Experienced computer users have a specific routine that they go through whenever they install a new operating system.
This includes playing around with the default configuration of the operating system, but also installing a set of applications that they consider essential.
The following article takes a look at twelve applications to install after installing Windows 7. A fair warning though;
This is obviously a biased list and what we call essential might be the exact opposite for the user next door. So, this is our list and it will, without doubt, differ from many of the lists that you would create.
All programs that are listed below are fully compatible with the Windows 7 operating system.
Windows 7 ships with Microsoft's Internet Explorer and while IE 8 is a perfectly fine browser it does not offer the same level of speed and customization options that the Firefox web browser offers.
Yes there are other web browsers, specifically Google Chrome and Opera, both excellent web browsers. The reason for not picking them is that Google Chrome feels - in many regards - like a beta browser with its missing extension support in the release versions while Opera's way of handling extensions is not optimal for a good workflow.
And Firefox is the only web browser that comes with extensions that we do not want to live without anymore, namely the security extension No Script, the password manager Last Pass, Greasemonkey and several SEO extensions.
Mozilla Firefox homepage
Another sure pick for us. There are different email clients that work under Windows 7 with the most popular ones being Windows Live Mail (formerly Outlook Express), Microsoft Outlook and Mozilla Thunderbird with the first and third being free to use.
Some users may prefer to use an online email service like Yahoo Mail, Hotmail or Gmail instead. Our reason for sticking with a desktop email client are the following:
Thunderbird offers the same advantage that Firefox offers: Extension support. There are hundreds of extensions for the email client which can increase the functionality tremendously.
Mozilla Thunderbird homepage
Microsoft has really improved the media playback capabilities and other features of Windows Media Player. Especially the ability to playback additional video file types over previous Windows systems and the Media Player lite interface while playing videos are two features that increase the value of the player. One still has to install different codecs to be able to view unsupported video file types.
That's where SMPlayer comes into play. The player uses binary codecs which are shipped with the media player. These codecs work out of the box and nearly every different video format is supported by this MPlayer variant.
Webmasters need a way to upload, download and manage files that are hosted at a web hosting company.
The usual way to do that is to connect to the web server with an ftp, sftp or scp client. WinSCP combines all three possibilities in an explorer like interface.
It offers several additional features including Windows integration, integrated text editor, batch file scripting or sessions making it one of the few all-in-one clients for the Windows operating system.
Update: We suggest you use the RSS reader QuiteRSS instead as it offers better functionality.
There are two basic options for selecting a feed reader. It can either be an online feed reader like Google Reader or a desktop feed reader. There are a lots of programs that offer desktop feed reading capabilities. This ranges from web browsers like Firefox or Opera over email clients like Outlook or Thunderbird to applications that have been specifically designed for the purpose like Feed Demon.
FeedDemon offers a comfortable way of reading news feeds. It comes with a lot of options that most other integrated feed reading solutions do not offer including the ability to create watchlists to monitor specific keywords. Many integrated solutions, like that in Firefox, felt like they were slowing down the web browser once a certain threshold was reached.
Windows 7 Ultimate and Enterprise come with the Bitlocker data encryption feature that can be used to encrypt data in those operating systems. All other editions of Windows 7 do not offer this feature. The alternative is True Crypt, a reliable data encryption software that can be used to create encrypted containers, partitions and even full systems.
True Crypt comes with an incredible set of features including:
True Crypt homepage
XnView is a fast image viewer for the Windows operating system supporting over 400 different image formats. It works extremely well even when viewing images in folders with thousands of images.
It does offer basic image editing features like rotating images or exporting images in more than 50 different image formats, batch editing and renaming, slideshows or filter and effects. Another feature is Twain and WIA support.
Windows Paint was redesigned by Microsoft in Windows 7. It now comes with a ribbon interface and improved functionality. It still lacks many of the features that most users would expect from an image editor. That's where paint.net comes into play.
The image editor loads fast and offers an advanced functionality that does not need to fear comparison with other solutions like GIMP or Photoshop.
Notepad is a fast opening text editor in Windows. It is great for editing smaller text files but lacks features that make it as good when it comes to larger files or scripting languages like php. Notepad++ is an enhanced - but unrelated - Notepad clone that offers many interesting features including syntax highlighting, multi-document support, regular expressions, macros, plugins and auto completion.
Best of all, it opens as quickly as Notepad in the operating system.
Windows 7 comes with advanced image burning options. It can for example burn ISO images without additional software, something that other Windows operating systems don't offer. A third party CD and DVD burning software is on the other hand still a requirement for burning other image formats and creating custom data, audio and video CDs and DVDs.
ImgBurn is a free solution that is slightly more complex to use than many of the other burning software programs. It is however one of the most reliable and feature rich programs available for the Windows operating system and therefor our first choice when it comes to installing a third party burning software.
It is possible to play most audio formats in Windows Media Player. Users who prefer alternatives usually pick Winamp. AIMP2 is an alternative that comes with an excellent set of features and options. Chance is that if Winamp can do it AIMP2 can as well. The audio player is lightweight and uses less system resources than Winamp.
Update: We suggest you use Sumatra instead if you just need a PDF reader.
Windows 7 users need to install a third party software to be able to view pdf documents. The natural choice for most is Adobe's PDF reader. Experienced users on the other hand prefer different programs. This can be mainly attributed to the performance of Adobe Reader and security concerns.
One of the most popular alternatives is the Foxit Reader which opens PDFs much faster than Adobe Reader does.
Foxit Reader homepage
Got anything to add? Let us know in the comments.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.