Every day people are getting their very first computers running Windows 7, and wouldn’t it be nice to have a list of the best free Windows 7-compatible utilities that should be at the top of your list for download?
We’ve gathered up 40 of the best and most useful Windows 7 utilities to get you started with your new computer. All 40 are completely free. And that is part of the best aspect of these programs, a lot of them replace ones you traditionally have to pay for.
What are you waiting for? Get to downloading!
Fishbowl: The Fishbowl client is a desktop application that allows you to interact with your Facebook account. The client will allow you to upload photos via a drag-and-drop interface, keep it a mini-mode to receive constant notification of new messages from friends and more.
Google Talk: The popular instant messaging client that works in conjunction with your Gmail account to allow you to chat with your contacts and also make free calls over the Internet to one another.
Pidgin: Pidgin allows you to chat with your friends on AIM, ICQ, Google Talk, Jabber/XMPP, MSN Messenger, Yahoo!, Bonjour, Gadu-Gadu, IRC, Novell GroupWise Messenger, QQ, Lotus Sametime, SILC, SIMPLE, MySpaceIM, and Zephyr. More are supported via plugins for the system.
Skype: Skype is a VoIP solution that allows you to make free Skype-to-Skype calls, calls to traditional phone lines, video conferencing, instant messaging and even more features that make it close to a full telephone replacement.
Trillian: Trillian is one of the oldest multi-service instant messengers on the market, and now not only does it work with Windows Live, Yahoo!, MySpaceIM, AIM, Google, ICQ, Jabber, Skype and IRC, but it also lets you work with your Twitter, Facebook and e-mail.
7-Zip: An open source file compression utility that works with unpacking files in ARJ, CAB, CHM, CPIO, DEB, DMG, HFS, ISO, LZH, LZMA, MSI, NSIS, RAR, RPM, UDF, WIM, XAR and Z formats. You can also use it to pack files into 7z, ZIP, GZIP, BZIP2 and TAR formats.
Auslogics Disk Defrag: Auslogics Disk Defrag is considered one of the best disk defraggers on the market with an endless stream of five star reviews, and best of all is its free.
FileZilla: FileZilla is an extremely easy FTP (File Transfer Protocol) client for working with files on your Web server. There is a slight bit of a learning curve, but not too bad.
Free Window Registry Repair: Everyone’s Windows registry file gets cluttered with junk from time to time, and only a registry editor will help you clean it up. As with all of these types of programs, tread carefully as you use it!
Google Desktop: Google Desktop allows you to bring the familiar Google interface to your desktop and get nearly instantaneous search results of your hard drive and all connected drives to your network once the system has finished indexing all of them.
TrueCrypt: TrueCrypt allows you to encrypt anything from a single file to an drive if you so choose on the fly and quickly.
Image and Video Utilities
GIMP: GIMP is a free photo editor that could certainly never be mistaken for a professional photo editor, but it is definitely a fantastic image editor for amateurs who need to do some editing to their photos but don’t want to shell out for something like Photoshop.
HandBrake: HandBrake is a video conversion tool that allows you to convert videos from one format to another. Also features support for chapters, subtitles and a lot more.
IrfanView: IrfanView supports a tremendous selection of image and video formats that you can read and many of which you can save. It also features tools such as batch conversion, TIF editing, capturing and much, much more.
Paint.NET: A free photo editor with a look very reminiscent of Photoshop. It includes support for layers, unlimited undo, special effects, and other tools, as well as a community of plugin developers.
VLC Media Player: There are many different video media players out there, and can be confusing to remember which ones you need for which formats. VLC Media Player solves a lot of that problem for you by playing almost every file format that you can think of.
7stacks: 7stacks allows you to create groups of icons on your start bar so that you don’t have multiple programs of the same type crowding up all your spots along the start bar.
Adobe AIR: Adobe AIR is a cross-platform operating environment that can operate any number of different types of programs from popular Twitter clients, productivity tools, image editors and a lot more.
Enhancemyse7en: This program is all about making sure to keep Windows 7 running like new by helping keep the registry clean, defragging your hard drive and offering suggestions of other enhancements.
Fences: Fences allows you to group icons and programs into sectioned off areas and quickly close and open them with double clicks so you can enjoy seeing your desktop again.
Foxit Reader: A slimmed down PDF reader that loads the documents faster than the official Adobe product does.
Google Earth: Google Earth allows you to to do more with Google Maps by zooming around a globe, taking street level 3D tours of locations like Walt Disney World and a whole lot more.
Windows Live applications: Windows Live applications covers things such as Windows Live Messenger (formerly MSN Messenger), Windows Live Writer for offline writing of blogs, Movie Maker and more. You can download them all or just one if you so choose.
iTunes: The popular media management and playing software from Apple that will also sync with your iPod or iPhone.
TagScanner: It’s easy to get MP3 files with messed up ID tags when you even rip your own music CDs. TagScanner allows you to easily edit the tags on your MP3 collection, and even downlload data from sources like Amazon when you don’t know all of the details.
Winamp: A popular alternative method for playing your audio files compared to the Windows included media player.
Ditto: Ditto extends the Windows Universal clipboard so you can store multiple items for pasting and you can choose to put them in whatever order you would prefer.
Notepad++: Notepad++ is a text editor that supports multiple tabs, multiple programming languages and a whole lot more that makes it the perfect replacement for the text editor included with Windows.
OpenOffice: A well-known free alternative for office applications such as word processing, spreadsheets, databases and more. It is compatible with Microsoft Office as it can read and save documents in the Microsoft formats.
CrossLoop: CrossLoop is a free application that allows you to share your desktop with trusted parties. Say you are that friend that everyone turns to for computer help, you just install the software on the desktops of your friends, and the next time they call you, you just log in to their CrossLoop install and then you can fix their system for them from the comfort of your own home.
Safety & Security Utilities
Avira AntiVir Personal Edition: This antivirus solution scans for both viruses and malware, and while it’s known for having some false positive results, it is still considered one of the best on the market.
Comodo Internet Security: A free alternative for firewall and anti-virus protection. Can be a bit intrusive, but gets better with time as you tweak the settings.
Eraser: Eraser helps you make sure that files you have deleted are truly gone forever by writing over those just vacated sectors several times in a carefully selected pattern to make that the file is truly gone for good. Great tool for getting personal info off a hard drive before donating your computer to a charity.
KeePass Password Safe: With all of the passwords we need to remember these days, it makes sense to have a password manager to keep them all in order. KeePass is an open source software package that allows you to remember just one master password to access an encrypted database of all your other passwords.
Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware: Specializing in malware threats, Malwarebytes is updated frequently with new definitions, and while it does offer a paid version, the free one works perfectly well.
Chrome: Google’s Chrome browser is picking up popularity, but still only has a market share in the single digit percentages. Extremely quick and slowly adding support for extensions such as StumbleUpon, XMarks and so on.
Firefox: From Mozilla, Firefox is the clear second place Web browser behind Microsoft’s own Internet Explorer, and it is a distant second, it seems to be gaining all the time. It does have a huge selection of extensions you can add for more features, but be warned that the more you add, the slower it goes.
Flock: Based on the same code that powers Firefox, Flock is about integrating your social profiles tightly into your browsing experience.
Opera: One of the oldest alternative browsers with an extremely loyal fan base that develops tools and skins for it in droves.
Safari: Built by Apple, Safari is a bit of a memory hog of a browser, but it still maintains an extremely quick load time for pages.
Thank you to the members of the WinExtra Community Forums for some of their suggestions on programs to include on this list.