what to load on a new Windows 7

Searched through the site and did not find this exact answer, so I thought I would pose it.

A friend just bought a new Dell i5 computer with windows 7 and I am setting it up for her.  I have loaded the usual:  Mozilla, adobe reader, flash, shockwave.  Curious what you might suggest as must haves on a new windows 7 computer that does not come with it.

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Anti Virus should be first thing installed.
I like to install Cutepdf so I have a pdf writer.
Printer if she has one.
maybe malwarebytes
It really depends on how it's going to be used.  

In addition to what pjam just recommended,

I find Gadwin Printscreen is a useful utility for many people,

VLC is useful because it'll play most media,

Malwarebytes for when the system is acting suspicious,

The free version of Revo Uninstaller does a little better job of removing stuff,,

Although Acronis is not free, it can save the day. This is best to use when the system is configured and working perfectly,

Thunderbird is a great free alternative to Outlook,

LibreOffice is a great alternative to Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint).   If you go into the preferences, you'll find and option to use the Microsoft formats (.doc, .xls, .ppt)

That's some of the software i often install for typical users.

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jjackson2004Author Commented:
It came with 1 year of McAfee and I also loaded Malbyeware.  It will have Office on it as it will be a backup computer in case disaster happens to office computers;  as such, it also has Quickbooks loaded on it.
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Joe Winograd, Fellow&MVEDeveloperCommented:
Problem is, one person's "must have" is another person's "not needed". It depends heavily on what she plans to do with the computer. With that caveat, here are 10 suggestions on excellent, free software, all of which I've used for many years:

(1) 7-Zip, a zip/unzip utility:

(2) AutoHotkey, a programming/scripting/macro language:

(3) Bullzip, a PDF print driver, so any Windows app can "print" to a PDF file:

(4) Google Chrome, another browser (you've already installed Mozilla Firefox, but it's nice to have a choice of browsers):

(5) IrfanView, for picture/photo/graphics viewing and editing (and I recommend the Plugins to get PDF support):

(6) Malwarebytes, anti-malware (but the free version does not have real-time protection)

(7) Microsoft Security Essentials, anti-virus:

(8) PDF-XChange Editor, an alternative to Adobe Reader (and much better):

(9) TeamViewer, so you can support her remotely:

(10) VLC, a media player:

That should get you started. If you let me know what her interests are and what she wants to use the computer for, I may be able to make other recommendations. Regards, Joe
dbruntonQuid, Me Anxius Sum?  Illegitimi non carborundum.Commented:
I don't install Adobe Reader but rather PDF-XChange Viewer http://www.tracker-software.com/product/pdf-xchange-viewer

No Flash or Shockwave.  For Flash I install Google Chrome.

Also install Irfan View http://www.irfanview.com/ and the plugins pack for viewing graphics files.

Other apps, CCleaner, Defraggler, Skype, TeamViewer, KeePass 2,

Experimenting with AIMP3 http://www.aimp.ru/index.php?do=download a Russian lightweight media player at present.  Nice replacement for Winamp.
Thomas Zucker-ScharffSolution GuideCommented:
There are some excellent suggestions here.  I would add CryptoPrevent to protect against ransomware.  And The newest verison of Opera is leaner and meaner than the new update of Chrome.

Please check out my article on ransomeware prevention if you are hesitating about Cryptoprevent - recommended by Brian Krebs).
Joe Winograd, Fellow&MVEDeveloperCommented:
One comment on dbrunton's excellent suggestions: PDF-XChange Viewer has been superseded by (the also free) PDF-XChange Editor, which is more powerful, and even has OCR capability. The site is a little confusing, but the installer for the Pro Version gives you the choice to install the Free Version:

PDF-XChange Editor - Free or Pro
Regards, Joe
David KrollCommented:
I'd dump McAfee and use Microsoft Security Essentials and Malwarebytes.  I'd also install CCleaner.
jjackson2004Author Commented:
David Kroll:  Malwarebytes free or paid version with MSE?
Thomas Zucker-ScharffSolution GuideCommented:
I agree about mcafee, not a fan at all.  I use MBAM pro and MSE with on-access scanning disabled on my home computer.  I also suggest an alternate hosts file like the one from MVPS.
Joe Winograd, Fellow&MVEDeveloperCommented:
This thread does show the challenge in software selection. I never use CCleaner (or any registry cleaner) or Revo (or any uninstaller that modifies the registry beyond what the product's uninstaller does), as they can cause more harm than good (that's based on my experience). I can't tell you how many times I've had to clean up a mess created by an over-aggressive registry cleaner or uninstaller. Just one person's opinion — there are, of course, folks who swear by CCleaner and Revo.

> Malwarebytes free or paid version with MSE?

I realize you addressed this to David Kroll, but I'd like to offer an opinion — go with the paid version. The big difference is the real-time protection. Regards, Joe
dbruntonQuid, Me Anxius Sum?  Illegitimi non carborundum.Commented:
CCleaner can be used for registry work but I use it for cleaning out unneeded files.  For that it is excellent.
Joe Winograd, Fellow&MVEDeveloperCommented:
> I use it for cleaning out unneeded files.

Ah, I didn't know that! I've always seen it pitched as a registry cleaner, and so have avoided it like the plague. Thanks for letting me know this other aspect of it.
The basics always:

- Antivirus
- Compressor / decompressor files (i prefer winrar)
- Any pdf reader
- Office or any free similar (open Office)

some optional:

- Ccleaner for remove temporal files
- a optional web browser (mozilla, Chrome, Opera)
- Malwarebytes
Remove the Adobe Reader.

Then get the ProtableApps utility, and go through the apps there. The main Apps of PortableApps I use are:

Foxit Reader (better than the Adobe Reader)
LibreOffice (a replacement to m$ Office, and as it can export to pdf, you don't need another pdf creator tool)
The GIMP (might be used as a replacement to photoshop)
Infrarecoder (a very good CD/DVD writing tool)
Audacity (for editing audio files)

The advantage of using PortableApps is that all is free, you don't have to install software like you normally do, all is handled by the utility. It also manages updates, and you can save the whole PortableApps folder to a USB stick and take your apps along with you and start them on every Windows PC that allows you to use USB sticks. You don't have to worry about product keys etc, and it doesn't take hours or days setting up a PC with new software. Of course you can also add other PortableApps from the list.


I'd also remove the trial of McAfee and instead install something better, like Panda Free Antivirus. You then don't have to worry about when the trial runs out and you either have to pay for a renewal, or replace it with something else. Besides that I'd also remove other unnecessary software that was pre-installed.

Then I add Paragon's free backup Utility (make sure to get her to do regular backups to different backup media):


Also don't forget to get a couple of empty DVD's and use Dell's utility to create recovery media from the recovery partition. Tell her to store those DVD's in a safe place.

I'd also add VirtualBox so you can install a Linux and/or other OS as a VM. This is useful to test things, or if you want to visit websites or click on links you don't really trust. That way it will run in a kind of sandbox and can't infect the main OS.
Thomas Zucker-ScharffSolution GuideCommented:
Rindi made some good suggestions, I forgot about paragon, but I put it on all my machines (either the free or the paid - if you have at least 50k points you can get the paid versions for free). And I use virtualbox quite a lot also, but I think that is more for us than the people we tend to help.

Which does beg the question - which backup software?  (notice that I did not ask whether backup software should be installed.  The only question that should be in your mind is not if a computer harddrive will crash but when.)  I like almost any versioning software.  Crashplan is an excellent choice because it is free to backup locally and reasonable to buy space on their server.  I personally use the CrashPlan Family plan (2-10 computers on the same account) for standard price of 145.00/year for unlimited storage.  If you are lucky you can get it cheaper (I got mine on sale for 105/year/unlimited storage).
I recommend you next, which I also use:
1) To create pdf file, printing to file, so virtual pdf printer, which works good on winxp up to win8, including win7, I use FreePDF . It is free.
2) To preview before printing and to print more pages on one, I use FinePrint. It is not free.
3) Antispyware free and good I use Spybot. It is free. It has antivirus inside, but I prefer a free antivirus which does not slow down the PC too much.
4) I use as free and good antivirus Avast.
5) You need a good photo editor. I am used to with PhotoImpact since many years as alternative to Photoshop, but is not free.
As free alternative you  may see here:

I use also some other cleaning and tweaking programs, some free some not as:
CCleaner, WinASO Registry Optimizer, SpyHunter,
If you do not have an SSD then you need a good defrag. Among the bets': Auslogic’s Disk Defrag Pro, Condusiv’s Diskeeper, Raxco’s PerfectDisk, and SlimCleaner Intelligent Defrag, but of course are some other free alternatives. If you have SSD then forget about defrag.
may i beg to differ a bit?
i install ONLY what is needed - nothing else
eg  -no winrar - you can do the same with the built in function of windows
the rest is really up to the customer to decide; and as i experienced -most install way too much  (wanted or unwanted) and then complain about slow system

However - if you know that you are going to install several programs - it is wise to make an image AFTER everything is installed and configured properly, so you can return to this state in a minimum of time, if something does happen !
Thomas Zucker-ScharffSolution GuideCommented:
xnview is another excellent graphics app. do make an image to return  to after each install.  so not depend on system restore.
I'd find out what your friend plans to use the laptop for and set it up correspondingly. Apart from security software, everything else is potentially superfluous. A computer set up for a graphic designer is of little use to a programmer for example.
As @Joe Winograd mentions one persons "must haves" is another's crapware. Even when it comes to security (antivirus/malware protection), one persons recommendation is another's "must avoid".
The main questions you need to ascertain the answers to are:

1. What operating system did your friend use before buying the Windows 7 computer?

This will allow you to figure out what is already built into Windows 7 but which required a 3rd-party application on the previous computer.

For example, if she is in the habit of taking a lot of screenshots and used a 3rd-party image viewing and editing application, then this may now be unnecessary as Windows 7 has its own "snipping" tool that is as good as many other free or retail screenshot grabbing programs.
Start > All Programs > Accessories > Snipping Tool

If you can't see the video on the following page, then you will need to install Microsoft Silverlight, but ONLY IF the user is likely to be viewing Microsoft pages containing Silverlight video content.

Windows 7 will be able to play DVDs whereas Windows XP could only play them using a 3rd-party application like Cyberlink PowerDVD or VLC Media Player (mentioned earlier).  Similarly, certain native CD/DVD burning tasks are a vast improvement from previous Windows versions that may have required a 3rd-party application.

These are the things you really need to consider before you start installing all kinds of "must have" programs and plugins.

2. Ask the user what programs she used on a day-to-day basis on the previous computer.  If she cannot tell you, then you have probably already installed lots of superfluous applications that will unnecessarily bog the computer down with automatic update checks.

A lot of computer users really don't have a clue what programs open the different file types on their computers.  This is especially true for people who use the large file preview pane at the right of the screen in Windows Explorer in Windows 7.  They just get used to double-clicking on email file attachments, clicking on hyperlinks, and generally not thinking about any of the processes while they are working or playing on the computer.

No matter how many "essential" programs you install on that computer the user is going to be confused at some stage when it behaves differently with the default Windows settings when compared with customised settings gradually arrived at on the previous one.  If this is a Windows XP to 7 leap, then there are going to be so many differences you can be guaranteed that the user will quickly forget about some of the commonly accessed programs on the old XP machine.

I have a USB hard drive containing thousands of installers for programs and applications that I have had the need for over the years.  Whenever I migrate to a new computer and do a fresh install, I create a couple of new folders named "To be Installed" and "Installed" on the new one.  I copy the installer packages for "essential" applications to te "To be Installed" folder and then check to see if there have been any updates which I then download and delete the old installer package.  Whenever I install an application from the "To be Installed" folder, I move the installer package to the "Installed" folder.

On the computer I am using I still have a "To be Installed" folder that is bulging with EXE and MSI files, whereas my "Installed" folder only has a handful of them.  I realised this time that I hardly used any of the "utility" programs I thought I needed on hand all the time.  It was more of a habit than a logical decision.  I tend to use (as suggested by rindi) "portable" applications directly from my exetrnal drive rather than installing programs.

Leave the common image file types associated with the default Windows Photo Viewer.  If the user ever has the need to actually EDIT an image rather than just VIEWING it, THEN you can install an image editing application that suits her needs.

Going back to what nobus suggested in connection with "zipped" files.  Windows 7 can handle them without a 3rd-party application.  All the user may need is guidance on how to use the in-built functionality if she is used to using WinZip or some other program.

About the most useful application that you can install for her is one that was suggested by Joe Winograd.  Something like Team Viewer, RealVNC (or free/licenced variants like TightVNC, UltraVNC), etc.  You can then log onto the computer remotely and install any applications that the user may find useful or necessary as the time goes on.  You can also SAFELY do maintenance for her, like regular decluttering.

Too many times in the past have I done a fresh installation of Windows for somebody, and then installed all the applications that I deemed essential.  Most often when the user has later come back with a query and I have suggested using a method available in one of the applications that I installed, the user has not even been aware of its presence.
jjackson2004Author Commented:
My apologies, been busy of late and already finished putting the programs on her computer, but this has become a good thread for other to search on.

I have a twist.  I broke down and bought a nice laptop with Win 8 (with touch screen if that is relevant).  So may I pose this twist:  do these must-haves change when we change the subject to Windows 8(.1)?
jjackson2004Author Commented:
Or do I need to start a new thread?
No not really, but 1 exception is that Windows 8(.1) comes with an anti-virus built-in, Windows Defender.  You will see an icon in the control panel for Defender.    Defender is Microsoft Security Essentials.
Joe Winograd, Fellow&MVEDeveloperCommented:
Much more important than the difference between W7 and W8.1 is the difference between you and your friend's use of the computers — how, why, and for what you use them. As I said in my first post, one person's "must have" is another person's "not needed". It depends heavily on what you and she plan to do with your computers. Regards, Joe
I use since last year Win 8 and 8.1.
I disliked the start menu. Maybe I was too used with Win XP style still maintained up to Win7.
So, I decided for the classic start shell also for Win 8.1.
I use next program:
Startdock - Start8 - http://www.stardock.com/products/start8/
Joe Winograd, Fellow&MVEDeveloperCommented:
viki2000 makes a good point about a key difference between W7 and W8, although I not only don't like the W8 interface, I don't like the W7/Vista interface. So I've been using an excellent (free!) product called Classic Shell to give me the good ol' W2K (truly Classic!) interface on all of my Vista, W7, and W8 computers:

Of course, if you prefer, you may configure Classic Shell to give you the XP or Vista/W7 interface on W8/8.1.

Here's a 5-minute EE video Micro Tutorial that explains how to download, install, and configure Classic Shell — all of which happens in the 5-minute video, although you may want to spend another 10-15 minutes configuring its large number of options:
Make Windows 8 Look Like Earlier Versions of Windows with Classic Shell

Regards, Joe
if you install all the suggested software, you may already need to buy extra storage space..lol
Or maybe you just wait until the end of the year when Microsoft offers free for limited time the upgrade to Win10 which has the Win7 start menu.
Actually from what I heard, Windows 10 should be released this summer already, no need to wait until the end of the year.
Thomas Zucker-ScharffSolution GuideCommented:
I've looked at the technical preview of 10 (both regular and corporate versions) and like ie a lot better than either 8 or 7.
jjackson2004Author Commented:
just ran into an issue of html 5 not playing on the new computer.  Normally I would have already added flash, but this time I looked at HTML5 players (googled).  Many options.  Does anyone have any experience / preferences on this one?
Joe Winograd, Fellow&MVEDeveloperCommented:
I was under the impression that all modern browsers support HTML5. What browser/version do you have on the new computer that is not handling HTML5?

As a side comment, I think we've taken this question as far as it should go and I would recommend your closing this one and posting a new question about HTML5. Regards, Joe
As far as I know html5 should be directly supported by most modern web browsers.
jjackson2004Author Commented:
First thing I did was download Mozilla, which was within the last 7 days.  And I thought that it was a part of the browser as well.
Firefox is fully html5 capable.
Thomas Zucker-ScharffSolution GuideCommented:
I just realized Joe mentioned Ahkscript.org - I use Ahkscript all the time,  it is a godsend!
Though at least one other comment mentioned using VirtualBox, nowadays the first thing I'd install for a basic Windows user would be Linux Mint... right after complete reformatting. I started doing that almost a year ago and have had zero complaints so far. (Permission was always obtained first. No one balked. No one has asked to go back. Minor 'how-to' training for some details has been needed at infrequent times.)

I'd then continue installing various software products as needed.
I've requested that this question be deleted for the following reason:

Not enough information to confirm an answer.
There are plenty of valid suggestions that answer the Question.
Joe Winograd, Fellow&MVEDeveloperCommented:
+1 on rindi's comment. There is more than enough information to confirm an answer. Keep in mind that the question was, "Curious what you might suggest..." For that question, any suggestion answers it! That said, there are a ton of good suggestions in this thread. My recommendation is to split the points evenly among all participating experts and simply make the first comment the Accepted Solution, with one post from each other expert as an Assisted Solution. Just one person's opinion, of course. Regards, Joe
dbruntonQuid, Me Anxius Sum?  Illegitimi non carborundum.Commented:
+1 on Joe's suggestion.
+1 on Joe's point
"That said, there are a ton of good suggestions in this thread."
"I've requested that this question be deleted for the following reason:

Not enough information to confirm an answer.

Actually you mean that you changed your mind since you posted the question, because it took too long time for you to decide and the situation is now different.
That would have been a better description.
It wasn't the asker who wants to delete the Question, but rather the Cleanup Volunteer.
Joe Winograd, Fellow&MVEDeveloperCommented:
The post that you quoted is not from the author of the question, so your comment about changing his mind since posting the question is not the case — well, it may be the case, but there's not not enough information to confirm that. The post you quoted is from a Cleanup Volunteer. Regards, Joe
since you can load anything on a new windows install - all given suggestions are valid imo
jjackson2004Author Commented:
I wish I had more points to award.  Thanks to all for the helpful information
Thank you jjackson2004
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