When you load a NEW install of Microsoft’s Windows 10 here are the apps(programs) you need to install, and some to kill, to get things running smoothly & efficiently.
Windows 10 Important Things you need & why you need them.
Windows 11 has left a lot of us users behind. If you don’t have a new computer, you probably will not be able to upgrade at all. I have a pretty good gaming setup that I built, and it will not let me upgrade, all because of a little chip called the “Trusted Platform Module”. So, keeping Windows 10 up to date is very important.
Windows 10 Important Things – runtimes
What is a runtime? simply put it is a piece of code that other programs need to operate. Other programs (apps) that you install might load them automatically, so this is not super important.
- Microsoft .NET – A lot of apps use this; I don’t know why Microsoft doesn’t include it with Windows.
- Java for Windows – Very popular runtime, you will need it eventually, might as well get it now.
- Visual C++ Redistributable Runtimes – you will need them eventually, so just do it now.
Windows 10 Important Things – apps
Whether you call them apps or programs, here are some that I highly recommend.
- Google Chrome – This is the main player in the browser wars, & for good reason.
- Google Drive – For you Google fans, sync your files in the cloud. Be warned that documents, spreadsheets & slideshows store as a proprietary cloud format & are not actually located on your computer.
- Mozilla Firefox – A very secure & highly customizable browser, good choice for privacy.
- Spotify – I love Spotify for playing songs I love, and for discovering new ones. Premium is too pricy, so I just deal with a few commercials.
- Discord – If you are a gamer, Discord is a must have. The most popular communication tool there is.
- Handbrake – THE tool for encoding video, ripping DVD’s (with addon) & changing video formats.
- VLC Media Player – Windows has a player, but this one is WAY better.
- Tor Browser – for when you are looking at. Well, you know. Anonymity, Privacy, Security.
Windows 10 Important Things – utilities
Utilities will make your computer a little more helpful & friendly.
- Pea Zip – Windows has an (un)archiving program built in, but it is limited. Pea Zip will do a lot better job.
- Winaero Tweaker – There are so many things you can do in this one to customize Windows 10.
- Microsoft Power Toys – New for Win 10, has some cool gadgets & utilities.
- AOMEI Partition – One of the better free partition managers, more functional than Win stock one.
- Advanced Renamer – A really good free batch file renaming utility.
- Balena Etcher – Create bootable USB drives from an .ISO file.
Windows 10 Important Things – stock apps
Windows 10 has evolved quite a bit from the older versions. There was a time when the first thing you would do is get rid of all the Microsoft stuff (I’m thinking of you Clippy). Nowadays there are a lot of good stock apps, some that come preinstalled, that are really good.
- Edge Browser – Explorer is gone (R.I.P.) & Edge is here. It’s based on Chromium & you can run extensions from the Google Chrome store. It is worth a look & has matured into a really good browser. Good job Microsoft! I am using it right now.
- Paint 3D – It was hard for me to switch from the old paint, this new one is completely different. But once I started using it, I realized it was better in every way. Now I use it for all of my image editing.
- Groove Music – Groove is not as robust as iTunes, but its simplistic “clean” design is a refreshing change. Nothing fancy, it just plays your music & that is a good thing.
- Microsoft Photos – A huge improvement over the old photo viewer. Adds editing tools that will let you crop, resize & add filters to your pictures. All for free.
- Microsoft ToDo – A nice tracker for your lists & tasks.
- OneNote – An amazing note taking app with multiple notebooks, categories & cloud syncing for all of your devices. Can be confusing at times, especially in you have a lot of notebooks.
- OneDrive – The Microsoft cloud storage / sync service that you probably already have.
- Windows Terminal – For the true nerds out there, a really nice terminal; tabs, cross platform, all that junk. It can also do Linux commands, sometimes.
- Your Phone – This one is really cool; it links your Android (sorry iPhone) phone with your PC so you can place calls, text & exchange pictures all from your computer. I love calling someone on my PC, it’s so convenient. (Needs android app)
Windows 10 Important Things – tweaks
If you are a noob, you can admit it, you should probably NOT do some these. If you are not sure about something, leave it alone.
- Delete apps you won’t use. Go to start | settings | Apps, select the ones you don’t want & click “uninstall”, it won’t let you delete some of them.
- I like to go through all of the settings one-by-one & change them the way I want them to be set. Most of them are pretty self-explanatory. Go to start | settings & select the individual sections.
- Set up a free Microsoft account: start | settings | Accounts | Email & Accounts: hit the + ‘Add Account’ & sign up. This will sync all of your stuff & make it easier the next time you set up a PC. You also get a free Outlook email.
- “Fix” your taskbar: Go to start | settings | Personalization | Taskbar: check “Lock” “small buttons”; uncheck “hide” & “peek”; select “When Taskbar is Full” on Combine Taskbar Buttons. This is how I like it.
- While you are here, click the “Start” tab & turn on “Use Start full screen” this will give you a more modern look than the boring old “start” menu. Most people don’t like it, but you might.
- On the “Lock screen” tab turn off “Get fun facts…” It’s just useless.
Advanced users only. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
A lot of stuff starts needlessly with your computer, so stop it by pressing [ctrl][shift][esc] & select “More Details”.
On the startup tab you can right click & disable Apps. I like to kill: All browsers, Cortana, Discord, Spotify & any of the “Assistants”. I have an SSD so pre-loading programs is kind of unnecessary.
Windows 10 Important Things – services
Advanced users only. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
This used to be a big deal, but I’m not sure that it matters much anymore. Windows has gotten pretty good at handling this kind of thing. But if you want to.
Just hit [ctrl][shift][esc] & select “Services”. Here are some that home PC users can disable:
Application Layer Gateway Service, Downloaded Maps Manager, Enterprise App Management Service, Fax, Parental Controls, Remote Desktop, Remote Registry, Retail Demo, Secondary Logon, Smart Card, Touch Keyboard and Handwriting Panel Service, Windows Biometric Service, Windows Image Acquisition, Windows Insider Service, Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service, Windows Mobile Hotspot Service, Xbox Live Auth Manager, Xbox Live Game Save
Windows 10 Important Things – PowerShell
Some of the apps that are ‘built-in’ might not be useful to you. Xbox game bar is useless to non-gamers. Offline maps are useless on a desktop. Cortana is just useless in general. Here is how to use the Power Shell Console to kill those pesky little apps.
Really advanced users only. Don’t do it.
Windows 10 Important Things – Cortana
Microsoft Cortana is an entirely different beast. The easiest way to get rid of her is with a third-party app like: Winaero Tweaker.
You can try the PowerShell command.
Get-AppxPackage -allusers Microsoft.549981C3F5F10 | Remove-AppxPackage
I haven’t tried this, but I’m told it works. I tried several commands in PowerShell, but none of them worked.
After you remove Cortana, you can right click the taskbar & select search | (check) hidden & the icon will disappear. As if by magic.
What are your Windows 10 important things that you like to do? Let me know in the comments.
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