Additions to a Fresh Windows 7 Installation

I recently found myself shuffling computers around a bit.  And since it’s useful to have a functional Windows box on hand, I installed Windows 7 on an older desktop in my office.  (Installing from an original Win7 DVD was entertaining–the number of updates required to bring it current was impressive.)  It occurred to me that I’ve installed Windows 7 more than a few times since it came out and I should jot down a list of all those little (and some big) things I end up installing during the first few days of breaking in a new Windows box.

So without further delay, here’s my annotated list of what gets installed:

  • Google Chrome: cross-machine browser sync rocks my world, and since extensions sync too that means I get LastPass, Ghostery, and AdBlock Plus automatically
  • Microsoft Security Essentials: basic free virus and malware protection
  • Mozilla Firefox: because it’s the next best thing to chrome and occasionally sites require it
  • Dropbox: great for cross-machine file sync
  • VirtualWin: a simple but very effective virtual desktop add-on
  • Ctrl2Cap: because the caps lock key is stupid
  • IZArc: the best free archive tool around
  • VLC: free media player that groks nearly every file format
  • PuTTY: because you need to SSH to a Linux box for Real Work anyway
  • ImgBurn: free easy CD/DVD burner
  • WinSCP: to copy files to/from non-Windows boxes

I’ll try to update this list as I come across more.  But that’s it for now.

Are there essential tools that you install on a new build?

About Jeremy Zawodny

I'm a software engineer and pilot. I work at craigslist by day, hacking on various bits of back-end software and data systems. As a pilot, I fly Glastar N97BM, Just AirCraft SuperSTOL N119AM, Bonanza N200TE, and high performance gliders in the northern California and Nevada area. I'm also the original author of "High Performance MySQL" published by O'Reilly Media. I still speak at conferences and user groups on occasion.
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15 Responses to Additions to a Fresh Windows 7 Installation

  1. Jeremy Tinley says:

    Some reasonable text editor.

    • Yeah, I’ll generally put both vim and emacs on there before too long–probably the first time I need to actually edit something. That said, Notepad++ is pretty good too, though obviously not cross-platform at all.

  2. John F. Valvo says:

    A good text editor could be Notepad++ (

    Also, a must have to mount ISO’s is Virtual Clone Drive (

  3. Ben says:

    Virtual clone drive for easy mounting of disc images. Though that’s mostly for installing a development environment (vs, SQL server, etc) that you probably don’t use.

  4. Roger says:

    You didn’t mention ninite. It is an installer where you tick the items you want (many of your list are there) and they do a silent install of each. And they prevent toolbars and similar junk being installed.

  5. dobesv says:

    Try using ninite to install those common apps, it’s a huge time saver. I think it installs almost everything on your list in one go without toolbars and so on.

  6. Wayne Scott says:

    I have swtiched to MobaXterm over putty because it is a more flexible ssh/terminal client and includes a full X server in a small package. I also usually include virtualbox is a small linux machine.

  7. George says:

    Cygwin need to be on your list too (if your Windows machine to be used as a development environment). Also, if you are a hard core Windows only developer (don’t care about Unix / Linux that much) consider Take Command from

  8. John Kienitz says:

    I second ninite. It quickly makes a new Windows install usable.

    I also like PDFCreator. A print driver to create pdfs.

    I have been using 7Zip as my archiving tool for a while. Small, fast, and good integration.

    I usually throw in Libre Office.

  9. Helen Z says:

    It’s funny everything that I was about to recommend are already on the list =)

    -NetBeans (My favorite is Jetbrains, but netbeans is FREE!)
    -KeePass (it stores and encrypts your account and passwords to different places, quiet safe)

    Knowing you are a software engineer, this is a reminder for your kit:
    -WAMP (I actually really like this)

  10. Intazar Masum says:

    Here is my list:
    1. Autorunsetting (to turn off the useless Windows features autorun and autoplay which only help malwares infect my computer)
    2. Unlocker (to delete locked, corrupted or virus infected files and folders).
    3. Revo Uninstaller
    4. CCleaner
    5. 7zip
    6. Foxit PDF Reader
    7. Bullzip PDF Printer
    8. Free Download Manager

  11. You’re so cool! I don’t believe I have read through a single thing like this before.

    So great to find someone with original thoughts on this topic.
    Seriously.. thank you for starting this up. This
    web site is something that’s needed on the web, someone with a little originality!

  12. Anon says: has a big list of Windows power tools, updated yearly.

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