back to article Ten free apps to install on every new PC

You've just taken delivery of a new PC, and you're looking for some good apps to run on it. You'll no doubt have a few in mind, but before reaching for your wallet, check out these ten essentials, all of which we think you'll find darn useful - and they won't cost you a penny. RH Numbers OpenOffice 3.2 Many new PCs come with …

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A few extras

Most of this list is on my own list, but here are a few extras to consider.

Eraser - an absolute must, allows for secure deletion of files individually, or via the recycle bin.

RegCompact.NET 2.0 -Speeds up registry-intensive control panel dialogs such as Add/Remove Programs

PowerMenu - Adds functions like "Always on top" and opacity to standard Windows. Even works in Win7.

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FAIL

iTunes, WTF??

<-- for stinking up your list with that Jobsian PoS.

(Apart from that it's a pretty good selection of freeware. But you really should have had Picasa in there somewhere.)

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indeed

+1 iTunes the associated crap of Quicktime and the Bonjour 'service' that merrily trashes your DNS should be classed as malware.

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Indeed x2

Some other suggestions:

Unlocker

Treesize

Numerous Windows Powertoys

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Bonjour Rocks

Actually not sure what problems you've had with Bonjour but it's saved my bacon before. Windows doesn't always find everything on the network (for whatever reason) and UPnP often doesn't work right under XP. I've found installing Bonjour usually allows me to find printers and other computers that the stupid built in network scan in Windows doesn't find. Yes even inside domain controlled networks.

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Bonjour and mDNS

Good tip, one to stash away for future troubeshooting.

However, I've experieced Bonjour (and another random mDNS derivative that came with an Olivetti WiFi printer) completely cutting Windows 7 off from the Internet until the mDNS/Bonjour service was stopped. Also, oon another occasion (when it sneaked in on the back of an Adobe product, imagine that!) it was nice enough to change my default gateway to 0.0.0.0, providing me an hour of hair pulling diagnostic fun. Not to mention the mangled service name string that stops you from realising the bloody thing is there in the first place.

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Black Helicopters

Why bother installing?

Half of these applications don't need to be installed, they can be used portably. see http://www.portableapps.com

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Pidgin?

Not a bad list, including a couple I wasn't aware of.

However, I'd definitely replace Pidgin with Digsby. Pidgin is still buggy and unstable, Digsby seems less so, has better features, and the UI is far more intuitive.

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Trillian

I use Trillian instead, normally been fine for me, but I do partially regret upgrading to the latest version (where you now have to register online with them).

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No voice

That it Pidgin's greatest failing, it just doesn't do voice. Whilst the SIPE (for Office Communicator) plug-in works, it can't give you any voice support. AFAIK Digsby doesn't support voice either, so there is no alternative to MS Office Communicator.

Am I wrong? Please tell me I am wrong. I cannot stand MS OffComm.

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Bod

Digsby

+1 for Digsby. Problem with Pidgin is I still feel it lacks the right experience under Windows and often I find a new update will introduce a stability issue, or there's a change to a protocol that just isn't fixed as fast as the Digsby guys will fix it. Digsby also adds checking your email accounts, twitter, facebook, linkedin, etc.

Trillian - commercial, and the "free" version lacks too much. Found it a bit bloated last time I used it.

But forget all that. I don't use PCs for IM now, I use my mobile, but then IM is so 5 years ago. It's all twitter & facebook now.

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Another goodie: Fences, from Stardock

If you have a large desktop with a bit too much on it, there are two ways of dealing with, create a heap of folders or install "fences". Users old enough to remember Windows 3.11 may find the idea remarkably familiar.

http://www.stardock.com/products/Fences/ - worth a look.

One caveat: if your desktop is suddenly completely blank, you have accidentally double-clicked it - Fences has a "hide" function which is by default enabled..

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Happy

Dragon Handbook

Hey - Kudos on having a pic of the manual of a really great home computer as an example pdf for your Foxit recommendation.

Now I've got to go off in a reverie of nostalgia - 1982 and the home computer boom. A Dragon 32, my first computer, how I miss it.

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From what I remember...

The manual was one of the best introductions to BASIC programming I ever read.

My father and I spent months deciphering the hidden joys within...

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Dragon

Roger that. Great computer, great manual. I remember sitting cross-legged on the lounge floor, learning to program on the big family TV, dreaming of having a monitor. A golden age in some ways.

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Anonymous Coward

Add me to the Dragon lovers

many a day I spent thumbing through that exact manual, wrestling with the vagaries of FOR... NEXT loops and the hours of entertainment that were ASCII animation, then getting supremely pissed off with my mum because she switched it off before I'd had a chance to save the 2000 lines of code onto a C90. Great days.

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Linux

One free OS to install on every new PC

Look out; Thar be trolls!

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NiNite

Shocked that you didn't bother to mention http://ninite.com/

You can install most of these apps, in one single go, without the fear of missing "install Yahoo Toolbar?" prompts...

I would also question why any sane person that's locked into Itunes would want that horrid crap when something like MediaMonkey is SO much better...

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Nice.

Great recommendation - I'd never heard of it.

A shame you have to pay (monthly) for the offline installer (would be handy to have on a USB drive) but otherwise brilliant.

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Happy

Where's

Spybot search and destroy and Smart defrag? Personally I prefer advanced system care to CCleaner, but it';s horses for courses. Good article though, and point well taken.

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Spybot S&D...

..is a glaring omission IMHO, regardless of that microsoft thingy..

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Anonymous Coward

I gave up on Spybot S&D years ago

When all it every found were cookies - oooh, evil cookies!

I must be using the wrong internet.

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Heart

OK but...

How about Winamp? CdBurnerXP? GIMP? DaemonTools? VmWare Player?

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Screw VMWare Player

Get Oracle's VirtualBox.

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Winamp?!

Foobar2000 over Winamp any day of the week! Winamp is bloated crud next to it.

Seriously, give it a go. 3MB download... It had finished before I'd had chance to load the Winamp website :p

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Better choice: Paint.NET and ImgBurn

CDBurnerXP has very bad - slow and crappy - burning SDK inside. Use ImgBurn instead.

GIMP? On Windows? Paint.NET is much more better, guys.

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Heart

Open Office? iTunes?

Saw these and just thought OH JEBUS PLEASE NO. And what the hell.. Microsoft Security Essentials? That's like trusting your pet bulldog to look after your lunch!

Other than that though.. spot on.

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Jobs Horns

iTunes?

I cannot BELIEVE you've put that on the top ten list of free stuff. Nothing associated with iTunes is remotely free. Sometimes spending €30 on a lifetime licence of a high-class music manager like Mediamonkey is FAR more beneficial than paying homage to Jobs. Free my arse.

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Gates Halo

Microsoft Security Essentials

An excellent program, I agree. however since when have its updates needed to be manually applied? Mine come down automatically and through windows update.

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Firefox

They didn't include any decent browser?

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great but...

iTunes ?

I know a large number of people that swear its never going near there computer ever, doesn't sound like a good choice to me.

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Antivirus

I would add Fortinet's FortiClient to the list. It is free (as in beer) and comes with a registry watcher, VPN client, spam and web filtering.. amazing.

Freely downloadable from http://www.fortinet.com/products/endpoint/forticlient.html

Not affiliated with Fortinet but I do love their products.

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You forgot the best one

On every new PC, I always install Linux. Then most of the rest of this list is either included or not required.

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Stop

Yeahbut

Linux is not an app, and installing it on a newly bought PC may well void your warranty (as was pointed out to me last time I bought a PC).

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Derp!

You bought a PC from a company which invalidates the warranty based on the *software* you install?

Which company is this? I want to make sure I never, ever buy from them.

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You think I would choose a warranty like that?

PC World, which I resorted to when I needed to buy from the high street (and had failed to find a 10" linux netbook online). I imagine the other high-street retailers are the same.

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Linux

Re : You forgot the best one

Don't know why you were downvoted. It was about free PC software and Linux/BSDs are by far the best free software you can get esp. if you want lots of free applications.

I don't use anything else and can do everything I need.

Someone mentioned a free defragger - what's a defragger ?

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Anonymous Coward

You sent it in *with* the HDD?

PCW - on the few occasions that I've been forced to deal with them - never knew the machines had Linux on, because they never got the hard drives.

My argument was simply "why the sweet Christ do you need the hard drive? The screen's broken!"

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hang on

System Protection, what about AVG/Avast etc?

and for image editing with extremely powerful tools, you only have to overcome your fear of typing in "those" words into google and grab GIMP!

it is good to inform of free apps but there is a much bigger choice, you could possibly have done a list for each category.

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Nice

Some good ones on there i didn't know about - FastStone Image Viewer and Karen's Replicator, thanks for those. I wouldn't install iTunes personally on anyone's PC but i'm sure plenty of people would.

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itunes????

sorry, all cred lost now. this is the biggest POS ive ever used. seriously, its got so many issues its untrue. its only good on a mac. ive seen less harmful viruses than this shit.

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FAIL

I have it on my PC

But seriously hate it - I agree it's a large POS on this platform and the only reason I keep it on is because it's the only way for me to sync my iPod Shuffle (post a reply here if you know of a decent alternative I can use).

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Really? The biggest POS you've ever used?

You've obviously never used MS SourceSafe then.

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Media monkey

"(post a reply here if you know of a decent alternative I can use)."

MediaMonkey worked fine with our iPod before we dumped it for a Sony

http://www.mediamonkey.com/

And its free, though for auto conversion of media (say for Flac to mp3) before synch you need to purchase it. You can still manually convert stuff. Oh, it wont convert to mp3 until you buy it, but it does synch the iPod, and its much less intrusive and crap laden.

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try

SharePod for your iPod

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I concur

Internet lists are always subjective and people can argue for centuries as to why [insert favourite app] wasnt on the list but on the whole this seems good to me.

There are others I would like to see on the list (Erase, 7Zip for example) but then you decided you would pick 10 and ten it is.

Well done.

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Jobs Horns

Thank you, El Reg

Very timely that, especially the Microsoft virus scan which comes just as McAfee has stopped supporting my aged package (hardly surprising, it's a decade old!).

I do take issue with iTunes, though. Functionality it may have, but it also has a Mac-oriented interface that appears clunky on the PC, it's buggy, it's slow, it's a memory hog and has a penchant for re-organising your music folders unless you have the presence to mind to tell it NOT to (beforehand). I won't let it near my PC and have encouraged all my friends to use WinAmp with the ml_ipod plugin. Much neater.

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iTune

Don't forget to buy the iHardware to go with it.

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Good list

I might have used Paint .Net as a graphics editor and a warning on iTunes that you only do a standard install (as 99.9% no doubt do) else you'll soon be in a whole heap of pain.

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Foxit

The latest version of Foxit is 3.21

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