Whether you’ve just picked up a brand new shiny PC or you’re looking to optimize an existing machine, Windows can be an exciting operating system to work within. Not only is it much cleaner and more user-friendly than it used to be back in the “dark ages” of computing, but it’s also packed with plenty of third-party (and first-party!) apps that are designed to help you achieve maximum productivity. Many people simply coast through life without downloading extra Windows programs, but you’re missing out if you do so. Here are the 10 best Windows apps to download right now!
We’re starting off with an app that isn’t actually something you download, but is based entirely in your browser. Money Dashboard is an excellent financial planner and management system that you can also download on your smartphone or tablet, so you can carry your budget with you as well as checking it on your PC. Using this app, you can check everything from the status of your online loans all the way through to the balance of your savings account.
GIMP stands for “GNU Image Manipulation Program”, and true to its name, it’s a free Photoshop alternative that will more than do the job if you’ve got any amount of image editing to do for your job (or just for fun). While the interface may seem a little off-putting at first, GIMP has made strides in that area in recent iterations, so it’s a lot less confusing and user-unfriendly than it used to be. If you don’t want to pony up for a Photoshop subscription, GIMP should more than do the job for you.
Much like GIMP, Lightworks is an attempt to level the playing field when it comes to the creative arts. Many video editing programs are prohibitively expensive for the average user, but Lightworks comes complete with a free plan, and although it doesn’t have all of the features you might need if you’re a true professional, it’ll more than suffice for the average user. Again, things can feel a little tricky and unintuitive at first, but spend a little time with Lightworks’ interface and you’ll quickly figure it out.
We round off our trio of excellent creativity suite apps available for zero pennies with Audacity. If you’ve got a podcast you need to edit, music you want to mess with, or just a few voice recordings you want to augment for giggles, Audacity is the perfect program for you, and it’s getting better all the time. With a surprisingly packed set of effects and filters, as well as an interface that almost matches professional DAWs for complexity, it’s sometimes hard to believe Audacity is completely free.
While it might be true that office software is moving towards cloud-based solutions and online options like Google Docs, there’s really no substitute for a good old-fashioned suite of office apps, and that’s what LibreOffice provides. Like Microsoft Office before it, LibreOffice comes with a word processor, a presentation creator, and plenty of other tools. Go with LibreOffice over its rival OpenOffice; it’s updated more frequently and has the support of a larger community, too.
Once upon a time, Google Chrome was the browser of choice if you weren’t a fan of Microsoft’s built-in options, but now, we’d say that crown goes to Mozilla Firefox. It’s lightning-fast and packed with customisation options, and there are plenty of addons and extras to download if you want to modify its functionality even more. Microsoft Edge is a perfectly acceptable browser (and we never thought we’d say those words), but Firefox is an excellent free alternative.
Spotify has had its issues around ethics recently, but if you just want a great music streaming app, then Spotify will more than do the job. It has a superb range of original podcast programming, too, so even if you prefer the spoken word, you should download Spotify. With millions of songs available, robust playlist creation tools, and a speedy, intuitive user interface, it’s hard to recommend any of Spotify’s competitors, so start here if you want to join the streaming revolution.
Pretty much every website you sign up for these days demands you create a strong password that hackers can’t easily guess. How can you keep track? Using apps like Bitwarden, that’s how. This open-source password manager basically acts as a vault for your passwords, storing them for your use whenever you want to retrieve them. With Bitwarden, you’ll only need to remember a single master password, and it’ll even generate strong passwords for you when you sign up to websites or services!
These days, you don’t really need more antivirus protection than the built-in Windows Defender app, but malware is another story. Defender sometimes doesn’t pick up on some of the more malicious malware out there, and that’s where Malwarebytes comes in. It’s a clean, stripped-back program that does one thing: scans your system for malware and deletes it where it’s found. The paid plan offers more features, but you likely won’t need them too much.
If you’re a child of the 90s, you’ll probably remember downloading the “free trial” of the shareware WinRAR and then steadfastly refusing to pay for it every time it prompted you to do so. Happily, 7-Zip doesn’t need you to do that; it’s an open source program that’s completely free to download and use, and it’s much better than Windows’ built-in archiving tool as well. If you ever need to download .zip or .rar archive files, then 7-Zip should be your go-to software.