Most Windows devices come installed with “native” apps that perform basic office functions. While these apps are certainly welcome, they are not sufficient to meet consumers’ unique interests and needs. The solution would be specialized apps that are custom-fit for specific interests and use cases. The best Windows 10 apps will help you maximize the use of your Windows devices. Whether you are a professional or a hobbyist, there is sure to be a Windows 10 app for you. Let’s explore some of the best apps to liven up your Windows 10 devices.
17 Essential Windows 10 Apps for 2022
Even though the Microsoft Store isn’t as popular as Google Play and the Apple App Store, it most certainly still has a lot to offer. It still contains a wide selection of apps to meet different interests and use cases. In fact, the Microsoft Store on Windows 10 contains thousands of apps, plus other types of content. We have taken the liberty to present you with the best apps:
1. Dolby Access
Do you love to watch movies or play video games but find your audio set-up somewhat lacking? Dolby Digital may be the answer to your home theater audio woes. Dolby Digital is an audio streaming service and one of the best Windows 10 apps. It brings the Dolby Atmos listening experience to your home. Dolby Atmos is a new audio technology, originally featured in cinemas. It takes recorded sound and reproduces it in a spatially accurate, three-dimensional way. Many people said the experience is similar to hearing an orchestra play live.
Dolby Atmos was created by Dolby Labs back in 2012. Ever since the success of Dolby Atmos in cinemas, AV companies have sought after a scaled-down version of the technology. Dolby Labs complied and developed a version that could fit into home-based speakers. The home-based version is also more accessible and affordable compared to the original.
However, Dolby Access isn’t free. It does have a 30-day free trial, but otherwise, you have to pay to get full access. If you’re only after the free trial, a simple pair of headphones will do. But if you plan to buy the software, then it might be best to purchase compatible ones. There are a variety of soundbars, smart speakers, and TVs from the likes of LG or Samsung.
Get Dolby Access for Windows 10
2. Drawboard PDF
Drawboard PDF is an editing and markup tool for PDF files and is one of the best Windows 10 apps. The app is used to merge, annotate, markup, or otherwise work with PDF files. Because of its focus on PDF files, the app is most useful for activities like reading and studying. It also works great as a writing and editing companion.
The app features a lot of mark-up tools, but the most common tools that people use are the pen and the highlighter. Using a stylus, users can highlight, underline, draw, or even write notes on any PDF file. There are multiple pen and highlighter variants to choose from, as well as multiple PDF templates and overlay. All changes to your PDF are saved automatically.
Drawboard also excels at document manipulation. This feature allows you to merge, split, or re-order your PDFs. It also allows image uploads into PDFs. You can even take photos in real time and then upload the file into your PDF. You can also add annotations to your PDFs in-app using the writing tools available.
There are two different versions of the app: a pro version and a basic version. Both versions offer a free trial, but it is very limited in terms of capabilities. The basic version requires a one-time payment, while the pro version is subscription-based. The app runs on all devices that turn on Windows 10.
Get Drawboard PDF for Windows 10
3. Amazon Alexa
Most people already know Alexa as the smart digital assistant from Amazon. With Alexa on Windows, users will be able to enjoy many of its original capabilities, starting with being able to conduct searches on Google or Yahoo via voice commands. It can also set timers and alarms, set appointments, create shopping and to-do lists, translate foreign phrases, and so on.
One of the best things about this version of Alexa is that you don’t need a smart speaker to run it. All you need is a device with a microphone and/or speaker and it will work just fine. The app will ask you to sign in using an Amazon account or prompt you to create a new one.
Originally, users had to click on a button in-app or key in a keyboard shortcut to “wake” Alexa, but now, you can set a simple voice command to wake her. From there, you can communicate with Alexa by asking a question or using a command. It should be able to hear you through the microphone and speaker of your PC. Alexa has a long list of capabilities, and if you want to explore what these things are, we highly recommend that you check out this list of the best Alexa commands and the best Alexa games.
Despite its advantages, the app still has limitations. Unlike normal smart speakers, you won’t be able to access video calls and text. It’s also disconnected from apps like Spotify or Pandora. Alexa is also unable to control Windows 10, but Windows has stated plans to incorporate that. Alexa is available for free on the Windows Store.
4. Adobe Photoshop Express
Is photography or graphic design a passion that you would like to pursue? Adobe Photoshop Express may be the answer. It’s a free photo editing software and Windows 10 app. It lets you do some basic photo editing for free, but it also has a section of tools that are paywalled. In other words, you have to pay if you want to use many of its best features.
Like most other programs on this list, Adobe Photoshop Editor is free to use, but you will need to have an account. You will also need to have an Adobe Flash program installed on your computer. When it comes to uploading a file, you can upload a photo from a folder or take a photo using a camera. However, it must be noted that the app only accepts JPG files smaller than 16 MP and no wider than 8,191 pixels. Unfortunately, the app doesn’t accept raw files, which can be problematic for professional editors.
The app offers quite a comprehensive set of tools for basic editing. The more basic tools allow for adding filters and effects to photos. It also allows for color correction and saturation adjustments. There’s also an auto-correct setting that will offer you suggestions on how to improve the coloration of your photos.
All changes that you make to an original file are considered non-destructive, which means that the original file is always recoverable. You will also get to see a snapshot history of all the changes you made to your file, just like with regular Photoshop. Finally, you can export your final photo into different file formats and share them through social media.
Get Adobe Photoshop Express for Windows 10
5. Autodesk Sketchbook
Are you artistically inclined and want to draw beautiful digital artwork? Try the Autodesk Sketchbook app. The app is a full-fledged art studio and one of the best Windows 10 apps. It’s equipped with a wide variety of drawing and painting tools to meet various levels of artistic demands. It can also work as a note-taking app.
Autodesk has an impressive collection of painting tools organized into sections. On top of the drawing board is the main toolbar with all the basic tools. Meanwhile, lying vertically to the bottom-left side is a brush palette containing pens, pencils, and paintbrushes. The semi-circular tool at the bottom-left is called a “lagoon.” This contains shortcuts to the most popular features of the app. You also get a color wheel, a layer editor, and a copic library. Autodesk recently added pucks for brush size and color opacity.
When it comes to just the painting tools, there are a lot of different types at your disposal. It offers different types of paint brushes, pens, shapes, fixed lines, curved lines, and so on. Needless to say, the sheer number of drawing tools and special effects should suffice for any creative task. In addition, you can upload external images and Photoshop files to your drawing board.
Autodesk normally saves your files in TIFF format in the Sketchbook Gallery, and you can access these through the file manager. It can also export your artwork in other formats such as PNG, JPG, BMP, and TIFF. Another great thing about Autodesk is that it preserves the different layers of your artwork, including names and blending models. Autodesk is available as a premium app on Microsoft Store.
Get Autodesk Sketchbook for Microsoft 10
6. Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Prime Video is another handy video streaming tool and one of the best Windows 10 apps. It has a decent collection of premium quality content for all ages and interests.
The app is completely free, but the service itself isn’t. You’ll need an existing subscription to sign in to the app. Searching for content is also very easy and straightforward. You can browse for content on the featured list or by genre and alphabetical grouping. You can also just type in a title on the search box.
Amazon Prime Video may not be as popular as Netflix, but it is certainly catching up in terms of content. The app has a lot of popular movies as well as content from a variety of other genres such as documentaries, sports, anime, and musicals. Prime Video has also started releasing its original content, including titles such as Blow the Man Down, Manchester by the Sea, and more.
Prime Video on Windows 10 also allows you to download content offline. This is great for when you’re in a remote location with a limited or absent internet connection. However, the app only allows users a 48-hour window to playback downloaded content. To keep it playable for longer, you will have to briefly reconnect to the internet.
When it comes to video quality, the app can display content in standard definition (SD) and high definition (HD) but not 4K, or HDR. This may have to do with Prime Video’s fears of having their content pirated in 4K quality. The app also lacks picture-in-picture mode, which would have allowed users to play movies on smaller, movable screens.
Get Amazon Prime Video for Windows 10
7. Nextgen Reader
Nextgen Reader is a free RSS reader and one of the best Windows 10 apps. An RSS reader, for those who don’t know, works like a personalized feed. It compiles relevant articles from your favorite online publishers. The app saves the reader the time and effort it takes to search for similar articles manually. It’s also completely free.
Nextgen has a very simple but professional-looking interface. All of your subscriptions are located on a single panel to the left-hand side of the app. This left-hand panel expands and contracts as needed in order to preserve the space on the main drawing board. When it comes to viewing your RSS feeds, there are three ways to do so. Each RSS feed has a summary format (one to two sentence-summary) and a full-text version. You can also view the original web page where the article was originally posted. You can also filter the RSS feeds by publisher or topic.
The Settings option also hides some additional functions. This includes the ability to view content in an external browser as well as keep track of articles you’ve already read. Users will also be able to set a number of articles to sync and then save for later.
Nextgen lets you choose between a light or dark theme and an accent color. You can also customize the font, font size, and alignment of the text that appears on your feeds.
Live Tile is another very interesting feature on Nextgen. This feature presents news to readers in shifting tiles. It’s very similar to the Windows news feed, which tiles as the news titles change.
8. VLC Media Player
When it comes to playing and tweaking multimedia content, VLC is the undefeated champion. The service has been around for a long time now, and it continues to be popular for its wide range of features, plus the fact that it’s completely free.
The app offers support for almost any video and audio file format that you can think of, starting with mp3, mp4, dvd-video, flv, avi, and so much more. It also offers support for a wide selection of subtitles for movies.
Other capabilities include playing zip files from scratch without having to pack them individually. You can also play the beginning of a video while downloading, so you can decide if the whole thing is worth watching. Special controls allow you to record a section of any video or movie, or take a snapshot of a paused video.
If you want to watch or listen to multiple files from a single folder, all you have to do is open the folder and the content will play one after the other. If a video is too quiet, you can tweak the volume up to 200 percent to reach your desired volume.
VLC is a free software compatible with most platforms including Windows, Android, Chrome OS, BeOS, Windows Phone, iOS, iPadOS, and macOS. You can download it either through their official website or through the Microsoft Store.
Netflix is a well-known resource for all things related to movies and TV shows. The streaming service is a pioneer of the web streaming concept, which changed the way modern consumers watch TV shows and movies. Netflix is also known for having one of the largest repositories of media content around the world.
Netflix for Windows 10 is completely free to use, but it will require you to sign in with a Netflix account. A Netflix account requires a subscription to any of the three available subscription options. Once you’re signed in, you can already search for specific titles using the search box or browse for content through the genre-based catalog.
The one thing that makes Netflix so appealing is the way it presents content. Netflix content is designed to be “streamed” online through a cloud base, which eliminates the need to download anything. It’s also a very convenient way to consume content since it can be viewed across different platforms. Users can still download content for offline viewing, but the terms vary.
One of the things that people love about Netflix is the volume of content that it possesses. The majority of the content is hand-picked favorites from third-party providers. Netflix also moves its content a lot, which means that a show that is available today may not be there tomorrow. They also add new shows all the time.
Netflix had been hard at work at producing original content. Some of their original content reached the top of the box office, while some have earned serious accolades. Examples of popular Netflix Originals include The Crown, Orange Is the New Black, Bird Box, The Platform, and Enola Holmes.
WolframAlpha is a computational knowledge engine that can pull results and answers for basic subjects. Unlike the traditional search engine, it doesn’t generate results from the web. Instead, it relies on its own resources, including its proprietary computational technology, Mathematica. WolframAlpha was originally a web-based platform, but it is also now available as a Windows 10 app. It works offline, but it also connects to the cloud whenever necessary.
As a computational software, WolframAlpha’s forte has always been math. It can solve numerical equations and show solutions in multiple levels until it reaches the answer. You can do anything from basic arithmetic to geometry, algebra, calculus, graphing, and so much more. It’s also really good at sequencing. For example, if you key in a series of numbers in the search bar, it will try to identify what the sequence is and continue it.
Another great thing about the app is that it offers a larger set of mathematical symbols. It has added symbols like square root, pi, integral, and more. Shifting to a sub-keyboard will present you with additional symbols, which include the Greek alphabet. It’s just a little sensitive about the way equations are typed, so users need to check some examples.
One of the things that WolframAlpha excels at is solving math word problems. Most other computational apps can only read numerical equations and require translation first. But WolframAlpha has no problem reading written problems and simply translates them before providing an answer. The app can answer questions on other topics, too. These include geography, cooking, business, and so on. WolframAlpha is available as a premium app on the Windows Store.
Get WolframAlpha for Windows 10
11. TuneIn Radio
TuneIn Radio is a radio streaming program and one of the best Windows 10 apps. The program is linked to over 100,000 AM, FM, digital, and internet stations from around the globe. It also hosts a wide variety of podcasts and is a great option for users who want to listen to global music and podcasts through the desktop.
Also Read: Beginner’s Guide on How to Start a Podcast
The app’s interface appears very simple and minimalistic, almost Apple-like. The home page features new radio stations and radio stations that you’ve recently visited. There’s also a news section featuring the latest news articles from the US. Each station that appears on the home page has a logo, and clicking on the logo will show you the current song and artist.
The left panel of the app contains the navigation panel. This contains several options, including Settings, My Profile, and Browse options. Radio stations are classified into different categories under the Browse tab. There’s premium content, local radio and trending, music, sports, talk news, and podcasts. There are also tabs for filtering your radio stations according to location and language. If you want to search for a specific radio station, you can type it in the search tab on the left panel.
You can bookmark your favorite station or record audio from a station to listen to later. The app also makes it possible for you to set a station as your alarm clock in the morning, or you can simply open a station and have it play in the background while you work. You can also search for a current artist on LastFM or download their music from iTunes.
Get TuneIn Radio for Windows 10
12. Adobe Reader Touch
Reader Touch from Adobe is the touch-based version of the PDF reader tool that we all know and love. This particular version was created for touchscreen devices, including tablets and desktops that run on Windows 8 and 10. On these devices, you’d need to use your fingers or a stylus to navigate the app. But you can always just use a standard Windows 10 device with a mouse and keyboard.
With Reader Touch, you can open PDF files from your email, the web, or any folder on your device. You can create password-protected documents and also view them (but you must have the password, of course). It’s also possible to use the in-app functions to highlight, underline, strikethrough, copy, and edit text. You can also create a digital signature to “stamp” onto documents or add sticky notes to them.
The ability to search through PDF documents is another key feature. The Find function of the app will let you search for instances of a keyword within the text. A text overlay tool will also let you replace text by writing on top of it. You can bookmark a specific page/s and use those bookmarks to quickly jump back into the section you want. URL links within PDF can be opened on a separate web page where you can view their full contents.
You can quickly toggle between single-page viewing and continuous scroll modes. You can also easily zoom in on text or images for a closer view. The app also has a Semantic Zoom thumbnail view that will allow you to quickly navigate through large documents. The app also has a “Share” function for sending a copy of the PDF through email.
Get Adobe Reader Touch for Windows 10
13. CyberLink PhotoDirector 10
Cyberlink PhotoDirector 10 is a premium photo editing software and the latest addition to the PhotoDirector lineup. This version of the software is the most comprehensive to date when it comes to features. It incorporates AI-powered tools and a massive selection of theme-based photo layers into its toolbox.
The software accepts photos from multiple sources, including your local folder, hard drive, or even the CyberLink Cloud. The upload process is extremely simple, and you can either drag and drop or click and upload your photos. Come time to edit the photos, you will find that all tools are divided into tabs and clearly labeled. This is in contrast to other photo editing software that make use of icons that can be difficult to decipher.
The PhotoDirector 10 comes with a lot of interesting features, including one called tether shooting. The feature automatically transfers photos directly to the editing software from a connected camera. Another very interesting feature called content-aware removal allows you to remove unwanted objects from within a photo subtly. Just roughly paint over the object that you want to remove, and the software will handle the rest.
Naturally, a photo editing tool would not be complete photo layers that you can apply to your photos. These layers or “special effects,” as they are known otherwise, contain elements such as text, gradients, and objects. The layers are organized into themes, and you can view them either by layer or individually.
Get CyberLink PhotoDirector 10
14. Spotify Music
Spotify is the largest music streaming service in the world, with a user base of over two hundred million all over the world. The software also features one of the largest music catalogs in the world, with over 70 million tracks available to stream in the platform.
Spotify is available on every app store, and it can be downloaded on just about every device under the sun. The user interface of the software is clean and easy to understand, and the software automatically syncs your data across all platforms. Its gigantic catalog of songs is also well-organized into categories and themes, so you won’t get lost in the maze of songs.
There are three ways to gain access to songs on Spotify, assuming you have a premium account. You can wait for the algorithm to recommend songs to you, browse through the different sections, or search for specific content through the search bar. You can download songs for offline streaming, play songs from your device, and create playlists. Additionally, you can listen to international radio stations and search for incoming concerts.
The desktop app is less popular than the mobile app due to portability and convenience. But it’s also a lot more flexible when it comes to the availability of songs to stream on the free version. You can listen to as many songs and podcasts as you want, and you can also take advantage of the software’s algorithm.
Spotify offers free and premium services, with the latter operating on a monthly subscription basis. Spotify is bound to release another premium service called Spotify HiFi, which will offer lossless, Ultra-HD quality music. Check out this article explaining what we know so far about the upcoming Spotify HiFi.
Get Spotify Music for Windows 10
Duolingo is one of the most popular language-learning apps across the globe, and it’s completely free. The software offers self-paced modules for learning languages in a ladderized manner. It offers a total of 35 languages, and that’s only counting the ones that use English as the language of instruction. Conversely, people who want to learn English can turn to programs that use their native language as the medium of instruction.
Duolingo makes use of elementary techniques that make use of flashcards, audio, and quizzes to drill down new words, phrases, and sentences. Most tests have a comment thread where people can discuss their answers. A special community feature allows you to get to know other people wo are trying to learn the same language as you are.
Duolingo is heavily marketed as a free service, but they do offer a premium service called Duolingo Plus. An upgrade gets you many advantages, including unlimited access to the mobile app, no ads, and the ability to download tutorials for offline viewing. You are also given “streak repair” credits to make up for practice sessions that you missed.
16. Reading Trainer
Reading Trainer is a smartly-designed and comprehensive reading application. The software is based on the Spritzer technology, which was originally developed as an assistive tool for beginner readers and people with learning disabilities.
The software introduces solid theories on reading efficiency and comprehension. It also makes use of a variety of reading exercises that test not only your pace but also your comprehension of the text. The software automatically tracks your progress and presents your results in a charted format. It is ideal for use by students, teachers, parents, beginners, and those with learning disabilities.
Reading Trainer is not available for free, but it’s far from expensive either. In fact, it will only set you back a one-time payment of five dollars in exchange for permanent use. It’s also compatible with most platforms, including Android, IOS, and Microsoft Windows. You can create multiple user profiles for each account, which means that more than one person can use the app on a single device.
Get Reading Trainer for Windows 10
17. Adobe Photoshop Elements
Adobe’s Photoshop Elements is a comprehensive photo editing solution specially designed for non-professional consumers. This latest edition of the software takes advantage of Adobe’s proprietary artificial intelligence technology called Sensei. You also get to enjoy many of Photoshops’ tools and capabilities without having to sign up for a subscription.
Photoshop Elements may be a watered-down version of Photoshop, but it still has a ton of tools and effects. As such, we can focus on the new creative tools that they’ve added since they didn’t need to add a lot of basic tools in the first place. Most of the new additions have an artificial intelligence (AI) element to them, which produces futuristic-looking photos.
A feature called Art Style Transfers lets you style your photos after the trademark of famous artists like Da Vinci or Picasso. Another feature called Photo Warp lets you place images within other images. For example, you can add a landscape image to a blank wall in a photo. Another useful feature called New Slideshow Styles lets you add animated templates to photos and videos.
You can purchase Adobe Photoshop Elements either as a stand-alone product or as part of a package. The package pairs Elements with its video-editing twin, Premiere Elements. The system requires at least a 6th Generation processor (Intel or AMD). In addition, you’ll need a 2.5 GB of free disk space to accommodate the software.
Get Adobe Photoshop Elements for Windows 10
What Is a Universal Windows Platform (UWP) App?
Most multi-platform apps have different versions for different devices. For example, if you want an app like Spotify available on your phone and desktop, you would need to download separate versions of it. With a Universal Windows Platform (UWP), you no longer need to download multiple versions of an app. There is only one version of the app, and it will fit in with any device with the specified operating system (OS). It doesn’t matter if the device is a computer, tablet, smartphone, or gaming console. The UWP should work the same across any compatible device.
This also makes it easier for developers because of the application programming interface (API). An API is software that allows back-and-forth communication between an application, or in this case, an app, and a web server. APIs are one of the key resources that developers have access to when writing an app. In this case, Microsoft intended for their UWP to work across multiple platforms. This way, developers would only need to create a single version of the app.
There are several advantages of UWPs. They are generally considered more secure than desktop apps since they operate within a sandbox. This means that they operate separately from the rest of the system so as to not affect the system in case of a crash. These types of apps also have their own look and feel, since they have a user interface (UI) that looks entirely different from the previous versions of Windows. In addition, UWPs are designed to be integrated with other Windows built-in notifications and sharing features. It can display information like news and message updates using live tiles. Another good thing about UWPs is that they do away with Registry functions, which are known to clog up system memory.
Final Thoughts on the Essential Windows 10 Apps
That wraps up our list of some of the best Windows 10 apps for your Windows devices in 2021. The list covers a variety of use cases, so we hope that you will somehow be able to find a few apps that will interest you. We also intended to give you a glimpse into the Windows Store since we are certainly impressed by it. The Windows Store is just as diverse, well-stocked, and well-updated as you would expect from any top-tier app store. If you are on the hunt for more novel and practical Windows 10 apps, the Microsoft Store is a great place to be.
If you happen to own a Mac but want to experience Windows on your device. here’s a guide on how to install Windows on Mac devices.