMerge – Robust diff/merge tool. (OSS)
  • LINQPad – An editor that has greatly increased my productivity when working with LINQ, especially when I purchased the Pro version to get IntellisenseTM, etc. (Free/Commercial)
  • Snippet Compiler – Lightweight interface for doing quick code experiments/research. (Free – ??)
  • Visual Studio Add-ons
    • ReSharper – Visual Studio enhancements (Commercial)
    • NuGet – A package manager for easily adding & maintaining 3rd-party libraries in your projects. (OSS)
    • FogBugz for Visual Studio – Bundled with SourceLinks (Free – ??)
    • CodeLineage – “…allows easy access to a cumulative diff view between file revisions. Supports SVN, Git and Mercurial.”
  • Regulator (and other tools) – A regular expression creation/testing tool. (Free – ??)
  • NSISNullsoft Scriptable Install System. (OSS)
  • Active Perl – Perl for Windows. (Free – All)
  • Java Development
    • JDK – Java SE Development Kit. (Free – All)
    • Eclipse – General programming IDE. Popular with Java development. (OSS)

Additional Interesting/Useful Software

These are programs I either use only occasionally, am interested in using, or am waiting for additional functionality/features to be added.

  • Elevation Power Toys for Windows Vista – A variety of utilities and techniques to run apps/services/control panels/etc. with the necessary elevated privileges. (Free)
  • vSubst creates virtual drives which reference local folders (like the old DOS command SUBST). For all 32-bit Windows – including Windows7. (Free)

Software Development

Package management tools for Windows development

These tools are intended to help a developer maintain dependencies with the libraries that they are including in their projects.

Software lists

Lists of recommended software by other tech folks around the interwebs:

Comments 3

  • Shawn,

    Good list of tools to install.

    If I understand the Ninite correctly, it has prepackaged installation packages that are rolled up into an individualized single package that you run once and all the software gets installed? If so, cool!


  • Yes, that’s correct. And it does that at the time of install, so you get the latest versions. I think the pay version also includes an updater to make sure you stay current.

    They also automatically UN-check any additional bloatware that may come with the installer. (E.g. McAfee when installing Flash Player, the Yahoo! toolbar when installing Java, etc.)

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