If you have just purchased a new computer, or simply wondering what you need on your computer, here is a very helpful list of must have software for Windows 10.
I have taken my years of computer experience and gathered my personal list that I find when preparing a computer for a person of any age.
I found these apps necessary no matter what you intend to use your computer for. It will take out a lot of the frustrations when wanting to fulfill common tasks.
The software I mention in the entire list is free and will help you deal with common pitfalls when starting out on a new PC or a computer you are learning on.
List of must have software for Windows 10
Here are my recommendations, my reason why you need it, and the download link for each one.
1. Codec pack or media player: KLite Codec Pack or VLC
Being able to play all different video file formats on your computer essential. After all, you own a computer, it should play anything, right?
Well, without anything extra installed, it may not be the case. There are some formats that require extra bits of software called codecs that allow your media player to decode the specific compressed video format.
So, there are two ways you can make sure everything is playable.
- Install a codec pack so that Windows Media Player handles all the formats.
- Install VLC media player that has its own codecs built into it which can play it all.
Option 1: Installing K-Lite Codec Pack
K-Lite is a codec pack that installs all the various codecs that allows you to play most video formats out there.
Windows Media Player will be able to play most formats, allowing you to use the native video player that Windows provides.
Installing it is slightly technical, but here is a tutorial on how to do it step by step that I wrote to make it easier: How to install K-Lite codec pack.
Download: K-Lite Standard Codec Pack.
Option 2: Installing VLC (VideoLan)
VLC is a video player that you can install to play all your video files. It’s lightweight and has been around for a long time.
It handles many file formats and has some great extra features surround video and audio playback.
This is the quick and easy way to get all your media files to play without a hitch.
Download: VLC Video Player.
2. Email client: Thunderbird
Windows provides you with a default mail client, out of the box. If you find yourself not liking it for some reason, try Mozilla Thunderbird.
It’s lightweight and gives you lots of nice features for free.
Download: Mozilla Thunderbird.
3. Office suite: Apache OpenOffice
Having a software suite to edit or create office documents is a staple for most computer users.
Not only do I find myself using an office suite for business-related jobs, but for general organizing or letters that usually would be as tidy when written by hand.
I have put together a tutorial for your to install OpenOffice over here: How to install OpenOffice.
Download: Apache OpenOffice.
4. Antivirus: Avast
With Windows Defender stepping up to the plate of recent years, installing an extra antivirus program is hardly necessary for an everyday user.
If you are a person to visit more risky websites or downloading files that the average person doesn’t, Avast will be more necessary.
The advertising of upgrades to their paid version is the only slightly annoying thing.
Other than that, it will be a great free antivirus with excellent detection rates.
Download: Avast Free Antivirus.
5. PDF Viewer: PDF-XChange Editor
One type of common file type that isn’t handled well by Windows natively, is a PDF.
PDF-XChange Editor allows you to view any PDF, print it out, and do some basic editing.
Download: PDF-XChange Editor. (Select PDF XChange Editor, not Pro)
6. Internet browser: Chrome
Yes, Microsoft’s Edge browser is fast, but it lacks a decent amount of extensions or plugins.
Chrome is a hugely popular browser and I have found it to be great.
The only thing I don’t like about it is the ability to automatically clear all your browsing history, cookies and preferences every time you exit the browser.
For that, I use this extension: Click ‘n Clean. Just apply your settings in the extension once it’s been installed and you’re good to go.
Chrome is fast and has an excellent extension library for you to do most things.
Download: Google Chrome.
7. Cloud storage/backup: OneDrive
Setting up your Ondrive is such a useful exercise. Quite often I see OneDrive sitting inactive in people’s task tray which leaves me wondering why it’s not used.
After asking why, it seems the most common question I get is, ‘What is it?’. It quite often turns out that the term ‘cloud storage’ is also foreign to them.
Once I explain that files stored in your OneDrive can be accessed from any device that has the OneDrive app installed on it, it becomes clear that something like this is desirable.
So, get your OneDrive setup by clicking on the small cloud icon near your clock.
The free option allows you to store up to 5GB of data. I found this to be adequate for most personal situations.
8. Cleanup: CCleaner
This program cleans up most of the unnecessary files on your computer, without breaking anything.
I hardly use the registry cleaning part of it, as that always makes me a little nervous.
But, in saying that, the many times I have used it, nothing has ever gone wrong.
Using CCleaner is easy. Simply check the options of the items you want to be cleaned when performing a clean.
Although it’s a really simple clean, it can save you some significant space on your hard drive.
The updates will have to be done manually when you are on the free version.
9. Photo editor and video creator: Microsoft Photos
This is a Microsoft app that offers useful features for photos and videos.
Microsoft Photos allows you to create videos from images and add music.
You can think of it as a replacement for Windows Movie Maker, with an image editor.
You also have the ability to add 3D effects, filters, camera motion and text to your videos.
Install from the Microsoft App Store: Microsoft Photos.
10. Password manager: LastPass
Keeping track of your passwords for everything has become a tedious task for most of us in today’s world.
But, with LastPass password manager, you can have all your passwords stored in the cloud and your password vault is accessible through the extension or directly through your web browser.
There are different versions that can be used, for the main types of browsers, universally through Windows, desktop applications.
Lastpass pocket provides offline accessibility as an extra way of accessing your passwords.
I have been using this extension for years and I have enjoyed using it.
LastPass can also generate passwords and autofill passwords with encryption in your browser logon forms.
This adds an extra layer of safety, not having to type in your username and password to prevent potential trojan infections from hijacking your keystrokes.
Download: LastPass for Chrome.
Download: LastPass for Firefox.
Download for other purposes: LastPass Direct Downloads.
11. Bookmark manager: syncmarx
Keeping your bookmarks backed up is something that can be easily forgotten. When you think of backups, you usually think about important documents or project files first.
Lots of people have missed having XMarks around. And it’s understandable, it worked so well.
But here is the best alternative I could find in the meanwhile until someone brings along a better utility.
With syncmarx you can save all of your bookmarks to the cloud and it will keep them synced up on any other computer that has syncmarx installed.
Download: Syncmarx Bookmark Sync Tool for Chrome.
Download: Syncmarx Bookmark Sync Tool for Firefox.
12. Compression tool: 7Zip
It isn’t too common, but every once in a while, you will come across a compressed file that isn’t a Zip file.
It will be something like an ISO, RAR, or even a Tar file. That’s where 7Zip comes in.
It will handle most compression formats that require decompressing.
It is lightweight and does such a fantastic job for free. It also adds easy contextual menu options to handle compressed files.
Download: 7Zip Compression Archive Tool.
13. Photo viewer: Restore default access to Windows Photo Viewer
When you are looking through your photo collection, you need an easy to use photo viewer.
I have heard lots of people not being a fan of the latest photo viewer built into Windows 10.
The previous photo viewer that still can be used natively in Windows seems to be difficult to set as the default photo viewer.
By installing the registry file given below, it will allow you to use the native original Windows Photo Viewer that many people love.
I myself prefer it. It seems more intuitive and is way easier to use. It also performs really well.
Once you give it a try, you might recognize it, maybe you won’t. Either way, I have the feeling that you will be hooked.
Download this zip file, extract it and merge the registry file: Restore Photo Viewer.
If you right-click on an image file and hover the mouse pointer over ‘Open with’, you can left-click on ‘Show more apps’. Then left-click on Windows Photo Viewer. You can also check ‘Always use this app to open .*** files’ to make it automatically use Windows Photo Viewer permanently.
If you want to know how to merge or import a .reg file, have a look here in my other article, under ‘How to import registry files’.
14. Adblocker: Adblock Plus
Most of us hate ads. You get them everywhere these days. You would have noticed them on websites and YouTube for sure.
Having Adblock Plus installed in your browser, you can limit all these ads to almost nothing.
I especially love it on YouTube. I use online media to get away from normal television. I really don’t want to see ads online too.
Try it out, simply install it and you’re ready to experience uninterrupted streaming from YouTube and almost no ads on websites.
Some websites have a content blocking filter when it detects that you are using an adblocker. In that case, you can either navigate away from the site or turn it off for that website if you need to see the content.
It’s a simply toggle button you flick off, and after a refresh on the page, you will be able to view the page as if you didn’t have an adblocker.
You will enjoy a totally new experience without ads.
Download for Chrome: Adblock Plus for Chrome.
Download for Firefox: Adblock Plus for Firefox.
Download for Safari: Adblock Plus for Safari.
15. Social chat: Whatsapp for Desktop
Do you sometimes feel it’s difficult to text chat on your smartphone using those awkward buttons?
If you do, then you will love this.
Personally, I love to type on my keyboard rather than on a small smartphone screen.
By installing this application, you can hook up your phone with WhatsApp to it and use your computer instead of your smartphone.
It is so amazing how liberating it feels. Now you can fire off text messages at lightning speed.
Download: Whatsapp for Desktop.
So there you have it. My list of top apps that I think everyone needs on their computer.
It makes life easier when things simply work. Having the right apps in place takes away the frustration and saves you time.
Use the apps you like from this list, I’m sure they will become your first goto software applications when using a different computer.
Marlo is a full-time professional computer programmer, electronics engineer and computer technician. Computers are his passion and he loves to help anyone wanting to know more about them.