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Do you hate some of the default Windows software? While there are some tools you have to live with, you can replace most with superior alternatives. We’ve taken a look at awesome programs to replace stock apps, but those are far from the only ones.
Let’s explore more of best free apps that blow standard Windows tools away. These are total replacements — check out the best apps to enhance default features if you just want to complement default programs.
1. Multi Commander > File Explorer
File Explorer, formerly Windows Explorer, has some great features like the Ribbon shortcuts and Favorites sidebar. While you can enhance it with lots of add-ons, power users are better off replacing it with Multi Commander.
Multi Commander offers far more options than File Explorer. Its two-panel interface with tabs lets you quickly keep two locations open and move files between them without any extra software. You can quickly open a Notepad or Command Prompt window right from the app. A collection of buttons at the bottom of the window let you hide all folders, select all the images, or find duplicates.
And those are just the surface features. Dig into Multi Commander and you’ll find a robust search function, easy file renamer, and useful folder comparison options. It even includes a Registry editor right inside the app. If you browse the files on your PC with any regularity, use this tool and you’ll have so much more power while doing so. The File Explorer can’t compete.
Download — Multi Commander
2. Mailbird > Windows Mail
Not everybody needs a desktop email app, since most webmail clients are solid. But if you prefer managing your inbox(es) from a dedicated app, the Windows Mail app is what Windows 10 provides out of the box. It’s a functional program, but doesn’t particularly excel in any area.
There are tons of desktop mail clients, but we think Mailbird is a great choice. It’s slick, customizable, and lets you integrate many additional apps if you want. Link Mailbird with Moo.do and you can organize your emails into tasks. Or bring in your existing Google Calendar events to keep track of everything in one place.
If you don’t think it will distract you too much, you can also connect your WeChat, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger accounts to chat with friends right from the app. It supports multiple layouts so you keep the most important information in front of you. You can add up to three accounts and manage them all in one big inbox if you like.
It’s free, with a $12-per-year Pro upgrade unlocking a few extra features. For those who live in their email, Mailbird gives you more than Mail ever could.
Download — Mailbird
3. EaseUS Todo Backup > Windows Backup
Backing up your computer is essential and if you’re not doing so, you run a huge risk of losing data. Thankfully, it’s not hard to set up a backup system at no cost.
On its own, Windows provides the File History tool and the old Windows 7 Backup and Restore. File History is basic and saves copies of your important documents so you can recover old versions. The Windows 7 tool is okay, but it’s clunky and doesn’t offer you many options.
You could choose from a lot of backup options, but EaseUS Todo Backup is a great pick. It lets you create full, incremental, and differential backups. Novice users can get a backup running without much fuss — you can even back up to cloud storage if you prefer. If you’re migrating disks, you can back up an entire hard drive.
EaseUS Todo Free provides everything you need, and lets you manage your backups in a much more intuitive way than the Windows Backup.
Download — EaseUS Todo Backup Free
4. IrfanView > Photos
Windows Photo Viewer was the standard tool for opening image files until Windows 8. After Microsoft introduced the new Photos app with a few tricks, Photo Viewer was sent to the background.
Photos is okay, but the best replacement you’ll find for working with images is IrfanView.
This strangely-named tool has been around since 1996. It opens images more quickly than Photos, and lets you perform basic tasks like resizing, rotating, and cropping with keyboard shortcuts. If you need a little more, you can manipulate photos without opening Paint.NET or another editing app. Placing text, applying a variety of effects, adding an image border, and replacing colors are all supported.
Even with advanced plugins, it won’t replace a powerful image editor like Photoshop, but that’s not what it’s intended for. IrfanView is snappier than Photos and gives you more options for editing images without ever leaving the viewer.
Download — IrfanView
5. Panda Free Antivirus > Windows Defender
Gone are the days when you had to hunt down an antivirus for Windows right away. Since Windows 8, Microsoft has included Windows Defender as the built-in solution. It’s a decent tool and you can get by with it, but there are better free antivirus apps available.
Many free antivirus apps like Avira and Avast install a bunch of extra junk that you don’t need, which is annoying. Our pick is Panda Free Antivirus. As long as you skip the “sponsored offers” during setup and uncheck the Panda News option, you won’t see any nagging from the app. Since it’s a cloud antivirus, the work isn’t done on your machine — freeing up resources. It’s all topped off with a sleek interface and great protection.
If you like to tinker, Panda lets you schedule scans, exclude files and folders, and vaccinate USB drives. Panda Antivirus is more powerful than Windows Defender without being overwhelming like some other tools.
Download — Panda Free Antivirus
6. Process Explorer > Task Manager
The Task Manager gives you one place to see what’s happening on your computer. It collects what apps and services are running, how many resources are in use, and lets you manage active users. While there’s nothing wrong with the Task Manager, Process Explorer expands on everything it can do.
Open Process Explorer and you’ll see a similar window, but with so much more information. Processes are organized by app, so you can see the dozen instances of Chrome all in one place. Colors let you easily distinguish between services, your processes, and suspended apps. Right-click any entry to get more information on it, such as a quick Google search or the ability to bring the app behind a process to the front of your screen. You can even send a process right to VirusTotal to check for malware.
It might overwhelm you at first, but take some time to learn how Process Explorer works and you’ll never go back to the Task Manager.
Download — Process Explorer
7. SpeedCrunch > Calculator
The Windows Calculator doesn’t get enough love. It includes several modes and even some quick forms to help you convert values.
This is fine for quick calculations, but the more powerful SpeedCrunch takes it up a few levels. Among other things, SpeedCrunch makes it easier to use parenthesis than the Windows Calculator.
It also includes a host of built-in functions for calculating common values, so you don’t have to open a separate window to calculate absolute deviation. You can create your own functions and use variables, too. Auto-complete ensures you don’t have to type it all out.
Furthermore, the app includes common formulas and over 150 scientific constants. Add in syntax highlighting, full keyboard support, and a customizable interface, and you’ve got a calculator that doesn’t feel limited at all.
Download — SpeedCrunch
Have You Replaced More Apps?
For almost all users, these seven apps beat the default offerings. There’s nothing awful about any of these Windows programs, but why stick with inferior versions of the tools you use every day? Give these ones a try and you’re sure to find them more productive and powerful than what you’re used to.
Looking for more software recommendations? Check out the apps everyone should install on a new PC.
Now we want to know which Windows apps you’re replaced with an alternate tool. Will you try any of these after reading about them? Let us know in the comments!