by Paul Mah

10 (mostly) free must-have Windows 10 apps

Oct 15, 2015
Microsoft Small and Medium Business Windows

If youu2019ve just bought a Windows 10 device, here are the apps youu2019ll want to download as soon as possible to get the most out of your new machine.

Get these apps first

Apps not only make using your Windows 10 device easier by giving you better ways to do the things you want to do, they can also make the experience a lot more fun. While there are plenty of built-in apps on Windows 10 devices, there’s a whole host of free or almost-fee apps that are guaranteed to make you more productive. These essentials tools will allow you to work with, share and annotate documents; back up your important data; organize and personalize your desktop; work with photos and text, and socialize and stay in touch with coworkers, friends and family.

1. Drawboard PDF

10 mostly free must have Windows 10 apps - 1 - drawboard pdf

Drawboard PDF is a PDF viewer with integrated annotation capabilities that lets you read, annotate and create freeform markups on PDF files. An intuitive user interface supports both stylus and touch input for inking, and is backed by tools to make annotation a breeze. Not only does the application reduces the temptation to print out wasteful paper copies, keeping things entirely digital means that annotations made to PDF files can be saved and distributed immediately from your Windows 10 device without having to fumble with scanners or photo-taking apps. 

Interface: Modern Price: $9.99; 3-day free trial

2. VLC media player

10 mostly free must have Windows 10 apps - 2 - vlc media player

Flummoxed and upset by how the formally free Windows Media Center is now a paid optional item in Windows 10? You may want to check out the highly popular VLC media player, which allows you to watch DVDs, Video CDs, as well as an almost bewildering array of media files such as MP4, MOV, MPEG, OGG, Real, FLAV, ASF/WMV/WMA, AVI files – among others – directly from your Windows device. Take the stress out of trying to figure out the right codex already, and just kick back and watch your movie. 

Interface: Modern, Desktop Price: Free

3. Chocolatey

10 mostly free must have Windows 10 apps - 3 - chocolatey

Power users who frequently switch or upgrade their devices will appreciate Chocolatey, a package manager created specifically for the Windows platform. The apt-get like tool is currently at version 0.9.9 and uses PowerShell under the hood to download the pertinent files direct from their source, and then install and configure it based on the parameters you give to it. The magic is how it can automatically resolve software dependencies, which while less common, still does exist in the Windows world. 

Interface: Desktop Price: Free

4. Bvckup 2

10 mostly free must have Windows 10 apps - 4 - bvckup

Bvckup 2 is an archival tool that focuses on just one task: Scheduling backup jobs and copying files between two locations, but doing it better than any similar tools out there.

For example, delta copying and use of asynchronous communications ensure that only pertinent data are copied, and in the most efficient manner. Support for Windows shadow copying means that even locked files can be backed up, while devices are recognized by their unique identifiers, not temporary drive letters. Perhaps most importantly, errors are clearly flagged so that you are not lulled into a sense of complacency when some data bits do go awry. 

Interface: Desktop Price: $19.95 personal license; 2-week free trial

5. Sticky Notes Pro

10 mostly free must have Windows 10 apps - 5 - sticky notes pro

For those quick-and-dirty notes that you can stick to your Windows 10 device, Sticky Notes Pro is a free app that is simply nicer than the built-in one that comes with Windows 10. The app allows you to adjust the size of the note, choose a color for each note, as well as a font for your reminder. Notes can be shifted around the app, and offers you multiple pages on which to stick your notes on. 

Interface: Modern Price: Free ($2 to remove in-app ads)

6. Stardock Fences

10 mostly free must have Windows 10 apps - 6 - stardock fences

If you’re fed up with having a messy Windows desktop, Stardock Fences may just be what the doctor ordered. The application lets you create demarcated app icons or files cluttering up your desktop into shaded groups that sort their contents automatically. To be clear, Fences has been around for some years now, and is currently in version 2. It works just as well on Windows 10, too, and is arguably even more relevant when it comes to organizing stuff on the touch-screen friendly operating system. 

Interface: Desktop Price: $9.99; 30-day free trial

7. Adobe Photoshop Express

10 mostly free must have Windows 10 apps - 7 - adobe photoshop express

Adobe Photoshop Express is the slimmed down version of its full-fledged namesake with features that makes it easy to touch-up photos when on the go. This includes the capability to do basic edits such as crop, rotate, flip, adjusting colors, as well as the capability to add in borders and frames to generally spiff things up. Finally, edited photos can also be quickly shared via social networks like Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter. 

Interface: Modern Price: Free

8. Notepad++ text editor

10 mostly free must have Windows 10 apps - 8 - notepad text editor

It is always useful to have a good, lightweight text editor handy, a role that Notepad++ fulfils this role exceeding well. The app supports multiple tabs so that you can work on more than one text file at a time, and offers powerful syntax highlighting and folding features that programmers and web page designers alike will appreciate. And should you ever need it, its powerful auto-completion and search and replace capability should come in handy, too. 

Interface: Desktop Price: Free

9. 7-Zip file archival

10 mostly free must have Windows 10 apps - 9 - 7 zip file archival

While Windows is perfectly capable of working with ZIP archives and ISO volumes, it remains clueless about many compressional and archival standards that are commonly favored by open-source communities. Well, 7-Zip works with a variety of formats including TAR, GZIP and 7z, and is fully capable of unpacking a variety of other formats, including ARJ, CAB, DMG, MSI, RAR and VHD. If you’re looking for a do-it-all file archival utility, this is it. 

Interface: Desktop Price: Free

10. Skype for Windows

10 mostly free must have Windows 10 apps - 10 - skype for windows

Probably one of the most popular video and instant messaging apps around, Skype for Windows delivers the full-fledged Skype experience that includes instant messaging, voice calls, video calls and group video calls, with display and files sharing capabilities offered in video calls. Do Skype-to-Skype calls, or call mobile devices and landlines from around the world by buying Skype credits or signing up for a monthly subscription plan. 

Interface: Desktop Price: Free