October 4, 2023

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For reference, here are the apps I install on every new computer

For reference, here are the apps I install on every new computer

Since I started reviewing laptops here at Digital Trends, I’ve worked on more than 240 of them. This means that I always have one or two machines to use, but the machines themselves are not so important. It’s what I can do with them that’s important. This is why I install a basic set of apps on every laptop I set up.

Going through the process of setting up a new laptop a few times a month means I have a list of apps to access. If you’re setting up a new PC for the first time, here’s what you should download.



I write for a living, which means my primary computing tasks involve getting words down on paper (so to speak) and doing a lot of research and analysis. So I rely on many productivity apps to get my work done.

I settled on Microsoft products a long time ago, so I use them now Microsoft 365, which gives me access to Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. The suite offers much more, but these are the apps I use the most. And since we’re on the subject of Microsoft, I also store my documents in OneDrive. This provides backup and sync across the variety of devices I use, which includes a few Windows 11 laptops (Dell XPS 15 and XPS 13 Plus), an Apple MacBook Pro 14, a Windows 11 desktop, and an iPad Pro Size 11 inches. Finally, I use Skype for basic messaging, mostly with my family.

For a free alternative, there’s the cloud-based Google suite, but you can also download it LibreOffice If you prefer the desktop experience. It’s a full office suite similar to Microsoft 365, although it lacks the centralized, cloud-synced functionality that Microsoft offers.

To browse the web, I use Microsoft Edge. I know this isn’t the most popular option, but I’ve tried all the major browsers and feel like Edge works for me. It doesn’t require a lot of configuration on a new computer, because it syncs things like extensions automatically.

So, these are the first apps that I install and configure. Or rather, on Windows 11 PCs at least, I sign in with my Microsoft account during the initial setup and this automatically signs me in to the suite (which is almost always already installed) and to OneDrive as well. OneNote requires additional configuration to open files that I use frequently. It’s a simple process built into muscle memory now. On my MacBook and iPad, I need to manually download Microsoft Office, OneNote, OneDrive, and Skype, then configure and sign in to each. It is a more complicated process, but not by much.

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Enhance productivity and security

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These apps handle the basics, but there are still a few that I install to improve productivity. Some are free, and some are either introductory purchases or subscriptions. But it all adds up to something that makes me more productive.

First up is Singate from TechSmith. It costs $63, with special rates for education and government, and can be installed on two devices. There is also a maintenance plan you can purchase that provides free upgrades. The PC max is something I need to manage, but other than that, it’s a great tool for taking screenshots and making simple edits. I barely use a fraction of the apps’ functionality, but I find it better than Windows 11’s built-in Snipping Tool.

Next is Microsoft Teams. I’m sure I have the corporate version installed so I can connect to all relevant accounts. The Personal edition is already built into Windows 11, but you need the separate business edition to use it at work.

In addition to the main applications, there are a few utilities that I install as well. I use Free tree size On Windows 11 to help me manage the somewhat complex file structure. I don’t keep that many files on my MacBook, so I don’t care about using a similar utility for MacOS. This tool sorts all your files and provides a high-level overview of how much space everything is taking up, which is useful for creating some extra storage space.

I also work with a lot of zip files, and although the built-in functionality in Windows 11 is good for basic Zip files, I like the features it offers 7-Zip code. I use Archive 4 On my MacBook, available for $20 directly from the retailer or the App Store. PeaZip It is a decent and free alternative to Mac.

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I rely on Windows 11’s default Defender antivirus app and its functionality for my basic protection. But, for added peace of mind, I also install the free version of Malwarebytes. It provides another layer of security against different types of malware, and is relatively unobtrusive.

I admit that I don’t install anything on my MacBook or iPad, which may or may not be a smart thing depending on where you stand on the security of Apple’s operating systems. As I write this, I’m thinking that maybe I should look into some sort of virus protection for my Apple devices.

just for fun

Jacob Roach/Digital Trends

Of course, I don’t just work on my computers. I also sometimes play some games, stream media, and listen to a lot of music.

So, steam f Battle.net They are two of the first apps I installed. I’m not a fan of big games, but I play some strategy games like Civilization VI And role-playing games like Diablo IV. I am also looking at Baldur’s Gate 3which is available on Steam.

In Windows 11, the best way to stream video is through the Edge browser. It supports 4K resolution and High Dynamic Range (HDR) on most services, especially in the case of Netflix. I don’t bother installing any apps for a specific service. On MacOS, I found Safari to provide the best experience, even though I use the Apple TV+ app, which of course comes pre-installed.

If you want the desktop experience, you can find apps like Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, Disney+, and Crunchyroll through the Microsoft Store.

For music, I subscribe to Tidal. It offers the highest audio quality of all the services, and is the only one that takes full advantage of the excellent Quad DAC (digital to analog converter) in my LG G8 ThinQ smartphone. Tidal works well on Windows 11 and MacOS, and supports maximum quality of service. This is especially great on my MacBook Pro 14, which has some of the best sound quality you’ll find on a laptop, both through external speakers and the headphone jack that supports high-impedance headphones.

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I’m also an avid reader of fiction and nonfiction, and have subscribed to the Kindle ecosystem for years. I can buy a book from the Kindle Store and it’s instantly available on every device I own. Your reading progress, bookmarks, highlights, and notes are synced across platforms, making it a seamless reading solution. So, I install Kindle app On my Windows 11, MacOS, and iOS devices shortly after I set it up.

Get everything fast

You can search for installers for all of these apps individually, although you can get many of them automatically through my neti. This website has dozens of popular applications that you might want to install on a new computer, all of which are free, and allow you to download them with one click.

In addition to the apps mentioned above, here are some apps you should consider downloading with Nanite:

  • Discord – All-in-one messaging, video calling, and groups
  • Handbrake – video encoding and conversion
  • WinDirStat — storage analyzer
  • GIMP – A free and open source image editor similar to Photoshop
  • TeamViewer 16 — Remote desktop application, which is useful for servicing your computer

And maybe there are more

These are the apps that immediately come to my mind, but I will install others in the future as the need arises. Your use of the application may be completely different. If you’re a creator, for example, you can instantly install some creative apps like those available in Adobe Creative Cloud. But, we hope this list provides some inspiration for apps you might install on your computers once you’re done with the setup routine.

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