Skip to main content

How to use Windows Package Manager to install apps and programs

Windows Package Manager
Windows Package Manager (Image credit: Windows Central)

There are no shortage of methods to get applications installed on Windows 10 but one of the latest, and as yet still in development, is the Windows Package Manager. Similar to Linux, it's a tool that allows for streamlined installations using the command line.

If you're interested in taking it for a spin, here's how you do it.

Installing Windows Package Manager

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

The first thing to do is to make sure you have Windows Package Manager installed on your PC. It's not particularly difficult but there are some prerequisites you need to meet.

For this guide, we're going to assume you have it installed and ready to go, but if you need assistance getting set up our full guide can help.

How to use Windows Package Manager to install apps

Once installed, you can use Windows Package Manager from within Command Prompt, Windows PowerShell or PowerShell 7, and also using any of these shells from the Windows Terminal application.

When you install software though there will be times you'll require elevated permissions and this can break up the silent install process. The easiest way around it is to ensure you're running your chosen shell with administrator rights, by choosing run as administrator from the right click menu.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Installing is easy, and there's one key command to remember:

winget install <nameofpackage></nameofpackage>

All you need to know is the name of the package. In the image below I've installed PowerToys simply by entering

winget install powertoys

into PowerShell.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

You can only install at this time, to uninstall you'll have to do it the old fashioned way through Control Panel, but you would assume an uninstall feature would be on the roadmap somewhere. An alternative package manager, Chocolatey, for example, has this built-in on Windows.

But how do you actually find packages to install? The best places to start are the winget-pkgs GitHub repository, where there's a pretty hefty catalog of things you can install, as well as the excellent third-party resource, winstall.app.

The added power of using Windows Package Manager to install applications over just downloading an executable from a website is that you can install many apps at once with a single command. This sort of thing is particularly useful in enterprise for deploying to a number of machines at once, but it's still pretty handy for the home user.

This example snippet from winstall.app illustrates this perfectly:

winget install --id=Microsoft.Teams -e ; winget install --id=Zoom.Zoom -e ; winget install --id=Notion.Notion -e ; winget install --id=SlackTechnologies.Slack -e ; winget install --id=Toggl.TogglDesktop -e ; winget install --id=ShareX.ShareX -e ; winget install --id=Loom.Loom -e ; winget install --id=LogMeIn.LastPass -e ; winget install --id=Spotify.Spotify -e ; winget install --id=Discord.Discord -e ; winget install --id=TeamViewer.TeamViewer -e ; winget install --id=Microsoft.Skype -e ; winget install --id=Microsoft.Edge -e ; winget install --id=Mozilla.Firefox -e ; winget install --id=Google.Chrome -e ; winget install --id=Microsoft.OneDrive -e ; winget install --id=Google.DriveFileStream -e

Admittedly that's a pretty large command, but it will also fetch and install 17 apps. The time saved over going out to each of those 17 download locations, downloading the installers and then running them is incredible.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

It also means you can create a script to reuse over and over with a set of apps that you'll need for a specific purpose, and the winstall.app site will also allow you to download either a batch file or ps1 script file for such a purpose. Or you can create your own on the site or from scratch.

If you're interested in seeing more details about the package you're downloading, too, there's a simple command that will bring up a complete dossier on what it is and where it's from:

winget show <nameofpackage></nameofpackage>

And if you're interested in poking around a little more with the Windows Package Manager, enter this in the terminal to bring up a list of all current commands.

winget --help

Even as a work in progress it's a really impressive tool that will only continue to get better and it's fantastic to see such a tool being worked on by Microsoft.

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

4 Comments
  • Why do this the hard way? I just click on the installer or the Install button in the store
  • I don't think this is really meant for individual users. More for people setting up multiple installations.
  • A centralized repository. It doesn't require developers to submit apps to the store. Winget can use multiple sources and still install and update them all with one simple command.
  • Pretty sure I answered at least one reason for it in the post. And clicking installers or the install button is fine for one app. Try deploying 17 apps as quickly as pasting the command in this post into package manager. And then try doing it on multiple machines.