Apps can transform your Windows computer or mobile device into a customized zone with endless possibilities. If your interests lie in learning another language, creating digital works of art, or communicating on the best social media platforms, apps help create an exciting space to create, learn, explore and communicate. Whether you are looking to beef-up your security by protecting your passwords, manage your media, or speed up your computer, there is an app tailored to your needs.
We have curated a list of the best apps currently available for Windows products, explaining what is special about each of them.
Not everyone needs or uses OneDrive, especially given the oft-associated fees. If your business or school prefers Dropbox as the cloud storage solution of choice, well, there’s an app for that. This slick piece of software allows you to view your pictures or videos using a grid, or as a list when dealing with documents (it even works with Xbox controllers). If this is your first time signing up with the service, you also get 2GB of free storage.
Feel free to replace Dropbox with the cloud storage option of your choice, too. If you need Google Drive or Box, opt for one of these apps instead.
If you don’t already have an app for planning, making lists, and collaborating, then Wunderlist is an excellent place to start. It allows you to set up all sorts of reminders and plans and enables you to work with others, quickly add new details, and carry out a slew of other actions. Plus, the app is now compatible with Windows 10, which means you can create smart reminders and use Cortana to instantly add events to Wunderlist.
Trying to brush up on your language skills? Need a little bit of help for a language class? Planning on a trip to a foreign country? This free app may be exactly what you need to prepare. It’s a language teaching platform with tons of gamification, along with plenty of rewards and achievements for a variety of quizzes. The app’s ultra-casual nature means you can use it for minutes at a time and still learn something, so why not give it a try?
Skype for Windows
Skype remains one of the most popular chat clients for long-distance communication, and it’s another example of an app that integrates very well with Windows 10. Chances are good that, if you’re already using a video chat service at home or work, you know exactly what to download. But if you haven’t done much video chatting in the past and want to explore this type of communication with friends and family, Skype is a great place to start and you should give this app a chance.
A version of Skype is already integrated with Windows, but the official desktop app also allows you to share pictures, opt-in for translation, and share your screen for troubleshooting purposes.
Microsoft Sticky Notes
This app lets you create digital sticky notes as reminders, then place them on your desktop screen. Of course, the latest version also comes with a few new tools as well, including the ability to pin your stickies to your Start screen, create notes with the Surface Pen, and connect notes to sites or documents for additional information. You even can sync your Sticky Notes across your Windows devices, and view them on the web.
Open Live Writer
Prefer a more desktop-oriented program for sculpting your latest blog entry or web page? Open Live Writer is designed to do just that. Inside you can create text, photo, or video posts, then publish them to your site whenever you want. The app also works with WordPress, TypePad, Blogger, and other common service providers. It even has a simple interface for tagging and scheduling, so you may end up saving some additional time in the long run.
Want more interesting effects for your photos than the usual apps offer? Before you upload to Instagram, take a look at Fused, which is designed to blend photos into a background and foreground to create different effects. Going into all the ways this can be used would take a long time, but, suffice to say, it can make your photos look awesome with the right work. If you like to create your own backgrounds, or just get a thrill out of posting impressive photos, check out what Fused has to offer.
Fresh Paint was popular on Windows 8, but it’s even better on Windows 10. The painting application lets you choose from a variety of palettes and activity packs to color in designs or work from the ground up, or you can upload your own art and apply filters or paint in the style of your choice. The software can’t exactly take the place of something like Photoshop — nor should it — but it’s a fun and very useful program in its own right.
Adobe Photoshop Express
While you may have to pay for access to Adobe’s full suite, there is a free version of Photoshop available for Windows 10. The apt-titled Express gives you limited access to Photoshop’s photo-editing tools, however, allowing for plenty of customized work. It’s a very useful tool if you’re familiar with Photoshop and want to work on some images, but don’t need or want access to the application’s full feature set. Keep in mind that you’ll need an Adobe ID login to make this app work.
VLC for Windows Store
For many users, VLC is an old standby that handles nearly any popular video format you can throw at it. This app, in particular, is an updated version made for Windows 10. The media player supports TagLib and other video customization options, and it can play pretty much any video file ripped from a common source, including discs and network streaming protocols. If you use a lot of media on your computer, it’s a great addition to your arsenal.
If you’re not a fan of iTunes or other prepackaged music management software, then you may want to try out Plex. The software functions as a media management program, one that uses server access to collate and control your songs, movies, and photos across your devices. The only problem is that the free app is basically a trial version that only shows you what Plex can do. If you really want the software, you’ll need to pay a subscription fee ($5 a month). Still, it’s a great way to test Plex and find out if you like it.
If your computer functions more as an entertainment box than one made for productivity, we suggest downloading the Netflix app so that you can quickly access it directly from your desktop. And now that Netflix syncs across devices — if you start watching something on your computer, for example, you can finish on your Xbox One — these apps are even more versatile. Of course, if you aren’t a Netflix fan, then there are official apps for Hulu and other services as well.
Everyone has their favorite music service, so feel free to substitute whatever app you prefer in here. Pandora has really stepped up with a strong app for both desktop and mobile devices, one that makes it easy to stream your favorite tunes. The app also boasts compatibility with the Xbox One and is generally more Windows-friendly than Spotify and Audiocloud.
Have an Xbox One? Download this app. Since Microsoft is working on converging as much Xbox and Windows gameplay as possible, this app comes with some unique features, like the ability to stream games or movies from an Xbox One to your PC. The app also comes with social and sharing features, meaning you can quickly share game clips or join clubs. It is already built into your Windows 10 PC, and there is no need for an extra download.
You probably don’t need a reminder to download social apps like Facebook, but we still like to mention Instagram’s Windows app, which provides a lot more functionality than a web page. The app provides features like the Explore tab, the update bar at the top of your feed, private messaging through Instagram Direct, and other various tools. The app has seen increased integration with Windows desktops, and with the advent of IGTV, your desktop computer is a better place for the app than ever.
If you or your friends use WhatsApp, you deserve this clean desktop version that makes it easy to carry on multiple, detailed chats at the same time. The app also offers complete syncing so you can pick up conversations on any other device as needed, without worrying that the conversation isn’t updating properly.
News and feeds
Flipboard is a news aggregator that’s designed for tile-based exploration and reading, making it a perfect fit for Windows 10. You can use it to build a personalized magazine either from particular sources or general topics, which allows for the perfect mix of specificity. After you create your magazine, you just check back in to view the latest news. This saves you time and lets you curate your news sources down to as much detail as you want.
The Newspapers app has a more traditional focus on, well, newspapers. You can set the app to collect the latest newspapers from cities, states, and countries of your choice. The app only covers news content that’s free (no subscription material), but it’s a great way to keep track of what’s happening in a region from highly dependable sources.
This is an app designed for the mobile iteration of Windows 10, and it’s one of the best Wikipedia apps ever made. If you end up frequently searching Wikipedia for information — or distractions — you need this app on your device. You can search in different languages, share articles, save articles for offline viewing, and quickly change accent colors, font sizes, and other facets of the app. You can also save your place in an article so you can resume reading after switching to one of the other excellent apps on our list. Oh, and if you’re not interested in the mobile version, we’ve got you covered.
The Weather Channel
A weather widget is a nice feature on any computer, and the Weather Channel app is designed to fit right into Windows 10. Once installed, you can use to keep track of weather alerts, pollen counts, forecasts, and all the other handy things that you’ve come to expect from a good weather app. The downside is that to unlock the most useful alerts, you have to create a Weather Channel account, which make take some time.
Dashlane remains one of the most popular password managers thanks to its simple setup process and easy-to-use design. While the app is a little invasive — it really wants to know all your passwords, after all — it’s also one of the best ways to collect and protect passwords from a variety of sources. It’s also optimized for Windows 10.
Revo Uninstaller Freeware
This Revo bundle gives you several tools to help clean out any unnecessary file and app remnants from your computer. If you handle a ton of apps and frequently move from one app to another, a tool like this can be invaluable for cleaning up the leftovers and making sure your computer stays speedy.
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