Easiest to use apps that do something very useful

When I look for new apps, my priorities are (in order):

  • do they do something useful?
  • do they aim to do it in a way that protects my privacy?
  • are they trustworthy?

Fewer apps than I would like do all three of these things. Fewer still could I recommend to other, less technical users. But some are out there that do all of this and I think people should know about them. So here they are.

Comment below if you want me to recommend an app that does something I haven't mentioned yet. I'll do my best.

John Fastman
John FastmanList by John Fastman, last updated 2018-04-28
  1. MPV icon

    MPV is the simplest ever way to play video files on your computer. It's very point-and-click. And it has opened files the venerable VLC has occasionally failed with. It's simple, free, open source and multi-platform.

    • Media Player
    • FreeOpen Source
    • Mac
    • Windows
    • Linux
    • Android
    • BSD
    • Xfce
    • ...
    MPV screenshot 1
  2. Signal icon

    Signal lets you send end-to-end encrypted messages if both the sender and the recipient have Signal installed. Install on your phone and forget about it. Open source, free and easy-to-use. How do you convince grandma to defeat snoopers? This. Oh, and if you really want, you can install it on your desktop and use it from there.

    • Instant Messenger
    • FreeOpen Source
    • Mac
    • Windows
    • Linux
    • Android
    • iPhone
    • iPad
    • Flathub
    • Ubuntu
    • Debian
    • ...
    Signal screenshot 1
  3. Encryptr icon

    You know everyone should use a password manager. But how do you get someone who is really bad at computers to use one? Encryptr. Free, open source and dead simple. Oh, and it syncs to every operating system.

    • ...
    Encryptr screenshot 1
    Encryptr screenshot 2
    Encryptr screenshot 3
  4. Jitsi Meet icon

    Want to Skype someone? Yeah, well... the the thing is that all Skype calls are recorded, transcribed and subject to privacy-invading laws in the US that forces Skype to give the government their data. (Look up the Snowden revelations if you don't believe me. You can assume the same is true of Google Allo and similar services.) Jitsi Meet does what Skype does, except its easier and uses encryption to ensure what you say isn't heard by anyone other than the person you mean to hear it. Go to the site. Click a button. Copy the link. Send it to another person. They click it and you can talk. You don't even have to install anything. It's free and open source.

    • Video Calling App
    • FreeOpen Source
    • Online
    • Android
    • iPhone
    • Android Tablet
    • iPad
    • Self-Hosted
    • Apple Watch
    • F-Droid
    • ...
    Jitsi Meet screenshot 1
  5. Brave icon

    There are many browsers. Configuring them, e.g. to maximise privacy, involves installing add-ons and messing with the settings. Doing that properly, e.g. with Firefox, is better than Brave. But Brave is the most privacy-sorted, out-of-the-box-usable internet browser. Privacy in a simple package. Open source and free. Works on every major operating system.

    • Web Browser
    • FreeOpen Source
    • Mac
    • Windows
    • Linux
    • Android
    • iPhone
    • Android Tablet
    • iPad
    • Snapcraft
    • Flathub
    • Homebrew
    • Chocolatey
    • ...
    Start Page
  6. Private Internet Access icon

    Private Internet Access provide the easiest, out-of-the-box usable VPN service I've seen yet. On Windows and Mac, you just download their client, connect to the country of your choice and you're done. They also cheap and have promised to open source their code this year (2018). They are also one of the very, very few VPN services that have court documents showing they genuinely don't record your online browsing.

    • VPN Service
    • Mac
    • Windows
    • Linux
    • Android
    • iPhone
    • Android Tablet
    • iPad
    • Google Chrome
    • Tomato
    • Opera
    • pfSense
    • OpenVPN
    • Firefox
    • DD-WRT
    • ...
    Private Internet Access screenshot 1
    Private Internet Access screenshot 2
    Private Internet Access screenshot 3
  7. balenaEtcher icon

    Easiest ever way of making a downloaded .iso image into a bootable USB. Insert the USB stick, point, click. Works on Linux, Windows and Mac. Open source, free. Lovely.

    • ...
    balenaEtcher screenshot 1
  8. elementary OS icon

    Windows and Mac violate your privacy (and in truly horrible ways!) and they try to lock you in to their little app universes. Linux does neither but switching your loved ones to Linux is hard. Elementary OS helps: it's easy on the eye and based on Ubuntu, which is the most popular Linux distro. Very user-friendly for beginners.

    • ...
    The boot screen

This list was created by John Fastman Apr 28, 2018 and was last updated Apr 28, 2018. The list has 8 apps.

You can create your own lists from our large database of apps either for your own sake or if you want to share some great apps with other people.


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