Windows 10’s market share is increasing slowly but steadily over time. This December it touched 33% which means that over one-third of world’s computers now are running Windows 10.
Be it the fluent design, multiple desktops or return of the Start Menu, Windows 10 has taken many right steps, but, also few wrong ones in areas of privacy and updates. One area where Microsoft has done a commendable job is improving the native apps.
Edge is now way better than IE, there is native PDF support through Edge, support for Multiple desktops and the list goes on.
Now nobody has to hunt for an alternative app like a PDF reader or image editor as the built-in apps are more than enough for such basic tasks.
However, there are still some parts of Windows 10 where we need improvement. Aspects of the OS with which users interact daily such as Windows Explorer, file operations(move/copy/rename), installing/uninstalling apps are still somewhat the same as before.
So, today we will talk about fifteen apps that will improve your Windows experience and help you in accomplishing daily tasks in a much quicker way.
Windows Explorer has got a design upgrade in Windows 10, but, functionality wise it’s still the same. Clover is an app which adds the much-needed features to Windows Explorer. Tabs, Bookmarks, enhanced keyboard shortcuts are some of the highlights of the long list of features this app has.
Plus, it integrates seamlessly with Windows, so you will not notice any out of the place visual changes.
Qttabbar is another alternative app for Clover. It is much more powerful and offers a huge number of options to customize it as per your needs.
Our next app keeps a vigilant look at all the programs we install on our computers. Many of the freeware or shareware type programs often contain sneaky little tick boxes during installation which silently install the advertiser’s app or make changes to your system like changing the default homepage, adding a toolbar or even changing the default browser.
While most such additional programs are just annoying and can be uninstalled easily, there are some potentially harmful ones too which can install a rootkit or keylogger. Unchecky saves you all this hassle by alerting you whenever any programs try to pull such a stunt and automatically unchecks any such check-boxes.
And it’s simple to use. Just install it and let it run in the background. No need to mess with any settings.
Ditto is an awesome clipboard manager for Windows 10 which supercharges the clipboard functionality. A clipboard manager is particularly useful for someone who works with a lot of text and documents.
It has happened to me many times, I copy a draft of an article from one app, close it, only to find out that it hasn’t been copied after pressing Ctrl+V. And the real horror is realizing I haven’t saved the draft anywhere.
Clipboard manager like Ditto saves all your copied text as History so one can easily find any particular bit of info even if they have overwritten or lost it. Other useful features include the ability to sync clipboards of two different PCs, a stats meter and of-course, keyboard shortcuts.
4. EVERYTHING SEARCH
One of the parts of Windows 10 that has taken a nosedive compared to the previous version is the Search function. It’s hit-and-miss for many users as it doesn’t return the results expected and most of the time resort to web search through, yes, you guessed it, Bing. Very helpful indeed.
While you can fix the Search, Everything Search is a better app for this. Its response time to a search query is nearly instant and the results are pretty accurate as well. Plus you can run it without installation and has some really cool additional features.
It can search an external FTP server, you can exclude specific folders from search and even search a remote PC over the web.
5. JDOWNLOADER 2
It’s known to everyone that Windows doesn’t have its own downloader app and the de-facto alternative to it is Internet Download Manager(IDM), which is a paid.The free alternative is Jdownloader 2, which performs same as IDM, has more features and is open-source.
One unique feature of Jdownloader is the support for plugins which can do various things such as controlling it remotely over Web and solving captchas on its own.
Ever wondered what is hogging storage space on your PC? You don’t download a ton of things still you are running out of disk space. To solve this Windows 10 has Storage Sense feature is which frees up disk space periodically by deleting temporary and old files.
You can tweak what it does by going to Settings>System>Storage>Storage Sense.
While the Modern Storage setting does visually show which folder is taking up the maximum space, you can’t see individual files or do any operations. TreeSizeshows you this info in much more detail including the number of files and sub-folders.
Plus, the directory-style menu is easier to understand than that of Windows 10. Finally, there are plenty of options to customize and filter how you want to view the storage data.
Remote connection to a computer may not fare on the list of tasks an average user does often. However, it can be very useful in times when you need to help or get help for a problem. For remote connections, Windows Remote Desktop protocol is the superior to other solutions out there.
Though, it has a major limitation that it’s available only on Pro edition of Windows. Plus to use it you need to fiddle with the IP addresses and host-names.
If you have ever felt ill-informed when someone asks how much RAM your PC has or what processor it has, you can go to Control Panel>System and Security>System and find out.
However, if they ask what frequency you RAM is running or what GPU it has, you will again go back to being ill-informed.
Knowing your PC’s hardware helps in troubleshooting as well as gauging its capability for running certain apps and games. This way you don’t go on sending angry emails to tech support stating that your new Dell AIO can’t run PUBG on 4K because you don’t know it has GT 1030.
Speccy provides detailed info of each component of your PC and also shows the temperatures of critical parts like CPU and GPU. Finally, you can also share the specs of your PC in text or INI format for genuine help with a problem or bragging rights.
With Windows 8, Microsoft gave a lot of thrust to promoting OneDrive by integrating it natively with Windows and even offering the now-defunct unlimited cloud storage plan. OneDrive, as a cloud service is comparatively good, though there are many who use other cloud services like Google Drive and Dropbox.
However, adding a desktop app for each cloud service you use becomes cumbersome and Odrive is the app which solves this problem. An all-in-one universal sync client which supports over 20+ cloud services and allows you to finely control how and what files get synced.
Taking a screenshot of Windows has long been done by the humble PrtScr button or the Snipping Tool which was introduced in Windows Vista. Recently, in the Windows 10 Creators Update, a new shortcut got added, Win+Shift+S.
Third party apps for taking screenshots are dime a dozen, however, ShareX is our favorite pick. The reason being, it’s free, feature rich and can be useful to both a newbie or a pro user. Plus the automation features built in are really awesome. Want to add today’s date to screenshot, have it numbered and upload to Gdrive?
You can do it. Want to add a black border and watermark to screenshot, upload it to Imgur and generate a short URL? You can do that too. Need I say more!
11. SMOOTH VIDEO PLAYBACK
VLC is the undisputed king for video playback on Windows. It’s simple to use, has plenty features and plays almost all video formats out there. Still, if you are a movie buff or like binge-watching your favorite TV shows, you will love SVP.
Smooth Video Playback or SVP 4 converts any video to 60 FPS and higher in real time. This makes the video appear more smooth and fluid, especially ones which involve a lot of action. Sadly, the free version of SVP 4 doesn’t work with VLC and you will need to use(How-To) either MPC-BE or MPC-HC player.
However, if you fork out $15 for pro version, you get support for online videos, streaming over Chromecast and a bunch of other features.
12. X-MOUSE BUTTON CONTROL
Windows settings for configuring mouse are limited to just switching mouse buttons and at best changing how the cursor looks like. If you yearn for more customization to match your Hotkey Game, XBMC(not to be confused with the media player) will give your mouse buttons multitasking superpowers.
With XBMC, you can configure what the mouse buttons and scroll wheel does in an application and add up to 10 layers to each app, which can be switched by a hotkey.
To put that into perspective, you can configure a three-button mouse to do 300 different things per application. And that’s not counting scroll wheel!
Windows 10 has gotten a lot better at housekeeping by cleaning up after itself to prevent junk build up. Disk Clean-up does the job effectively by deleting all the temp and old files.
CCleaner has long been the alternative go-to app for this job, but, recently it was discovered to riddled with a malware which affected millions of users.
BleachBit is an open-source alternative which does the same thing and even overwrites the empty space so nothing can be recovered. It is also useful for cleaning files of a specific app like your browser, as opposed to Disk Clean-up which deletes everything.
Windows 10 allows you to arrange open apps either side-by-side or stacked by right-clicking on Taskbar. Or you can resize them freely to arrange them as per your liking.
Sizer a free app which allows you to set custom sizes for each open windows(apps) and bind them to a hotkey. This way you can effectively divide your screen space, pixel-wise to arrange multiple apps like I have shown in the image above.
Initially, I wasn’t going to include Teracopy to this list, as I always felt it didn’t offer that much of an advantage over Windows copy. But, that changed when I gave the upgraded version a try on Windows 10.
While copying 37 GB of game files to my NAS server took Windows over 10 mins, Teracopy did it in under 8 mins.
Of course, how quickly files are copied and written is heavily dependent on a variety of factors like disk type, system load, network link etc, Teracopy speeds it up most of the times and doesn’t hang if you cancel or pause the task. Further, it can also check the integrity of copied files by checking their checksums.