what is windows package manager and how to use winget

At Microsoft Build 2021, Microsoft announced the release of Windows Package Manager for general use which is Microsoft’s native package manager. In this post, I will try to explain what Windows Package Manager is all about and How winget works, and I will try to be as simple and basic as possible.

What is Windows Package Manager?

In simple terms, Windows Package Manager is the native package manager for Windows to download or update programs from its official source without the need to worry about compatibility and searching all around with a single command. It is an open-source package manager. The majority of IT professionals and even Individuals will get benefits and ease of installations with the feature.

In current scenario, if I have to download a program, normally, I would need to search for the program over to google, find the correct download section and go on about downloading it. Then comes the part where you need to figure out if its the correct version and care about the compatibility of that particular program with your Operating System and Hardware. Some download sites just make it complicated and harder to find the one you need. And if you are not a tech-savvy person, it is likely that you will be doing it over and over to get a right one for you.

This is where Windows Package Manager comes to the rescue. It is like a giant database (technically called repository) of all the programs, and this built-in package manager will let you download the correct program, check if it is the right version, compare it with the existing program in your system and update it if necessary. All of this is done with a single command and you can be assured to get the best one for your system.

How to Download and Install “winget” Windows Package Manager from GitHub?

Windows Package Manager is to be bundled with the upcoming update from Microsoft for Windows 10 with App Installer. If you have an update version 1809 or later, you are bound to get it sooner or later. But if you do not want to wait, you can download Windows Package Manager v1.0 from their GitHub releases. Make sure you download the file with the extension .appxbundle.

download winget windows package manger app installer github

To install it, double click on the downloaded file and click on “Update” button.

install windows package manager

What is Winget?

Winget is the command-line utility for Windows Package Manager to discover, download, update or remove the programs in your system.

How to use Winget?

You can use command prompt or Windows PowerShell to run winget command. However, I used Windows Terminal for this guide and is recommended by Microsoft.

1. How to Search Programs with winget

Type “winget search <program name>” and hit enter, in the example I search for notepad++, so the command would be “winget search notepad++”

winget search program

So there is a program with the name “Notepad++” which you can go ahead and install.

2. How to Install Program with winget

To install program with winget, the command is winget install <program name>

So to install Notepad++ type winget install notepad++. Winget command is not case sensitive so do not worry about upper or lower cases.

winget install program

However if you want to install a specific version of the program, you can do that by typing winget install <program name> -v <version number>. For example, winget install notepad++ -v 7.9.4 will install version 7.9.4 of Notepad++.

winget install specific version

3. How to Upgrade or Update with winget

You can either update a single program or all at a same time. the command is winget upgrade <program name> to update that particular program or type winget upgrade –all to update all programs at once (if an update is available).

To check which programs have updates available type winget upgrade. This will list out the programs that can be updated or upgraded.

Note: I went ahead and installed older version of Notepad++.

winget upgrade program

4. How to Export Program List with winget

This command will export the list of all your program that is available in Windows Program Manager repository. And the list can later be used to import and install programs if you happen to get a new computer or refreshed/reinstalled its Operating System.

The command is winget export -o <file location path> to export the file list to the provided file location.

Example: winget export -o D:\programs.txt will export the list to a file with filename program.txt in D drive.

winget exported file
This how exported file looks like with the list of all the programs available into Windows Package Manager.

5. How to Import Program List with winget

Similarly, to import that list, type winget import <file location path> and it will start installing or updating those programs.

winget import

6. Uninstall Programs

Type winget uninstall <program name> to uninstall specific program.

winget uninstall notepad++ will uninstall notepad++ from the system.

winget uninstall

Summary (winget Cheat Table)

FunctionWinget commandExampleRemarks
Searchwinget search <program name>winget search notepad++Searches for specific program (notepad++)
Installwinget install program namewinget install notepad++Installs program notepad++
 winget install <program name> -v <version number>winget install notepad++ -v 7.9.4Installs notepad++ for specific version 7.9.4
Upgrade / Updatewinget upgradewinget upgradeList of updatable programs
 Winget upgrade <program name>winget upgrade notepad++Upgrades or updates notepad
 winget upgrade –allwinget upgrade allApply updates to all programs.
Export program listwinget export -o <file location path>winget export –o D:\file.txtExports file list to file.txt in D:
Import program listwinget import <file location path>winget import D:\file.txtImport and install listed programs in file.txt
Uninstall programwinget uninstall <program name>winget uninstall notepad++Uninstalls mentioned program (notepad++)