Productivity Windows

9 Must Have Modern Apps For Viewing, Editing & Managing Documents

Skye Hudson 16-02-2015

Modern apps can be great! Even those for handling documents.


Windows 8/8.1 has a weird disconnect between the desktop and modern interfaces. Hopefully this will be resolved in the future with the free upgrade to Windows 10 Windows 10: The Dream Of A Cross-Device Operating System Is Becoming Reality & It's Free Microsoft is boldly stepping into the future with innovative software and hardware. Windows as a service and mobility of experience were the major keywords from the recent Windows 10 briefing. Most importantly, Windows 10 will... Read More  for all Windows 7 and 8/8.1 users, but for now it can be hard to hunt down great modern apps The Best Microsoft Store Apps for Windows 10 Microsoft Store apps for Windows 10 have come a long way. Here's our selection of the best Windows 10 apps, both free and paid. Read More .

Microsoft even left out a native file explorers Wondering Why Windows 8 Doesn't Have A Modern Explorer App? Try These Windows 8 doesn’t come with a Modern file explorer app, forcing tablet users to peck at the small targets in the File Explorer window on the desktop. But this is Windows 8, not Windows XP... Read More , although a round-about file explorer is available in OneDrive SkyDrive For Windows 8: The Cloud Storage And Modern File Explorer App Got Windows 8? Then you have SkyDrive and in combination with a Microsoft account, you get 7GB of free storage. SkyDrive is a cloud storage solution and also doubles as a modern file explorer. Read More .

But fear not because modern apps for viewing, editing, and managing your documents do exist — and, in fact, they’re pretty awesome. Let’s look at some of them.

Creating and Editing

You probably won’t be writing your next novel in a modern app, but there are some fantastic modern writing and note-taking apps.




First up is Microsoft’s official OneNote app. This app is a note-taking powerhouse 5 Ways to Take Advantage of Microsoft OneNote Read More that is free and syncs easily with your OneDrive.

If your device has a stylus, it has an amazing amount of options for quickly changing the options on your pen, like size and color. You can keep multiple notebooks, each with different color-coded sections, and pages available within those.

You can also put typed notes here, though it acts more as a text-box within the larger page. It lends itself best to handwriting, but typing certainly isn’t out of the question.

OneNote is now also available on Android, iOS, and Mac as a free app. So no matter what platform you’re on, you can access your automatically-backed-up notes from anywhere.


Evernote Touch


Evernote is extremely ubiquitous Get Creative With Evernote: 10 Unique Uses You Haven't Thought Of Evernote is one of the ultimate tools in productivity, and with a wide variety of multiplatform apps, there's no limit to the way that you can use the service. We're big fans of Evernote here... Read More and popular these days, and for good reason — it has a lot of great features. Its Windows 8 app has typical Windows 8 styling of horizontally scrolling tiles, but otherwise it’s the Evernote you’re used to.


With tons of customization options, cloud backups, and apps for every platform, Evernote is there for the person who wants the most feature-rich app. OneNote doesn’t have nearly as many options, so it all depends on what you prefer.




While Notepad alternatives exist AkelPad vs Notepad Plus - Can It Even Compete As A Notepad Alternative? There are lots of Notepad replacements out there, and it seems like everyone has their own favorite. Notepad++ is one of the most popular, but AkelPad is a more minimal option. AkelPad is a fast,... Read More , this is your best bet for a modern one. Simply.Write allows you to do exactly what it says in the title: simply write. It’s a blank white screen on which you can write, and bringing your mouse to the bottom allows you to save the file as a .txt, or open other .txt files.

And that’s it. No other options to complicate things. It’s fullscreen and distraction free so you can focus on your writing. So get to it!





Think of Binder as a central hub for all the documents and files you want to work with. You can upload Word documents, PDFs, or even photos. It can snag them from your computer or grab them from cloud storage.

It’s pretty personalizable, with different options for the background and an option for rearranging the home screen. You have collections and documents. Documents can drift aimlessly amongst the homescreen, or you can create them within collections to keep them there.


There’s no method for creating content here — since to have a document you need to import it from somewhere — but it has quality annotation capabilities. Even without a stylus, you can free draw on or add notes to any documents or photos.

If you want a main place to keep all your things organized (Get it? Because Binder), check out this app, just don’t rely on it for actually taking notes. For that, stick with Microsoft Word (using these Word tips 10 Hidden Features of Microsoft Word That'll Make Your Life Easier Microsoft Word wouldn't be the tool it is without its productive features. Here are several features that can help you every day. Read More , of course) or maybe Google Drive (check out these great Drive add-ons for students Google Docs Adds-Ons For Students: These 5 Will Help You Write A Paper Word-processing for students has long been the domain of Microsoft Word, but the recent release of add-ons is making Google Docs an appealing free option. Read More ).

PDF Reading and Annotation

Times have changed since we last took a look at PDF reading and annotation apps The 6 Best PDF Readers for Windows in 2019 The best PDF readers don't cost any money. Read our roundup of feature-rich PDF viewers that out perform even Adobe Reader. Read More  for Windows, so let’s take a look this time at the modern selection.

Xodo Docs


This is the app you want for working on PDFs. It has a bunch of annotation features, as well as a group collaboration feature called Xodo Connect. Draw on it, leave notes, and even sign your documents with no problem.


Though it sounds like a document suite, you’re really only working with PDFs here. You can create PDFs from the homescreen, but there’s not much point in a blank PDF. Still, it has one job, and it does it well.

Adobe Reader Touch


Compared to the default PDF viewer Best Modern PDF Reader: Windows 8 Default or Adobe Reader Touch? Windows 8's default PDF reader isn't bad, but it has some stiff competition coming from the modern, touch-enabled version of Adobe Reader. Which one should you use on your Windows 8 device? Read More in Windows 8, Adobe Reader Touch isn’t far and away the best, but it is certainly better. While you can’t make all the kinds of drawings and annotations that you can in Xodo Docs, you can highlight and make comments.

For a lighter, less feature-heavy option, go for Adobe Reader Touch.

Conversions and Unzipping

Documents come in all sizes and formats — and we don’t discriminate! But you sometimes you just need to convert them.



Can you guess what type of conversion this app handles?

Though you can save Word documents as PDFs from within Word, some of you have had questions about how to convert a Word document into a PDF. So here you go. It’s extremely simple. Just choose the file and pif, paf, pouf — you’re done!

UnCompress [No Longer Available]


For those times when you need to unzip the annoying .rar file, UnCompress really comes in handy. It’s totally free and it gets the job done. You can even set it as a default for zipped folders, so that double-clicking any zipped folder will open it in UnCompress.


There’s just one app in this category, but it’s a cool one. It’s a solid alternative to Prezi or PowerPoint.

Presentation Next


Using the magic of the new HTML5 standard What Is HTML5, And How Does It Change The Way I Browse? [MakeUseOf Explains] Over the past few years, you may have heard the term HTML5 every once in a while. Whether you know anything about web development or not, the concept can be somewhat nebulous and confusing. Obviously,... Read More , the presentations that you make here are viewable on any web-enabled device. In this way, it has a similar feel to Prezi — but Presentation Next is bundled up in a nice, modern app.


How to navigate isn’t always perfectly clear, but after using it for a bit, you get used to it. Clicking anywhere on the screen will bring up a radial menu, similar to OneNote’s. You can add all sorts of text, images, and even draw on the slides. You have control over how it zooms, and it comes with a bunch of attractive, pre-designed templates.

It’s certainly a different way of creating presentations, but it works, and the end product is pretty attractive.

What’s Your Favorite App For Managing Documents?

Don’t forget to check out our list of the best modern apps for Windows 8 The Best Microsoft Store Apps for Windows 10 Microsoft Store apps for Windows 10 have come a long way. Here's our selection of the best Windows 10 apps, both free and paid. Read More . It might also be useful for you to learn how to add and remove modern apps 6 Ways To Add & Remove Modern Apps In Windows 8 Modern apps on Windows 8 work very differently than traditional Windows desktop apps. They're always installed from the Windows Store (unless you're a developer or on a corporate network) and aren't uninstalled from the traditional... Read More .

Hopefully this list could help you find the kind of app you were looking for, but if you know of any other useful apps, let us know in the comments!

Related topics: Evernote, Microsoft OneNote, PDF Editor, Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 8.1.

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  1. DuhPhewU
    July 19, 2017 at 9:02 am

    Does anyone know of any Text Editors for DOS (3.3 &/or 5.0 and up) w/Keyboard Shortcuts that are the same or mostly the same as those in Microsoft Word (for Windows)?

  2. likefunbutnot
    February 17, 2015 at 11:57 pm

    One of my biggest frustrations with Modern Apps is the lack of solid non-streaming media playback tools. Plex is a showpiece app for ModernUI, but it's primarily a streaming tool. VLC is wonky on ARM devices and desktop applications that should exist in that space are ill suited to small touchscreens. Media playback on every other mobile platform is front and center but it's an afterthought in the ModernUI ecosystem. Being the document and workflow-centric mobile option isn't the worst thing in the world, but it's weird how Microsoft gets something basic so wrong.

  3. Jeanne Thelwell
    February 16, 2015 at 4:24 pm

    It would be good if the title of this article indicated it is Windows-centric.

    • Doc
      February 17, 2015 at 12:17 am

      They did, but it was subtle - these apps are for the "Windows Modern" (formerly "Metro") interface in Windows, especially those PCs and laptops with touchscreens.

    • Just switched
      February 17, 2015 at 12:43 am

      Right. On the other hand that metro interface (win 8) made me feel stuffed in a covered box then I have switched to os x.

    • Doc
      February 17, 2015 at 12:48 am

      The fact that it's in the "Windows" category didn't give it away???

    • Justin Dennis
      February 17, 2015 at 10:31 pm

      yeah, when we talk about "Modern" apps, we mean the metro-style apps for Windows. sorry if that wasn't clear. :)

  4. likefunbutnot
    February 16, 2015 at 2:22 pm

    Even with a Surface 2, I barely use any modern-style applications for file management or document viewing. File Manager HD sometimes gets invoked, since there's no Google Drive client for Windows RT. Other than that, I spend vastly more time using the Desktop and full Office Applications than anything else.

    • Justin Dennis
      February 17, 2015 at 10:30 pm

      yeah i'm much more in desktop than modern too, which is a shame cause i think the modern interface has potential but lacks in a wide array of good apps :/