How to Use Windows 10’s Package Manager, “winget”

Installation of Notepad ++ with winget in a Windows terminal window.

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 on Linux. Rather than searching the web for an app, downloading an installer, and clicking on 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 automatically searches, downloads and installs the software without any additional intervention on your part. It’s as simple as that.

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.

Currently, this tool is intended for developers, but Microsoft or third-party developers may someday create a simple graphical tool that quickly finds and installs applications. It could be like the Windows Store, but with access to a whole universe of Windows desktop applications that people actually use. In other words, it’s like Chocolate, but integrated into Windows.

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

Windows Package Manager is an open-source project available on GitHub, as well.

How to install Windows Package Manager

As of May 19, 2020, the Windows Package Manager is available as a preview. One day it will be integrated directly into a future Windows 10 update.

Until then, there are several ways to get it:

Install a Insider Construction Windows 10, subscribe to Windows Package Manager Insiders Programand install an update for the Application installation package from the Microsoft Store. You’ll get automatic updates for Windows Package Manager as soon as they are released, but you’ll need to run an unstable version of Windows 10.
Download the Windows package manager .appxbundle from GitHub. Install it by double-clicking on the file and clicking on “Update”. You’ll have to install future updates manually from this same download page, but you won’t have to run 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 when 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 have not already done so.

From a command line, run the winget command to display more information about using the tool.

Options for the winget command

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

search name winget

Search for an application with winget

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

winget installation name

Installing VLC with Windows Package Manager

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

show name Winget

The winget show command

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

winget installation

In its initial release, winget repositories are already populated with a wide variety of popular desktop applications. You’ll find everything from common Windows desktop applications to development 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.

Display a list of available winget applications

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

winget sources list

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

Displaying a list of sources in winget

You can see more information on how to use one of the integrated winget controls by the way -? to her. For example, to see the different options you can use with winget, run the following command:

looking for winget -?

Microsoft will likely add additional functionality to Windows Package Manager in the future, and it will only get more powerful. Even in its initial version, Winget looks like everything we always hoped for OneGet would be before the release of Windows 10.

With enough support for developers, it could even allow a graphics package manager which is all we hoped the Windows Store would be as well – full of desktop applications that you actually want to use.

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