Essential Software

I’m trying to compile a list for some friends and family who are now just starting to get interested in computers. I thought it might be nice to give them a list of some “essential software” that they should purchase or download (shareware). Software installed on my computer that I think is “essential”:

Download Accelerator (or Getright or the like)
Symantec (Norton) software: Utilities, Anti-virus, & Internet Security
Mozilla (I’m quite partial to it)
TweakAll / TweakUI

I’m drawing blank here. Basically any type of utilities, internet apps, whatever that you use regularly for basic computer functions.

BTW, we’re talking PC here (sorry Macheads)

I can think of three things…

-Adaware (finds adware on your computer and eliminates it)
-Sandra 2002 (analysis program for your computer hardware… very nifty)
-3D Mark, in case your friends and family happen to be gamers.

      • Download Accellerator only helped me for the short time that I was losing transmissions because of a [junk] Winmodem. D-A could reconnect most of the time automatically, but it never speeded up anything and one of the main problems I had was getting Windows Updates, and D-A doesn’t work at all for that. When I went to a hardware modem, the dialup speed went from ~4 to ~4.5+ K/sec (without D-A) and lost transmission problems disappeared. It’s my opinion that if D-A helps you a lot in any way, then something somewhere else is wrong with your setup.
  • ZoneAlarm. You need something on cable, although I run the previous version. The newest version keeps my Win98 machine from booting…

Huh? You mean we’re not “allowed” to play? Isn’t that a bit absurd?

Well, since I am cross-platform I’m going to rock the boat and contribue my list of “essentials” anyway…
[li]Photoshop [/li][li]Dreamweaver[/li][li]BBEdit (Windows: Homesite)[/li][li]Snood[/li][li]Toast (Windows version: EZ CD Creator)[/li][li]QuickTime[/li][li]RealPlayer[/li][li]Word[/li][li]Outlook Express[/li][li]GrayAmp & iTunes (Windows: Winamp)[/li][/ul]
There, was that so painful to witness? :smiley:

Do not, under any circumstances, use outlook express. It is a work of evil. Especially if you’re going to have mozila anyway, which has it’s own mail client which is vastly superior to OE.

Also, I reccomend WinRAR rather than WinZip.

I agree with DougC - Download accelerator programs aren’t that useful; I often found having one was actively annoying. Zone alarm really is a very good idea (I must admit, I still use the freeware version).

No Mac users? Pish.

On my iMac running Jaguar my essential software is:

Microsoft Office v.X SP1
Final Draft
BBEdit 6.0
Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0
Internet Explorer 5.2.1
Chimera Navigator 0.4
Apple Mail 1.2
Apple iChat 1.0
Apple iTunes 3.01
Apple iCal 1.0
Apple iPhoto 1.1.1
Apple Address Book 3.0 (?)
AppleWorks 6.2.4
TinkerTool (kinda like TweakUI)
Silk (gives Quartz anti-aliasing to Carbon applications)
On Microsoft Windows XP I don’t have any “essential” applications, since I put myself through the suffering of using Windows quite rarely nowadays. However, when I do lower myself to that level I use:

Microsoft Word 2002
Final Draft 5.0
Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0
Outlook Express 6.0
Internet Explorer 6.0

That’s about it. I try to stay off of Windows as much as possible.


The hatred I have for RealPlayer is unmeasurable. I have never had a virus that was as obtrusive and destructive as that piece of crap. I installed it a few years ago and it proceeded to change tons of things on my computer, set itself up all over the place, take over file associations, and so forth. When I finally had enough of it, it took forever the scrape the damn thing off my machine.

And for what? For a crappy program that takes four months to show a postage-stamp sized video. I can’t believe that place is still in business and that people actually use it.

The worst part is that there are some things on NPR’s site I want to hear, but they all use this piece of garbage. I can’t find any other program that plays that format. If there is, please point me to it. Of if Real finally wised up and got their stupid program to play nice with others.

As for other programs I find essential, I like SmartFTP and Ultra-Edit. I also dig Putty and ACDSee.

Microsoft Flight Simulator


I like Trillian. it allows you to use however many IM programs you have all through one tidy interface.

Cool guys. Thanks for the input.

As far as Download Accelerator, I know that the “acceleration” is minimal if existant at all. But the ability to resume is just fantastic. Mozilla has a Download Manager but it doesnt quite work the same way.

And for Real Player…if you hate it because it is taking over your system’s file associations, then you obviously do the “Express Install” as opposed to “Custom”.

A couple other thoughts I had:

Adobe Acrobat is rather essential.
You are right, WinRar is much better than Winzip
MS Office is always useful
For burning software, I prefer Ahead Nero

I’ll give that a try. I still detest the format and have no idea why people use it, when there’s much better stuff out there.

When I did a reinstall I didn’t put MS Office back on, but instead used the free product “OpenOffice”. It’s fully compatable with MS Office.

Also, my new CD Burner came with “Easy CD Creator” and I love love love it over Nero for creating CDs.

There’s also a piece of software that rhymes with “Bazaa” that I find essential, but I’m not supposed to mention it.

All for Windows:

AXE, for a hex editor
FTP Explorer, for FTP
GetRight, for downloads
GoldWave, for editing audio
Mozilla, because Gecko owns IE’s rendering engine
Nero, for burning CDs
NoteTab, for a text editor
Outlook Express, because Mozilla’s mail client kind of sucks
Photoshop, for creating images
TClock, for formatting the system tray clock
Trillian, for instant mfessaging clients
Winamp, for playing audio (OGGs, MP3s, WMAs, etc.)
XnView, for viewing images and video
X-Setup, for tweaking settings

I still dislike Real One Player for having a ludicrously overblown interface - not user-friendly at all, and packed with pointless features (Its own web browser? Why? Doesn’t RealMedia think I have a perfectly good one already?)

Anyway, my own choices:

> Trillian IM client (handles Hotmail, Yahoo!, AIM, IRC and ICQ simultaneously).
> Lavasoft Ad-aware spyware remover (not foolproof but free and effective).
> Zone Alarm personal firewall (ditto, but it adds another layer of security while surfing).
> Grisoft AVG anti-virus software (I lost my Norton CD and didn’t feel like paying for a new one; this Czech AV software is free and regularly updated).
>Opera 6 web browser (not an absolute replacement for IE but a fast, clean, configurable browser with a neat MDI set-up to avoid multiple windows).
> TweakUI (Windows editor for advanced configuration)
> TurboNote (ad-supported desktop ‘Post-It’ note software)
> AnalogX Pop-Up Killer (simple, effective pop-up killer, les advanced but simpler than Proximitron, which is also good).
> FTP Explorer (very basic FTP client).
> IrfanView (nice image viewer capable of displaying pretty much all image formats).