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These brilliant (but neglected) Windows 10 apps can transform the way you work.
Windows 10 comes with many useful default apps that are easy to overlook – either because you’re unaware of their existence, or because you use a third-party program for the same tasks.
Here a list of 12 default apps that will make your PC even more useful. All of them can be accessed by opening the Start Menu and (pre-Anniversary Update) clicking All apps in the bottom left. Alternatively, search for them from the search bar/using Cortana.
1. Get Started
Window 10 is simple enough for most people to figure out on their own. However, it’s good to know this (self-explanatory) app is just a few clicks away, if you hit a dead end, or come across a problem you need an immediate solution to.
Like most of the Windows 10 apps in this article, it contains neat sections on the left and useful tabs at the top. These cover all of Windows 10’s new features, including the Start Menu, Microsoft Edge, Entertainment, Office, and “Saving and syncing content”.
2. Alarms & Clock
This simple app has four features – Alarm, World Clock, Timer, and Stopwatch – three of which you’ll barely use because your smartphone or wristwatch is a better alternative.
That said, I find myself using World Clock very often. It lets you add pins to a world map to see what’s the time there. It’s great if (like me) you have family, friends, and colleagues spread across the globe.
The News app can seem overwhelming at first because it throws all sorts of random content at you. This is divided into many different sections, including US, Top Stories, World, Technology, Entertainment, and Sport.
To tailor the app to your interests, click the Interests icon (star with three lines) at the top left and untick the topics you’re not interested in. Next, click each category on the left and select the topics you want to read about.
Going forward, you’ll find the app tailoring the news to your needs. After using it for a few days, I noticed that I wasn’t even using the news apps on my phone anymore.
4. Calendar & Mail
If you’ve logged into the Mail app using your Microsoft account, the Calendar app automatically imports all your important info, including events and birthdays.
By default, the calendar adds all the US holidays to it. To change this to your region, scroll down, click More calendars at the bottom left, then tick the calendar for your country. To add an event to your calendar, click a date you want, then type your event details. Click the More details link to add info for recurring events and to invite other people.
This useful app will save you precious time, if you often check the stock market, overseas currency rates, and calculate your mortgage. It has a handy currency calculator from where you can compare your local currency with 18 countries from a single screen.
You can also track the stocks, funds, or indexes of any major publicly-listed company in the world over the last year. The News section within the app has global financial news stories. It also has a Personal Finance section that contains news stories local to you.
Google Maps is normally our default go-to navigation and mapping service, but the feature we love about Windows 10’s Maps app is that you can turn on traffic alerts and see cameras along your route – Google Maps doesn’t have the latter feature, yet.
To enable this, click Map Views on the right, set the Traffic slider to On, then tick Incidents and Cameras. These features are only limited to the United States and major European cities, but new ones are added regularly.
The app is receiving new features when the free Windows 10 Anniversary Update hits your PC in July this year. If you want to try out these new features today, you’ll need to sign up to become a part of the Windows 10 Insider Program.
You’re probably wondering why there’s a separate Sports app when Sport is a prominent section within the News app. The latter provides general sports news, whereas this app lets you add the sports and teams that you want to follow.
By default, the app has sections on the left for 12 sports, including the English Premier League, FA Cup, Cricket, Formula 1, Tennis, and so on.
To customize the app, click Interests on the left, the pen icon at the top, then close the tiles of the sports you don’t want to follow. To add other sports, click the + icon at the bottom and type the name of a league (such as NBA) or sport you want to follow. Similarly, you can also add your favorite sports teams to track their progress.
Microsoft wants everyone to use OneNote and for good reason. It has a ton of useful features and any changes you make within this app are automatically synced to the OneNote account across all your devices.
9. Groove Music
Yes, we know you miss Windows Media Player and probably installed VLC Media Player without even considering Groove Music, but the app has several brilliant (albeit hidden) features. It can catalog music from your PC, as well as music that you’ve downloaded from iTunes or Google Play Music. Click the musical note icon on the left, then click Show us where to look for music, and point it to the source on your PC.
The app is even more useful if you own a Windows Phone because it lets you create your own personal cloud within OneDrive for all your music. You can then play this using the Groove app on your phone.
Its real horsepower is unleashed when you purchase a Groove Music Pass. This costs $10 per month, but comes with a free 30-day trial. Like Spotify, it lets you instantly stream and listen to the latest tracks. It’s also platform agnostic, so you can use it on your Android, iOS, and Windows Phones by installing the app and logging into your account.
It may be one of the first default apps that you replace for your preferred alternative, but before you do that, check out all the hidden things this nifty app can do.
While it’s not as feature-packed as a paid-for program (such as Photoshop), you can do tons of things with it that are not very obvious from the first glance. For example, did you know that you could add selective focus effects, and even remove red eye with one click?
The Weather app is choc-a-block with interesting features, most of which you probably won’t need. These include the phases of the moon, exact times for sunrise and sunset, how many times it rained on that day in the past 30 years, levels of precipitation, humidity, UV, and wind. Click the Details button on the right to see a breakdown of the weather every hour.
One of its most useful features is the option to find the weather for another city, then place this as a live tile on your Start Menu.
To do that, select Places (star with three lines) on the left, click the + button, then find the place whose weather you want. Now click to see the weather in this place, then click the small pin icon at the top right. Finally, click Yes to confirm you want to add it to your Start Menu.
12. Windows Feedback
The great thing about Windows 10 is that it’s constantly evolving and Microsoft is relying on user feedback to determine what will shape future versions. We already have a glimpse of what to expect when the Anniversary Update comes to all PCs this summer. But the innovation doesn’t stop there and that’s where this app comes into its own.
If your feedback resonates with other users, you can be rest assured that Microsoft will do something about it. You can also send feedback for each app individually by clicking the small smiley icon on the left of the respective app.
What’s Your Favorite?
I didn’t know how useful these apps were until I started using them. Some of them (such as News, Photos, Money, and Sport) are ones I now use daily, while others (such as Alarms & Clock and Weather) I check often. You need to give them time (a few days, at least) to prove their worth. You’ll never know which one of them becomes indispensable.
Which one of the aforementioned apps is your favorite? Has it changed the way you work or replaced an old program you previously used? Let us know in the comments section below!
Image Credit: Blindfold businessman by Helder Almeida via Shutterstock