How to use the Windows 10 package manager, “winget”

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Microsoft’s new Windows Package Manager makes it easy to install apps with just one command. Here’s how to try the new one ” winget ”And why this Linux-style package manager is so exciting for the future of Windows 10.

What is Windows Package Manager?

Package managers are common on Linux. Rather than searching the web for an app, downloading an installer, and clicking a wizard, you can simply run a quick command to find and install an app by name.

For example, to install Microsoft PowerToys, you can open a terminal window and run ” winget install powertoys The command will find, download and install the software automatically without any further intervention on your part. It’s that simple.

Under the hood, Microsoft hosts its own software repository, and other organizations and individuals can host their own repositories. This is a crucial feature that improves productivity on Linux, especially for developers and system administrators.

Right now, this tool is aimed at developers, but Microsoft or third-party developers might one day create a simple graphical tool that will quickly find and install apps. It could be like the Windows Store, but with access to a whole world of Windows desktop apps that people actually use. In other words, it’s like Chocolatey, but built into Windows.

For more details on how Windows Package Manager works and Microsoft’s vision for the future of package management on Windows, read the Microsoft Windows Package Manager Preview announcement and the official Windows Package Manager documentation.

Windows Package Manager is also an open source project available on GitHub.

How to install the Windows package manager

From May 19, 2020, Windows Package Manager is available as a preview. It will one day be integrated directly into a future Windows 10 update.

Until then, you can get it in several ways:

  • Install an Insider version of Windows 10, sign up for the Windows Package Manager Insiders program, and install an update for the App Installer package from the Microsoft Store. You will get automatic updates for Windows Package Manager as they are released, but you must be running an unstable version of Windows 10.
  • Download the Windows Package Manager .appxbundle from GitHub. Install it by double-clicking on the file and clicking “Update”. You will need to install future updates manually from this same download page, but you won’t have to be running an unstable version of Windows 10.

In the future, none of this will be necessary and winget will be integrated into all stable versions of Windows 10. As of May 2020, it is in preview form while Microsoft tests it and fixes bugs.

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How to use winget, the Windows package manager

You can run winget from Windows PowerShell or the Classic Command Prompt environment. We recommend that you install the new Windows terminal if you haven’t already.

From a command line, run the winget to view more information on how to use the tool.

Winget control options

To search for an app, run the following command, replacing “name” with a search phrase:

winget search name

Search for an application with winget

To install an application, run the following command, replacing “name” with the name of the application:

winget install name

Installing VLC with Windows Package Manager

To view more information about an application, run the following command, replacing “name” with the name of the application or a search expression:

winget show name

The winget show command

To view a complete list of available applications, run the following command:

winget install

In its initial version, Winget’s repositories are already packed with a wide variety of popular desktop apps. You’ll find everything from common Windows desktop apps to developer tools. The list includes Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Zoom, Steam, VLC media player, Spotify, Windows Terminal, Visual Studio Code, Ruby, Microsoft PowerToys and many more.

Viewing a list of available winget applications

To manage the sources, run winget source . You will see a list of commands. For example, to view current sources, run:

winget source list

In the initial version of winget, there is only the integrated winget source managed by Microsoft, located at https://winget.azureedge.net/cache . In the future, you will be able to add third-party sources with winget source add .

Displaying a list of sources in winget

You can see more information about using any of the built-in winget controls by passing -? to that. For example, to see the different options you can use with winget, run the following command:

winget search -?

Microsoft will surely add more functionality to Windows Package Manager in the future, and it will become more and more powerful. Even in its initial version, Winget looks like everything we always hoped OneGet would be before Windows 10 was released.

With enough developer support, it could even enable a graphical package manager that would be everything we hoped the Windows Store would be, too, filled with desktop apps you actually want to use.


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