Top 20 Free Apps For Your New PC

We’ve all bought a new PC in our time only to turn it on and look at two rows of shortcuts for trial software on our desktop. Heck, we see most of these apps on almost every PC we’ve ever worked on. Most of them are incredibly successful applications that have been around for a long time, and most people don’t know that there are alternatives.

In this roundup, I’m going to show you 20 free applications that will knock your socks off in both performance and features. Not only are they better than the full versions of the trial software, some of them are new applications that will extend the functionality of your PC. From here on out you’ll never want to use the old software again, and you’ll be telling all your friends about these free apps!

Zune

Zune

Zune

All PCs come with Windows Media Player at the very least for your entertainment needs, but Media Player just doesn’t cut it if you’re serious about your music collection. Microsoft also made the Zune player, which is not only fast, but a beautiful app as well. Like any media player worth its salt it has a music store built in called Zune Marketplace, so extending your library is only a few clicks away. This is a must-have app on any PC, and it’ll certainly keep it looking speedy and stylish!

Price: Free
Developer: Microsoft

Microsoft Security Essentials

Microsoft Security Essentials Screenshot

Microsoft Security Essentials

Unobtrusive, light-weight, and no yearly subscription required! Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) is free anti-virus software made by our friends at Microsoft. But don’t let “free” scare you away from software that will protect your computer. MSE gets its updates directly inside of Windows Update, so it’s easy to get the latest definitions.

Price: Free
Developer: Microsoft

PDF-XChange PDF Viewer

PDF-XChange Viewer

PDF-XChange Viewer

We’ve all had to use a certain sluggish PDF viewer with plenty of security holes, but this one is the different. It loads PDFs instantly and renders them very well. There is a free version that works perfectly if you want to view PDFs, and a paid version if you want to make or edit PDFs.

Price: Free
Developer: Tracker Software

Google Chrome

Google Chrome

Google Chrome

All PCs come with a copy of Microsoft’s own internet browser, but this browser from Google is much more secure, faster, and renders pages with pinpoint accuracy. Google makes frequent updates to Chrome every few weeks and created its own app market to extend the browser.

Price: Free
Developer: Google

Lightworks

Lightworks

Lightworks

Most professional video editors cost hundreds of dollars. Microsoft allows you to download a video editor with a basic functionality. None, however, beat Lightworks, which is a free editor used to make feature films. It pack a punch if you’re into video editing.

Price: Free
Developer: Lightworks

MetroTwit

MetroTwit

MetroTwit

Twitter applications come in all shapes and sizes. This is a beautiful Metro-styled client that doesn’t skimp on features. It supports multiple columns showing you your Twitter stream, mentions, and direct messages. It’s a free client, but there is a paid version that removes a small ad shaped like a tweet.

Price: Free or $15
Developer: Pixel Tucker Pty Ltd.

Paint.NET

Paint.NET

Paint.NET

Windows comes with a very basic image editor that has improved over the years, but doesn’t come anywhere close to Paint.NET. The software is free and is comparable to Pixelmator on the Mac platform. Everything from layering to filters are supported. You can also install plugins to gain more features.

Price: Free

Wunderlist

Wunderlist

Wunderlist

Wunderlist is the most elegant list-making app available today, and it’s free! Not only is the interface on the PC wonderful, it is available for most mobile platforms.

Price: Free
Developer: 6wunderkinder

LibreOffice

LibreOffice

LibreOffice

Everyone needs a office suite at some point, and there are quite a few to choose from. LibreOffice is probably the fastest office productivity package available for Windows. It comes with a word processor, spreadsheet system, presentation creator, and more. It’s everything you need for productivity in your home or business.

Price: Free

Stellarium

Stellarium

Stellarium

Most PCs come with a few cheap games that waste your time, but this can be a lot more fun… and educational. Stellarium is the ultimate planetarium application for all desktop platforms. You can spend a lot of time playing with Stellarium, and it’ll look beautiful on your PC.

Price: Free

LastPass

LastPass

LastPass

Who likes to remember the password you set for Facebook, Twitter, your Live ID, and fifty other services? No one does, and if you want secure passwords it’s probably impossible. LastPass takes care of our brain’s shortcomings by remembering all your passwords and will generate secure ones for you. All you have to do is remember your master password.

Price: Free or $1 for the pro version
Developer: LastPass

Picasa

Picasa

Picasa

Picasa is a great photo manager made by Google for Windows. It supports basic photo editing and it’s also great for organizing your photo library.

Price: Free
Developer: Google

Skype

Skype

Skype

Everyone’s heard of Skype! Skype allows you to make video and voice calls to your friends over the internet for free, but also allows you to call landline and cell phones by buying minutes.

Price: Free + Cost of minutes

Trillian

Trillian

Trillian

This is the ultimate chat client that allows you to connect to multiple accounts. You can connect to everything from Windows Live to Facebook, so you’ll be able to chat with your friends from anywhere.

Price: Free or $1 a month pro version to hide ads.
Developer: Cerulean Studios

VLC

VLC

VLC

When you have a video that you want to play that is encoded in a weird format, it’s VLC to the rescue! VLC also lets you connect to streaming media so that you can watch your favorite streaming show without keeping a browser tab open.

Price: Free
Developer: VideoLAN

Windows Live Mail 2011

Windows Live Mail 2011

Windows Live Mail 2011

Microsoft’s Windows Live Mail 2011 is a modern email client that lets you keep track of your email, calenders, and contacts. Multiple email accounts are supported, and you can send a “photo email” that will integrate a photo album on Windows Skydrive into your email.

Price: Free
Developer: Microsoft

HandBrake

HandBrake

HandBrake

If you ever wanted to be able to take your favorite movie and put it on your Windows Phone, then this is your answer. HandBrake allows you to rip your DVDs to a plethora of different formats, so you can have a copy on every device.

Price: Free

Xmarks

XMarks

XMarks

Xmarks is a free utility that allows you to sync bookmarks between different browsers. Now when you switch from Chrome on your desktop to Firefox on your laptop you won’t have to do a search to find that one URL you need.

Price: Free
Developer: LastPass

7-Zip

7-Zip

7-Zip

So Windows has been able to extract ZIP files for awhile now, but occasionally you’ll come across a RAR file for BZIP that you’ll need to extract. This would be a job for 7-Zip. It opens and extracts unusual compression file types, so it’s definitely a must if you run across a lot of those.

Price: Free

Notepad++

Notepad++

Notepad++

I don’t know about you, but I think the Notepad program that comes with Windows just isn’t good enough. Notepad++ can be anything from just your advanced text editor to your IDE. You can also download plugins to extend the functionality of the software.

Price: Free

Time For Your Feedback!

So did I miss you favorite free application? Do you want to tell me of an alternative to one of these apps that’s better? Please tell me about them in the comments!


  • http://beyn.org/ Barış Ünver

    Why would we want to download PDF-XChange Viewer when we have SumatraPDF? :)

  • SZH

    Thank you!
    These are really amazing. Maybe the problem is that since they’re free, they can’t afford so much marketing, so most people never hear about them.

  • http://www.42hangar.com Vinicius Munhoz

    Awesome list!

    I’ll check lightworks, wunderlist and handbrake. The other softwares are great, but i would pick Seesmic instead of Metrotweet. (Usually I prefer TweetDeck, but the new version is horrible. Now i’m a happy user of seesmic)

  • TwoToes

    This website appstorm (mac/windows) has a lot of potential yet it seems you either don’t have much time for it or just ran out of ideas….

    Most apps in this post you have already featured before…for example: in the 30 most beautifully designed apps post…

    And as a general rule you tend to review trivial/unoriginal apps…not sure why…I mean: “Is Yahoo messenger still any good?” come on!….

    Try doing more software comparisons and feature more innovative/original software and review software that actually DOES something …more tricks and more in depth reviews not just “I like how this program looks”….”This program has many themes”…..probably also a good idea to include some Tech/software news and opinion pieces on latest technologies in the industry…

    I have been following your work on psdtuts, nettuts…etc and the marketplace and I really respect and love your work there…upon launch of Appstorm I really liked the idea but now unfortunately keep getting disappointed by your posts..

    • laccy

      yes, i feel the same sometimes

      this top 20 stuff is useless

      i like programs in categories
      so what top is this? top 20 things you find fast?

      all music players are free, so what makes it better than aimp2 or mediamonkey, songbird, foobar, etc.

      antivirus: all free ones have some problems, MSE is not real good vs trojans as i seen, they are many too heavy ones like kaspersky or norton

      but there are light and nice ones like webroot, stopzilla, trustport – they are not really famous but they should be

      pdf viewer? adobe made one, so if i need a new, it must be like Martview, bit eye candy and functionality

      net service as app?

      so 6 piece from 20 is new for me, and maybe 2 worth trying

      • http://clincalc.com Sean Kane

        Do you dislike MSE based on personal experience, or has someone demonstrated a difference in finding trojans? I haven’t really seen any comparative evidence showing one is better than another, but if there’s something out there, I would love to hear about it.

        • laccy

          i had no problem with MSE, i had Webroot mostly, had a fully functional trial of 3 months then 6 months, i loved it, pretty nice interface, fast and not annoying
          now i have Norton trial for Motherboard purchase

          i had many antivirus programs, depends what you prefer
          i dont like slow, heavy antiviruses, i prefer customizable light ones, i hate false alarms and popups and slow booting, i dont want to pay for them, but i want good performance

          http://i.imgur.com/TGPTH.jpg
          http://i.imgur.com/tIhUQ.jpg
          http://i.imgur.com/hd8kk.jpg

          also speed is important for me, dont know but i never seen viruses in media files, so skipping them can save a lot of time, somebody correct me if im wrong
          http://i.imgur.com/Xs59L.jpg
          http://i.imgur.com/Xs59L.jpg

          its older and for xp, unfortunately for win7 it is not free report, i see that once but dont remember concrete numbers, only that based on numbers MSE was not so good vs trojans, especially over time

          http://www.virusbtn.com/
          a site specialised on testing, and it can be trusted

          this is the latest comparation
          http://www.virusbtn.com/vb100/RAP/RAP-quadrant-Apr-Oct11-850.jpg

          i wont say MSE is bad, just that there are some better like Avira free
          but you wont be able to decide until you test it

      • http://www.tjbarber.net/ T.J. Barber

        You realize that you’re posting that right under two people that are pumped by the list! YThese articles aren’t about hack guides or niche-apps for the incredibly hard-core. If that’s what you’re looking for you’re not likely to find it here. Sorry! =(

        As for putting things in categories, that’s a good idea. The category for this one was for people with new PCs that either have nothing installed or bloatware.

        • TwoToes

          Incredibly hardcore? haha…hmmm if you are a graphic designer you shouldn’t start an ‘app storm’ blog….I still like the idea and the overall organization though…good luck.

        • laccy

          in my sense of view, “top” means something better than his rivals
          reading the article i found items which cant be top, only if you look subjectively, low quality sites use “top” often to get more readers, top should be top regardless who gonna read it

          net apps also, wunderlist, lastpass, xmarks, etc.
          they are great but still not apps
          picasa uploader is an app, picassa itself is a service
          wunderlist addon for chrome is an app

          if you can use a program (adobe air, net framework based) then use it or use a bookmark if addon does nothing special

          with chrome synch ability there is no need to “install” this again and again

          programs and apps, addons are different in working, memory consuming, for example is a bad ideea to use a chrome addon which has background page and you dont really use it, instead use a shortcut, or program on demand, when you need it

          so you could post gmail, google search, google docs also, or diigo :P
          they are great services, everybody should try them and they will fall in love with them

          plus posted 4 apps already mentioned before, thats 20%

          on a new pc i firstly would put security apps: antivirus, drivers, defragmenter, reg cleaner, uninstaller, copy handler

          then some apps which are needed for filetypes or perquesites for other programs: winrar, 7zip, ultraISO, netframework, directx, flash, java, adobe reader, shockwave, video codecs
          you already need chrome or firefox or both

          then the file manager apps to view films, play music, open text documents, etc.
          then some productive apps like text expander, qtabbar, font viewer, whatever
          then some eye candy like fences, wista switcher, icon packager, etc.
          then comes the massive picture and video editing apps, other nice program like photoshop, vmware, omnipage, office tools, nero/roxio burner

          browser is already up then you can get addons, scripts, bookmarks, synch them and forget them

          this categories would be better

          yes we need hardcore programs, and if not all of us is 100% geek, but think on the same way, we want to improve themselves, its always a pleasure for me to discover something new and great
          i like to replace everything with something better, simplier, cooler

          and thats why i like envato, appstorm
          i never heard before from qtabbar, terracopy, fences, dropzone, sublime text etc. -now i cant really live without them

          we would need categories, subcategories, tags, comparative tables, charts, etc. data visualisation is a great way to keep things simple but useful

          this great community has many favorites, just try to write an article about music players for example, thats a simple category with similar programs, then get all user responses, make a list of best music players, analyze key features one by one, then make a comparation table
          let users vote on them, ask some professionals for objective opinion then create a comparision table and let users choose their favorite

          i bet you will get much more replies

          also this would be a great opportunity to check peoples opinion

          for example the war between chrome, firefox and other browsers

          i wont even mind if you use this for advertisement, i bet that program developers would be proud to get reviewed, they would give promotional offers, they would link to the reviews and get more users for this site, as long as it would e objective and professional users would love to read about new technologies, programs, and get them a bit cheaper

  • Eureka

    Who uses Trillin anymore? It’s become a laughable bloated mess. Take a look at Instantbird instead!

    • Radie

      Really? I was a huge Digsby user, until they got bought and buried… I switched to Trillian and I like it, but I am not 100% sold yet..

      What makes this better?

  • http://laranzjoe.blogspot.com lawrence77

    FSViewer, CCleaner, Adobe reader, wordweb etc.,

    • http://laranzjoe.blogspot.com lawrence77

      Media Player Classic, Blender, uTorrent, GIMP, Inkscape,

  • DanielR

    Why are there no pictures of the actual Programs? ( and can we use that word – ‘Programs’, ‘apps’ are for phones or Macs, in windows it still says Programs)

    • http://www.tjbarber.net/ T.J. Barber

      I did this article on a machine where I didn’t have everything installed.

      And I think we can call “programs” on a Windows machine “apps” now. ;)

  • Jamie Jansen

    Since the loss of DownloadSquad way back, I had hoped that this site may fill the void left in my heart in some way. Unfortunately, I’m bombarded by lists of programs I — and everybody else on this site — have already been well-aware of for some time. You should seriously consider working harder to produce quality content.

  • Arun

    Awesome collection

  • http://www.avioesavenda.org Avioes a Venda

    yea! i AGree in Take a look at Instantbird instead!

  • http://www.CraigHooghiem.com Craig Hooghiem

    My only change would be to remove VLC and swam with Media Player Classic.
    I was the biggest VLC fanboy for the longest time, but their MKV playback is terrible in comparison to Media Player Classic in the “easy setup”.

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  • http://xczxcxbz Pauline Posas

    Greetings, I have considered buying the software package DubTurbo Beatmaker and was hoping anybody could give me an actual bona fide assessment of the software package. Lots of the websites that supply assessments are literally affiliates offering the computer software so that i doubt that the reviews are sincere. Thanks in advance for just about any information any person can provide.

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