Free Software to Download and Install on Your New Windows PC
If you got a new Windows 10 PC, you’ve probably been busy setting it up. A big part of that is downloading free apps to help you get started, from a Web browser to media player. The options for those are fairly obvious and well-known at this point: programmes like Google Chrome and Firefox in the former, and VLC with the latter. Then there’s software you download that’s need-based, such as iTunesor Netflix, where the only way to access the service is getting that particular app only.
In the past, we’d compiled a list of programs you should install, looking at archivers, anti-virus, search utilities, music players, and Windows Office alternatives. Looking back at it now, we felt the list could use some expansion, to include other essential apps that not just help get stuff done and protect your PC, but also provide solutions to problems you’ll inevitably have. That means getting things like an all-in-one messaging service, a firewall, a hard-drive manager, and a password manager among others. You should also look at the picks from our last list for more ideas.
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To compile the list below, we looked at apps and programs we’ve reviewed on our site, plus what the Gadgets 360 team uses extensively, and then cut out the ones that cost anything more than zero bucks. All the apps below are free to download, and the ones that provide optional features at a cost aren’t (usually) worth paying for. This isn’t an exhaustive list, and you’ll definitely need a lot more than these picks when setting up your Windows PC, but these are the apps that most of us would benefit from having. Here are ten must-have Windows 10 apps you should consider for daily use:
Cut, copy and paste is one of the most used functions for any computer user, which is why it’s bizarre that Microsoft has done no innovation on that front. Thankfully, Ditto – a clipboard utility – offers just that, keeping track of everything you copy (including images with PrtScn) and holding it for you in the right-hand corner tray. If you’ve ever found yourself copying something and realising you erased the last thing you’d, Ditto isn’t just a lifesaver, it’s integral to a hassle-free workflow.
Sure, Google Drive gives you more free storage, but Dropbox just works. Its app is fast no matter what platform you’re on, and it makes file syncing a breeze, ensuring the document you’re working on for a presentation, or a flight ticket you’ll need to show at the airport, will be available anywhere you go. It’s also got wide support, which allows you to link with other important services.
If we had our way, everyone would use a single messaging service that did everything and didn’t mine your data. But sadly, that’s not the case. The best way to keep up with friends, family, colleagues, and acquaintances is Franz, a messaging app that brings all your chat services into a single place. It supports WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, Slack, Skype, Gmail, Hangouts, TweetDeck, LinkedIn, Discord, Office 365, Trello, and many more.
A password manager is the sort of thing everyone should have, but most don’t bother with. If your excuse was not wanting to pay, and needing a good UI – the open source KeePass we suggested last time looks very dated – then LastPass opening up a free tier has gotten rid of both those worries. It syncs your passwords across devices, and also has a security challenge you can take, to see how you’re doing. News flash, it won’t be good.
Move over, Notepad. Notepad++ (called so not because it’s a ‘plus’ version, but after C++) is a far, far better thing to do for those who jot down notes on a daily basis, and it’s also a source code editor for dozens of programming languages. On top of that, there’s multi-tab support, auto-completion for words and functions, and ability to run macros. The lesson? Stop using Notepad.
If you can afford it, there’s nothing like Adobe’s Creative suite. But for the rest of us, Paint.NET is a powerful image editor that doesn’t tax your system, and still offers a lot: support for layers, multiple tabs, special effects such as blurring, red-eye removal and vignette (the last of those is actually easier on Paint.NET than Photoshop), plus automatic free updates for life.
Are you still using the ad-riddled uTorrent for your torrent needs? The client that was once outed as secretly mining Bitcoin on people’s computers? It’s time to shift to a better, open-source alternative: qBittorrent. The torrent client offers everything uTorrent does, but in a lightweight package minus the ads (and the mining). You can search from within the client itself, queue and prioritise your downloads, download sequentially, and create a schedule so you don’t tax your Internet connection when everyone’s using Netflix during prime-time.
Are you tired of solving computer problems by guiding your friends and family over the phone? TeamViewer is the answer to those problems, provided the computer is still functional. It can establish a connection between two devices (computer-computer, and even computer-phone), and then you can remotely control someone’s device sitting anywhere in the world.
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9. WinDirStat / SpaceMonger
Both these apps haven’t been updated in a long time, but their last available versions continue to work on the latest Windows version without any hassle. They offer a visual outlook of your hard-drive, showing you in one glance what’s taking up space on your drive, so you can easily get rid of the waste. Just be careful if you point the tool at your system drive (usually C:), don’t delete anything that makes Windows stop running.
Download SpaceMonger, WinDirStat
The to-do app that looks great, performs well, and even has a native Windows 10 app. It became so popular Microsoft bought the team and put them to work on its own to-do app (Microsoft To-Do), but Wunderlist remains the better option (for now).
These are some of the apps we can’t live without. What are some of your favourite must-have Windows programs? Leave them in the comments below.