Let's set up a comfortable and safe environment to surf the world-wide-web.
After a fresh Windows installation, new users might get frustrated by the weakness of the default Microsoft apps. So, in this list I'm going to cover applications that will enhance the user experience for everyday tasks. And for that, I only picked programs that meet these criteria:
• Programs should be free (not commercial), safe and preferably open-source.
• Should be an offline native desktop app/client.
• Does not require advanced technical knowledge.
Thus, the list is tailored to non tech-savvy home users, however, a section for people who are into computer programming and IT will be also added, which includes basic and commonly-used development and coding tools.
Let's set up a comfortable and safe environment to surf the world-wide-web.
The best all-around browser, that outperforms Microsoft's Edge in every aspect.
And to tweak it with optimal privacy settings, I apply a bunch of settings recommended by PrivacyTools.
I picked the best rules of them and posted them here:
• https://telegra.ph/My-favorite-privacy-tweaks-to-Firefoxs-configurations-07-11 .
I use Chrome as a secondary browser. Despite of its privacy compromises, it's got a robust security and stability.
To minimize its privacy problems I use the following add-ons:
• Also, consider replacing the search engine to: DuckDuckGo.
Powerful, and lightweight extension to block ads and malicious scripts.
Compatible with Firefox & Chrome.
Forces websites to use HTTPS which make connection encrypted and difficult for outside people to spy on.
Compatible with Firefox & Chrome.
Secure, private, speedy and customizable email, news, RSS, and chat client.
A productive way for people who have multiple emails to manage.
Most people have tens of logins that should have different passwords, otherwise, using the same password for all websites and services puts you in a high risk, so it is recommended to keep your login information safe without the need to memorize all of them using Bitwarden, which handles the management and generation of unique, hard-to-break passwords and stores them in an encrypted vault.
Similar free open-source alternative:
• KeeWeb (Doesn't have browser extension but has a web and desktop app)
A decent download manager which will integrate to most browsers without problems, it lets the user decide whether to allow ads to appear inside the app (actually not intrusive ads, which is a good thing) or use it ad-free but limits the bandwidth in return.
Here is some open-source alternatives, that have positive reviews, although in my use case they didn't really deliver the good usability offered by EagleGet, so you might test them for yourself and see what suits you better:
• Xtreme Download Manager.
• Persepolis Download Manager.
/!\ Disclaimer: Do NOT expect Internet Download Manager 's performance and speed in any of these free download managers!
You might encounter torrent files in every once in a while, so here's an excellent open-source bittorrent client.
Everyday apps that everyone needs to use to carry out daily tasks and do basic actions with their computers more efficiently.
Simply the greatest archive manager supporting all compressed files formats with handy encryption features, all with an appealing Graphical Interface.
• If you prefer something ultra-minimal, you should be looking at: 7-Zip.
The most complete. well-supported, open-source, cross-platform office suite.
While Microsoft Office Suite is more familiar to many people, it's really nice that they offer a free 4-years license for students: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/education/products/office
Unchecky will automatically deselect adware (in form of bundleware/bloatware) from software installations.
Now let's get rid of Microsoft's awfully slow and useless image viewer with this fast, clean, light-weight image viewer.
Alternatives you may consider:
• nomacs: is even more feature-packed & open-source.
• ImageGlass: is another popular open source image viewer with a clean interface, but I don't personally use it because of its inability to render some TIFF images.
Now let's replace Microsoft's default video player with this much better and functional media player: PotPlayer.
Fast, responsive and has an elegant interface. The only downside it has is that the installer contains unwanted bundleware which luckily can be opted out, so be careful during installation.
Other recommended alternatives:
• VLC Media Player: Undoubtedly the best FOSS; great engine with wide codecs support.
• SMPlayer: While it doesn't have the best looking interface out of the box, you do have the option to apply a number of provided skins.
MusicBee helps you in organizing and managing your music files, playlists and libraries in a very appealing, user-friendly, customizable interface.
• Other good alternative: AIMP.
A viewer for PDF and EPUB (an e-book format). Sumatra is hands down the best for the task in terms of speed and functionality, however, it doesn't have any editing tools and no impressive look either (kinda outdated).
Other good options:
• Xodo: Modern PDF reader with free annotating tools, can be downloaded from the Microsoft store; it's also my favorite pick for Android.
• Foxit Reader: Supports PDF & EBUP along with other formats with decent amount of features, BUT it has bundleware in the installer, shows ad banners inside the app, has "send usage reports to improve experience" option enabled by default! Although all these cons can be fixed; you should watch out for these downsides before you start using it.
As the PDF file format has become so common, from time to time you'll need to edit or manipulate them.. And in that arena, PDFsam gets the job done smoothly in an easy-to-use interface.
For completely removing installed programs, their leftovers, and registry entries.
The best file conversion utility out there, with lots of media formats support.
Because Microsoft Calculator is just stupid.
SpeedCrunch is an advanced scientific calculator.
A robust tool to backup, synchronize and mirror your drives. The free plan does all these basic operations without any major limitations.
• SyncToy: although it's a discontinued product, but it is one of the simplest synchronizing tools to ever exist. It was the first tool I used to have to 'echo' (mirror) my backup hard drives in a speedy manner.
• Alternate File Move: surprisingly lightweight, even though the UI seems very minimal, the app's functionality is on par with the other apps!
Everyone needs a highly private space to keep their sensitive data safe. VeraCrypt will help you create an encrypted container or partition that no one can break into.
Deleting files the normal way (even with permanent shift-delete) is not the right way to go to prevent them from being recovered again!
For that, you should consider using specialized software that implement multiple overwriting algorithms to make sure that no one will ever be able to get them back.
Tools to improve your efficiency and get more productive
• This is an extended list of the [V1 Basic] list I made before: https://alternativeto.net/list/5857/must-have-apps-after-fresh-windows-install .
• This is a subjective list of software that I usually install on my family and friends' computers, many of which are pretty useful for getting the most out of Windows 10; for both regular home users, and advanced experienced ones.
I hope the list has been a bit of help to you all.
Thank you for spending the time reading all the way up to here.
Edited by: Malaz Yakti
Cool list! I think you should consider mentioning Foxit Reader as well since it has all of Gaaiho Reader's features plus has epub support.
Thank you, I'm glad you liked the list.
Foxit Reader is indeed popular and pretty practical, but the thing that prevents me from recommending it to people is the fact that it has some seriously annoying banners inside the app promoting their other products, moreover, the installer has many bundled bloatware (can be opted out, but inexperienced users usually just click 'next' in every installation process).
Anyway, I will be soon updating the list, I'm going to edit the PDF software, if I find anything really better than Sumatra and Gaaiho.
Thank you again for liking the list.
You can easily disable the banner and ads by going in the settings. It has 2 optional installation one for avast and the other for a VPN you can opt out very easily by clicking the big Decline button. I think even inexperienced users are smart enough to decline it.
Well I didn't actually know about that, I will give it a new try and see how it works out for me. But generally speaking, an app that has optional "bloat-ware", in-app ads banners, and collecting data to improve user experience option enabled by default, is not a trustworthy app for me. I know, you might say that all these things could be solved easily. An app with everything set up and ready to use in a safe and convenient manner out of the box is definitely a better option than an app you'll to go through a bit of hassle to suite the users needs. If I don't find such an option, I will add Foxit to the list with a warning of those cons mentioned.
Finally, I appreciate the time you spent for giving your opinion and suggestion.
So for you you'd rather have more privacy in an app. I use foxit for it's functionality that's it.
I personally don't mind if an app has telemetry especially since everything has it from Maps to the browser. And majority of apps of course will have them enabled as it goes to improving the app itself. There are a few good apps out there that unfortunately do have optional bloat as well but it's usually easy to click.
Now I'm with you when it has to do with apps that install bloat without user consent or knowledge or actively logs user data without proper encryption or sends said data to obscure places like what UC browser was doing.
To disable the ads/banner you go into the settings > general, scroll down and you'll see the option to disable them.
This is the most useful list I've seen here. I use Joplin as a secure note taking app. It has a portable version and can sync in the cloud (example: Nextcloud). It also has a Web Clipper for Firefox and Chrome, which is really useful.
Thank you Joao, I was actually planning on updating the list and add more productivity apps, so after searching and testing several options, your suggestion helped me decide what note-taking app to choose, so thanks a lot!
I've just finished updating the list. Please let me know what do you think and if you have any more suggestions, I will definitely take them into consideration.
Nice list ! But just as an observation : the link for the Microsoft Office student offer isn't available anymore.
I will update the link right away, I'm so grateful for pointing that out!
Have a nice one.