The market of freeware for Windows PC is a trove of useful technologies for everything from everyday routines to complex office tasks. All offers are split into free plans by huge developers and open-source software by small and niche companies.
Today it’s not necessary to own Lightroom for everyday photo-editing. There’s no need to buy Cubase or Logic to write beats or get the cumbersome Microsoft office for basic document editing. Here are the dozen of time-tested free apps for Windows 10 that can provide you with a convenient workflow.
1. Polarr – Full-Fledged Photo Editing
Polarr is a rare example of a mobile app that made an ultimately successful PC market entry. It’s proved to be a Swiss Army knife in both free and paid assemblies. Using Polarr, you can upload albums of raw photos into the app and edit them one by one, without the need to create separate projects.
The adjustments panel reminds Apple’s Default Photo app that replaced the once professional Aperture. It provides convenient access to all tools without cluttering the screen and leaving enough space for viewing images in full-size.
All tools and adjustments are provided in the simplest format so that you could easily understand the purpose of each one. It’s also easy to switch the applied adjustments on and off to compare the source and the final result.
If your photo-editing routines include cropping, color and light tuning, vignetting, adding text overlays, blurring/sharpening, and other basic operations, the free version of Polarr will be more than enough for that. It combines the minimalism of a mobile interface with a professional approach to creative tasks.
2. Cakewalk – Let’s Make Some Music!
Actually, Cakewalk was initially launched back in 1987 and came to Windows later in 1991. It was dead for several years until the Bandlab team acquired the brand and revived it. Besides the fresh interface and new features, they decided to make the Cakewalk app available for Windows 10 for free.
The toolbox can compete with the best PC sequencers, such as Ableton and Cubase. It provides a pro-quality recorder with a considerable number of virtual channels and stacks for mixing and mastering audio. Another great feature is the full support of VST instruments and effects.
If you don’t have a budget for paid studio apps, Cakewalk is the most diverse free solution. It lets you create high-quality instrumental tracks and record WAV audio from external sources, such as microphones and musical instruments. Export quality is on the same level as other paid pro applications.
3. Audacity – Basic Audio Recording and Editing
Perhaps every PC owner has used Audacity at least once. We’d be happy to test and introduce something fresher, but it seems an impossible task for developers to come up with a better app in this slot. More honestly, there’s no sense in competing with this spotless piece of software.
Unlike Cakewalk, Audacity doesn’t have a complicated music-making environment. Instead, it presents a set of basic features comparable to Adobe Audition but put into a less cluttered interface. Almost every tool and option is placed on the surface so that you can easily get by without tutorials.
Audacity is a synonym for cutting and tweaking audio clips for almost any purpose. It provides perfect performance even on low-end machines and professional workflow with intuitive controls.
4. Shotcut – Make Clips and Movies
Convenient video editors for Windows 10, such as DaVinci Resolve and the leading Adobe Premier, cost a fortune for beginners and non-professional users. Shotcut is made to break the wall. And it offers the full set of features without any hidden restrictions and other freemium tricks. Shotcut is your opportunity to learn how to make some high-quality montage in a deliberately optimized environment.
Shotcut looks a lot like Adobe Premier and deals with all the basic objectives without any excess whistles and bells. The speed of uploading, real-time timeline viewing, and rendering leaves much to be desired. On the other hand, it’s much faster than other popular free solutions, such as the horrific Sony Vegas that got stuck in the early 2000s. It’s the best free video studio out there, but don’t try to find it on Microsoft Store as it’s the only place where it’s paid for some reason.
5. Notepad++ – A Universal Coding Tool
Code sketching is available in a large variety of free apps, but Notepad++ remains the most universal of them. Being a much more straightforward reinvention of Microsoft’s Notepad, it supports all languages with their specificities.
Besides niche purposes, Notepad++ is also an excellent text document editor. It supports simultaneous editing of multiple documents and tables, styles, templates, and other essential office modules. It’s not as versatile and accessible as Google Suite but offers more than enough for everyday solo routines. Export into DOCX and XLSX is enabled, so you won’t feel any difference in completing common tasks.
6. Libre Office – Comprehensive Office Suite
You definitely know what Microsoft Office offers. Libre Office is capable of almost the same range of features with a non-paid subscription. It supports the same formats and includes 3 essential modules, such as the word processor (DOCX), spreadsheet editor (XLSX), and presentation studio (PPTX).
With Libre Office, you can create and edit documents and presentations with rich visualization, including various styles and diagram drawing. Next, you can conduct calculations of any size and difficulty, edit math formulas, and output results in detailed charts.
To get even more free features, explore the Libre Office library of Extensions and Templates. Some of our favorites are Duplicate Remover, MS-Office Line Styles, Grammalecte, and xLabel for labeling PDFs. Currently, there are over 400 template projects and almost the same number of other extensions. If you’re good at coding, try to implement lacking features by yourself.
7. TestDisk – A Chance to Recover Lost Data
Even the most powerful PC can let you down if something wrong happens with the hard drive. In case you have to store some vital information offline and you don’t trust cloud technologies, install TestDisk to be able to restore lost files and documents.
Test Disk is responsible for an impressive list of tasks. It lets you fix and recover deleted partitions, recover FAT12, FAT 16, and FAT 32 boost sectors from the backup. The same operations with the NTFS boot sector are supported too.
Independently from what you know about data recovery methods, Test Disk has free tools for each of them. If you can’t complete recovery manually, this app will help you to collect service data from the non-booting HDD. Send them to tech support to get help faster.
8. Tablacus – At Last, A FIle Manager With Tabs
For some reason, the default Windows 10 Explorer doesn’t support one-window tabs, while MacOS does that for years. Fortunately, Tablacus removes such an inconvenience. This advanced file manager allows you to customize your file management system. You can remove almost everything that’s not used and leave only the needed features. And, yes, it can open multiple tabs in a single window.
Another perk is the add-on manager, with dozens of user-created extensions. The current library includes selected items counter, preview module, tags, status bars, themes (including the trendy dark theme), custom search engines, folder overlays, archivers, and many more useful plug-ins. Moreover, Tablacus doesn’t require installation and doesn’t keep cache files to avoid breaches.
9. Cobian Backup – Backup Manager
Cobian Backup is a free solution that can transfer your files automatically to external drives, FTP Servers, and any other storage types. You can assign any destination if it’s linked with the default file system manager. It’s also a scalable solution that’s able to backup everything from particular folders and file types to the entire system.
Due to the integrated compressor and encryption, backups require less space than originals and protect your files from theft. You can activate the app in the background mode, or let it diagnose your entire computer several times a day.
10. CCleaner – Classic System Optimizer
CCleaner is a mastodon of the freemium market that’s probably already installed on your Windows PC. This application bears all those dull disk cleaning-up and makes it much faster. You can tell it to batch the whole process or select files manually. CCleaner can also delete things that you can’t see. For example, many other apps leave piles of temporary and potentially undesirable rubbish (MRUs). The cleaner can detect and swipe them away in seconds.
Other useful modules include the system recovery manager, auto-start manager, cache and cookie cleaner, a detector of the system problems, and many more. We also love it for the mighty uninstaller that can deal with apps that can’t be deleted for various reasons.
CCleaner is a must-have system optimizer that’s capable of an impressive range of tasks. It used to heal many problems on Windows XP, and it can do much more on Windows 10. With all the features on board, it manages to avoid clutter and be clear for inexperienced PC users.
The Fab Ten
All apps in this list deserve prime attention of every Windows 10 user. Their free feature sets and performance quality are impressive. However, we see that you may have some good offers too. Can you name other useful free apps in comments? We’d be happy to test them! If the article was useful, pin it in bookmarks not to forget and share it with friends.