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 via the PowerShell. 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; 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, then type one simple command:
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”.
It’s also possible to update every single thing you’ve installed using Chocolatey, with a single command:
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:
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.
- wget, which lets you download anything from the command line.
- CCleaner, which can optimize your Windows system.
- 7Zip, which can uncompress common archive formats
I’m sure some of you can recommend some other packages in the comments below!
Chocolatey, Or Ninite? Let Us Know!
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