10 incredibly useful Windows apps you’ll be mad you’re not already using

You may not have heard of these 10 incredibly useful Windows programs, but after you try them, you’ll wonder how you lived without them. And they may even replace your old favorites. Take a look!

I love f.lux, possibly because I spend too much time using a computer at night. This program does one thing and does it simply, “it makes the color of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day.” The later it gets, the warmer in color your screen gets. Your eyes will hurt less, and you might even have less trouble getting to sleep than you do after staring at a bright screen way after sunset.

If you find yourself spending hours installing apps every time you build a Windows machine, you should check out Ninite. Just go to Ninite.com, click on all the apps you want (there are dozens to pick from), and Ninite will create a special installer that literally installs ’em all, in the background. If you like it, Ninite Updater costs $9.99 a year, and will take the pain out of updating any of the 92 apps it supports.

Adobe Reader is a bloated mess. The PDF reader built into Windows is meh. Try Sumatra PDF instead. It’s fast, doesn’t take up much space, and works exceedingly well.

Not ready for an Office365 subscription, but working in Google Sheets or Docs not quite cutting it? You’re a prime candidate for LibreOffice, a free and open source office suite. Writer, Calc, and Impress cover the basic office trio for word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations, and there’s quite a few more apps bundled with it.

Photoshop is overkill for most folks — even the stripped-down Elements version. That’s why I like Paint.net. It has all the basic photo editing features, supports layers, unlimited undo, and offers more tools and plugins than most folks will ever have time to putter with.

There’s nothing illegal about torrent files, as long as you’re not, say, downloading copyrighted content. And if you’re dealing with big downloads, using µTorrent might be a lot faster than a regular download off a server. µTorrent is tiny — less than a megabyte — fast, free, and the utorrent.com page has links to some great music and video bundles you can legally download with it.

If you want to sync files between Windows machines, or between Windows, OS X, Windows, Linux, and a host of NAS devices, consider BitTorrent Sync. There’s no cloud, so you don’t have to worry about somebody accessing your data, and it finds the shortest fastest path between your machines. Gigabytes? No problem.

I’m not sure if it’s some of the weird cameras I’ve owned, or my experiments with the Raspberry Pi PC, but I’ve had a lot of 64GB cards that Windows was sure could only hold 6MB. Enter SD Formatter 4.0, a free download from the SD Association. It’ll format any type of SD card so your Windows or OS X machine can write to it. Make sure there’s nothing you want on it first!

Need the product key for Windows or any of 300 plus other apps on your PC’s hard drive … or, say, an old drive you found in the closet? The ever so oddly named Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder is the tool for you. Don’t let it install any software you don’t want along with it, but this is an easy to use tool that can save you money. The paid version, Recover Keys, can track down keys from over 8,000 apps!

Can’t get that video to play? Need something to play DVDs in Windows? VideoLAN’s VLC media player is a Swiss army knife for video files, and it has even worked on damaged files that I couldn’t get other players to even open.


‘Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’ will make Blackout mode free to play this week

Treyarch and Activision are offering Call of Duty: Black Ops 4's Blackout mode as a free trial download for a limited time. The mode will be available from January 17 through January 24.

Getting Windows 10 updated doesn't have to be so painful

Windows update not working? It's a more common problem than you might think. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to troubleshoot it and in this guide we'll break them down for you step by step.

Here are 20 portable tech gadgets you’ll want to use every day

If you're looking for portable tech to keep you charged up while on the go (or for some great small gift ideas), we've rounded up 20 must-have gadgets. You'll find everything from a mini gaming controller to a folding Bluetooth keyboard.

Enjoy Windows on a Chromebook with these great tips and tricks

If you want to push the functionality of your new Chromebook to another level, and Linux isn't really your deal, you can try installing Windows on a Chromebook. Here's how to do so, just in case you're looking to nab some Windows-only…

Stop your PC's vow of silence with these tips on how to fix audio problems

Sound problems got you down? Don't worry, with a few tweaks and tricks we'll get your sound card functioning as it should, and you listening to your favorite tunes and in-game audio in no time.

Yes, Android apps can run on your PC, and it's easier than you think

Wish you knew how to run Android apps in Windows? It's easier than you might think and there are a number of different ways to do it. In this guide, we break down the steps so you can follow along with ease.

Chip off the auction block – Intel’s i9-9990XE may be sold to the highest bidder

Intel's alleged Core i9-9990XE may only be sold at auction to OEMs, meaning that only a few of the 14-core, 28-thread, 5GHz CPUs will ever see the light of day in specific devices and systems.

Don't spend hundreds on Pro Tools or Logic. Try one of these free alternatives

Believe it or not, Pro Tools isn't the only digital audio workstation worth your time. Check out our picks for the best free recording software, whether you're looking for a lightweight app or a full-blown audio workstation.

How to share an external hard drive between Mac and Windows

Compatibility issues between Microsoft Windows and Apple MacOS may have diminished sharply over the years, but that doesn't mean they've completely disappeared. Here's how to make an external drive work between both operating systems.

Should you buy the affordable MacBook Air, or is the MacBook Pro worth the price?

Though they both share Retina Displays and similar keyboards, there are still some specs differences and other changes that differentiate the new 2018 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. In this guide, we stack the two up against each other.

Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2019: Complete Coverage

There's no bigger show for mobile tech geeks than Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain: where flagship phones are born and intriguing new wearables shine. And this year, where foldable phones and 5G are likely to dominate the news. For…

Google is giving its G Suite web apps new touches of visual improvements

Your G Suite applications will soon have a different look. Several of the web apps are getting updated with subtle visual improvements inspired by Google's Material Design guidelines. 
Emerging Tech

CES 2019 recap: All the trends, products, and gadgets you missed

CES 2019 didn’t just give us a taste of the future, it offered a five-course meal. From 8K and Micro LED televisions to smart toilets, the show delivered with all the amazing gadgetry you could ask for. Here’s a look at all the big…

Hackers are scoring with ransomware that attacks its previous victims

Computer viruses are always evolving. In a new one, dubbed "Ryuk," hackers are targeting PCs with ransomware that scours an infected network in order to pinpoint and attack and enterprises with big money.