Most of us are probably “experts” now on how to install Windows application to our PC’s or laptops, whether it be Chrome or Firefox to replace Internet Explorer (for non Windows 10 users, Edge is actually a very good browser), or installing other programs altogether.
But if you think about it, its a tedious process; first, download the application installer, second, click the application to open installation wizard and third, making sure that those pesky browser toolbars don’t get installed along the way.
Remember these things? (Image source here)
Its now 2016, surely there must be a simpler way on installing applications nowadays? While Windows 8 to 10 have Store for its Universal Apps (think Google Play Store or Apple App Store for Windows), legacy apps or x86 specific applications aren’t available here, requiring you to install them the old-fashioned way mentioned above – or use chocolatey.
What is chocolatey?
Chocolatey is a package manager, similar to Ubuntu Software Center for Ubuntu. Except this one’s more similar to more native package Linux package managers such as apt-get, aptitude or yum – which by default has no GUI (graphical user interface) upon installation and as such – requires the use of Windows cmd (Command Prompt) to use.
Upon hearing the use of “Command Prompt”
But fear not! Chocolatey is actually very simple to use, and will actually save you time and resource when installing applications. There’s also a GUI available that can be installed later if you want to, in order to make things easier for non-techie users, so there’s that.
So how do I use chocolatey?
First things first – you have to install it. To get started, run cmd as administrative user.
Typing cmd in search should result in Command Prompt, as shown above. Right-click after search to and select Run as administrator to proceed
This will now open your command prompt as an administrator. Then copy-paste the command below into your cmd.
@powershell -NoProfile -ExecutionPolicy Bypass -Command "iex ((new-object net.webclient).DownloadString('https://chocolatey.org/install.ps1'))" && SET PATH=%PATH%;%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\chocolatey\bin
Press enter after. Chocolatey should then automatically install into your computer. Command Prompt state should be similar to images below after install.
Left: Chocolatey being downloaded. Right: Chocolatey after install
Congratulations! You now have chocolatey installed in your system! You can also refer to the official site documentation on how to install it.
Installing applications using chocolatey
We’ve now installed chocolatey on our computers, now let us install an application. If you have just installed chocolatey, restart cmd by closing and reopening a new cmd window (still run as administrator).
After cmd restart, installing an application is as simple as typing
choco install <package-name>.
In the example given below, I’ve installed Notepad++ using chocolatey.
Notepad++ installed using chocolatey in cmd
After this, Notepad++ is now installed in my system. As simple as that.
Notepad++ now installed in my system
How do I know an application’s package name?
Package names can be searched and found in the chocolatey website here. Most of the package names are straightforward in relation to their application name (Firefox – firefox, Dropbox – dropbox), with some having minor exceptions (Chome – googlechrome).
You can just search in the official chocolatey site to make sure that you have the correct package name used for installation.
Using the command-prompt is hard. You mentioned there’s a GUI available
Yes there is. You can search the packages for chocolateygui and install it as how it was instructed above.
chocolateygui package for GUI operations
Using the chocolatey GUI client, you can now check all installed applications using chocolatey as well as search and install other applications using it.
Chocolatey Graphical User Interface (GUI)
What other advantages can I get using chocolatey?
Aside from the convenience of installing any applications without the need to download a separate installation wizard, the convenience of updating all your applications is as simple as running a simple command.
To update all your applications using cmd, just type
choco upgrade all -y, and you’re good to go (Note: -y in the command stands for yes, so you don’t have to manually confirm every application when updating).
My application isn’t in the list of packages available, or it is but it won’t install
Well, it isn’t perfect by any means. There are some applications that are either not yet available in their list of packages, or are available but the said packages are broken.
At this point there’s little you could do. You can continue to install your application of choice separately using the old-fashioned way, until it becomes available or fixed in chocolatey. Just be wary unwanted toolbars being installed.
I want to learn more
If you are interested in trying out chocolatey on your own, I would highly suggest reading the official chocolatey documentation here to learn more about the software.
Disclaimer: I am by no means paid in my endorsement of the use of this software (chocolatey). I will also not be held responsible to any misunderstandings of the use and/or effects of the said software.
Kindly refer to the official documentation on how to use the said software here to make sure its intended use and limitations are understood.