There are a lot of apps in the new Microsoft Store, but the best Windows apps can remain elusive. Calendar apps are a popular choice for those looking to improve productivity, and there are plenty of free apps you can choose from if you don’t want to pay for the privilege.
- The best Windows productivity apps
- Best Windows creation apps
- Best Windows entertainment apps
- Social media apps
- Best Windows news and feed apps
- Best Windows security apps
- Best Windows 11 apps
To help you choose, we’ve put together a list of the best Windows 10 apps and Windows 11 apps for every user to try out, whether you want better productivity or just want to be entertained.
The best Windows productivity apps
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?
Dropbox Cloud Storage
Are you looking for one of the best Windows apps for cloud storage? Well, not everyone needs or uses OneDrive, which is included in Windows 10. 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, and it’s only a few dollars to get a lot more than that if you need it.
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, as it can really help improve your productivity and scheduling. It might even help reduce stress. It comes with a My Day view feature, which has a daily planner with recommended tasks. Other cool features include setting up grocery lists and a dark mode.
OneNote is a note-taking app designed to integrate completely with the Microsoft 365 system, with excellent support for all levels of note-taking. Do you want a digital binder filled with different notebooks for specific topics? No problem. Do you want to sketch out some new design ideas? Never been simpler. You also can insert web videos or add files.
In addition to content creation, the app supports excellent sharing options for colleagues and robust collaboration features that include freeform highlighting and annotation.
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. The latest version comes with a few new tools as well, including the ability to add images to your notes, use the Surface Pen to create handwritten notes, and work in dark mode. You can even sync your notes across apps and devices.
Backiee — Wallpaper Studio 10
Yes, a wallpaper app can be a productivity app, too — especially when you find out how much time it saves on your 4K background hunt. This app offers top-notch, high-resolution background wallpapers that you can change with a click without depending on sketchy sources online. Wallpapers go up to 8K resolution, and you can apply a lot of different search filters to find the wallpaper you want, making this an easy recommendation for new Windows users.
Already have a lot of apps to juggle? Rambox is here to help: It’s an app-management app, or a “workspace browser” that collects all the apps you use in one spot, no matter where they come from. It supports everything from email apps, to chat tools, to calendars, to social media. The dashboard allows you to instantly search for a specific app, gather your communication apps in one spot to always see if there are any new messages, and favorite or pin the apps you use the most.
However, the real fun begins when you start opening and using apps. The browser space allows you to position multiple apps next to each other so they can be open and active at the same time, just like traditional browser windows on your computer. You even have the ability to create custom apps for the tasks you frequently have.
Best Windows creation apps
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 is fun, and it’s the best Windows app for entertainment. It is a free app and can be especially fun if you have a windows tablet with a pen, as you can color in between lines, draw, and so much more.
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.
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 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.
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, and it’s easily one of the best apps for photo editing. The aptly titled Express gives you limited access to Photoshop’s photo-editing tools, 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.
Best Windows entertainment apps
VLC Media Player
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.
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. Netflix also syncs across devices — if you start watching something on your computer, for example, you can finish on your Xbox One. Of course, if you aren’t a Netflix fan, then there are official apps for Hulu and other streaming 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.
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 apps
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 with quick social media management tools.
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.
Twitter is home to late-breaking news and hot takes. You can read and write to everyone from celebs to politicians to your favorite authors posting their thoughts there, for better or worse. It’s also one of the best Windows apps because it loads fast, runs smoothly, and looks and feels like a native app.
Best Windows news and feed apps
Flipboard is a news aggregator designed for tile-based exploration and reading, making it a perfect fit for Windows 10. The program has you create a “magazine” filled with stories you choose, based on the themes and sources that best align with your preferences. Then, the app saves your personalizations for the next time you want to check the news. This curation process saves you the time and energy of sorting through every news story to get to the ones that interest you, making it one of the best Windows apps for news.
Staying informed is crucial, and you can use Windows 10’s Microsoft News app to keep up with all the news you need. After you’ve downloaded it, you can choose which topics you want to receive daily updates about, personalizing your stream of information. Additionally, the team will ensure that you get stories that are accurate and exciting. Whichever news you prioritize, Microsoft News supplies a wide range of topics, reliably sourced, to bring you breaking information on the news that matters most to you. You can even sync your preferences across the web. The app works in 20 different countries and collects content from more than 3,000 publications.
Paul Simon once said the only news he needs is the weather report. He probably uses MSN Weather.
Microsoft’s own weather app usually comes installed on Windows, but things happen, and sometimes you end up removing it. It is easy to reinstall, thanks to the revamped Microsoft Store. You’ll get up-to-the-minute weather conditions, long-range forecasts, humidity readings, and more. All of it comes on a beautiful graphical interface complete with maps, satellite and radar images, and, of course, animated weather.
Best Windows security apps
OneLocker Password Manager
OneLocker is the perfect password manager if you have a lot of passwords to remember. It comes with a jump list, a QR code scanner, templates, and more.
Dashlane remains one of the most popular password manager apps, thanks to its simple setup and easy-to-use design. As per its job description, Dashlane expects you to store every one of your passwords. The security app can handle any number of passwords you may have from as many sources as you want, offering highly efficient organization and steadfast protection. Additionally, it works with Windows 10.
Best Windows 11 apps
Windows 11 is now available on most new PCs. You can still access all of the Windows 10 apps we mentioned above in Windows 11, but there are some newer apps that can be downloaded. These include Win32 apps like OBS Studio or Firefox; Progressive Web Apps like Instagram; and even Android apps via the Amazon App Store.
Best Windows Android apps
One of the most exciting features of Windows 11 is the fact that it now supports Android apps from the Amazon App Store. Currently, though, there is only a selection of mobile apps and games available for download on Windows 11. These include games like Lords Mobile, June’s Journey, Coin Master, and kid’s content like the Kindle app, Khan Academy Kids, and Lego Duplo World.
Again, these Android apps can only be installed if your PC is compatible with the feature. You can check for more information on this over at Microsoft’s website. Most modern hardware released in the last two years should run these Android apps just fine.
Some community members also managed to install additional Android apps from outside the Amazon App Store. Digital Trends does not condone it, you’ll be trying at your own risk, and it requires a lot of work. You can do it by turning the WSA to developer mode, as well as using Android Debug Bridge (ADB) developer tools, the Windows terminal, and an APK file for the Aurora app store.
Best Win32 apps in the Microsoft Store
Alongside the incoming option to run Android apps, another signature feature of Windows 11 is the ability to download traditional Win32 apps directly from the Microsoft Store. These are the types of apps that use an .exe installer.
Usually, you’d have to find these apps on a developer’s website, but Windows 11 makes discovery easier by listing select Win32 apps inside the Microsoft Store. Currently, you can find the screen recorder OBS Studio, as well as the popular PDF reader Adobe Acrobat Reader DC. Even Zoom is now listed in the Microsoft Store as a Win32 app.
Microsoft Teams and a new chat app
Microsoft Teams is the videoconferencing and collaboration app on Windows 11, and it will get a little help from the operating system’s new chat app. The chat app currently allows users to quickly start new chats or video calls without having to launch the full Teams app. This app is also expected to support chatting with users who don’t have Teams.
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