There’s a lot of software out there for your PC: some of it good, most of it bad, plenty of it free. As great as the Internet is, it makes it easy to get your hands on the bad stuff through a dodgy advert or malicious message saying that you have a virus and “need to install an antivirus immediately.” We’ve trawled the Internet for 101 of the best free software and apps in every major category we could think of, picking our top choices for each one. Enjoy!
If you want to skip straight to a specific section, you can do so below:
- Office suite
- Note-taking apps
- Web browsers
- Media players
- File compression
- Instant Messaging
- Email clients
- Torrent Managers
- Anti-Spyware and Anti-Virus
- FTP Clients
- Password Managers
- ISO Management Tools
- Download Managers
- Screenshot Tools
- Code Editors
- Photo Editors
- eBook Readers and Tools
- Game Emulators
- Diagramming and Charting
- Backup Programs
- System Optimization
1. Libre Office – Libre Office is a great free alternative to Microsoft Office, and it packs all the office tools you’d ever need for your office tasks.
2. Calligra – Calligra Office Suite includes all the office tools including a word processor, a spreadsheet processor, and a presentation maker to help you with your office tasks. In addition to that it also has a visual database creator that helps you create databases on your PC.
3. SoftMaker FreeOffice – SoftMaker FreeOffice is free for both personal and professional use and is a complete office suite to match all your office task requirements.
4. WPS Office Personal Edition – This one is the perfect multi-language office suite solution for your office management. In addition to office tools, it has PDF tools to help you work with the PDF files on your PC.
5. Google Docs – Google Docs is Google’s online office suite, and it’s a widely used tool for personal use as well as professional. And it’s free, too.
6. Evernote – Evernote is a great note-taking app that helps you jot down your thoughts in the form of notes and save them online to be accessed from any of the supported devices.
7. OneNote – Microsoft OneNote is a digital note-taking app that helps you give shape to your ideas when you jot them down in this app.
8. Google Keep – Google Keep is Google’s note-taking app which is simple yet powerful. You can create notes like sticky notes and drag them around your screen to place them in various categories.
9. Apple Notes – Apple Notes is a note-taking app that works in the cloud and helps you access your notes on all your devices including your Windows PC.
10. Simplenote – As the name suggests, this app keeps things simple in both usability and interface. It syncs across multiple devices and uses the Markdown syntax if you want to format your notes.
11. Google Chrome – Google Chrome is one of the most popular web browsers available, and it has a number of features as well as extra features that can be added using extensions.
12. Mozilla Firefox – Firefox is also one of the more popular web browsers, and it comes with many great features, plus it has its own add-ons repository for you to add new features to it.
13. Opera – The “fourth” major web browser gets a lot less press than its rivals but is super-fast with a neat interface, and even comes pre-packaged with a free VPN.
14. Microsoft Edge – It may seem like a cop-out to include the default Windows 10 web browser, but Microsoft Edge feels slick and spacious and now has mobile versions that it syncs seamlessly with.
15. Yandex Browser – Yandex Browser is a secure and quick browser alternative to the other popular browsers available on the market. It’s faster because it has turbo mode that gets enabled when your Internet speed slows down so you don’t suffer.
16. VLC Media Player – With support for dozens of file formats, the VLC Media Player is your go-to media player for playing all your media files. It comes at no cost and plays almost all the file formats.
17. KMPlayer – KMPlayer is a freeware tool that helps you play a number of media file formats on your PC. It comes with 36 different languages if you’d prefer to have it in your native language.
18. SMPlayer – SMPlayer is an open-source media player that comes with the most codec for you to be able to play all the formats of media files on your PC. It also allows you to watch YouTube videos and download and use subtitles for your files.
19. Potplayer – Potplayer plays almost all types of media formats as it supports OpenCodec where you can add your own codec whenever you want. It uses hardware acceleration to provide users with a smooth media playing environment.
20. WinRAR – WinRAR helps you extract a number of archive formats including ZIP and RAR on your computer. The software also lets you see files inside an archive before you actually extract the files. It’s a popular software, and you should definitely get it on your computer.
21. 7-Zip – In our tests, this is the archiving format that won our hearts. It’s fast, open-source and crucially does a better job of compressing files than its rivals.
22. IZArc – IZArc helps you zip and unzip files and also helps you encrypt your files so that no unauthorized person can access them. It supports 7-ZIP, RAR, TAR and many other formats for extraction.
23. PeaZip – PeaZip is an open-source archive extraction utility built for Windows and Linux machines. The utility helps you extract RAR, TAR, and ZIP files and also helps you encrypt them for better security.
24. Telegram – Telegram is a really great alternative to WhatsApp, and it has native apps for many of the popular platforms including Windows. The app lets you send and receive messages from your contacts, and it also helps you interact with the bots.
25. Viber – If you’re looking for free and good quality voice and video calls, then Viber is a great choice for you, as it has all these features plus the feature for texting your friends. A native app is available for Windows OS.
26. Skype – The veteran voice-calling software doubles as a highly effective messaging app. It’s all the more effective now that it has a proper Windows app version, too.
27. WhatsApp Web – Okay, so you can’t use this one without syncing it with your phone via a QR code, but what does it matter? You combine the convenience of WhatsApp with the convenience of a proper keyboard – particularly handy if you’re looking to win an argument with a friend who’s confined to typing on a touchscreen!
28. Mailbird – Mailbird lets you bring all your email accounts to one place and manage them all from there so that you don’t need to go to multiple places to manage your multiple email accounts.
29. Inky – Inky is designed especially for encrypted and digitally signed emails so that they remain secure while they are transmitted through the Internet. It works with most email types and is a good email client for your daily use.
30. Thunderbird – Mozilla’s offering still rules the roost when it comes to desktop email clients, and recent updates have done a great job of modernising its interface to make it a bit more welcoming.
31. Opera Mail – Opera Mail is a lightweight and customizable email client for Windows PC. The software makes it really easy for you to read your emails, label them however you want, and also do filtering to get to the emails you actually want to read.
32. BitTorrent – BitTorrent is one of the most popular torrent clients available with support for torrents as well as magnet links. It also supports playing media files directly from the torrent which is an exclusive feature for Windows users.
33. qBittorrent – qBittorrent is a free alternative to uTorrent that was built by developers in their spare time and has all the standard features that you expect from a torrent client.
34. Deluge – Deluge, as the company says, is a feature-rich BitTorrent client for popular operating systems. It has GTK+, the Web, and console interfaces for its users.
35. BitLord – BitLord is the easiest way to download torrents and to also stream them on your PC. It has the playlist feature for you to keep your torrents in order and also lets you read and write comments for the torrents.
Anti-Spyware and Anti-Virus
36. Malwarebytes – Malwarebytes keeps your PC safe from harmful threats and makes sure you always have a secure environment on your PC.
37. AdwCleaner – AdwCleaner helps you clean Adware and Toolbars from your PC that have been installed by other software on your computer. It’s a must-have tool if your PC has a lot of toolbars and adware and you want to get rid of all it.
38. Kaspersky TDSSKiller – Kaspersky TDSSKiller is an anti-rootkit tool that lets you remove rootkits from your PC. Root-kits are utilities that help malware hide on your PC.
39. Norton Power Eraser – Norton Power Eraser is a virus removal tool that detects viruses that cannot be found by other anti-virus tools and helps you remove them from your PC.
40. USB Disk Security – A well-known source of threats is a USB drive, and USB Disk Security helps you keep your PC safe from infections that could come from plugging a USB drive into your computer.
41. Avira – Avira has won awards for being a good anti-virus and helps you remove and stay safe from malware and spyware on your PC.
42. Panda – Panda is an anti-virus that helps you protect your computer from various kinds of spyware and viruses.
43. Cyberduck – Cyberduck is a popular FTP client that helps you connect to your FTP server and upload and remove files to and from the server.
44. WinSCP – WinSCP is an FTP client that supports both normal FTP and secure FTP connections for you to upload and download files from an FTP server. It focuses on the security of the files that are being exchanged.
45. CoreFTP – CoreFTP has tons of features like FTP, SFTP, SSL, TLS, site-to-site transfers, and so on. It also supports the drag and drop of files and file view and editing for you to interact with your files.
46. FileZilla – Everyone likes an app with the “Zilla” suffix in it, and there’s a lot else to like here, too, such as transfer speed control, great file management, and color-coding to show that files are in sync.
47. LastPass – LastPass is a great password manager for Windows (and other OSes too). Not only does it save passwords for you, it also helps you auto-fill forms on websites and generate random passwords.
48. KeePass – KeePass is an open-source password manager that helps you store your passwords in a highly secure and encrypted database which can be opened using a master password.
49. Enpass – Enpass saves your passwords for you so that you don’t need to save those really confidential passwords in simple text files which can be read by anyone. It has auto-fill on the go so that you don’t need to enter your passwords whenever you visit a website where you have saved a password. Not only does it help you save passwords, it also helps you save bank accounts, credit cards, and passports in a secret and safe environment.
50. Encryptr – Encryptr is a free and private password manager for your PC that lets you save passwords, generate secure passwords, search for saved passwords, and has zero knowledge cloud so only you know your passwords and even the server.
Iso Management Software
51. Integrated ISO software – First, don’t forget that Windows 10 has integrated ISO mounting software, which does a perfectly decent job of mounting and unmounting common disc image formats.
52. DAEMON Tools Lite – DAEMON Tools Lite allows you to back up your CD/DVD/Blu-ray disks into so-called disk images that you can store wherever you want. It also helps with extracting the disk images for you to see what’s inside them.
53. WinCDEmu – WinCDEmu is an open-source CD and DVD emulator that supports most major disk image formats including ISO, CUE, BIN, RAW, and IMG. It helps you mount these disk images as disk drives on your computer.
54. Internet Download Manager – Even after so many years, Internet Download Manager remains one of the best download managers for Windows, as nothing beats the functionalities it offers to its users. It helps you download files and manage them in a list, and there are tons of other features.
55. Free Download Manager – As the name implies, Free Download Manager is free and manages downloads for your PC and lets you download files off the Web and save them on your computer. It accelerates downloads so that your files get downloaded quickly.
56. FlashGet – FlashGet puts your downloads into sections and downloads them separately to accelerate the speed of downloads. It also helps you trigger your anti-virus for scanning the files that you have downloaded to your PC.
57. JDownloader – JDownloader is an open-source download manager for Windows that comes with a number of features. It helps you pause and resume downloads, auto extract archives when they have been downloaded, and set bandwidth for the file downloads.
58. Microsoft Download Manager – Microsoft Download Manager makes downloading files simple and reliable for you with its various functions for better downloading of files on your Windows PC.
59. Snipping Tool – Windows’ built-in snipping tool is a nice and snappy way to grab whole screens or just sections of screen, saving it in JPG, PNG and even GIF formats.
60. Greenshot – Greenshot is an open-source and free screenshot tool that helps you capture the screen of your PC and save it as an image file on your computer. You have a number of options to choose from when you take a screenshot such as if you want to take a full screenshot or just the selected region.
61. Lightshot – Lightshot lets you take customizable screenshots on your PC. It helps you take either full-screen or selected region’s screenshots, and you can then use the built-in editor to quickly edit the captured screenshot on your PC.
62. ShareX – ShareX is an open-source screenshot tool for Windows that allows you to capture either full-screen or selected regions of your screen and save them as files somewhere on your PC or in your clipboard. It also has a screen recorder and a number of other features for all of your screen-capturing tasks.
63. 7capture – 7capture lets you capture your screenshots in transparent mode which means it lets you have screenshots of rounded corner app windows. Also, it lets you remove the background image from the transparent bars of apps so you get the perfect quality screenshot you want.
64. DuckCapture – DuckCapture comes with many features to help you take various types of screenshots on your PC, and it also allows you to edit them with its rich editing tools.
65. Notepad++ – Notepad++ has been on the market for years and is still one of the best code editors out there. The app supports a number of programming languages for syntax highlighting and is available for free.
66. jEdit – jEdit is a code editor that is written in Java and works on a number of platforms including Windows. It supports over 200 languages and is a mature programmer’s code editor – as the company says.
67. Crimson Editor – Crimson Editor is made for professionals to edit source codes on a Windows PC. It’s a text editor, an HTML editor, and supports a few other languages as well.
68. Araneae – Araneae is a simple tool, but don’t judge its features by its looks. It’s been developed to create web scripts in the most simplest way possible on a Windows PC.
69. EditPad Lite – EditPad Lite can be a replacement for the Notepad app on your PC. It’s a basic tool with all the features you need to write and edit codes on your computer.
70. ATPad – ATPad is written in pure C and is a good text editor with tabbed interface, customization, word wrapping, and so on.
71. Pixlr – Pixlr is a web-based photo editor that you can access using a web browser from your Windows PC. It lets you edit your photos and apply various effects to them. All for free.
72. PhotoScape – PhotoScape makes editing your photos easier than ever with its easy-to-use features and a nice interface.
73. GIMP – The long-standing alternative to Photoshop, with much of the versatility of Adobe’s app compressed into a free open-source package.
74. Paint.net – The classic old-school photo editing tool, this is somewhere between MS Paint (RIP) and Photoshop in terms of complexity. A nice intro for photo editing beginners.
eBook Readers and Tools
75. NOOK – NOOK gives you an incredible reading experience on your PC and allows you to read a number of ebooks right on your computer.
76. Ice Cream eBook Reader – Ice Cream eBook Reader is a free MOBI and EPUB eBook reader for Windows PCs that lets you read ebooks available in multiple formats, helps you manage your library, and also helps you add notes and bookmarks to your books.
77. Cover – Cover is mostly a comic reader that allows you to read your favorite comics in a really great-looking user interface.
78. Calibre – Calibre was designed to make managing your eBooks as easy as possible and does that job perfectly with its neat and clean features.
79. FBReader – FBReader stands for Favorite Book Reader, which is a multiple platform-supported eBook reader. It also has support for a number of eBook formats.
80. RetroArch – Not technically an emulator in itself, but a platform within which you can download and run specially tailored versions of every emulator you can dream of. The ultimate emulation platform.
81. ePSXe – ePSXe is a PlayStation emulator that allows you to play the old PlayStation games right on your Windows computer. It can be easily configured, and you can get started within seconds.
82. PCSX2 – PCSX2 is a PlayStation 2 emulator that lets you play almost all of the PlayStation 2 compatible games on your Windows PC. It has a support rate of 80% which means most PS2 games can be played using this emulator on your PC.
83. SNES9x – The foremost emulator for SNES games, this is widely agreed to be the most accurate SNES emulator and is still being updated to this day. Great selection of screen filters, too.
84. VisualBoyAdvance – VisualBoyAdvance is a Gameboy and GameboyAdvance emulator for your Windows PC that can play a number of games in an emulated environment on your PC.
85. Dolphin – This GameCube and Wii emulator is a work of wonder, letting you play most games flawlessly, and with plenty of options to boost their visual quality to jaw-dropping levels.
86. Project64 – Project64 is a Nintendo 64 emulator that helps you play Nintendo games on your PC.
Diagramming and Charts
87. LibreOffice Draw – An excellent diagramming tool that comes packageded with LibreOffice, letting you create flowcharts and other diagrams. It comes with a free Viso-like shapes package, too!
88. LucidChart – A web-based diagramming tool with a convenient drag-and-drop interface and plenty of collaboration options.
89. yED Graph Editor – Bright and very user friendly, yED is great for everything from charting family trees to complex network infrastructures.
90. Graphviz – At thirty years old, Graphviz is ancient in the computing world and relies on the user’s understanding of the DOT language to create all manner of sprawling charts.
91. Draw.io – This browser-based tool keeps things simpler than some of the other options, letting you create fairly advanced diagrams, collaborate on them, and save them directly to the cloud.
92. EaseUS Todo Backup – EaseUS Todo Backup offers comprehensive backup features that let you quickly create backups and restore the backups when your system is not performing well. When restoring, you can be selective and only choose the files you want to be restored.
93. Comodo Backup – Comodo Backup allows you to back up your data to various places such as external drives, network drives, FTP, CD/DVD, and also online storage services.
94. Personal Backup – Not only does Personal Backup help you back up your data, but it also protects your data from malware so that your data remains intact, and your computer is not infected with any malicious apps.
95. Genie Timeline – Genie Timeline is a fast and lightweight app that helps you back up your data with just two steps, and it automatically purges to save memory space on your PC. It’s the kind of app that you set once, and then it does everything automatically.
96. Redo Backup – Redo Backup does something that other apps don’t, as it has the bare metal restore so your data can be backed up and restored even at the toughest times, like when your hard disk goes haywire.
97. CCleaner – Even after so many years, CCleaner still remains one of the best system optimizers for Windows PCs. The tool cleans up your system to speed it up and also helps you run your programs in an optimized environment.
98. Iolo System Mechanic – The lightweight version of Iolo’s all-powerful PC cleaning suite will suffice for most people. It’s quite possibly the best at scouring your PC for junk files, has a nifty registry cleaner, a robust utility for controlling startup programs, and registry cleaner.
99. PC Decrapifier – As the name implies, PC Decrapifier helps you remove the crap out of your system so it runs smoothly and error-free. It helps you remove all the garbage that is contributing to the slow speeds of your PC.
100. JetClean – JetClean helps you optimize your PC with a single-click. It tunes up your system and fixes any errors that might be slowing down your PC. It helps you save yourself from having your PC crash with all the garbage that your PC eventually gets filled up with.
101. Space Sniffer – Space Sniffer allows you to see what some of the items are that occupy a large chunk of your PC’s memory space. You can then drill down further and see what all those files are, and you can then get them removed if you find them to be useless files.
Did you manage to get through the whole list, or did you make life easier for yourself and go straight to the end?
This post was first published in December 2007 and was updated in January 2018.