Whether you just bought a new computer or reinstalled Windows, the first thing you probably do is install applications.While there are plenty of great programs for Windows, knowing which ones are must-haves for Windows 10 or Windows 11 can make setting up a new installation easier.
Next, let's walk through 15 essential Windows apps everyone should install right now, along with some of their replacements.
1. Internet browser: Google Chrome
Unsurprisingly, Google Chrome remains our top browser choice.It's blazingly fast, includes little conveniences like letting you search Google Lens pictures instantly, and has a huge library of Chrome extensions.Add in cross-platform sync, and you can have desktop tabs open on your phone and vice versa, and you have a great browser for everything.
However, Chrome is not without its shortcomings.A lot of people want to avoid Google's pervasive tracking in Chrome, and it eats up a lot of memory.But the good news is that you have plenty of other amazing browsers to choose from, like Firefox and Opera.
Even the built-in Microsoft Edge is based on Chromium, so if you prefer Microsoft's approach to Google's, you can give it a try.
Download: Google Chrome (free)
Download: Firefox (free)
Download: Opera (free)
2. Storage management: TreeSize Free
Everyone knows the hassle of running out of storage space.This is why you should install a disk analyzer on every Windows system.
TreeSize Free is an easy and straightforward way to find out what's taking up space on your computer.Just turn it on and tell it which disk to scan, and it will sort by the size of all the folders on your computer.You can then see the largest files on your computer and act accordingly to delete or move them.
No need to waste time trying to manually search through folders and find large files, let this essential utility do the work for you.
Download: Tree Size Free (Free, Premium)
3. Cloud Storage: Google Drive
If you only choose one cloud computing app service, Google Drive is the one you should install because it includes a lot of free space.It offers 15GB of free storage, which is also shared with Google Photos and Gmail in your Google account.
Google Drive offers an app for every major platform, so you can take your files anywhere.In addition to syncing the files you put in a dedicated Google Drive folder, the desktop app makes it easy to back up folders on your computer and external devices.
It's also very easy to share files with others, and the service works well with Google's productivity suite.Whether you use it as part of your backup plan, as a cloud flash drive, or for setting up folders to share with others, Google Drive is an essential app choice for Windows 10 and 11.
Paired with OneDrive (built into Windows) or other free cloud storage providers, you get plenty of storage space, with files logically separated by service.
Download: Google Drive (Free, subscription available)
4. Backup: Backblaze
Backing up your PC is crucial because natural disasters, intrusions, or malware attacks can wipe out all the files on your machine.You don't want to lose all your documents, photos and other files and have to start from scratch.
Backblaze as a basic backup service for Windows 10 or Windows 11.For just a few dollars a month, the service backs up everything on your PC and any external drives you connect to the Backblaze cloud.You don't have to worry about choosing what to back up, and there's no limit to the size of your backups.
While it's the only app on this list that doesn't have a free option, it's worth paying for.If you lose all your files, this app will instantly make you feel like the expense is worth it.
As an extra backup tier, or if you're not comfortable buying Backblaze, as your primary backup, you can also try EaseUS Todo Backup Free.It's an easy-to-use tool for making local backups of your files.
Download: Backblaze (from $7 per month)
Download: EaseUS Todo Backup Free (free, premium version)
5. Music Streaming: Spotify
A few years ago, listening to music on your desktop meant painstakingly importing and organizing a series of MP3s.That's different now; music streaming services eliminate the need to buy individual albums, physical or digital.
There are plenty of music streaming services to choose from, but we think the basic choice for Windows 10 or 11 is Spotify.Its ad-supported free plan lets you listen to the music you love, and there are several Spotify premium plans that are worth it for avid listeners. Spotify is also home to millions of podcasts, making everything available in one convenient place.
Spotify also has a dedicated Windows app, unlike some of its competitors.Still, if you're already invested in another ecosystem, Apple Music or YouTube Music might be a better option for you.
Download: Spotify (Free, subscription available)
Download: Apple Music (Subscription required, free trial)
Download:YouTube Music (Free, subscription available)
6. Password Manager: Bitwarden
It is very difficult to create strong passwords for each account and remember them.This is why you need a password manager.A password manager is a security service that creates good passwords for you and locks them behind a master password, the only password you have to remember.
Bitwarden is the best free password manager and one of the most important pieces of software you can download.In addition to the desktop app, you'll also need to install the Bitwarden extension in your browser of choice to facilitate auto-filling of passwords.
Download: Bitwarden (Free, subscription available)
7. Office suite: LibreOffice
Chances are you'll need a productivity suite that lets you work on documents, spreadsheets, and presentations at some point.You might think paying for Microsoft Office is the only way to get this kind of access, but that's far from the truth.
No Windows user should be without LibreOffice.It is a completely free and powerful office suite that includes alternatives to Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, and more.Once you get used to some small aesthetic differences from MS Office, you'll get your work done with LibreOffice in no time.
Note that the once popular alternative, OpenOffice, is now largely obsolete.If you don't want to use LibreOffice, try FreeOffice.You can also use web apps like Word Online or Google Docs.
Download: LibreOffice (free)
Download: FreeOffice (free)
8. Clipboard Manager: ClipClip
The clipboard manager is an essential Windows application because it saves you a lot of time.Rather than keeping only one item on your computer's clipboard at a time, a clipboard manager lets you keep track of the dozens of items you last copied.
ClipClip is a Windows clipboard manager worth using.In addition to recording what you copy, the app lets you pin frequently used snippets for easy access.It's easy to create folders to quickly paste canned text like addresses, email replies and similar.
The app won't overwhelm you, but will let you adjust its hotkeys, disable clipboard monitoring if needed, and choose what the app ignores.Add it to your list of essential Windows software and you'll never have to worry about managing your computer's clipboard.
Download: ClipClip (free)
9. Image Editor: Paint.NET
Whether you want to try basic image manipulation, need a way to blur sensitive information in screenshots, or want to retouch old photos, everyone should have an image editing program installed. Photoshop is the gold standard for this, but there are also plenty of free tools that are easier to use.
Paint.NET is a must-have Windows application for your image editing needs.It's far more powerful than Microsoft's Paint, but won't overwhelm you with a clutter of tools.You can easily blur parts of an image, automatically level photos to make them look better, and add text and shapes to your photos with just a few clicks.A large number of plugins also allow you to extend its functionality.
If you find Paint.NET too basic, GIMP is a more advanced solution, and it's also available for free.
Download: Paint.NET (free)
Download: GIMP (free)
Ramboxis our pick for the best messaging app for Windows.It lets you add accounts from dozens of popular messaging services, including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Skype, Telegram, GroupMe, Discord, and more.You can even add other web apps, like Apple Music, to it.
The app just adds a new tab for each service you use, giving you a window into what's going on with each group.It includes a few extra features that make it more useful than opening those apps in a browser, and you can easily close or minimize a window (instead of half a dozen) when it's time to concentrate.
While Rambox's free plan has some limitations, it offers more free services than competitors like Franz.
Download: Rambox (Free, subscription available)
11. Security:Malwarebytes anti-malware
Windows 10 and 11 include Windows Defender, which is a good enough antivirus for most users.However, it is wise to install a secondary safety program to complement it.
Malwarebyteswill be your good choice.Its free version lets you scan your system for malware that your antivirus might not catch.For a robust hybrid security solution, it's worth upgrading to Malwarebytes Premium.
Download: Malwarebytes (Free, subscription available)
12. File compression and extraction:7-Zip
Windows includes native support for simple compressed files, but anything beyond the basics requires a more powerful tool.While not the most exciting category of software, File Extractor is still a must-have PC application so you can work with any type of archive file you might come across.
7-Zipis the gold standard for file compression and extraction applications.It's small, installs in seconds, is easy to use, and doesn't bother you when you're not using it.However, 7-Zip still has some services for those who need advanced features.
The only downside to 7-Zip is its aging, humble appearance.If you can't get over that, take a look at PeaZip, a similar tool with a more attractive user interface.You definitely don't need to pay for a tool like WinRAR anyway.
Download: 7-Zip (free)
Download: PeaZip (free)
13. Screenshot: ShareX
Taking screenshots on Windows can be very useful, from capturing interesting moments to recording important information.The basic Snipping Tool and Snip & Sketch apps only provide a rudimentary feature set, so you'll need something better in your basic Windows app bundle.
You won't find a more powerful free screenshot tool than ShareX. ShareX has tons of snapping methods, a solid built-in editor capable of running automatic steps after you take a screenshot, and extra tools like a color grabber and ruler, ShareX has an impressive feature set without spending money.
If you think ShareX is a bit complicated, try PicPick.It's a bit simpler, but doesn't affect functionality.
Download: ShareX (free)
Download: Picpick (free)
14. Media Player: VLC
Because of YouTube's ubiquity, you probably won't watch local videos very often.However, everyone should still keep a solid video player on their desktop for when they need to play media files locally.Even if it's not one of those tools that you immediately think of to download on your new computer, it will come in handy someday.
For this task, nothing beats VLC media player, which has a ton of features and is capable of playing almost every video and audio format imaginable.You probably won't use it very often, but when you're setting up your PC, download a VLC and you can save yourself the trouble of dealing with video codecs or using QuickTime, which hasn't been supported on Windows for years.
Download: VLC (free)
15. Script: AutoHotkey
If you want to bring more automation to your computer then AutoHotkey is what you need to download.It's a custom scripting tool that lets you define your own commands, making it as useful as you think it is. .
For example, you can create quick text expansions, enable automatic typing correction, override certain keyboard keys, and create macros to perform multiple actions with a few keystrokes.
AutoHotkey can be a bit complicated at first, but once you get the hang of it, it's a powerful tool in your toolbox.
Download: AutoHotkey (free)
A must-have app for every Windows PC
The above are the essential apps for Windows 10 and Windows 11 that everyone should install right now, and they're almost all free.If you don't like one of our picks, you'll find a suitable replacement without too much trouble.Most people will get a lot of use out of these programs and appreciate them more than the default software that comes with Windows.
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