We all have computers at home or at office and they are some programs or software that we just can’t do without for the daily personal work or office work. These program or tools are suitable for most windows based PC’s.
This list of programs are essential software for every computer user (2023 -2024 update)
While a lot of the time, people stick to free and trial software which can sometimes do the job, many a time this software is kind of limited in features due to it being free. If your looking for a good deal, then Black Friday and cyber Monday (a US online discount day) is one of the days that most online software goes at a discount and it’s a good time to get an online deal related to computers even if you are in Australia.
Today I bring you this essential list of software that most computer owners should have on their computer.
Some of these are free/trial software and some of them you pay to get the full versions.
While windows inbuilt antivirus security tool does a good job of blocking nasties on your computer, it is always good to get a good antivirus just to have that extra little bit of protection when your online.
Get an antivirus and computer security software bundled in one . Top providers are AVG, Mcafee, Norton, Bitdefender (check our entire recommended list here).
Many of them offer Free trial limited versions which you can use for a long time.
2. Unzip utility / Zipped file extractor
Have you ever heard of winzip or winrar. Its that program that lets you unpack or unzip a locked or zipped folder and see and use the contents within.
The WinZip file archiver creates archives in ZIP format by default, and can open archives of all popular compressed formats: ZIP, ZIPX, RAR, 7Z, TAR, GZIP, VHD, XZ, and POSIX TAR
The most popular programs are winzip and winrar, but there are others too. Winzip has a black friday deal on. Google it.
There is a entirely free version that you can use called 7 ZIP. 7-Zip is free software with open source. The most of the code is under the GNU LGPL license.
There are new free unzipping software like Peazip ( https://peazip.github.io/) which has free functionality for all basic unzipping tasks.
7zip is available for download here. https://www.7-zip.org/
- Packing / unpacking: 7z, XZ, BZIP2, GZIP, TAR, ZIP and WIM
- Unpacking only: AR, ARJ, CAB, CHM, CPIO, CramFS, DMG, EXT, FAT, GPT, HFS, IHEX, ISO, LZH, LZMA, MBR, MSI, NSIS, NTFS, QCOW2, RAR, RPM, SquashFS, UDF, UEFI, VDI, VHD, VMDK, WIM, XAR and Z.
3. Photo Image Editor
Most windows PC’s come with paint tool, however that is just not enough to get photos enhanced or fixed or if your kids want to do their homework. Some good photo tools are Paintshop Pro, Adobe photo shop, Paint.net Gimp.
An online subscription photo editor CANVA is of great value if you want to create good graphics easy and quick with a large in built library. If you want an online photo or image editor then Pixlr will do the trick.
Tools like these also help touch up photos taken on your smartphone or camera.
4. Mp3 Downloader/Player
So you need songs to entertain yourself on your pc.
One of the most popular song programs is spotify, youtube or google music today which runs on a monthly subscription model. There are good value if you like to listen to fresh and old music and create your own playlists.
There are websites like mp3jam and software like Audials that gets mp3s for you from popular online streaming websites.
Music Bee , Spotify, Media Monkey, Groove Music ( included with windows) are good mp3 music player programs to have (Winamp used to be my favorite at one time)
MX player is a good Mp3 player for your smartphone
5. Desktop Organizer Program/ Shortcut Organizer
I use fences for organizing all the shortcuts that gets created on my desktop for programs that get installed on my computer.
You can manually organise all program or folder shortcuts onto your desktop with windows, however fences by stardock can help make your desktop look cool and clean while still organizing it in a good way.
You can set it up so that the icons show only when the mouse is on top of it or you can make the icons on desktop blend into the background. Many more cool customization features are available.
6. PDF opener/ editor
Adobe is one of the leading programs for PDFs and they are good.
If you are looking to get PDF editors then have a look at this software listing website for more pdf programs listings.
You can also get free PDF programs which are listed on the Microsoft store.
My favorite freeware and trial pdf software are Foxit PDF editor, PDF candy desktop and Nitro Pro
7. Microsoft Word /PowerPoint software
Today software like Microsoft word and PowerPoint, Publisher is essential for you or then for your kid’s school or university homework. Microsoft software is not cheap and there are alternatives that will do the job like Google docs & Libre office.
Many schools and Uni’s offer student deals for office 365 and Microsoft software and many Govt/Corporate companies offer deals/discount to their staff for Microsoft software.
8. VPN Software
If you like watching shows that are available in other countries and are getting blocked or if you want to anonymously download or browse websites then a VPN is what you need. Most VPN’s are easy to set up today with a few clicks.
They also enhance your PC security while browsing or downloading bit torrents due to not leaving any IP footprints.
Popular VPN software is NORD VPN, Froot VPN, IP vanish, Express VPN and more.
Here is an entire list on our blog.
VPN are also getting popular due to Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney plus.
With a VPN you can check and watch shows that are exclusive to other countries Netflix users and watch it . I know Breaking bad was available in many countries via Netflix before it came to Australia.
9. Movie and Media player
The best media player for years is VLC media player. You throw any file format at it and it will play it. People use it more for playing video and movies though rather than audio mp3s.
Get VLC media player here. It’s free.
I also like GOM Player and MX player, but there are other popular software today like KM player, AIMP and the free windows media player.
Home Media player
The inbuilt windows media player can also let you stream video from your PC to your TV (DLNA/Miracast Enabled). The best home media player by far is Plex which lets you play music and movies from your PC computer, laptop or router to your TV or then makes the media available on any device on your home network
[Plex streaming player for your movies and videos on computer via wifi or home network]
Other good home media players or DLNA/WIFI players to stream/play movies to your other devices on your home network or on your TVs in the home is KODI, Emby or Jellyfin
10. Best screen capture tool
If you want to capture your computer screen or screen that you are browsing on the internet – the best free tool to use is windows snipper (snipping tool) ( the new screen snip & sketch introduced in Windows 10 is pretty crap and not very useful)
I use screen hunter to get that little bit of extra more flexibility when capturing the screen and you can set easy key shortcuts to open the program if you’re a regular user.
If you want heaps of utilities with your screen capture for free then ShareX software is another option.
Microsoft has just updated their new snip tool in windows 10, but I already dont like their update as it does not have user friendly save options.
11. Free space on my computer
There are software’s that will analyse your computer and tell you which stuff on the computer is taking the most space.
So, you can run this program and then delete stuff to make more space on your computer.
This program I use is wiztree for this. Its good to keep it handy – as a full computer makes your computer run slow and sluggish just like a full tummy.
This tool makes it makes it easy to reduce storage of unwanted large files by giving an idea of size of files on your PC so that you can delete unwanted ones.
Auslogics Duplicate File finder tool is also a good tool to find duplicate files on your computer taking up a lot of space.
12. Belarc advisor
This is useful program to have to see all the hardware and software specs of your computer. It will run checks on your computer and tell your how much memory it has, what operating system it has, what hard drives it has, what processor and circuit board it runs and much more information that you would expect that it would extract.
It is good information to give your PC repair guy if he needs it or to check if you need to upgrade hardware on your computer. If you want to find out your windows software keys for your windows 10,7,8 or your windows office keys then the Jellybean key finder software might also help you.
Lin to software: Belarc Advisor | Belarc, Inc.
SSD DRIVE & Linux windows software
If you use SSD drives then getting your SSD managing software is a good idea to keep a check on your hard drive. Samsung magician and crucial storage are good software to monitor your drive health.
If you got a WD NAS server or a Linux based home server then you might need Linux file systems for windows to check the drive contents if you run into problems with your mycloud drive or NAS drive . Seagate also has the Paragon Driver which allows you read and write access without having to reformat your external drives, both on Windows and macOS
Hope you enjoyed my list of essential software for your windows pc. My top go to for downloading tools or searching for software are mostly direct from publisher sites or then I use these handy sites like softpedia or cnet download en.softonic.com and fosshub.
Some other programs while not essential, I can recommend are
- Filezilla for FTP
- Camtasia Screen recorder for screen video capture
- Slitheris Network Discovery tool ( to discover wifi connected or network connected devices on your home network)
- Recuva File recovery tool ( to recover files from disks or memory cards, usb drives)
I do have heaps to add to this post and I can go on recommending tools that I use or have used previously, but I will keep it to 12 for now and add more at a later stage.
Let me know if you ended up downloading any of these tools and how did you go with it.