When it comes to anything (especially computers), I’m a very efficient guy. I need to maximize my time so I can get things done faster and more efficiently. For example, I run a lean mean machine and probably spend 4+ hours tweaking and slimming down my computer after a fresh install of Windows. It may sound silly but I’d rather just have a vanilla install of XP or Vista.

It’s rather annoying that computers like Dell and other big brands always give you extra junk which I never use. There is talk that Dell will soon offer a slimmed down version of XP or Vista without the AOL sign-up links or other stuff nobody really uses.

So here’s a list of 15 programs I can’t live without and immediately download after a fresh install (which I do once a year) .

  1. NOD32 Antivirus – Not many people have heard of a company called ESET but in my opionion they make the best anti virus software. It’s a very lightweight program, doesn’t take over your machine, and is perfect for those looking for another alternative. In the past, I used Norton or McAfee mainly because the computers I purchased or the reviews I read recommended both of them. It shows that if you’ve got money, you can market the heck out of your product and people will think you’ve got the best solution.
  2. Mozilla Thunderbird – It’s an email client like Outlook Express but much better. I actually used Yahoo web mail but it’s so darn slow. This is a great solution if you want a local client on your computer.
  3. Firefox Web Browser – This is an obvious one and I’ve got a bunch of great extensions I install as well. I’ll have to write another post about those.
  4. FoxIt PDF Reader – Lightweight pdf reader and writer alternative to Adobe. Only 2MB compared to Adobe’s 25MB download.
  5. CCleaner – Removes unused files from your system. It’s a great free ware product that should be run at least once a week. It’s also got a nice way to remove items hidden in your “startup” which I love.
  6. Roboform -Tired of manually filling in forms? I was and Roboform was my new best friend. This program allows you to fill in long registration and checkout forms with one click. It’s also a time saver when trying to submit to multiple web directories or search engines.
  7. SnagIt – This is the ultimate screen capture utility. Not only can you easily capture images, but it’s got a great image editor. You can even capture an entire web page including the links and email it as an attachment.
  8. FinePrint (limited trial or full version $49.95)- What the default Windows print system doesn’t do, FinePrint makes up for it (and more). You can do things such as combine print jobs and even print 2, 4, or 8 on a single sheet of paper. If you’re one who wants to save ink and paper, this is for you.
  9. Disk Keeper –
  10. TweakUI
  11. SmartFTP – I do a ton of blogging and need an easy and quick ftp program. SmartFTP is free and accomplishes everything I need.
  12. Trillian IM
  13. OpenOffice – For those of you who can’t or don’t want to buy MS Office, this is the 2nd best solution.


  1. GoToMyPC – This is an amazing program that gives you remote access to another PC anywhere in the world. For example, I have a desktop at home that I leave on all the time. If I’m in Europe in a cyber cafe, all I need to do is login at 5 and I can quickly access my desktop remotely!
  2. Notepad ++ – If you use Notepad as regularly as I do, then you must download this instead. It’s Notepad on steroids and great for quick, simple text editing.
  3. Picasa – An easy way to share and manage your photos. Google bought this company last year and has done a great job evolving the product. I just love being able to pop in my SD card and Picasa automatically copies over the pictures. Then a few clicks later, I can upload my pictures to my Picasa Web Album.

If you download and install one or everything on this list, I promise you won’t be disappointed. It’s great that computer companies like Dell allow you to configure your system but it would be even better if you could select these types of add-ons as well.

My next post will be about 5 Steps to Speed Up Your PC when dealing especially with a new installation. There are tons of methods out there but the 5 I’m going to talk about are some quick ways to turn up your PC’s speed a notch.

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