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Installing software on Windows is easy, right? You just need to

  • Search for the program you want to download
  • Download an installer
  • Run that installer
  • Click “Next” several times, all while
  • Making sure to uncheck unwanted toolbars and other crap.

Not difficult, but annoying – and somewhat time consuming.

Now imagine if you could install software just by typing three words and hitting “Enter”. No waiting for the download to finish, no clicking “Next”, and no toolbars – just tell your computer to install something, and it will.

A package manager is coming to Windows 10 Windows Gets A Package Manager - Download Software Centrally Via OneGet Windows Gets A Package Manager - Download Software Centrally Via OneGet Microsoft is adding yet another Linux feature to Windows. Package management can seriously boost productivity, increase security, and ultimately save you a lot of headache. We show you how it will work. Read More via the PowerShell Boost Your Productivity With Windows PowerShell Scripts Boost Your Productivity With Windows PowerShell Scripts What if you could bring the productivity of Linux over to Windows? Most Linux distros come packaged with the powerful Bash shell. PowerShell is an equally powerful terminal for Windows. Read More . Meanwhile, check out Chocolatey. This free program is a package manager for Windows. Anyone familiar with Linux will recognize the concept, but Windows users need only know that Chocolatey is a hands-off way to install things: one command from you and software will be downloaded and installed automatically.

We’ve shown you commands every Windows user should know 15 CMD Commands Every Windows User Should Know 15 CMD Commands Every Windows User Should Know The command prompt is an antiquated tool from an era of text-based input. But some commands remain useful and Windows 8 even added new features. Find out which ones. Read More ; Chocolatey adds another super power to your command prompt. Here’s how to use it.

The Popup-Free Way To Install Software

Say you want to install Chrome on your new Windows computer. With Chocolatey, all you need to do is open an administrative command prompt A Beginners Guide To The Windows Command Line A Beginners Guide To The Windows Command Line Read More , then type one simple command:

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choco install GoogleChrome

Hit “Enter” and Chocolatey will do its thing, downloading Chrome and running the installation process in the background. You can then get to work on something else, or walk away from your computer entirely, but you don’t need to do anything else for the installation to finish.

That’s really it. When the installation is done you’ll see Chrome is installed and ready to use – go ahead and use it!

Finding Packages To Install

You might be asking: that command was pretty easy, but how am I supposed to know what to type? Let’s break this down.

choco install GoogleChrome

The first word, “choco”, is Chocolatey’s name. The second word, “install”, is what you want Chocolatey to do. And the third word, “GoogleChrome”, is the name of the package you want to install. This name needs to be precise, or the installation won’t work.

How did I know the right name? I ran a search for “Chrome”. Here’s how to do that:

choco search Chrome

Do this and you’ll see a list of every Chocolatey package that mentions the word “Chrome”. In this case there are quite a bit, but I found the package I was looking for.

If you’d rather not use the command line to find things to install, don’t panic: you can browse the Chocolatey website for packages.

Just head to chocolatey.org/packages; you’ll find complete commands for installing the 2000+ programs offered by Chocolatey.

Updating And Uninstalling Your Software

Chocolatey isn’t just useful for installing software – it can also update it. You can do this a few different ways. The first: updating a particular package.

chocolatey update packageName

Simple, right? You can make this even faster by typing “cup” instead of “chocolatey update”.

cup packageName

It’s also possible to update every single thing you’ve installed using Chocolatey, with a single command:

cup all

This is really useful for programs that don’t automatically update themselves, like Calibre, so keep it in mind.

Want to uninstall something? The command to do this is predictable enough:

chocolatey uninstall packageName

You now know how to install, update and uninstall software. There are a few more commands; the best way to learn is to bring up the help inside the command prompt:

chocolatey /?

Have fun!

How To Install Chocolatey

Installing Chocolatey isn’t hard: you just need to copy the command on the Chocolatey homepage and execute it in an administrative command prompt. Users of Windows 7 and earlier can find an administrative command prompt in the Start Menu; Windows 8 users need to right-click the command prompt in the Start Screen, then click Run As Administrator at the bottom of the screen.

You can now watch as the script downloads Chocolatey and starts the installation process. It won’t take long, and once it’s done, you’ll be able to start playing with your new super power.

Note that anyone can add packages to Chocolatey and at this point, quality control happens at the user level. From their FAQ:

How do I know if I can trust the community feed (the packages on this site?) Until we have package moderation in place, the answer is that you can’t trust the packages here. If you require trust (e.g. most organizations require this), you should have an internal feed with vetted packages using internal resources. You should always decide whether you trust the maintainer(s) of the package, and even then you may want to inspect the package prior to installing. You can inspect packages easily with nuget package explorer or by clicking download on the package page (and then treating the nupkg as a zip archive).

A Few Things You Should Install

Got Chocolatey set up, but aren’t sure what to install? Here are a few things every Windows computer should have, all offered by Chocolatey.

I’m sure some of you can recommend some other packages in the comments below!

Chocolatey, Or Ninite? Let Us Know!

In the past we’ve recommended Ninite as a great tool for installing Windows programs in bulk How To Install & Uninstall Windows Programs In Bulk How To Install & Uninstall Windows Programs In Bulk A mass installer or uninstaller can save you heaps of time. Remember the last time you set up a new computer? We are going to teach you how to do these tasks in a flash. Read More . It’s a great choice, so why point out Chocolatey? Because both tools have their value.

To quote the Chocolatey wiki on the matter:

Whether you use Chocolatey or Ninite, consider that the two answer the same question differently and that is okay. They can live in harmony with each other.

I’m inclined to agree, but I want to know what you think: Will you be using Chocolatey’s command prompt tool to install software, or do you prefer Ninite’s approach? Let’s talk about it in the comments below.

Image Credits: Chocolate Easter Eggs Via Shutterstock

  1. Jay
    December 16, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    Chocolatey is more like package management, not just to install app/software. The difference: Chocolatey handle package dependencies (app that needs another app to run, example try to install Git) and updates (Ninite can update app also, but not as easy as typing "cup all"). And both of them suffer from keeping packages up to date.

    If CLI is not your cup of tea and you are only want to install software, then use Ninite. Feature wise, Chocolatey can do more than Ninite.

  2. likefunbutnot
    December 16, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    Both Chocolatey and Ninite have a place. Choco supports updating Flash, which is great for people who don't have a legacy ninite executable that includes it. Choco is also far more script-able, which is great in a managed environment. On the other hand, it's possible to give someone a ninite icon and tell them to click on it once a week. 98% of my users would never, ever drop to a command line to do anything for themselves; ninite definitely wins on user agency.

    Some Chocolatey installations aren't completely scripted. This can be both a good and a bad thing. I very much appreciate that I can step through the Avast install manually with Choco, but if I'm in a hurry it might be something I don't have time to do.

    Also, sometimes Chocolatey installs aren't as up to date as ninite's.

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