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The best Windows apps

Tyler Lacoma
·8 min read

If you use a Windows PC, you might have discovered a wide range of apps to improve your experience and boost your computer’s performance. But because there are so many categories and apps available, you may have a hard time finding the best apps for your specific needs.

To help you choose, we’ve put together a list of the best Windows apps for every type of user, whether you want better productivity or want to be entertained.

Productivity

Duolingo

Duolingo Windows 10 app screenshot
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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 learning app 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?

Microsoft Store

Dropbox

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. The free-to-use Basic plan gets you 2GB of free storage.

$0 from Dropbox

Microsoft To Do

If you don’t already have an app for planning, making lists, and collaborating, then Microsoft To Do is a great option for you. The app lets you boost your productivity and decrease your stress levels. It comes with a focused My Day view, which has a personalized daily planner with suggested tasks. Other cool features include syncing tasks between Outlook email and To Do.

Microsoft Store

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 Store

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.

Microsoft Store

Creation

Fresh Paint

Fresh Paint windows 10 app screenshot
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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.

Microsoft Store

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 website builders. It even has a simple interface for tagging and scheduling, so you may end up saving some additional time in the long run.

Microsoft Store

Fused

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.

Microsoft Store

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 aptly 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.

Microsoft Store

Entertainment

VLC Media Player

VLC Media player windows 10 app screenshot
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For many users, VLC is an old standby that handles nearly any popular video format you can throw at it. The media player 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.

$0 from VideoLAN Organization

Netflix

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.

Microsoft Store

Pandora

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.

Microsoft Store

Xbox

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.

Social media

Instagram

Instagram windows 10 app screenshot
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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 isn’t always updated by Facebook, but it does provide basic access to most Instagram features on the iOS or Android versions of the app. That includes access to Instagram Stories and the Instagram Feed, as well as messages and the search feature. It’s a nice desktop companion.

Microsoft Store

WhatsApp

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.

Microsoft Store

News and feeds

Flipboard

Flipboard windows 10 app screenshot
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Flipboard is a news aggregator 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 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.

Microsoft Store

Microsoft News

Staying informed is crucial, and you can use Windows 10’s Microsoft News app to keep up with all the news you need. Once you have it in, customize it so that your favorite sites and publications are alerting you. Additionally, the team makes sure you’re getting stories that are accurate and exciting. No matter what, you get to pick stories and sources that align with your desires, from politics to sports to entertainment news. You can even configure notifications for breaking news and sync your preferences across the web and the apps on iOS and Android. The app works in 20 different countries and collects content from over 3,000 publications.

Microsoft Store

Security

Dashlane

Dashlane windows 10 app screenshot
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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 of your passwords. After all — it’s also one of the best ways to collect and protect passwords from a variety of sources. Additionally, it is optimized for Windows 10.

Microsoft Store