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You’ve just bought a new Chromebook. Great! Now what? What apps do you need to install to turn it into a productivity powerhouse? It’s hard to know where to begin — the Google Web Store boasts more than a million apps, extensions, themes, and games.

I’m here to help. It doesn’t matter whether you’ll be using your new machine for work, games, streaming video, or listening to music, there are some apps that every user needs to have Switching to Chromebook: 8 Apps to Replace Your Desktop Favorites Switching to Chromebook: 8 Apps to Replace Your Desktop Favorites The hardest part about switching to a Chromebook is that you cannot install Windows or Mac software, but Chromebooks are perfect for everyday tasks. These top Chromebook apps can replace your desktop favorites. Read More .

Here are my top 10 essential apps to install on a new Chromebook.

Note: Gmail, Google Calendar, Keep, Drive, Play Music, Hangouts, Remote Desktop, and Maps come pre-installed so have not been included in this list.

1. VLC Media Player

VLC needs no introduction. It’s been the Swiss Army knife of media players for more than 15 years.

If you’re a video junkie, it’s a must have. It can play almost every video or audio format you can throw at it, it can read network streams, and can even play DVD ISOs.

The Chromebook release isn’t quite a feature-packed as its Windows and Mac counterparts, but it has an equalizer, filters, and a media library, it supports gesture controls, and can display subtitles. It’s more than enough for the vast majority of users.

Best of all, it’s completely free.

2. Black Menu

Do you remember when Google’s suite of apps was available in a black drop-down menu? Black Menu restores the functionality by adding a clickable icon alongside the search box.

It’s a godsend. The Chrome App Launcher How to Make the Most out of the Chrome App Launcher How to Make the Most out of the Chrome App Launcher The Chrome App Launcher is a powerful tool that can do so much more than simply open programs. It can make a range of web-based tasks faster, easier, and more streamlined. Here's how. Read More is one of the operating system’s weakest aspects and can be frustrating to use. Given 95 percent of your time on a Chromebook will be spent in the browser, Black Menu can speed up your workflow significantly.

The app follows the current Google aesthetic principles of “Material Design” and includes links to the Play Store, Gmail, Maps, Translate, YouTube, and Drive. You can customize the menu further with your most-used Google apps.

3. Microsoft Office Online

Yes, Chromebooks ship with the Google productivity suite, but anyone who’s spent a lot a time switching between Google’s products and Microsoft’s ubiquitous Office suite knows that formatting, images, and fonts can often go awry.

Add Office Online to eliminate the problems. The app lets you use Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Sway without needing to install the full Office package. Any work you produce in the app automatically syncs with OneDrive.

4. JSTorrent

Torrent software has a bad name thanks to its association with piracy, but everyone should have a torrent downloader Downloading Torrents on a Chromebook Downloading Torrents on a Chromebook Has the Chrome OS finally managed to catch up to its rival operating systems to provide a high-quality BitTorrent client? MakeUseOf investigates… Read More installed on their machine. BitTorrent technology remains one of the fastest and most reliable ways to download large files quickly.

JSTorrent runs on both ARM- and Intel-based Chromebooks, can handle multi-gigabyte files, and saves all the downloaded content straight into your computer’s Download folder.

It costs $2 but is worth the money. It’s got 4.5 stars from more than 3,000 reviews!

5. MightyText

You should only download this app if you’ve got an Android phone.

It’ll display any notifications from your device in your Chromebook’s own Notifications window, it’ll let you send and receive text messages from your machine, and it works with your existing phone number.

For the app to work correctly, you also need to install the Android version on your smartphone.

6. WeVideo

If you want to do some video editing on the fly, install this app.

It comes with two editing modes: Novice and Advanced. Whether you just want to add a soundtrack to that hilarious video of your grandmother dancing around the Christmas tree, or you need to split, splice, and add themes to a professional video for work, WeVideo has you covered.

You can add text and music, insert transitions, drag and drop clips onto a storyboard, add animations to slideshows, and a whole lot more. All the content automatically syncs with Google Drive.

There are more 100 free effects and audio excerpts for all users, though the free version will add a watermark 3 Ways to Watermark Your Videos 3 Ways to Watermark Your Videos Are you afraid that someone might rip your video and claim it as their own, potentially stealing away viewers and revenue? Read More  to your finished product.

7. Personal Finance

Personal Finance is an easy-to-use household budgeting app 15 Cool Tools for Easy Expense Tracking and Budgeting 15 Cool Tools for Easy Expense Tracking and Budgeting Tracking your expenses and budgeting are two crucial parts of being financial healthy. These 15 apps make it easy to do both. Read More . It’s not as powerful as some of the sector’s biggest names like Mint and Quicken, but it gets the job done.

The app lets you organize all your expenses using tabs and folders, and you can share accounts with friends and family on a case-by-case basis. Importantly for a finance app, it works offline. You can even make edits when you’ve not got a connection and all the changes will be synced next time you go online.

And you don’t need to worry about security: the app encrypts all the data before uploading it to Google’s servers.

8. StreamDor

How do 20,000 free movies sound? That’s exactly what StreamDor gives you.

Don’t fret: there’s no illegal content here. All the titles are publicly available movies that SteamDor’s community has lovingly curated. Sure, you’re not going to find the latest blockbusters, but if you’re a dedicated cord cutter Everyone Else Is Cutting the Cord, So Why Aren't You? Everyone Else Is Cutting the Cord, So Why Aren't You? I cut the cord back in 2013 and more and more people are following suit, completely ditching their cable service. But not everyone is cutting the cord, and we decided to find out why... Read More , the app is a vital weapon in your armory. New content is being added every day.

And just because there are 20,000 movies, don’t worry about finding something to watch — you can filter by year, genre, country, and language.

9. Polarr Photo Editor

I’ve already introduced you to a video editor. Now it’s time to install a photo editor.

A few years ago, the Chrome Web Store was a wasteland if you wanted a high-quality editor for your Chromebook Four Excellent Image Editors For Your Chromebook Four Excellent Image Editors For Your Chromebook Do you like editing and tweaking images but find the Chromebook's default editor too limited? Here are some alternatives. Read More . That’s not the case anymore. There are lots of options for you to choose from.

My personal favorite is Polarr. It offers an impressive array of features, including color masking, multiple brushes, support for RAW files, and endless filters, effects, and adjustment tools.

If you’ve got a different favorite, make sure you let me know in the comments.

10. Numerics Calculator & Converter

Yes, Chromebooks come with a built-in calculator. But it’s not very powerful: if you’re a math and statistics nerd, you need something better.

Numerics Calculator & Converter is the answer. It offers significantly more math functions than its native counterpart. If the function you need is not available, you can program it yourself using JavaScript. Just click the wrench icon to get started.

As you might notice from the equation in the screenshot above, math isn’t my strong suit 5 Online Calculators to Improve Your Basic Math Skills 5 Online Calculators to Improve Your Basic Math Skills From algebra solvers that show their work to notepad-like tools that also crunch numbers, we've got all sorts of ways for you to do what computers do best: calculate. Read More !

What Apps Have You Installed?

I hope my list of 10 apps is enough to get you up and running. I’ve tried to include a broad range of functionality so you’ll be able to find something useful no matter what you interests.

Of course, there are lots more excellent apps we could add to this list, and that’s where you come in.

Which apps are on your essential list? What features make them so unique? Let me know your suggestions and recommendations in the comments below.

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  1. Dale
    March 16, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    Chromebooks have really come a long way and I can't wait to get my chromebook pro. The one app I use all the time is VNC Viewer. I use this to connect to my raspberry pi server, linux and windows machines. Thanks for the great post.

  2. Percy Canipa
    March 16, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    awesome screenshot
    speedtest.