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List of recommended Windows software
- 1 Package manager
- 2 *nix environment on Windows
- 3 Communications
- 4 Search utilities
- 5 File compression utilities
- 6 File sharing
- 7 Maintenance
- 8 Multimedia
- 9 Office
- 10 Programming
- 11 Security
- 12 Emulation and compatibility
- 13 Unclassified software
- 14 See also
- 15 External links
This page is for good quality software on Windows, based on the contributions of /g/ users. This page is not for solidifying preferences or ideology; it is considered to be "value-free" and thus permitting of both reference to open source software and closed source software, for-profit and not-for-profit. This is not your soapbox, your ballot box, or pulpit. Stay constructive and avoid politics and arguments.
You can (and should) install a package manager. It gives you the benefit of being able to download and install a lot of popular software via a single command on the command line, instead of having to navigate to a website, download it and run it. Take a look at Chocolatey NuGet and NPackd for more info. This is an advantage that OSX and Linux users have been enjoying for years, and now you should too.
For an all-at-once installation to install all of your selected favourite software in one go (useful on a fresh install of Windows), check out Ninite.
*nix environment on Windows
If you're feeling a bit limited or alienated with Windows' command line tools, you can set up a native *nix environment on Windows.
- Cygwin is a good choice to "Get that Linux feeling - on Windows." It is basically the Wine of Windows, but without recreating system libraries and such. GOW is considered an improvement on it.
- GOW is GNU on Windows. It's like a much lighter Cygwin, it comes with a terminal option in Windows explorer, and also comes with over Linux 100+ binaries natively compiled for Windows.
- MinGW is another minimalist set of *nix binaries natively compiled for Windows.
- Msysgit is not as big of a *nix environment as the others. It is the native Windows build of git, which also provides a shell with simple *nix utilities with cp, mv, rm, etc. and other basic coreutils you might need. Read the page for details.
See also: Web browsers
Firefox is free software developed by Mozilla. It is highly extensible via addons and included as the default browser in many Linux distributions. It is often criticized on /g/ and /tech/ as "SJWfox" because of some Mozilla developers outspoken campaigns on social and political issues.
Chromium builds are based off the underlying code of Chrome. While nearly identical to Google's browser, they lack proprietary components like automatic updating and flash player. However, Chromium still phones home to Google.
Iridium is a FLOSS fork of Chromium stripped of as many botnet and proprietary "features" as possible. It used to phone home to Iridium's servers for development purposes, but it no longer does that. Nonetheless, it is still as fast as a Chromium fork is expected. Use at your own risk.
Opera is a proprietary web browser that has pioneered open web standards for over two decades. It is notable for being the first web browser to sport a tabbed interface. It is developed and maintained by Opera Software.
QupZilla is a FOSS web browser, built on the Qt and QtWebEngine (based on Chromium's rendering engine) frameworks. It supports extensions, ships out of the box with AdBlock, Mouse Gestures, GreaseMonkey, Speed Dial, Click2Flash, and more. It provides seamless integration with most desktop environments, and has several other distinguishing features. QupZilla is licensed under GPLv3.
Tor Browser (formerly known as Tor Browser Bundle) is a package of a modified Firefox extended support release, NoScript, HTTPS-Everywhere, Tor, TorButton and TorLauncher. It automatically routes traffic through the Tor network and deletes history and cookies when closed.
Pale Moon is a fork of Firefox under a proprietary open source license. It has a familiar UI without the "Australis" redesign, but at expense looses compatibility with newer Firefox addons. Pale Moon tends to be behind on security updates, so use with caution.
SeaMonkey is a continuation of the Mozilla suite. Unlike most modern web browsers, it is an Internet suite, complete with bundled programs for email, IRC, and web design. It is compatible with most Firefox add-ons.
Midori is a fast, lightweight, LGPL licensed browser using the WebKit rendering engine. It is the default browser in Elementary OS, Raspbian and Trisquel Mini.
K-Meleon is a FOSS web browser for Windows. It uses the Gecko rendering engine just like Firefox, but sports a native Windows UI. It is absurdly configurable.
Otter Browser is a FOSS web browser that aims to recreate the best aspects of the classic Opera (12.x) UI using Qt5.
Desktop email clients provide off-line email storage and additional features over most web-mail clients.
EverDesk is the first and only email client which stores email messages as individual files together with your other files and documents in regular Windows folders, so you can keep all the information related to the same subject together and work with it in a simpler, more flexible, and more powerful way. EverDesk combines the best features of an Email Client, File Manager, Address Book and Calendar into one integrated interface, making it the most unique and comprehensive personal information manager on the market.
Thunderbird is a free and open source email client based upon the Gecko rendering engine. Like its sibling Firefox, it offers the user extensive customization options via third-party add-ons.
Opera Mail was formerly a component of the Opera browser, but now a separate free product. This is based on Opera 12.6 and still uses the Presto rendering engine. Getting started. It doesn't have IRC and XMPP for whatever reason.
Opera Mail is bundled in Opera 12.16 and several prior versions.
Instant Messaging (IM) clients
Pidgin, formerly known as GAIM, is a free and open source instant messaging client developed in C. It is based upon Libpurple and offers support for the AIM, Bonjour, Gadu-Gadu, Google Talk, Groupwise, ICQ, IRC, MSN, MXit, MySpaceIM, SILC, SIMPLE, Sametime, XMPP, Yahoo!, and Zephyr chat networks out of the box. Partial or complete support for additional networks like Xfire is offered through third-party plug-ins like Gfire. It can support OTR with a plugin. Beware it stores passwords in plain text.
RetroShare is an open source decentralized communication platform. It provides secure chat, photo and video sharing using OpenPGP to authenticate peers and OpenSSL to encrypt all communication.
Internet Relay Chat (IRC) clients
Graphical User Interface (GUI)
HexChat is a popular replacement for the XChat IRC client, a client which offered a free binary for Linux but charges money for the Windows version. HexChat is a continuation of XChat and makes both its source code and binaries available to users of all platforms it's created for. Like its parent software, HexChat is licensed under the GNU GPL. It includes all the basic features one would need, and can be ideal both for new users and IRC veterans.
Smuxi is another crossplatform IRC client and uses the GTK. It has some scripting capability and looks about the same on all systems. It doesn't have many features but it does those that it has well.
ChatZilla is an IRC client addon for Firefox. Great for people who want basic IRC features without having to install an additional application.
Irssi is the father of rice clients and easily accessible for all systems. The author of the Metacity window manager for Linux describes his software as follows: "Boring window manager for the adult in you. Many window managers are like Marshmallow Froot Loops; Metacity is like Cheerios." Irssi is the terminal IRC client equivalent of that sentiment. Irssi is extensible through plugins.
Weechat is Irssi with more rice, scripting languages, ideal defaults and development. It is rising in popularity as a preferred client on /g/. Weechat also includes plugin functionality.
Support by browsers and mail clients
- Thunderbird has support for IRC and other IM services.
- Opera had similar chat support which was dropped in 10.10.
- As mentioned above, Firefox can support IRC through an addon.
- Chrome can also support IRC through extensions, although some of them are actually websites; 'CIRC' and 'Byrd IRC' appear to be native clients, but I have not tested them as you must be signed into Google in order to install them. They might be usable by loading their source. I'll test them eventually.
Voice-Over-IP (VoIP) clients
Mumble is free and open source audio chat software. It is superior in audio quality and latency by always being the first client to use latest technologies, such as the Opus audio codec.
TeamSpeak is non-free and widely used for gaming. It has lots of permissions/ACL tuning available. Servers must be often licensed to use without restrictions. Servers under the free license allow up to 32 clients. The client has a backdoor that allows TeamSpeak Systems GmbH. to blacklist any server and take full control.
Skype is botnet mode in full effect. No seriously. It is also closed source and susceptible to state snooping. Skype is not only bloated, buggy, and resource intensive, but the bloat and resource hogging only goes up with each major update. It is absolutely not recommended for privacy, and only recommended for normal non controversial conversations with your friends and family who won't settle for anything else.
Jitsi is a real Skype alternative using standards compliant FLOSS. It supports text encryption with OTR and audio/video encryption with ZRTP. The downside is it being bulky Java.
Google Voice runs in a web browser and requires a plugin for full functionality. There does not appear to be official desktop software for this. The botnet never felt so good. Free phone numbers, calling, texting, and integration into Gmail.
Ekiga is an open source SIP client. It is not entirely clear to what extent encryption is possible.
Tox is a decentralized open source alternative to Skype. It is in early alpha stage and almost has VOIP working.
Everything is a proprietary freeware search engine that instantly locates files and folders by filename, by monitoring file system changes in real time and indexing them.
Launchy helps you navigate your start menu, programs, folders and more, amazingly fast, simply by typing in the name of your program and folder. Loads instantly by simply pressing a hotkey (default is alt+space). Customizable and allows you to add other things like website bookmarks and commands. The perfect program to replace windows search with.
File compression utilities
File compression software is widely used by various software distributors and archives to mitigate bandwidth and storage space requirements.
7zip is a free and open source file archiver developed in C++ by Igor Pavlov. Its primary feature is lossless compression in the 7z format, based upon the Lempel–Ziv–Markov chain algorithm. In addition to the handful of formats it is capable of creating new archives in, 7zip can retrieve files from archives in virtually any format that one is likely to encounter.
Easy 7-Zip is an alternative build of 7-zip which has some extra features like icons on the context menu, extra options in many dialogs and the ability to minimize to tray while extracting. It's licensed under the same license too.
The PAQ and LPAQ methods are capable of an impressive degree of lossless compression, but the time and system resources required are equally impressive.
PeaZip is a free and open source archiver developed in free Pascal by Giorgio Tani. It is notable for its native PEA format and its support of cutting-edge compression technologies like PAQ and LPAQ that are not supported by other popular archivers. Like 7zip, it is capable of retrieving files from virtually any archive that one might encounter.
Unless one has some specific purpose in mind, the use of WinRAR is not recommended.
WinRAR is a proprietary shareware archiver developed by the brothers Eugene and Alexander Roshal. Its once ubiquitous RAR format is still used almost universally by the Warez Scene, although it has falling out of favour with many other communities due to the growing popularity of 7z. Although it is only capable of creating new archives in the RAR and ZIP formats, WinRAR is capable of extracting files from archives created by many other compression tools. Scene releases are known to be troublesome to extract using extraction tools other than WinRAR.
Halite is a FOSS, Windows-only BitTorrent client, based on the excellent libtorrent library developed by Arvid Norberg. The program also relies heavily on the Boost libraries. It is a fantastic replacement for the botnet client uTorrent, and shares many of the same features.
qBittorrent is a libtorrent-based free and open source BitTorrent client written in C++. According to its developers, the aim of the client is to provide a free software alternative to µTorrent.
Deluge is a libtorrent-based free and open source BitTorrent client written in Python. It is highly extensible via its plug-ins system. Deluge is notable for having originated the particular method of protocol encryption that is currently in use by every major BitTorrent client. It can be a bit of a resource hog on Windows compared to other clients.
Transmission-Qt is a Windows port of the popular lightweight torrent client, Transmission, with support for blocklists.
μTorrent 2.2.1 is outdated, unmaintained and proprietary. However, it is generally recommended as the only acceptable version of μTorrent for Windows. It stays true to μTorrent's original bloat-free philosophy, remains free of advertisements, and is accepted at nearly every private tracker.
Filezilla is a free and open source FTP, SFTP, and FTPS client written in C++. Sourceforge downloaders should be advised that the installer offered there potentially contains adware.
WinSCP or Windows Secure Copy is a free and open source FTP, SFTP, and SCP client written in C++.
EiskaltDC++ is a cross-platform program that uses the Direct Connect and ADC protocols. It is compatible with DC++, FlylinkDC++, LinuxDC++ and other DC clients.
CCleaner is a proprietary freeware disk clean-up utility developed by Piriform. Its features at the time of this writing include automated deletion of unnecessary files, automated deletion of unnecessary registry entries, secure data erasure, program removal, system restore point management, start-up entry management, scheduled task management, context entry management, and web browser plug-in management. Avoid using the registry cleaner unless you know what you are doing; there is a low chance you might muck up your computer.
Revo Uninstaller is a proprietary freeware uninstaller tool that calls the uninstaller for programs and scans and prompts for the deletion of file and registry remnants of said programs.
Wise Registry Cleaner
Wise Registry Cleaner is a great tool that cleans the registry. When combined with other software like Malwarebytes and Wise Disk Cleaner it can do a ton to help a slow computer be less slow.
MyDefrag is a proprietary freeware disk defragmenter based on the standard defragmentation API by Microsoft. It also optimises file locations.
Wise Disk Cleaner
WiseCleaner is great at removing a lot of unnecessary clutter on your install that tends to slow things down.
File recovery tools
See also: Data recovery
File syncing tools
FreeFileSync compares your files and folders with other files and folders from target locations, and adds or updates them accordingly
System information tools
mpv is an incredibly powerful and widely-used fork of mplayer2 and MPlayer. It features ffmpeg playback, high quality scaling algorithms, OpenGL output, proper color management, and is completely free and open-source. With youtube-dl, it can also play video and audio streams, and even .gif files!
bomi is a multimedia player formerly known as CMPlayer, which is aimed for easy usage but also provides various powerful features and convenience functions.
VLC is a free and open source cross-platform multimedia player and framework that plays most multimedia files as well as DVDs, Audio CDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols.
MPC-HC (main article: MPC-HC) is an open source media player on Windows with extensive file support, and no bloat or harmful software. Different renderers and shaders are also available from the community.
KCP is a codec pack. It's basically a fork of MPC-HC, instead of manually installing the recommended filters, this does it all for you.
Media center and HTPC
Kodi (former XBMC) is a free and open source GPL software media center featuring a 10-foot user interface for use with televisions and remote controls. It is highly customizable via skins and addons. There are even addons available for streaming from internet services like YouTube and Twitch.tv. It plays nearly every video and music format out of the box. The built in scrapers can pull data from sites like IMDB and thetvdb to allow sorting media by actor, genre, rating, etc. It can export this data to local files for offline use.
Plex is a fork of the former XBMC (now Kodi). It has separate front-end (player) and back-end (server) components. Plex Media Server, unlike the free frontend, is a combination of free and proprietary software, with the majority of the code being proprietary. It has many of the same features as Kodi, but focuses more on its web interface. It also excels at on the fly video transcoding to allow playback over slow connections.
Emby is another media server solution that is very much like Plex, however is FOSS. Unlike Plex, Emby stores user accounts locally, meaning that there is absolutely no external based authentication. Emby focuses on customization, giving users the ability to rice their server with custom CSS, creation of local user accounts, feature/parental access control, media metadata configuration and plugins. Many Kodi users use Emby as server side back end.
Media converters and rippers
Handbrake is a free and open source video transcoder with an easy to use GUI. It can rip and convert a variety of video formats, but can not break DVD or Blu-ray copyright protection.
MakeMKV can convert video from proprietary (and usually encrypted) discs into a set of MKV files, preserving most information but not changing it in any way. It can instantly stream decrypt video without intermediate conversion and decrypt Blu-rays and protected DVDs.
MKVToolNix is a set of FOSS tools by Moritz Bunkus for working with Matroska files. It can mux, split and merge mkv files with no transcoding or loss of quality. It can also add or remove audio and subtitle tracks, change track order and edit metadata.
- ProjectX can resync DVB (Digital TV broadcasts) ready for encoding.
- Youtube-dl is a command line program for downloading videos from Youtube and similar sites.
Exact Audio Copy is a proprietary freeware CD ripper written by a German university student. It is preferred by what.cd and other audiophile communities because of its accuracy and ability to rip slightly damaged discs. It can output a detailed log file specifying the position any errors occurred. It also supports AccurateRip, cue sheet generation and ID3 tagging via freedb.
Foobar2000 (main page: Foobar2000) is an advanced audio player for the Windows platform. Some of the basic features include ReplayGain support, low memory footprint, and native support for several popular audio formats. It supports ASIO output.
MusicBee is basically a souped version of Foobar2k. It supports everything that you want in an audio player plus more! The GUI is very different than most, but can be customized to your will. It supports ASIO output and provides some level of compatibility with WinAmp input plugins. It is free as in free beer.
MPD is a flexible, powerful daemon for playing music. While mpd doesn't directly play music to you, it provides a stream of it (locally or over the internet) to which you connect to with a client (as it's a server, not a music player). It is the mpd client that provides you with all the functionality you expect from a music player. The advantage here is that you can have multiple clients connected and listening to one instance of mpd, or you can stream over the internet. Some music players listed below will be mpd clients, which means that you may need to install mpd as well (if it doesn't come included) for them to work.
- mpc is a minimalistic terminal MPD client.
Clementine is a great music player with many options and plugins available. It plays all the file types you might need.
Audacity is an easy-to-use, multi-track audio editor and recorder. It has support for LADSPA, Nyquist, VST, Audio Unit effect and VAMP analysis plug-ins.
ImageGlass is a small FOSS image viewer. It has support for 19 formats and plugins. However, it has few manipulation tools compared to similar software.
nomacs is a free and open source image viewer, which supports multiple platforms. You can use it for viewing all common image formats including RAW and PSD images. It can browse images in zip or MS Office files which can be extracted to a directory. It also has support for plugins and batch processing.
Honeyview is a very fast image viewer supporting various formats. It also supports viewing the images in compressed ZIP, RAR, or 7z files without extraction.
Irfanview is a very fast, small, compact and innovative freeware graphic viewer for Windows. It features an inbuilt editor along with many other extra tools that you may need or require.
XnView is freeware that allows you to view and convert graphic files. It features image manipulation tools, a batch renamer utility and support of over 400 image file extensions.
- Raster art
GIMP is a very powerful image editor with many advanced features, a steep learning curve, and a wide array of plugins.
Krita is a user friendly program for sketching and painting, offering an end-to-end solution for creating digital painting files from scratch.
Paint.NET started as an MS Paint alternative. It now integrates plenty of features such as layers and effects.
Pinta is a relatively simple image editor with an interface inspired by Paint.NET.
- Vector art
InkScape is a vector graphic editor.
Shotcut is a free and open-source cross-platform video editing app for Windows, OS X, and Linux. Shotcut supports many video, audio, and image formats via FFmpeg and screen, webcam, and audio capture. It uses a timeline for non-linear video editing of multiple tracks that may be composed of various file formats.
Blender is a 3D animation suite. It supports the entirety of the 3D pipeline—modeling, rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing and motion tracking, even video editing and game creation.
The majority of configuration for this application is done manually by editing its configuration file.
SumatraPDF is a free and open source PDF, ePub, Mobi, XPS, DjVu, CHM, CBZ, and CBR reader. Unlike most competing products for Windows, it is extremely fast and lightweight, now with 64 bits binaries.
Evince is a free and open source PDF, PostScript, DjVu, TIFF, XPS and DVI reader. While it is better known as a component of GNU/Linux's GNOME desktop environment, a Windows build is available.
Adobe Digital Editions is a god-tier book-reading application. It displays ePub, PDF and more. It is meant for reading books and does not serve well as a conventional document viewer for other purposes.
LibreOffice Writer is the word processor in the LibreOffice suite. After Oracle acquired OpenOffice, it asked community members to GTFO . Since everyone despises Oracle, the developers all jumped ship as well  and started LibreOffice.
Using a command prompt text editor on Windows is a bad idea if the language you write in has accents because Windows’ command prompt still uses an old code page (OEM) which is not compatible with UTF-8. This basically means ugly code and text that will show up differently depending on the OS and language.
Notepad++ is free software written in C++ for Windows. It is fast, efficient and customizable.
Sublime Text is a closed source, but sophisticated text editor for code, markup and prose.
GVim is a graphical frontend for Vim. An extremely feature-rich programmer's text editor with extensive plugin support.
Emacs is an extensible, customizable text editor and more. At its core is an interpreter for Emacs Lisp, a dialect of the Lisp programming language with extensions to support text editing.
Integrated Development Environment (IDE)
Eclipse is a feature-rich IDE with a major focus on its plugin system. Plugins are used for everything from language support (Java, C++, Python, C#, etc.) to adding additional features or aesthetics (Git integration, Vim keybindings, relative line numbers, CMake support, color schemes, etc.). It also has a reasonable set of built-in features. Some of the more notable of these include the plugin install/update tool, a highly configurable code formatter, and a customizable UI.
IntelliJ IDEA is the flagship IDE from JetBrains, and the Community Edition is FOSS. They have several IDEs for different languages, including PyCharm Community Edition for Python, which is also FOSS.
Visual Studio is Microsoft's IDE for C, C++, C# and VB.NET. Express and Community versions are available for free. Full versions are usually free or discounted for MSDN members, students, etc.
For in-depth coverage of this topic, see our article on Security.
COMODO Antivirus is a module part of the proprietary, free Comodo Internet Security suite. There is a paid version called 'COMODO Internet Security Pro' but it is more designed for computer illiterates with services such as 'GeekBuddy' which is a remote-support service.
Malwarebytes is a proprietary antivirus program popular in various security communities as a backup scanner. It is offered both as freeware and commercial software. The free version of Malwarebytes allows the user to manually scan for and remove malware, but a license must be purchased if the user wishes to take advantage of its scheduled scanning and real-time protection features.
ClamWin is an open-source antivirus developed in C++ that focuses on being lightweight and efficient. Please note that it does not include an on-access real-time scanner. You need to manually scan a file in order to detect a virus or spyware.
See: Malware removal
COMODO Sandbox is a module of the COMODO Firewall; part of the proprietary, free Comodo Internet Security suite. There is a paid version called 'COMODO Internet Security Pro' but it is more designed for computer illiterates with services such as 'GeekBuddy' which is a remote-support service.
Sandboxie is a proprietary shareware program for creating isolated virtual environments.
Software firewalls should not be viewed as replacements for hardware firewalls. The proper configuration of modem and router firewalls remains vital to securing one's network no matter what software solutions are employed.
COMODO Firewall is part of the proprietary, free Comodo Internet Security suite. There is a paid version called 'COMODO Internet Security Pro' but it is more designed for computer illiterates with services such as 'GeekBuddy' which is a remote-support service. Do note that COMODO Firewall can potentially make you unable to access your VPN.
Tinywall is a lightweight wrapper for the Windows firewall, providing a lot of new features like tampering protection, blocklists, or temporary firewall rules.
KeePassX is a light interface and cross platform password manager published under the GNU GPL.
Emulation and compatibility
Virtual CD/DVD drive
VirtualBox is free and open source GPL software. It was first developed by Innotek GmbH, then bought by Sun Microsystems and now continually developed by Oracle.
Virtual desktop manager
- VirtuaWin allows you to use multiple virtual desktops.
PC-98 is a series of computers by NEC, which was a popular computing platform in Japan. There were many interesting games created for the PC-98. Your average PC-98 emulation user in 4chan is likely to be a first-generation Touhou Project player. For better reference and understanding it's recommended to see its page on Touhou Wiki and Wikipedia:NEC_PC-9801.
Since not every one is real OG enough to have one of these computers from when they were first produced or buy one off the internet, here's a list of a few emulators for the PC-98:
And here's some games other than 2hus.
These recommendations will be classified soon.
Comic and manga viewer
MComix is decent on Windows. It supports manga view and other nice features. It requires some GNOME stuff, but that's easy to provide (it may come with the installer). However, it has some shakiness and non-smooth transitions when dragging images that is not present on the Linux version.
CDisplayEX is a freeware comic book archive viewer that supports reading from CBZ/CBR/CB7/PDF/EPUB format with many features. It also provides native cover thumbnail in Windows Explorer, color filters, Leap Motion support and many more.
Open Broadcaster Software is free and open source software for recording and live streaming.
- GifCam can record your desktop as a GIF.
- LICEcap is free and open software to record your desktop as a GIF.
- ShareX is free, open source and lightweight. It is a screenshot capture, screen recorder and file sharing tool.
Greenshot Is a free program which allows you to save images of your desktop, or a selection of your desktop. Highly customizable, as it allows users to use custom hot keys to trigger screen captures, save files in custom file destinations, and many other options.
- List of recommended OS X software
- List of recommended GNU/Linux software
- List of recommended Android software
- Prism Break - Lists software for different platforms that respect your freedom (and points out those which do not). Maintained by the EFF.