The Best PC Software for Your Windows Computer

Tina Sieber Updated 27-11-2019

The best PC software won’t bog your Windows computer down. It’s clean, free, and gets the job done.


Consult this list for ideas and discover apps you didn’t know existed. We’re continuously seeking out the best Windows software, and places to download them, for all your needs. Most applications recommended here are free and you can quickly find what you need by browsing the listed programs by category.

Note that some installers pack bloatware, useless adware that’s pre-selected to install. It’s the bane of freeware. Thus, Unchecky should be the very first app from this list you should install because it can help you catch checkboxes that commit you to downloading and installing bundled apps you don’t need.

Jump Ahead: Antivirus | Audio Tools | Backup and Sync | Browsers | Communication Tools | Defragging | Download Tools | Email Clients | Files Management | File Recovery | File Storage | Image Editors | Image Viewers | Maintenance | Miscellaneous | Optical and Disc Image Tools | PDF Tools | Productivity | Reading | Text Editing | Uninstallers | Video Tools

Antivirus, Malware, and Firewalls

Antivirus software is a cornerstone in protecting your computer from external attacks. While it shouldn’t be your only protection, it’s important that you install a single antivirus application only! Installing several antivirus tools on the same computer can potentially cause issues, to the point where they lock your computer up.

Please see our dedicated guide to a full list of antivirus and security tools The Best Computer Security and Antivirus Tools Concerned about malware, ransomware, and viruses? Here are the best security and antivirus apps you need to stay protected. Read More you should install to protect your Windows computer.


Audio Tools


This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows programs called foobar2000

Advanced cross-platform audio player with customizable user interface. Supports gapless playback, can rip audio CDs and transcode supported audio formats, and is best used with custom keyboard shortcuts.

Download: foobar2000 (Free)


If you have a large media collection, MediaMonkey can help you keep it organized. It manages video and audio files, playlists, and can fill in missing track information automatically.


The Gold version gets you bit-perfect rips, support for customized collections, on-the-fly audio/video conversions, advanced searches and auto-playlists, unlimited MP3 encoding, a sleep timer, and more.

Download: MediaMonkey (Free)
Download: MediaMonkey Gold (From $24.95)


MusicBee is the music manager that turns your computer into a music jukebox. It features auto-tagging, multiple features to optimize the sound quality, can sync your music collection across devices, and even comes in a portable version.

Download: MusicBee (Free)



This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows programs called Spotify music player

Streaming music service complete with Facebook integration, iDevice management, and playing music to remote speakers.

Download: Spotify (Free)
Download: Spotify Premium (From 9.99 per month, free trial)

Other notable applications in this category:

  • AIMP3, a lightweight music library manager and audio player, which rivals foobar2000.
  • Audacity, an open source software for recording and editing audio tracks and sounds.
  • TagScanner is a multifunction program for organizing and managing your music collection.
  • Audacious, an open source audio player for Linux and Windows that conserves system resources. Supports playlists, online streaming, and Winamp classic skins.
  • Helium, one tool to manage all your audio needs. Supports cataloging, tagging, playing, and renaming your audio files.
  • Tomahawk, a cross-platform social music player that unites your downloads, cloud music storage, radio stations, and streams from various sources into one neat player interface where you can share it with friends. Unfortunately, Tomahawk has not switched to a secure connection, yet.

Backup and Sync

When your computer came with Windows 8 or 10, you don’t need a fleet of backup tools. The latest versions of Windows come with a built-in Time Machine backup called File History. And with OneDrive, you can sync files and folders across devices. It never hurts to have alternative backup solutions though.

Macrium Reflect Free

Free for non-commercial and home use, this backup tool lets you save your disk clone or image to local and network-based storage media. To speed up regular backups and reduce storage space, you can use differential images. Use backup templates to set up scheduled backups without missing key files.

The Home version also packs incremental backups to save storage space, rapid delta cloning and restore for fast disk recovery, file and folder backup, backup encryption, ransomware protection, and more.

Download: Macrium Reflect (Free)
Download: Macrium Reflect Home ($69.95 for one license; 30-day free trial)


This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows programs called FreeFileSync

Open source folder comparison and synchronization tool optimized for ease of use. Also available for Linux and Mac and as portable Windows app. We thought it was a better sync tool than Microsoft’s SyncToy, which has since been discontinued. Be sure to deselect bloatware during setup.

Download: FreeFileSync (Free)

If nags are a no-go, try the following alternatives:

EaseUS Todo Backup

This is a free backup solution that includes a disaster recovery option. The tool can back up files and folders, create an image of the entire operating system, or clone disks to migrate data. Supports comprehensive full backup, incremental backup, and differential backup.

Download: EaseUS Todo Backup (Free)


  • Clonezilla Live, an open source and cross-platform alternative for cloning drives
  • DrimeImage XML, a tool to backup drives or partitions and browse and restore images.

More apps in this category:

  • SyncBack supports scheduled backups to an FTP server.
  • Box, online storage and cross-platform sync solution for business users that offers unlimited storage for three or more users, starting at $45 per month. File transfers are encrypted with high-grade SSL and stored with 256-bit AES encryption.



This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows browsers. It's called Google Chrome browser

Google’s minimal design browser that went from zero to hero in record time. Best browser if you’re already sold on Google products. Receives frequent automatic updates and supports extensions from the Google Play store. See our Guide to Google Chrome The Easy Guide to Google Chrome This Chrome user guide shows everything you need to know about the Google Chrome browser. It covers the basics of using Google Chrome that is important for any beginner. Read More to find out about custom settings and hacks.

Download: Chrome (Free)


With more than 6,000 add-ons, Firefox remains the most customizable browser on the market, offering its users more freedom than Chrome ever will. Should you switch from Chrome to Firefox 7 Reasons to Switch From Google Chrome to Mozilla Firefox Google Chrome is the most popular web browser, but is it right for you? Here's why you might prefer Mozilla Firefox. Read More too? The latest Firefox Quantum is faster, more lightweight, and more private than Chrome.

Download: Firefox (Free)


Opera has pioneered new features like tabs or the speed dial. It’s working hard to remain the fastest browser on the market. Its latest features are a built-in free VPN and battery saver. Moreover, it supports Chrome extensions. Is it finally time to drop Chrome for Opera I Switched From Chrome to Opera and I’m Never Going Back Any browser works. There's only one reason to pick one over another: it's more in line with how you like to browse the web. And you might prefer Opera, too. Read More ?

Download: Opera (Free)

Other notable browsers:

Which browser is best for you? Which Browser Is Best? Edge vs. Chrome vs. Opera vs. Firefox The browser you're using right now may not be the best one for you. The browser arena changes so frequently that your conclusions from comparisons made last year may be completely wrong this year. Read More

Communication Tools


This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows programs called Skype

Microsoft’s aging cross-platform VoIP application remains a popular tool to stay in touch with friends and family. Skype offers reasonable rates for calling mobiles and landlines and attractive subscription packages. In an effort to compete with Google Hangouts, Skype now supports group video chats for non-premium accounts.

Note that Microsoft retired the classic (desktop) Skype in November 2018. When you download Skype now, it will be the Windows 10 app.

Download: Skype (Free)

If Skype doesn’t cut it anymore, have a look at these Skype alternatives The 7 Best Free Skype Alternatives for a Windows or Linux PC Here are the best Skype alternatives for your PC for chatting, video calling, and more on Windows, Linux, and Mac. Read More .


This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows chat programs called Pidgin

Easy-to-use, open source, cross-platform, multi-protocol chat client. Supports all major chat programs, as well as third-party developed plugins.

Download: Pidgin (Free)


Built for gamers, TeamSpeak is a popular VoIP solution that works across a range of desktop and mobile devices.

Download: TeamSpeak (Free)


This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows programs. It's called Discord

Tired of Skype, don’t want to pay for TeamSpeak, but need a tool to communicate with your buddies? Give Discord a try. This voice and text chat for gamers is free, secure, and works on your phone, browser, or desktop computer.

Download: Discord (Free)

Similar tools:


Fragmented data can slow your computer down. Defragging restores order on your hard drive. Note that defragging a solid state drive (SSD) can reduce its lifespan.

Piriform Defraggler

This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows defrag programs. It's called Piriform Defraggler

From the makers of CCleaner comes Defraggler, a portable defragging tool, sporting solid features, paired with a pleasing and intuitive interface. You can benchmark your drive, view a file list and drive map, as well as examine drive health.

Download: Defraggler (Free)
Download: Defraggler Professional ($19.95)

An alternative to Defraggler is IObit Smart Defrag, which is easy to set up and runs in the background.

Download Tools


This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows programs for downloading torrents. It's called qBittorrent

qBittorrent is a free and open source BitTorrent client. It’s generally considered the best uTorrent alternative The Best Torrent Clients to Replace uTorrent Are you still using uTorrent? It's time to switch to a cleaner and more trustworthy BitTorrent client. Here are the best uTorrent alternatives for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Read More . Unlike the client it was designed to replace, it’s free from bloatware and ads.

Download: qBittorrent (Free)


This screen capture shows one of the best Bittorrent clients. This one is called Transmission

An open source and cross-platform BitTorrent client built by volunteers. It’s full-featured, doesn’t bundle adware, and won’t track its users. As a result, it’s lightweight and much more enjoyable to use.

Download: Transmission (Free)


This is a screen capture of the JDownloader interface. JDownloader allows for better downloads.

Free and open source download manager. Allows you to start, stop, and pause your downloads, set bandwidth limitations, and auto-extract archives. Your antivirus may detect it as a threat, but rest assured it’s a false positive. Potentially comes packed with bloatware.

Download: JDownloader (Free)

Other alternatives:

  • FlashGet can download videos from various sources, collaborates with your antivirus, and optimizes system resources.
  • Free Download Manager supports HTTP, FTP, and BitTorrent. Can resume broken downloads and you can adjust traffic usage.

Email Clients


This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows programs called Thunderbird email client

Mozilla’s trusty and easy to use email client. Supports tabs, add-ons 10 Must-Have Thunderbird Addons (+ 25 More) Thunderbird lives on. This desktop email client thrives because of its many customization options. These must-have Thunderbird addons will help you make the most of it. Read More , and is also available as a portable app. And in 2019, Mozilla announced that it will pick up developing Thunderbird again.

Download: Thunderbird (Free)

High on our list of free desktop email clients The 5 Best Free Email Clients for Your Desktop PC Want the best free email client? We've compiled the best email software for Windows, Mac, and Linux that won't cost you a dime. Read More are also Mailspring and Mailbird. The best free alternative to Microsoft Outlook The 5 Best Free Alternatives to Microsoft Outlook As awesome as Microsoft Outlook can be, there are good reasons to consider an Outlook alternative. Here are the best options! Read More , however, is EssentialPIM.

File Management


This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows programs for copying files. It's called TeraCopy.

Copy and move files at maximum speed and pause and resume file transfers. When an issue comes up, TeraCopy won’t terminate a transfer like Windows Explorer does. Instead, it will show you the failed files after the transfer was completed.

Download: TeraCopy (Free)

EaseUS Partition Master

This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows programs for cloning and restore hard drive images. It's calledEaseUS Partition Master

EaseUS Partition Master is an advanced alternative to the built-in Windows partition manager. It supports merging of adjacent partitions, copying partitions and disks, upgrading system disk to a bigger drive, and it can recover deleted or lost partitions from unallocated space.

The Pro version lets you manage dynamic volumes, migrate your operating system to SSD/HDD without reinstallation, supports Windows Storage Spaces, change between MBR and GPT without losing data, and more.

Download: EaseUS Partition Master (Free)
Download: EaseUS Partition Master Pro ($39.95, free trial)


This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows FTP programs. It's called FileZilla

A free, lightweight and robust FTP client for transferring files to and from the web.

Download: FileZilla (Free)


This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows programs for file management. It's called MultiCommander

A feature-packed alternative file manager to Windows File Explorer that uses a dual-panel layout. If all you desire is a file explorer that supports tabs, we recommend Explorer++. For more options, see this article on alternative file explorers Fun & Useful Alternatives For Windows Explorer Windows Explorer – now known as File Explorer in Windows 8 – is a mainstay of the Windows desktop. No matter how many alternative programs Windows tweakers use, most people seem to stick with the... Read More .

Download: MultiCommander (Free)

Additional tools in this section:

File Recovery

Did you ever wish you could turn back time to recover your lost files? With the following tools, you need neither a DeLorean nor a flux capacitor, a little luck will do. Just remember not to write any data to the disk you wish to recover files from.


This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows programs for recovering deleted files. It's called Piriform Recuva.

The Recuva wizard can take you through the process of recovering files or you can manually pick drives to be scanned. Designed for intuitive use by the makers of CCleaner. The professional version also includes virtual hard drive support, automatic updates, and premium customer support.

Download: Recuva (Free)
Download: Recuva Professional ($19.95)


This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows programs called TestDisk

This open source tool is considered one of the best applications for recovering lost partitions or making non-booting disks bootable again. It’s operated through a command prompt window but comes with thorough documentation, which will allow even novices to compile information for recovery by a professional.

Download: TestDisk (Free)

To recover photos from digital camera memory, try TestDisk’s open source companion PhotoRec, which can recover a wide range of accidentally deleted files, including photos.

More recommendable applications in this category:

  • Disk Drill (formerly Pandora Recovery), free file recovery software for any type of file, also available as a portable app.
  • FreeUndelete will recover files removed from the Recycle Bin.

File Storage

You can never have enough storage space. The advantage of cloud storage is that you can access it from anywhere and as long as the service and your internet are running, you have nothing to worry about. The following are the most popular and reliable options available.


This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows programs called Dropbox

Dropbox is available across platforms and allows you to sync folders and files to the web and other devices connected to your Dropbox account. Great tool to auto-upload photos from your mobile phone. It’s being challenged by Microsoft OneDrive, which offers more storage capacity and potentially better Windows integration.

Download: Dropbox (Free)

Google Drive

This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows programs called Google Drive

The evolution of Google Docs keeps your documents synced between the cloud and your PC.

Download: Google Drive (Free)


This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows programs called OneDrive

Microsoft’s cloud storage solution comes with (now only) 5 GB of space for storing documents and images.

Download: OneDrive (Free)

Other tools in this section:

  • Nextcloud, a free open source tool to build your own, self-hosted cloud storage solution; a community fork of ownCloud.
  • MEGA, formerly known as MegaUpload, is a cloud storage and file sharing solution that offers up to 50GB of free storage.

Image Editors


This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows programs called GIMP

Advanced open-source and cross-platform image editor, often touted as free Photoshop alternative.

Download: GIMP (Free)


This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows programs called Paint.NET

Free image editing tool with an intuitive interface for beginners and comprehensive features for intermediate users. Supports layers, unlimited undo, special effects, power tools, plugins, and when you’re stuck you can rely on a selection of tutorials and an active online community.

Download: Paint.NET (Free)

Potential alternatives to GIMP and Paint.NET, with a focus on photo editing:

We also recommend the following image editors:

  • Inkscape for professionally editing vector graphics.
  • XnConvert for batch processing images.
  • RIOT for quickly optimizing photos.


This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows programs. It's called GifCam

A simple tool to create animated GIFs. Use the app like a camera to record a series of image frames, which you can then edit, before turning them into a GIF.

Download: GifCam (Free)


The free open source 3D creation suite supports everything from modeling and animation to video editing and game creation. It has long been the gold standard of 3D imaging tools. Get over its steep learning curve with these Blender tutorials Getting Started with Blender: 7 Fantastic Tutorials for Newbies 3D modeling is an excellent way to exercise creativity while keeping in touch with your technical side. Here are some awesome free tutorials. Read More .

Download: Blender (Free)

Image Viewers

FastStone Image Viewer

This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows programs. It's called FastStone Image Viewer

All in one image browser, converter, and editor that has never let us down. Supports all major graphics formats, including RAW and other digital camera formats. The makers of FastStone Image Viewer also offer a Capture tool and a Photo Resizer.

Download: FastStone Image Viewer (Free)


This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows programs. It's called IrfanView Image Viewer

Simplistic on the surface, hides advanced features under the hub, yet intuitive and easy to use. Classic image viewer, which you can also use for simple edits or batch-processing files. Now available in 32-bit and 64-bit versions. An extensive plugins library is available separately.

Download: IrfanView (Free)


This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows programs. It's called XnView Image Viewer

Cross-platform image viewer, organizer, and converter that comes with a huge selection of filters and supports 500 different formats.

Download: XnView (Free)


Third-party applications can impact your system’s performance. They can accumulate temporary files and huge caches, launch with Windows and consume resources in the background while getting outdated over time.

PC maintenance tools can help you keep your computer running smoothly on the software side or analyze issues with your hardware. In addition, they can maintain your privacy by removing traces of your online or offline activities from your PC.


This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows programs. It's called CCleaner

CCleaner is the PC maintenance gold standard. The award-winning optimization tool scores high points all around. Clean junk files, make your browsing safer, or speed up your startup times. If you absolutely have to use its registry cleaner, be sure to back up the registry 3 Tools To Monitor & Examine The Windows Registry The Windows registry is one of the most poorly understood parts of the Windows operating system. We show you tools that can simplify the registry and help you identify issues. Read More first.

The Pro version gets you real-time monitoring, scheduled cleaning, automatic updates, and premium support.

Download: CCleaner (Free)
Download: CCleaner Pro ($19.95, free trial)


This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows programs. It's called BleachBit

BleachBit is a free and open source tool to clean unnecessary files from your system. And you’re in control! Scroll through the sidebar and check file types for individual browsers (e.g. cache or cookies), system files, and other software that clutters up your hard drive. When you’re ready, click Clean and free up disk space.

Download: BleachBit (Free)

Glary Utilities

Like CCleaner, Glary Utilities offers comprehensive PC cleaning utility. The free version includes over 20 tools that can fix PC issues and improve performance with one click.

Download: Glary Utilities (Free)
Download: Glary Utilities Pro ($19.97)


PrivaZer can scan any drive connected to your computer for traces you left while using your computer, including internet cache or cookies, residual deleted files, or useless files. Essentially, it’s a cleanup utility with a focus on your privacy. Available as a desktop and portable application.

Download: PrivaZer (Free)

Similar application:


This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows programs. It's called Piriform Speccy

An advanced system information tool for your PC, made by the creators of CCleaner. The free version provides you with an overview of all your system internals, including your operating system, CPU, RAM, motherboard, graphics, storage, optical drives, audio, peripherals, and your network.

The Pro version adds automatic updates and premium support.

Download: Speccy (Free)
Download: Speccy Pro ($19.95)

Similar tools:

  • CPU-Z is the best app to gather basic CPU, mainboard, memory, and system data. Watch out for bloatware from CPUID when installing PC-Wizard or CPU-Z.
  • Complement with GPU-Z for information about your graphics card.
  • Use SpeedFan to monitor PC voltages, fan speeds, and temperatures.


This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows programs. It's called SUMo Software Update Monitor

Software Update Monitor, short SUMo, monitors your installed software for available updates and downloads them for you. Be sure to deselect the default homepage setting during installation and click Cancel when prompted for it again! You can also quit the survey.

Download: SUMo (Free)

In addition to the tools above, we also recommend the following:



This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows programs. It's called f.lux

This utility helps you prevent eye strain and sleep better by adapting your screen brightness and color saturation to ambient lighting. It also supports scheduling, as shown above.

Download: f.lux (Free)

Classic Shell

This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows programs. It's called Classic Shell

Classic Shell is more than a Start Menu replacement. Besides adding a customizable Start button and menu, it features tool- and status bars for Windows / File Explorer and Internet Explorer. A great productivity tool to make Windows better 6 Windows 10 Offline Apps to Stay Productive and Entertained Most of us are online around the clock. But which apps should you turn to when you find yourself "off the grid"? We show you six Windows 10 offline apps you should keep stocked. Read More .

Download: Classic Shell (Free)


This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows programs. It's called VirtualBox Create Virtual Machine

VirtualBox is the easiest way to create a virtual machine What Is a Virtual Machine? Everything You Need to Know Virtual machines allow you to run other operating systems on your current computer. Here's what you should know about them. Read More within Windows. You can install any operating system on your virtual machine and run it like it was a regular program. We have used VirtualBox to run Windows 10 on Windows, Linux How To Try Windows 10 If You're Running Linux Love Linux, but still depend on Windows occasionally? The Windows 10 TP is a stable test system. We show you how you can try Windows for free as a dual boot or on a virtual... Read More , and Mac How To Try Windows 10 On Your Mac Free & Easy Even as a Mac user you might need Windows from time to time, be it at work or a public computer. Here's a chance to familiarize yourself with Windows 10 for free. Read More . Refer to our VirtualBox guide How to Use VirtualBox: User's Guide With VirtualBox you can easily install and test multiple operating systems. We'll show you how to set up Windows 10 and Ubuntu Linux as a virtual machine. Read More for more information.

Download: VirtualBox (Free)

Alternatively, you can use VMWarePlayer to set up a virtual machine Run Multiple Operating Systems At Once With VMware Player We’ve lavished attention on VirtualBox here at MakeUseOf, and for good reason. However, VirtualBox isn’t your only option for creating and using free virtual machines. VMware Player, VMware’s free product, is every bit as good... Read More on your computer.


This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows programs. It's called TeamViewer

TeamViewer allows you to remote-connect to another computer over the internet, either to provide technical assistance or to access files and programs. By far the best free remote desktop connection manager you can get. It’s cross-platform and easy to set up, too.

Download: TeamViewer (Free)

Hiren’s BootCD

Hiren's BootCD

Hiren’s BootCD is one of those apps every techie should carry around. Burn the ISO to a CD or create a bootable USB with Rufus and you’ll always have a digital toolbox Hiren's Boot CD: The All-In-One Boot CD for Every Need Hiren's Boot CD is a Windows rescue utility that boots from CD or USB. It's a must-have for your PC repair kit for when Windows won't boot. Read More with you to fix some common computer issues. Comes with recovery tools, can reset your Windows password, test hardware, compile hardware information, and much more.

Download: Hiren’s BootCD (Free)


This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows programs. It's called KeePass

Portable and open source password manager with plugin support. Helps you protect your online accounts with strong passwords. The app stores passwords on your computer or USB drive. Cloud-based alternatives to KeePass include Dashlane and SafeInCloud Password Manager.

Download: KeePass (Free)


This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows programs. It's called Eraser overwrite files

You may know that deleting a file in Windows doesn’t actually remove it. That’s why it’s possible to recover deleted files Why It Is Impossible To Recover Data From An Overwritten Hard Drive [Technology Explained] Recovering deleted data from a hard drive is generally possible because typically the actual data is not deleted. Instead, information about where the data is stored is removed. In this article I will explain how... Read More . Eraser is an open source utility and portable app that permanently deletes files 5 Tools To Permanently Delete Sensitive Data From Your Hard Drive [Windows] In a recent article I explained why it is impossible to recover data from a hard drive after overwriting it. In that post I mentioned that simply deleting files or formatting your hard drive typically... Read More by overwriting them with random patterns. Best used with hard disk drives since erasing data from a solid state drive How to Securely Erase Your SSD Without Destroying It SSDs can only be written to a limited number of times. Then how can you securely erase your SSD? Here's what you need to know! Read More can cause damage and other issues.

Download: Eraser (Free)

Optical and Disc Image Tools


This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows programs. It's called CDBurnerXP

Feature rich, yet easy to use burning tool for CDs, DVDs, HD-DVDs, Blu-Rays, ISOs, and bootable discs.

Download: CDBurnerXP (Free)


  • ImgBurn, a lightweight CD, DVD; HD-DVD, Blu-Ray burning application.
  • DVD Flick specializes in burning DVDs for your DVD player, media center, or home cinema set.
  • BurnAware, a free burning software for CDs, DVDs, and Blu-rays.


This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows programs. It's called bitRipper

Simple tool to convert DVDs to AVI or MPEG for backing up your DVDs on your local drive. Includes its own codecs and can re-use codecs installed on your system. If your DVDs turn out too big to be stored locally, try DVDShrink to reduce their size.

Download: bitRipper (Free)


This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows programs. It's called CDex

CDex rips audio CDs to MP3 and other formats. Supports a range of encoders and the source code is open.

Download: CDex (Free)


After the demise of Virtual CloneDrive, WinCDEmu has become your best solution to emulate CDs, DVDs, and Blu-ray discs. The open-source tool supports ISO, CUE, NRG, MDS/MDF, CCD, and IMG images and can create them via a context menu in Windows Explorer. You can create an unlimited number of virtual drives to mount image files and play them virtually.

By virtualizing your discs, you’ll never have to swap discs again. The tool is also ideal if you want to run optical discs on a Windows device that lacks the matching drive.

Download: WinCDEmu (Free)

PDF Tools

Sumatra PDF

This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows programs. It's called Sumatra PDF

This is the most lightweight PDF reader. It supports tabs and is packed with keyboard shortcuts. It’s also open source and available as a portable app. Unlike other free PDF readers, it doesn’t feature any editing tools.

Download: Sumatra PDF (Free)

Read our article on the best PDF readers for Windows 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 more solutions.


PDFsam, aka PDF Split and Merge, is a small tool to split, merge, and rotate PDF files any way you like. You can drag-and-drop files onto the tool and mass-edit files. The interface is basic, but the features are advanced.

Download: PDFsam (Free)


  • PDFTK Builder is a free graphical interface version of PDFTK to merge, split, decrypt, encrypt, watermark PDF files.
  • doPDF can convert over 400 file types to PDF.



Powerful virtual desktop manager. Expand your screen with virtual desktops and use them to separate open windows based on tasks. A similar tool is VirtuaWin, a lean desktop manager with a minimalist set of features.

Download: Dexpot (Free)


This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows programs. It's called Ditto

Ditto is a clipboard manager 6 Free Clipboard History Managers to Track What You Copy & Paste You need a clipboard manager because it can remember all the things you copy and paste. We have compiled five of the most functional tools to manage your clipboard history . Read More that allows you to keep a record of your Windows clipboard backed up for later use or sync clipboards across multiple computers. Also available as a portable app. Similar to ClipX [Broken URL Removed] and many other clipboard managers 5 Tips to Manage Your Windows Clipboard Like a Pro Better known as Copy & Paste, a tool for students to lift passages from Wikipedia, the Clipboard can save you loads of typing time. We'll show you how to use it like a pro. Read More .

Download: Ditto (Free)


This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows programs. It's called Launchy

A cross-platform utility that employs keyboard shortcuts to launch programs and files independently of Windows File Explorer or the Start Menu. If you’re looking for a Start Menu alternative The 7 Best Windows Start Menu Alternatives and Replacements The Windows 10 Start Menu is a great improvement over Windows 8, but you can make it even better. Here are the best tools for working around or replacing the Start Menu. Read More , you might also appreciate SyMenu, a portable menu launcher that allows you to organize your applications quickly and easily.

Download: Launchy (Free)

Other notable applications in this section:



This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows programs. It's called Kindle

Amazon’s Kindle app lets you read and manage your ebook collection from your Windows PC.

Download: Kindle (Free)


  • Icecream Ebook Reader is an immersive ebook reader that supports EPUB, MOBI, FB2, PDF, and other ebook formats.


This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows programs. It's called Calibre

Free and open-source ebook manager. Comes with a library to manage your ebooks, can convert ebooks from one format to another, syncs to your reader devices, downloads news from the web and converts it into ebook format, functions as an ebook viewer, and can edit ebooks.

Download: calibre (Free)

Text Editing


This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows programs. It's called LibreOffice

You don’t have to pay for Microsoft Office Save on Microsoft Office! Get Cheap or Free Office Products Reluctant to spend a few hundred bucks on a glorified word processor? You can get Microsoft Office for cheap and alternatives for free. You've got many options and we offer a summary. Read More to get a professional productivity and office suite, one which is open source and community-supported on top of that.

Download: LibreOffice (Free)

WPS Office Free

This is a screen capture of one of the best the Windows programs. It's called WPS Office

Free cross-platform Microsoft Office alternative with a tabbed interface and more reliable support for collaborative features, such as tracking changes and comments. Self-absorbed ads can be a little annoying but are easily ignored.

The Premium version is ad-free and lets you split and merge PDF to Word. The Professional version is a lifetime license with three years of services included.

Download: WPS Office (Free)
Download: WPS Office Premium (From $44.99 per year)
Download: WPS Office Professional ($79.99 lifetime)



A Notepad alternative with tabs and advanced features, useful especially for coders.

Download: Notepad++ (Free)


Revo Uninstaller

Revo Uninstaller

Probably the most popular tool in this category. Easy to use and thorough, even comes with a hunter mode that will track down and eliminate programs based on icons or shortcuts on your screen.

The pro version supports forced uninstall, bulk uninstall, extended scanning for leftover files, real-time change monitoring with log files, multi-level backup system, print and export a list of installed programs, and lots more.

Download: Revo Uninstaller (Free)
Download: Revo Uninstaller Pro ($24.95)
Download: Revo Uninstaller Pro Portable ($29.95)

IObit Uninstaller

IObit’s Uninstaller sorts all your programs into categories that make it easier to find applications you installed recently, software that takes up a lot of space, or tools you barely ever use. This utility also allows you to quickly get rid of browser toolbars and plugins, and Windows apps.

The Pro version can delete bundled programs and plug-ins, uninstall malicious browser extensions, it features adware removal, 1-click updates for installed programs, free technical support, and more.

Download: IObit Uninstaller (Free)
Download: IObit Uninstaller Pro ($19.99)

Other tools in this category:

Video Tools

VLC Media Player

VLC Media Player

Free and cross-platform video player that can play almost any video file. Supports DVDs, CDs, VCDs, and a selection of streaming protocols, including YouTube playlists How to Watch Entire YouTube Playlists in VLC Do you love YouTube playlists, but wish you could watch them outside your browser? You can use VLC for the job, thanks to a simple extension. Here’s how. Read More . It can also rip and transcode videos or record video from your webcam.

Download: VLC Media Player (Free)


  • Pot Player, the successor of KMPlayer with a rich set of advanced features.
  • Media Player Classic, a lightweight media player with built-in codecs.
  • K-Lite Codec Pack offers a selection of four codec packs, from basic to mega. They will outfit your favorite video player with all the codecs it needs to play any video you throw at it.



Open source, cross-platform, media converter that can convert video files between many different formats.

Download: HandBrake (Free)

Alternatives to HandBrake:

  • Freemake, a video converter and DVD burner that supports over 200 file types.



A cross-platform video transcoder that can read DVDs and Blu-Rays and convert The 11 Best Tools for Ripping DVDs and Blu-rays to Your Computer Here are the best tools for ripping DVDs and Blu-rays so you can digitize all of your media without any hassle. Read More them into free formats. The Blu-Ray feature is a free trial.

Download: MakeMKV (Free)



A high-quality and open-source freeware screen capture utility with support for lossless video output. Perfect for creating screencasts or video tutorials.

Download: CamStudio (Free)



Formerly known as XBMC, KODI is a media center package for your Home Theater PC (HTPC). It can stream live TV How to Watch Live TV on Kodi Cutting the cord can mean losing access to live television. However, there are a number of ways to watch live TV on Kodi. Read More , allowing you to cut the cord Cut That Cord! How to Ditch Cable If you've read about the cord-cutting phenomenon but aren't sure where to start, this is a guide to cutting the cord and ditching cable TV for good... Read More on pricey cable TV services.

Download: KODI (Free)

An alternative to KODI is Plex, a media center based on XBMC Your Guide To Plex - The Awesome Media Center If you have a lot of locally-saved movies and TV shows, you need to install Plex. And this is the only guide to getting started with Plex you'll ever need to read. Read More and originally designed for the Mac. It now also supports movie trailers and has a premium version.

Best Windows PC Software for All Needs

Have you tested any of the applications above or have we missed your favorite software? Let us know! We will improve the list based on our tests and your input. And if you appreciate this list, please share it with your friends and family!

Do you feel spoiled by choice? Start here with the essential applications you must install New PC? 15 Must-Have Windows Applications You Should Install First Got a new computer or just reinstalled Windows? These essential apps are must-have software for Windows 10, no matter what! Read More on your new Windows PC.

Related topics: Best Of, Longform List, Windows Apps.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Monroe Ruda
    July 29, 2020 at 6:27 pm

    You have not included ACRONIS backup which will make complete backup

  2. Mark Davies
    September 3, 2019 at 5:10 am

    Can anyone recommend anything to get rid of a browser hijacker in Chrome?

  3. NorthLake
    May 20, 2019 at 7:12 pm

    For anyone just getting into photo editing that still finds programs like Gimp to intimidating, you can also use RealWorld Paint. It's really easy to use.

  4. Tech_Man
    April 2, 2019 at 10:19 pm

    Add BCUninstaller! It can automate uninstallers, even if there's no "quiet" uninstaller for the program!

    • the AVLien
      August 11, 2019 at 7:31 pm

      I was flabbergasted that this didn't make the list. It is undoubtedly more powerful than most paid uninstallers.

  5. Steve
    February 2, 2019 at 10:12 pm

    This list was updated Jan 2019 and CCleaner. This website said it was malware:
    in Sept 2018. And //
    in May 2018 don't you guys talk to each other?With the update of this list I expected CCleaner to be off the list as it should be.

  6. yannis
    December 27, 2018 at 2:34 pm

    Step ONE : Install Linux

  7. Doc
    November 26, 2018 at 4:24 pm

    March 23rd? I think it's time for an update...

  8. Danny
    July 23, 2018 at 6:53 am

    Awesome work there!
    I had only one quibble. Libre office can cause more labor than Open Office, which is the authentic and it is located on Apache's website. Using the real Open Office is quite the time-saver.

  9. Amit Parashar
    June 10, 2018 at 6:03 pm

    IDM(Internet Download Manager) is the best download manager and for torrents I would like to recommend Tixati.
    Flexibility to pause-resume downloads and they use multiple threads to enhance downloads speed.
    Nero is the best go to tool for CD-DVD and image burning.

    • Tech_Man
      April 2, 2019 at 10:29 pm

      And how do they use multiple threads to increase download speed? By converting computing power into internet?

  10. Noah
    April 23, 2018 at 2:08 pm

    I highly recommend that you remove CCleaner from the list as it has been effected with malware and is not a tool someone should be using!!!

    • Alan
      May 2, 2018 at 12:38 pm


      You are mistaken.

      CCleaner is not "effected" with malware (unless you tried to install a cracked Pro version).

      Yes, you should be aware of what CCleaner can do, but if you checked on line for useage tips and settings, you could safely use the app.

      Do your research. Stay in school. Concentrate on spelling. Stay off the weed...

  11. Rodger Saas
    April 2, 2018 at 11:29 am

    I highly suggest PhotoViewerPro as the best photo editing software. It makes editing a lot easier and it gives you a wide array of tools to make your photos eye-catchy and more enhanced. It is definitely a two thumbs up!

  12. tim
    March 28, 2018 at 1:31 am

    almost all of them address the shortcomings of windows, you tell us the tools to help windows to behave what it intends to do. These tools then need other tools to make them do better, and then it goes on an on ........

    • Tina Sieber
      March 30, 2018 at 8:50 pm

      I disagree. Some of them address shortcomings of Windows users and others add optional features.

  13. Dennis Christensen
    March 26, 2018 at 7:28 pm

    I wouldn't recommend AVG, since they collect personal data. And Panda Anti-virus because it's causing BSOD primarily on Windows 10. Bitdefender is good, however slowing down your PC rapidly and crashing while gaming. I would recommend ClamWin Antivirus since it doesn't slow your PC and hardly noticing it while gaming or working.

    • Tina Sieber
      March 30, 2018 at 8:42 pm

      Thank you for your feedback, Dennis!

  14. abpccpba
    March 26, 2018 at 4:15 pm

    Thank You so much. Batch files still exist : - ))))

    • Tina Sieber
      March 30, 2018 at 8:42 pm

      Indeed, they do!

  15. Langoor
    August 11, 2017 at 12:14 pm

    Sophos Home?
    Maxthon Cloud browser?
    Outlook mail client?
    K9 Web Protection?

    All are absolutely free and best.

    • Tina Sieber
      August 11, 2017 at 10:06 pm

      Thank you for sharing your picks!

  16. Mariam
    July 2, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    Very nice and detailed info about the software.
    I have also one suggestion of KrojamSoft PhotoViewerPro which has great features.

    • Tina Sieber
      July 3, 2017 at 6:10 pm

      Is it free? If no, what makes it worth buying compared to the free solutions presented here?

  17. Jeff Coutts
    June 29, 2017 at 8:37 pm

    EM Client is the best free Windows email client I have found. Free for 2 accounts, it is a good program for those who don't want to use webmail!

    • Tina Sieber
      July 3, 2017 at 6:10 pm

      Thank you for the recommendation, Jeff!

  18. Junaid Ahmed
    June 29, 2017 at 5:22 am

    Comment: As Avast now owns AVG, there is probably no difference in detection-rate between them. But AVG used to be lighter on system than Avast.
    Additional defragment utilities are usually unnecessary for general users. Iobit Smart Defrag used to slow down UWP apps, don't know if it still does.
    qBittorrent on Windows is probably the best free(open-source too) torrent client on Windows platform.
    K-lite Codec Pack(Standard Or Mega) is a good alternative of VLC, specially for professionals.
    However, thanks for this Very good list/article!

  19. Doc
    June 28, 2017 at 5:09 pm

    Not only did AVG screw up by announcing they'd begin selling their users' (aggregate and anonymized) usage habits, they were bought out by Avast over a year ago. While they may still be operating as a separate unit, that won't last forever.

  20. vferg
    June 28, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    I also forgot, my recommendation for a LOCAL music player would be MusicBee. Somewhat similar to the one you recommended above but I think it offers way more customization and plays your music at the best quality. You can change and control everything or go minimalist with it which is why its so dam good.

  21. Marty Monroe
    June 28, 2017 at 8:06 am

    I find it highly amusing the first recommendations are anti-virus, malware removal, defraggers, pc tune-up and uninstallers, all programs written to fill holes and overcome limitations in Microsoft operating systems.

    • Doc
      June 28, 2017 at 5:13 pm

      Wonderful irony there, but the truth of the matter is, MacOS is massively outdated, and Linux is incomprehensible for the vast majority of users; not only that, corporate users and gamers have no other options (aside from consoles). Windows isn't going away any day soon.
      Disk defragmentation is actually handled pretty well (since XP, Windows' defragmenter is based on Executive Software's Diskeeper, and runs automatically in the background while the computer is idle; Defraggler is just a better version. The same could be said of Windows' Disk Cleanup and CCleaner; the first is OK, the second is nicer.

      • Col. Panek
        March 27, 2018 at 8:15 pm

        And you don't need any of that crap when you run Linux. Just because you think it's "incomprehensible", doesn't stop my 96 year old dad or my granddaughters. Try it, you'll like it.

        • Doc
          March 28, 2018 at 12:30 pm

          Wow, finally got a response to a 9-month-old comment!
          Truth is still the truth - I've tried Puppy Linux, Ubuntu, and a few others, and getting nVidia drivers running on Ubuntu is still a pain. Big commercial software won't run unless under WINE, and games (outside of Tux Racer) are still mostly nonexistent; Valve's the only "big name" to embrace Linux via Steam OS. Also, I'm betting your dad and granddaughters are depending on YOU to keep their Linux distros running, right?

        • Col. Panek
          March 29, 2018 at 7:12 pm

          Well, there's some truth in your comment. My 6 year old main PC has an nVidia card and sometimes it doesn't work with upgrades without fiddling. Odd, on Ubuntu MATE it always works, on Mint, I use an older kernel. Every other PC I've put various distros on, works great.

          Big commercial software? Don't use. I have used WINE a couple times, no problem.

          Games? I guess if you aren't content with the 1000+ native Linux games, or RunOnLinux ... oh well.

          If I have to provide free IT service for friends or relatives, it's better to install something that's easier to administer and more resistant to malware to begin with. Cut down on the panic phone calls that way. Install their favorite card game and wallpaper, and you're set.

          So, we have options. Everybody should be aware of them.

  22. Emiley Rose
    May 15, 2017 at 12:28 pm

    Look man you have two choices h the freeware which is good for nothing. They say all the stuff like it provides long path name support, provides multi threading file transfer and many fake features but the reality is very different. I have tried most of the software, I was also a fan of freeware but they dont work properly. So I started to look for other software in the market and I found GS Richcopy, currently I'm using its enterprise version. Its paid but affordable and I have seen the features, the power of this software by myself. Some of its features include long path name support which is necessary when copying huge files, copying locked files, multi threaded file transfer for fast transfer speed, pre scheduled file transfer, email notification when task is done and many more.Try it its the best till now!

    • Tina Sieber
      May 15, 2017 at 6:27 pm

      Thank you for the recommendation, Emiley. I've never heard of this product before, so it's a no-name to me.

      Before investing in an expensive product that I've never heard of before, I'd rather go with a solution from a reputable company like Intel's Data Migration Software, EaseUS Todo PCTrans Pro, or Acronis True Image 2017. Tell me how your product compares to these well-known solutions.

  23. Kumnar Anshi
    April 23, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    Nice article but the software which I felt missing is GS Richcopy. Man, this software is the best file copying software I have ever seen so far. Although its a paid one but the features provided are just too good for the price. If you have too many files to copy you can trust this software, it is simple to use, provides long path name support, email notification when the task is completed. I have been using it for 2 years now its amazing! Try it hope it helps you too!

    • Tina Sieber
      April 23, 2017 at 2:22 pm

      Thank you for the recommendation, Kumnar!

  24. A41202813GMAIL
    November 17, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    ZTREE File Manager - Free Testing With No Strings Attached For 30 Days.


  25. Eve
    August 30, 2016 at 9:36 pm

    Hallo Tina. When is comming a new update.The last one is from 19 december 2014. Love from Holland.

    • Tina Sieber
      August 31, 2016 at 10:28 am

      We're working on the update in September and you can expect it in October the latest.

      • Dries
        March 23, 2017 at 7:50 am


        I'm still eagerly awaiting the updated article. Has it been published yet?

        • Tina Sieber
          March 23, 2017 at 8:56 am

          Updating this post clearly dropped off my priority list. Still on the list somewhere and it will receive an update eventually.

        • Dries
          March 23, 2017 at 11:03 am

          I feel your pain :) Not enough hours in the day.

          Still, a very useful article. Thanks!

  26. James
    August 26, 2016 at 2:08 am

    Great list of amazing programs! I ran across a few I already Use and will also be trying a few out.

    I would HIGHLY suggest a Great Browser to check out and maybe consider after reviewing throwing it on a future list maybe.

    Maxthon Browser. Can be found at

    It's super fast! I have used it 7 years and is my main browser, only other browser I sometimes Use is Chrome.

    If I'm not mistaken they have been around since 2003 but were under a different name not sure what it was or when they changed it but its AWESOME . Let me know what you think of it

    • Tina Sieber
      August 31, 2016 at 10:29 am

      Thank you for your suggestion, James!

      I'll be working on an update of the list in September and I might be able to include Maxthon Browser.

      • Ferris Odom
        June 28, 2017 at 1:39 pm

        Maxthon uses and is built on the Internet Explorer engine.

  27. siberya
    August 2, 2016 at 11:51 am

    nice list. i would replace foxit wth sumatra, much faster, open many formats including djvu, fb2 etc.
    For music I use Aimp, for archives 7zip, for texts notepad++, for task manager process explorer. lol Iam pretty sticky to your list.
    ALso recomend teleport if u need to download the whole site, "Sandoxie" to run some suspicous files in virtual space.
    For videoplayer only potplayer - better than vlc or medialplayer classic.
    And if we talk about not free soft, but the best ofc there should be adobe soft, like photoshop cs5 (not shitty cc), illustrator, indesign - absolutely unique and professional programs.
    And for musicians I recomend use FREE but EXTREMELY POWERFULL Reaper DAW.
    For 3d - blender is free and also very professional.

    • Tina Sieber
      August 3, 2016 at 7:44 am

      Thank you for those great suggestions, Siberya!

  28. Lukas
    July 6, 2016 at 4:56 pm

    I have been using Total Commander for many years and I am very happy with it. It is a dual window file manager and offers a lot of build in functionality like packing/unpacking or FTP access. If there is a functionality you are missing, like opening a special file format, there is probably a community made plugin for it. It can be found at (I am not affiliated with it in any way, I just like it)

  29. Matheus Souza Silva
    May 16, 2016 at 9:39 pm

    Good article, i use many programs from this list.

    • Tina Sieber
      May 17, 2016 at 11:23 am

      Are there any programs you would add, Matheus?

      • Matheus Souza Silva
        May 17, 2016 at 3:14 pm

        I recommend the SafeInCloud app, a software for password guard.

  30. Larson Ashcroft
    May 4, 2016 at 3:00 am

    In the web browsers, you forgot about vivaldi.

    • Tina Sieber
      May 4, 2016 at 10:58 am

      So many interesting and unique browsers, so little room. Thank you for the feedback!

  31. Ken
    February 4, 2016 at 3:27 am

    Great list, many of these programs I use and appreciate. I would like to recommend two other programs I have been using for many years. They are;

    Memento: A sticky notes program, simple to use for jotting down notes, also some semi-permanent information.
    Rainlendar: An unobtrusive desk calendar. One great feature is the ability to delude the age with a birthday reminder or how many years with a Wedding Anniversary.

    • Tina Sieber
      May 4, 2016 at 11:02 am

      Thank you for the recommendations, Ken!

      Rainlendar is awesome! I wrote one of my Memento that other sticky notes tools, like Windows' own Sticky Notes, don't do so well?

  32. Msrk Murawski
    January 21, 2016 at 11:04 pm

    very nice list

  33. Anonymous
    October 3, 2015 at 4:08 am

    I highly recommend:
    Malwarebytes - Anti Exploit (i use premium, but there is also a free version).
    Very effective, expecially in adding an extra layer

  34. Anonymous
    September 26, 2015 at 8:24 am

    With your New Look I am unable to see
    'Best of Windows Software, Apps. etc. which I found very useful

    OR is there a screen where these are available?.

  35. Anonymous
    September 25, 2015 at 5:00 pm

    Hello, all.
    Great list, luv it, gotta' bookmark it.
    But w/ all the warnings about adware, bloatware, etc, I want to recommend something I think is absolutely vital: "Unchecky," a program that automatically protects against many unwanted installation add-ons.

    Have a GREAT day, Neighbors!

    • Ferris Odom
      June 28, 2017 at 1:43 pm

      Unchecky does not protect against all bundled software. As developers get more advanced in bundling trickery, Unchecky has failed to keep up. You need to use the software between your ears - your common sense and your logic. Don't rely on a program to do what you can and should do yourself. Pay attention when you install software.

      • Tina Sieber
        June 30, 2017 at 2:12 am

        Thanks for the heads-up, Ferris! I tried to highlight sneaky bundled installers where I noticed them.

  36. Anonymous
    September 13, 2015 at 5:00 pm

    The print function doesn't work.

    I like to print out these lists so that I can make notes about the products for future use.

    The print function should also contain the comments since many of the comments consist of many other excellent suggestions.

  37. Anonymous
    September 10, 2015 at 12:36 am

    I've been playing around with the applications of every sort for some time now and these are my choices of freeware software for Windows:

    Antivirus: Microsoft Security Essentials because it scans removable devices, it's lightweight and efficient. It does what it should, nothing more, nothing less.

    Malware Removal: mixed. Whenever I notice something odd I use Malwarebytes along with Spybot and IObit Malware Fighter. I use also ADWcleaner and ComboFix, when it's a though one.

    Defragging: well, I gave a shot to IObit Smart Defrag 4, but haven't tested more than once and I didn't set up an automatic mode. It uses around 1 MB of RAM when idle and replaces the Windows Defrag (as option).

    File Recovery: Asoftech software and Recuva.

    Uninstallers: IObit Uninstaller 4 and Absolute Uninstaller. I use both, because IObit has real-time monitoring and seeks for leftovers but it doesn't show everything. With Absolute I've found some apps I didn't realize I had, and the IObit nor built-in uninstaller didn't show them.

    Backup & Sync: I have Total Commander fo syncing and it's also great for copying big data and FTP.

    PC Maintenance: for many years I had CCleaner but now I'm testing System Ninja and IObit Advanced System Care 8. They just can do much more. System Ninja also has plugins and is definitely more efficient than CCleaner (and obscure too).

    Image Editors: Autodesk Pixlr. It's fun!

    Screen Recorder: GifCam. It's super lightweight, easy and it has an AVI & GIF export feature.

    Files & Drives: EaseUS Partition Master, Total Commander, WinRAR, Filedrop - free, cross-platform file sharing through WiFi, Smart Folders - when I drop one file on another it makes a new folder.

    Productivity: Remembr - a simple clipboard manager, much better than Ditto. I've noticed Launchy on the list but in my case it took too much RAM. Keybreeze 4 is faster.

    Development: Brackets with Extract. It has many plugins, themes and looks nice. Color-Cop as a color picker.

    Optical & Disc Image Tools: I've been using Virtual CloneDrive and thought there's nothing better, but I've tried WinCDEmu and changed my mind. It mounts CD/DVD images within two clicks, lets to choose a drive letter and after ejecting the image it disappears from My Computer.

    Download Tools: I used uTorrent when it was usable. Now I have Transmission-Qt. It's light and has all the necessary options.

    Miscellaneous: f.lux is a must, Dashlane for passwords and it's cross-platform with browsers' plugins, CacheMyWork for bringing back all the applications I've had opened before rebooting, Fliqlo Screensaver, MediaHuman YouTube to MP3 Converter, RecycleBinEx for automatic emptying the bin after a certain time, Unlocker of course, WizMouse for scrolling inactive windows and make them active automatically.

    That would be all the freeware, for now :)

    • Mihir Patkar
      September 10, 2015 at 7:12 am

      What a wonderful list! Thank you so much for this reply, Anna :)

  38. Anonymous
    September 1, 2015 at 9:09 am

    uTorrent? Do some research on this once great application. Nowadays it's a cesspool of ads and it adds your computer to a botnet for rent.

    • Mihir Patkar
      September 1, 2015 at 9:42 am

      This post was written when uTorrent was still the software we all loved :) Things have obviously changed now, we'll revisit this soon.

  39. Anonymous
    July 2, 2015 at 3:56 am

    it is the best and the fastest downloader software ever and it's for free. :)

    • Jake
      April 7, 2016 at 8:37 am

      It Most Certainly is Not Free!! Plus, it will Destroy All Your Internet Settings. Will Not be able to download Anything Ever Again!! Had to Re-install Windows. Thanks-but-no-Thanks!!!

  40. Anonymous
    June 17, 2015 at 8:57 pm let's you search the top four open source sites at once.

  41. Anonymous
    June 8, 2015 at 6:24 am

    I can't believe AIKIN Desktop HyperSearch isn't on here. I just started using it and it's phenomenal. Desktop search seems to have languished the last 6-7 years but this app does some really impressive stuff like semantic content search. It's like I finally have a google-ish search on my desktop because it doesn't require me to remember exactly how something was named or written. I can just type in what i remember and it finds it more often than not.

  42. Seinfeld
    May 12, 2015 at 4:51 pm

    Hi Tina.
    You've absolutely forgotten SyMenu. It's the best start menu replacer, portable menu launcher and, lately, the best program suite organizer, I've ever seen.
    All my Windows programs are now depending on it.
    And it is completely free.
    Have a look at it (

  43. Batharoy
    May 11, 2015 at 11:03 pm

    This is a great list, thanks for compiling it.
    I would like to nominate Sumatra PDF as a PDF and/or Ebook application.

    "What is Sumatra PDF?

    Sumatra PDF is a free PDF, eBook (ePub, Mobi), XPS, DjVu, CHM, Comic Book (CBZ and CBR) reader for Windows.."

  44. Erik
    May 10, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    Actually strange that there is no Icecream Ebook Reader in Readers section. I'd say that the ones listed are 'dinosaurs' of eBook reading. IER is free, has most understandable and comfortable UI for reading. And btw it is translated to 19 languages :) Surely worth reviewing..

  45. Davis Brown
    May 7, 2015 at 9:19 am

    Here is one other windows software that should be on your list that I am currently using for themes and template design is this templatetoaster. This is an advanced software for web designer and web developer. The software is a desktop based application and generates templates or themes for all the popular content management systems i.e. WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Magento, Prestashop etc.

    • Tina
      May 8, 2015 at 12:53 pm

      Thanks for the suggestion, Davis.

      We focus on free software and generally don't recommend paid applications, unless the tool is a must-have for the majority of users. That's not the case for templatetoaster.

  46. Sagar Shah
    April 26, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    I like to recommend mailbird for an alternate email client.

    • Anonymous
      July 2, 2015 at 3:59 am

      try OUTLOOK

  47. Itsapainfulworld
    April 17, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    I'd like to ask that Open Office ( ) be looked into as a Microsoft Office alternative. Used faithfully by myself and my mother ever since MSOffice/Excel/Word/Powerpoint stopped shipping with with purchases of a Windows OS and was made into a standalone product.....shame really.

  48. M.Khalaf
    April 7, 2015 at 9:43 am

    woow!! Tina that is really good list and i like ... one thing you didn't mention is my favorite player KM PLAYER...good job waiting next version of apps
    Thanks alot dear.

  49. KimE12
    April 6, 2015 at 12:11 pm

    Thanks for your list ! Have installed 2 programs so far.

    Forgive me if I have missed it, but after about 15 years of computers I am now using Bvckup for my backups and it is by far the best I have ever used !

  50. aew3
    March 23, 2015 at 5:03 am

    also there are some better screen recorders out there- I use fraps (paid) but some good free ones are-
    screen recorder (from Microsoft, don't know if you can still find it...)
    and there's plenty of good productivity programs/chrome extensions, but i feel like they belong in their own article!

  51. aew3
    March 23, 2015 at 5:00 am

    utorrent has gone down hill in the past couple of updates- I recommend qbittorent, which is open source, but there are some other good alternatives.
    Despite being feature laden I find vlc heavy. I prefer smplayer- not as feature rich, but uses less system resources.
    I always find makeusof writers do research and know what they are saying. Good job!

  52. Benyamin Limanto
    March 14, 2015 at 2:48 am

    Opera Mail must be in the list actually for mail client...

  53. Ucef_Dz_25
    March 8, 2015 at 10:19 am

    you may also like to add :

    Security :
    | Shadow Defender
    | Process Explorer (Free)
    | USB Disk Security (Free)

    Burning :
    | AnyReader (great tool to recover CD/DVD media)
    | Img Burn (Free)
    | Power ISO

    Driver :
    Driver Tool | Driver Easy
    Driver Tool | IObit Driver Booster
    Driver Tool | Driver Slim

    Edication :
    Babylon Dictionary

    Net :
    Down | EagleGet (Free)
    Filter | Golden Filter Premium (Free)
    Tool | TCPView (Free)

    Utilities :
    Compres | WinRar
    Compres | 7 Zip (Free)
    Bureau | Rocket Dock
    Tool | FileTypesMan (Free as i remember !, i use it to change extensions icons as : .rar .iso ...)
    Tool | Speccy
    Tool | Universal Extractor (Free)
    Tool | Synei (Free)
    Tool | CPU-Z (Free)
    Utilities | AVG PC TuneUp

    Peace! :3

    1..2..3.. Viva l'algerie .. :3

    • Tina
      March 8, 2015 at 11:28 am

      Wow, lots of great suggestions! To be honest, we have removed some of the ones you mention in an effort to shorten the list, for example CPU-Z, which is now only mentioned. Nevertheless, will check out this thorough list and see which apps we can adopt.

      • Ferris Odom
        June 28, 2017 at 1:47 pm

        Would you really, truthfully add a driver updater to this list? Driver updaters cause huge problems with Windows. As a Windows tech, I cannot tell you how many times I've seen problems caused by driver updaters. And many of them are bundled with toolbars and malware. The only time you need to update a hardware driver is when the hardware is not working when it should, not when a driver updater tells you there's a new driver.

        • Tina Sieber
          June 30, 2017 at 2:09 am

          You'll be glad to hear that I haven't added a driver updater to the list, Ferris.

  54. Richard
    March 5, 2015 at 10:52 pm

    You should definitly add these softwareprograms to the list:

    OBS ( Video Recording/streaming
    Easy7Zip ( The easy "winrar" lookalike version but then 7Zip
    Privazer ( Excellent cleaning software.
    Adwcleaner ( Malware-remover
    Bleachbit ( Ccleaner competitor

  55. Kamal
    February 24, 2015 at 12:47 pm

    where the hell is IDM?

    • Tina Sieber
      February 25, 2015 at 3:53 pm

      Possibly returning in a future update of this article. :)

    • Jake
      April 7, 2016 at 8:35 am

      IDM Sucks!! It crashed my Computer. Not allowing downloads. Can't uninstall it Completely. Had to Re-load Windows!!!

  56. carson
    February 20, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    You can think of the Modern UI as something like a full screen program launcher. It gives quick access to more item then you could pin to the task bar. A lot of folks find the transition jarring but I find it easy to move between the two environments.

  57. GS
    February 8, 2015 at 5:36 am

    Keynote-NF is the indispensable tool. using it for many years. not bloated , small file that's encrypted, can be backed up automatically.

  58. John
    January 28, 2015 at 8:57 am

    Great list! Really found this useful for setting my new laptop. I've been using VLC for the longest time, glad to see that they're still relevant as always.

    In terms of security, I've always tried different ones from the last 3 computer changes I did (computer hardware sure ages quick these days).

    I've gotten around AVG, Kaspersky, and Panda. This time around I've found Secureaplus (, and it seems secure & lightweight enough for a laptop. Not too sure about their offline anti-virus, but the rest works really well.

    Anybody else has experience with them?

  59. Kevin
    January 27, 2015 at 12:12 am

    Is there a reason why the format of these "Top Lists" have changed from the previous "tiles" to one long list? I don't know if it's just me, but I thought the prior format was much more convenient to comprehend. Plus, less scrolling is always a plus!

    • Tina
      January 27, 2015 at 8:47 pm

      We changed from a page to article format with more thorough and (hopefully) helpful descriptions for each tool. You can use the arrow at the end of each header to jump back up to the navigation menu. Maybe that helps.

  60. jase
    January 19, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    I am dismayed that no one has ever heard of Helium Music Manager for audio. It is feature rich with a great interface and it's the only audio app that handles custom fields for sound tagging in addition to the standards. And without a doubt, the best download manager I have ever used is Down Them All! It's amazing, but it's only for Firefox. It's so good that I actually broke down and installed Firefox the other day. Now if I can just get Google to offload all of my downloads to FireFox...anybody know of a FF Tab like IE Tab? Great list, thanks for the great suggestions.

    • Tina
      January 19, 2015 at 5:14 pm

      Thanks for the suggestions, jase.

      I will check out Helium Music Manager for the next revision of this list.

      We have a separate list for Firefox Plugins and DownThemAll is on there. :)

  61. rifrish
    January 17, 2015 at 9:14 am

    For email client try Mailbird. Their app has a nice design i believe.

    And for download manager try Free Download Manager.

  62. Jamie M.
    January 16, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    I would recommend Glary Utilities by Glarysoft ( for PC Maintenance. I've been using it for years and it's what I recommend to everyone.

  63. Dennis
    January 12, 2015 at 9:09 pm

    For backups I use Macrium Reflect Free. It works great!!! Much better than Microsoft's apps.

  64. Mike Poorman
    January 7, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    Wheres the media servers? I've been using PLEX to go threw my PS3. I think it works with PS4 and android phones as well. Vuse works pretty good too.

    • Tina
      January 8, 2015 at 3:05 pm

      We might add Media Servers in a future update. Thanks for the suggestion!

  65. Daniel
    January 5, 2015 at 9:51 pm

    CDEX has just started bundling unwanted bloatware into their installation program. When I ran the setup program (downloaded from the CDEX site) it tried to install 5 different bloatware programs as well, each of which I had to opt out of individually. That is really low. Time to find an alternative ripper.

    • Tina
      January 5, 2015 at 10:24 pm

      That's really too bad. Thanks for the heads-up Daniel!

  66. sahil jadhav
    January 1, 2015 at 3:52 pm

    Thanks !
    I think its a very helpful list

  67. Bill in SD,CA
    December 31, 2014 at 7:03 am

    Very comprehensive list. Some good amount of time went into putting this together. Thanks! I will look into “Unchecky” as posted by s0lj0n

  68. Azus Smith
    December 31, 2014 at 6:20 am

    In my opinion, Microsoft Security Essentials is reliable for Windows OS. It is also available for latest versions like Windows 8 and 8.1 .

  69. Hector
    December 29, 2014 at 12:53 am

    Nice list, I have most of these programs installed and I usually recommend other to use them...

  70. Richard Borkovec
    December 28, 2014 at 7:07 am

    This would be awesome, but it'd be great to see a list like that that's worked towards the new small hard drive computers. I just got a Stream 13, and seeing this list broken down to what would run and not fill the hard drive, now that'd be a challenge!

  71. sid
    December 25, 2014 at 11:04 pm

    I'm using Audacious as audio player (
    simple player. knew it from linux and after foobar and winamp blown up to real media players some years ago I really like audacious now. Nothing for people who need a music library but for those who have their own folder structure. Also no need to install, just run it and go.

  72. ken pasco
    December 25, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    Spybot is awesome, been using it for years. Dropbox is great also...

  73. Pranav
    December 25, 2014 at 8:46 am

    Thanks The list is awesome ! Many of them proved very helpful to me :D

  74. s0lj0n
    December 25, 2014 at 1:16 am

    Hello, all.
    Additions to this;
    RE: "best" defrager; Puran's Defrag.
    RE: "best" backup/image/clone tool; Macrium Reflect Free.
    RE: "best" 'burner'; BurnAware Free.

    Have a GREAT day, Neighbors!

  75. s0lj0n
    December 25, 2014 at 1:02 am

    Hello, all.
    RE: "some installers pack bloatware."
    A really *GREAT* freeware solution to "bloatware" is "Unchecky."
    It automatically "unchecks the box", so "bloatware" doesn't install.
    I love it, wish I'd starting using it years ago; its that good.
    Anybody that uses 'freeware' *needs* "Unchecky" NOW,
    before you install anything else.

    • Tina
      January 19, 2015 at 5:11 pm

      Great tip and can't believe I missed to add it! This will most definitely make it into the next revision of this list. Thank you! :)

    • chameera geeth
      May 1, 2015 at 6:17 pm


  76. Ian
    December 24, 2014 at 9:38 pm

    Slimimage is worth a mention as a back-up option that uses native Windows applications and presents them in a very easy to use interface, allows for multiple O/S image back-ups and data files in two sections, it's still in beta after 2 years tho'!
    Faststone, Image editor, similar to many but has some nice features, including non-destructive jpeg rotation, % of image quality retained shown after editing jpegs, a straightening tool that is the easiest to use ever!
    Nero wave editor is a great tool for editing sound, host of effects and allows recording from any source. Has a transcoder inbuilt and supports plug-ins.

    • Tina
      January 19, 2015 at 5:11 pm

      Thank you for the suggestions, Ian!

      I think we used to have Faststone Image Editor in there. We had to drop a couple great apps because the list was so huge. Will re-consider it for the next revision.

      Will also look into SlimImage and Nero Wave Editor. Thanks!

  77. Doc
    December 24, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    "Commodo offers Default Deny Protection..." One too many M's here. #whoops

  78. amit
    December 24, 2014 at 5:03 pm

    somebody plz give me the name for a free pdf editor!

    • Jay
      December 25, 2014 at 8:17 am

      Foxit. Say goodbye to Adobe and don't look back.

    • ken pasco
      December 25, 2014 at 5:57 pm

      I use Foxit by Firefox

  79. Krish
    December 24, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    AV Comparitives dot org has rated Bitdefender as among the top (Advanced+) in real time protection. I have been using it and it is a minimalist AV, Firewall, Spam Blocker and Web protection all in one with negligible system resources at use. I cannot believe that the above list excludes Bitdefener. Easeus applications are good and practical and I like them but when I installed one of their HDD clone software apps, it damaged my DLL files. It also tried to evasively install something called "My Radio". I do not like program trying to install apps like that.

    • Tina
      January 19, 2015 at 5:08 pm

      Thanks for the feedback, Krish!

      Yes, it sucks when an installer tries to sneak in bloatware, especially if it's a security app; doesn't make it seem trustworthy, does it?

      I will look at BitDefender again for the next revision and see whether we can re-add it.

  80. Ronnie Beaujolais
    December 24, 2014 at 9:07 am

    Notepad replacement: Programmers Notepad (

    Cloud Storage: Copy ( Cross platform, 15gb free and extra for referrals.

  81. Arpit Kharbanda
    December 24, 2014 at 9:05 am

    Stupendous List! But,DAP(Download Accelerator Plus) should deserve a position/rank/mention in this list.

  82. connecticut472
    December 24, 2014 at 7:00 am

    Great Tools !
    I am mostly used all tools and thanks for sharing for useful information.Keep sharing in future.

  83. ReadandShare
    December 24, 2014 at 7:00 am

    Gratifying to see some of the apps I use on this list -- and great to discover a few more good ones. Always a joy discovering great (and free) software. Thanks!

  84. Tim
    December 24, 2014 at 3:30 am

    VLC should've made it into audio as well, but good list

    • Tina
      January 19, 2015 at 5:06 pm

      I didn't want to list it in both and went with video. Should probably mention it's benefits as an audio app regardless. Definitely something to change in the next revision. Thanks Tim!

  85. R3
    December 24, 2014 at 3:07 am
    Slightly nicer looking (imo) alternative to Explorer++. Also supports theming via .crx files.

  86. Horace
    December 24, 2014 at 1:24 am

    Great list. For disk usage i'ld add .

  87. portableman
    December 23, 2014 at 9:11 pm

    Text editor: Notepad2-mod

  88. SteveMcBill
    December 23, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    DVD Authoring/Creation software - DVD Styler is excellent and beats a few of the paid for variants I have on my machine - see over at:

    • Tina
      January 19, 2015 at 5:04 pm

      Thanks for the suggestion, Steve. I will check it out for the next revision.

  89. KT
    December 23, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    Very comprehensive list. I like spybot a little better than malware bytes. And If you use firefox with a lot of ad blocking, AVG plays better with it than Avast.

    • Tina
      January 19, 2015 at 5:04 pm

      What's better about Spybot, anything specific?

      Thanks for the tip regarding AVG and Firefox.

  90. RWD
    December 23, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    CCleaner also has a built in uninstaller. I don't know how it compares to the ones mentioned, but it sure seems to work for me.

    • Tina
      January 19, 2015 at 5:03 pm

      That's true, RWD. I should probably add that if you're using CCleaner, you don't necessarily need another third party uninstaller. Good tip!

  91. David
    December 23, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    That's a great list. Very useful. Thank you!

  92. ed
    December 23, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    Great list! Thanks!

    Also -

    Text Editor: Sublime Text (especially for coders)
    PDF viewing: PDF-XChange Viewer

    Both come as portable apps too.

    • Tina
      January 19, 2015 at 5:02 pm

      Thanks Ed! We also have a list for portable apps. Saw that you mentioned Sublime on there, too. Will keep it in mind for both lists.

  93. Darryl
    December 23, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    Nice list but under file backup, I'd have listed CrashPlan as the best option. Their app is free, and there are many options for backup destination, including paid cloud options and free options such as an external drive or even another computer running CrashPlan, so you and a friend could share backup space on your computers (solving the challenge of offsite backup).

    CrashPlan deserves consideration here.

    • Tina
      January 19, 2015 at 5:01 pm

      We used to have CrashPlan in the list. I'll consider re-adding it for the next revision. Thanks for the input, Darryl!