PotW: Unchecky

January 3, 2021

My pick of the week is a little application that will stop your from installing a lot of software that you never intended to install.

So, imagine this: you find a free piece of software online that you really, really like. You download the package from the site, double-click the installer file, and–presuming this is Windows–click all the Next buttons so fast your mouse overheats and melts through your mousepad. I can’t tell you how many times I found myself in this exact predicament.

After you put your mouse back together and start shopping for mousepads on Amazon, you also start looking for your new application in the Start menu. You scroll through the list of recent applications and notice that there’s some software you didn’t install. Then, like a punch to the gut, you realize the application you installed brought some friends with it. And these aren’t the friends that come over, stay for only a few hours, and put their dishes in the sink when they’re done. Oh no. These are the friends that crash for the weekend, end up staying a month, and leave their empty pizza boxes on the coffee table like they’re building an eighth grade art project. You just silently hope one day it will collapse under its own weight and take these new friends with it.

Then you start to wonder, how did this happen? Where did it all go wrong? You think back. It was when you installed that free application and blazed through the Next buttons like they were a stack of unattended stickers at DEFCON. Well, today I have the antidote for this oversight. There are many solutions to this problem, but the one I’ll be discussing today is like wearing a belt with suspenders if you already any of the other solutions available.

I’m talking about a simple, little application called Unchecky. All you have to do is download and install it from their site and it will keep you from inadvertently installing unwanted bloatware that tags along with free applications. It has three main features:

  1. It unchecks unrelated offers during the software installation process, which are easily missed.
  2. It warns you when you try to accept potentially unwanted offers, which makes it less likely to be accepted accidentally.
  3. It automatically updates whenever a new version is available, so you don’t have to worry about running the latest version.

Now, as I mentioned earlier there are alternative methods to avoid this kind of bloatware when installing free applications. The first one is Ninite and the second one is Chocolatey. Both of these are essentially package managers for Windows and are more complex to get up and running for most users. Unchecky is a great alternative due to its set it and forget it configuration. Plus, not all software can be found in these package repositories, so there may come a time you have to install an application like it’s 1995 again. Let us know what you think of this application on Discord, if you use it and if you like it or hate it. 

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