How to use the Windows 10 Package Manager, “winget”

6 mins read

Microsoft’s new Windows Package Manager makes it easy to install applications by running a single command. Here’s how to try out the new “winget” command 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 in Linux. Instead of searching the web for an app, downloading an installer, and clicking through a wizard, you can 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 automatically find, download, and install the software without your input. It’s that easy.

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

Right now, this tool is intended for developers, but Microsoft or third-party developers might one day create an easy graphical tool that quickly finds and installs apps. It could be like the Windows Store, but with access to a whole universe of Windows desktop apps that people actually use. In other words, it’s like Chocolatey, but built into Windows.

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

The Windows Package Manager is an open source project available on GitHub, too.

How to install the Windows Package Manager

As of May 19, 2020, Windows Package Manager is available in preview form. It will one day be integrated directly into a future Windows 10 update.

Until then, there are several ways to get it:

Install an Insider build 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’ll get automatic updates to Windows Package Manager as they’re released, but you must be running an unstable version of Windows 10. Download the Windows Package Manager .appxbundle package from GitHub. Install it by double-clicking on the file and clicking “Update.” You’ll 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.

Going forward, none of this will be necessary and winget will be built right into all stable versions of Windows 10. As of May 2020, it’s in preview form while Microsoft tests and fixes it.

How to use winget, the Windows Package Manager

You can run winget from Windows PowerShell or from the classic command line environment. It is recommended to install the new Windows Terminal if you have not already done so.

From a command line, run the winget command to see more information about how to use the tool.

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

winget search name
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To install an app, run the following command, replacing “name” with the name of the app:

winget install name
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To view more information about an app, run the following command, replacing “name” with the name of the app or a search phrase:

winget show name
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To see a full list of available applications, run the following command:

winget install

At its initial release, winget’s repositories are already filled with a wide variety of popular desktop applications. 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.

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

winget source list

In the initial version of winget, there is only the built-in winget source, run by Microsoft, located at . In the future, you will be able to add third-party sources with the source add winget.

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You can see more information on how to use one of Winget’s built-in commands by passing -? to the. For example, to see the different options you can use with winget, run the following command:

winget search -?

Microsoft will surely add additional features to the Windows Package Manager in the future, and it will only get more powerful. Even in its initial release, winget looks like everything we always expect OneGet to be before Windows 10 is released.

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

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