Whether you’ve just purchased a new PC or reinstalled Windows, the first task you’ll likely do is installing apps. While there are dozens of amazing Windows programs, knowing which ones are the must-have software for Windows 10 or Windows 11 makes setting up a new installation easier.
In no particular order, let’s step through 15 essential apps for Windows that everyone should install right away, along with some alternatives for them. bagas31
1. Internet Browser: Google Chrome
Unsurprisingly, Google Chrome is still our top browser pick. It’s super-speedy, includes little conveniences like letting you instantly search Google Lens for an image, and has a vast library of Chrome extensions. Throw in cross-platform syncing that lets you open your desktop tabs on your phone and vice-versa, and you’ve got a fantastic browser for all purposes.
Chrome isn’t without its faults, however. Plenty of people want to avoid Google’s pervasive tracking in Chrome, and it gobbles a lot of RAM. But the good news is that you have plenty of other fantastic browsers to choose from, like Firefox and Opera.
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Even the built-in Microsoft Edge is based on Chromium, so give it a try if you prefer Microsoft’s approach over Google’s.
Download: Google Chrome (Free)
Download: Firefox (Free)
Download: Opera (Free)
2. Cloud Storage: Google Drive
If you only pick one cloud app service, Google Drive is the one you should install due to the amount of free space it includes. It offers 15GB of free storage, which is shared across your Google account with Google Photos and Gmail too.
Google Drive offers an app for every major platform, so you can take your files anywhere. In addition to syncing files you place in the dedicated Google Drive folder, the desktop app makes it easy to back up folders on your computer and external devices, too.
It’s also super easy to share files with others, plus the service plays well with Google’s productivity suite. Whether you use it as part of your backup plan, as a cloud flash drive, or for setting up shared folders with others, Google Drive is an essential app pick for Windows 10 and 11.
Paired with OneDrive (which comes built into Windows) or another free cloud storage provider, you can get plenty of storage space and separate your files logically by service.
Download: Google Drive (Free, subscription available)
3. Music Streaming: Spotify
Years ago, listening to music on your desktop meant painstakingly importing and organizing a collection of MP3s. That’s no longer the case; music streaming services eliminate the need for buying individual albums physically or digitally.
There are a lot of music streaming services available, but we think the essential pick for Windows 10 or 11 is Spotify. Its ad-supported free plan lets you listen to as much music as you like, and there are several Spotify Premium plans that are worth it for avid listeners. Spotify is also home to millions of podcasts, making everything available in one convenient place.
Spotify also has a dedicated Windows app, unlike some of its competitors. If you’re already invested in another ecosystem, though, Apple Music or YouTube Music might be a better choice for you.
Download: Spotify (Free, subscription available)
Visit: Apple Music (Subscription required, free trial available)
Visit: YouTube Music (Free, subscription available)
Office Suite: LibreOffice
Chances are you’ll need a productivity suite that lets you work with documents, spreadsheets, and presentations at some point. You might think that paying for Microsoft Office is the only way to get such access, but that’s far from the truth.
No Windows user should go without LibreOffice. It’s a completely free and powerful office suite that includes alternatives to Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, and more. Once you get used to a few small aesthetic differences from MS Office, you’ll be flying through your work with LibreOffice.
Note that OpenOffice, a once-popular alternative, is basically dead now. If you don’t want to use LibreOffice, try FreeOffice. You can use web apps like Word Online or Google Docs too, but we’re focused on full desktop downloads here.