For me it is pretty chaotic after formatting my laptop and I usually end up installing a lot more applications than I need and often forget some more important stuff.
So here is a comprehensive list I compiled that shows all the steps you should take after a clean install of Windows. Don’t forget to install these when reinstalling Windows.
- Change resolution: Right click on desktop and select Screen Resolution to switch to a higher resolution.
- Add desktop icons: Right click on desktop and select Personalize. Then add your most used desktop icons, such as My Computer or Network. I also add a shortcut to Add & Remove Programs that resides in Control Panel.
- Folder Options: Go to My Computer, Press Alt+T and select Options. Customize the settings in view tab. I change settings here to show hidden files and folders and show extensions for known file types.
- Disable UAC: Type UAC in the Start Menu and select User Account Control. In this screen, bring the slider all the way down to disable the annoying confirmation messages.
- Taskbar and Start Menu properties: Customize it to remove Default Programs, Games, Help shortcuts in Start Menu. Also uncheck Highlight newly installed programs, add Network, Run, System administrative tools shortcuts. Finally, uncheck Use Large Icons and increase the number of recent programs to 20. These are up to personal preference.
- Set up Wireless/Internet Connection: Configure your internet connection. In my case, I’ve set up the wireless connection during the Windows installation.
- Windows Update: Type Windows Update in Start Menu and start Windows Update. In the following screen you can select the update settings, which I change to “Ask me before downloading and installing updates”. Afterwards, select the updates to install and let Windows do its job.
- Google Chrome: Go get your browser. Alternatively, download Firefox. Download plugins/extensions later.
- AVG Antivirus: This is up to personal preference. Some people like Avast, NOD32 or Kaspersky instead. Don’t forget to update it.
- Driver updates: Download latest drivers from your hardware vendors.
- Add/Customize Users: Type Add User Accounts in Start Menu if you need to add more users to your system – I only change my user picture here.
- Restart: Finish updating Windows by restarting your PC as many times as needed. I continue this process at least until I have Windows 7 Service Pack 1.
- Change power settings: If you wish to have your own power settings, open Power Options and customize. I usually disable screen dimming.
- 7-Zip: I used to have WinRAR as a data compression utility. However after seeing a few reviews comparing the two, I decided to go with 7-Zip. It has better compression rate when compressing uncompressed file formats and it also doesn’t clutter your right-click menu as much. And it’s free.
- µTorrent: My go-to application for torrents. Light, fast, reliable and free.
- Ad-aware: Great tool for spyware removal. Also update it. You can also have Spybot S&D.
- CCleaner: A very efficient utility that deletes temporary files, fixes registry and more.
- Daemon Tools: Get this to be able to mount ISO files. Make sure you do an advanced install otherwise it will install a toolbar to your browser, among other stuff. You can also have PowerISO instead if you prefer.
- Foxit Reader: Great lightweight PDF Reader. Alternatively get Adobe Acrobat.
- Notepad++: My favorite text editor. Great for programmers.
- Java Runtime Edition: Needed for Java applications. Programmers can get the JDK version instead (which includes JRE, yay for us)
- Pidgin: For your instant messaging needs. Alternatively get MSN Messenger, Skype, X-Fire, Meebo (browser-based), Trillian etc.
- DirectX: Needed for most games and even for some video playbacks.
- Irfanview: Lightweight graphic viewer that is better than Windows Photo Viewer. Associate it with image files.
- CCCP: I used to have VLC Media Player but decided to give CCCP a try, which includes Media Player Classic – Home Cinema and ffdshow.
- Customize notification icons: Right click to right part of taskbar to customize which icons will be visible. You can also make all icons visible.
- Indexing: Search for Indexing in Start Menu to open Indexing Options. You might want to disable file indexing if your system is slow. However having indexing leads to faster search times for files and folders. You can also modify which folders to index.
- Disable sounds: Type Change system sounds in Start Menu to change Windows sounds to your liking. I disable them.
- Disable sticky keys: Type Make your keyboard easier to use to open the Ease of Access center and uncheck the single checked option.
- Customize page file: If you are an advanced user and you know how big your page file should be, you can configure this.
- Disable error reporting: Type gpedit in Start Menu to open gpedit.msc. Then Navigate to Computer Configuration – Administrative Templates – Systems – Internet Communication Management – Internet Communication Settings and enable Turn Off Windows Error Reporting.
- Disable system restore: You can set up how much space Windows can have for this feature. I disable it since I never use it.
- Change Default Folder Locations: You can change the locations of folders under your user folders such as Downloads to another partition by right clicking the folder and choosing the Location tab.
- Office: Install OpenOffice or Microsoft Office: Up to personal preference and situation.
At this point you can install some extra programs that you often use such as image editors. You can also make a backup image of your system to an external hard disk using Acronis True Image. Here is an additional optional list of programs you might need:
- FTP Client (Filezilla)
- Photo editing software (Gimp, Inkspace, Photoshop)
- Download manager (I use none)
- CD Burner (ImgBurn)
- Defraggler: A good alternative to Disk Defragmenter.
- Folder Size: Shows folder sizes in Windows Explorer.
- Process Explorer: Replacement for Task Manager
- Music Player (FooBar, Winamp)
- Everything (lightning fast file searcher)
- Screen capture (Greenshot)
You can also disable the Windows Features that you do not use through Add or Remove Programs such as Games, Windows Media Player or even Internet Explorer and save space.
What other steps do you take after reinstalling Windows? Do you prefer other programs? Let me know.