Windows 11 is getting more popular every month among regular users, gaming audience and business users. Although Microsoft has already released several feature updates with much-needed changes (with more coming in early 2023), Windows 11 still has some notable shortcomings. Also, Microsoft can’t please everyone, so it’s natural to expect relative dissatisfaction among those wanting to ditch Windows 10.
If you’re already on the Windows 11 team or just planning to upgrade, here are 11 apps (in no particular order) we think are must-haves on Microsoft’s latest OS. They improve existing features or don’t detract from Windows 11 (they work just fine on Windows 10 too).
You can also see an older version of this article for Windows 10, which was published seven years ago.
1. Start 11 ($4.99, 30-day trial)
Start 11 fixes the Start menu and taskbar in Windows 11. It provides several familiar and more convenient Start menu layouts, the ability to ungroup apps, move the taskbar to the top of the screen, reposition the Start button, and customize the experience to your heart’s content. . Content Start 11 gets frequent updates and new features, and we believe it should be on every Windows 11 PC.
Download Start11: Stardock.com
Disclaimer: Navon’s relationship with Stardock
2. Power ties (free)
PowerToys is the only first-party Windows app on this list. It’s a popular collection of advanced utilities for Windows 11 and 10 users that can edit the hosts file, measure your display, reset keys and shortcuts, organize apps and windows, run programs, and more. Includes over 15 “toys” to put on top. Checking which processes block a file, extracting text from images, and more.
Apart from providing a large list of utilities, PowerToys is highly customizable and supports backup of settings.
Download PowerToys: GitHub | Microsoft Store
3. Twinkle Tray (free)
Twinkle Tray makes it easy to manage your monitor’s brightness without reaching for physical controls or installing ugly-looking OEM software. The app features a beautiful Windows 11-like UI with advanced options, such as the ability to schedule automatic brightness adjustments, set custom shortcuts, sync brightness across monitors, additional parameters (contrast or volume). Setting up, changing the power state, and more. You can also adjust the brightness with the scroll wheel while hovering the cursor over the app icon.
Download Twinkle Tray: Twinkletray.com | Microsoft Store
4. Nana Zip (free)
NanaZIP is a fork of the popular 7Zip archiver. Apart from the offer What does the original do?, NanaZIP provides a better Windows 11 experience thanks to its integration with the newly designed context menu. Also, NanaZIP is slowly moving to WinUI, so the app will finally get a much more modern user interface.
Download NanaZIP: Microsoft Store
5. File app (free)
The Files app is what a stock file explorer should be. The app has a number of features to increase productivity when working with files, archives and folders. It supports tabs, multi-pane and treeviews, tags, compact overlays, custom themes, archives and more. Moreover, you can set the Files app as your default Windows file manager, in addition to having Very Improved and more convenient context menus.
Files is a free and open source project with a beautiful user interface and frequent updates that provide new features regularly. The only thing to note is that the app can’t change windows, like “Save” or “Open.”
Download the Files app.: Microsoft Store
6. Auto dark mode (free)
Windows 11 still doesn’t support automatic theme switching on a schedule or at sunset/sunset, so here’s an app that can automate the process, plus add several additional features. Auto Dark Mode allows creating custom schedules for mode switching, defining custom themes for dark and light modes, toggling themes with shortcuts, personalizing the background, and more.
Download Auto Dark Mode: GitHub | Microsoft Store
7. Share X (free)
Windows 11 has many tools for taking screenshots. However, they’re all on the more basic side (there’s no built-in screen recorder yet, and what’s to come is the best), so those who need more advanced and convenient features should opt for ShareX. should do. While it may take a little more than a minute to master the app to meet your specific needs, the result will be a robust screenshot utility with a feature-packed editor, custom actions, OCR, screen recording ( GIF and video) and more.
Download ShareX: Getsharex.com | Microsoft Store
8. Air Trumpet (free)
Pepperidge Farm recalls having a fast and easy-to-use volume mixer in Windows. Unfortunately, it’s now buried in the Settings app (right-click the volume indicator and select “Volume Mixer”), so here comes the EarTrumpet tool. It will place another volume indicator in the notification area, and clicking the icon will open a flyout with your audio output devices and apps playing. The only issue with EarTrumpet is the old Windows 10-style UI and Windows 11’s inability to remove the standard volume indicator.
Download EarTrumpet: Eartrumpet.app | Microsoft Store
9. A quick look (free)
This app copies one of those neat little features available in macOS by default. Apple’s desktop operating system lets you preview any file by pressing the spacebar key, and you can do the same with the QuickLook app in Windows. Besides being small, light and fast, this program supports various plugins to enhance its stock capabilities.
Download QuickLook: Microsoft Store
10. paint.net (free)
Paint.NET is what people often call “a free Photoshop alternative for Windows.” It’s a great tool for those who need more advanced photo editing features for free and without subscriptions. Paint.NET offers an intuitive user interface with support for layers, unlimited undos, special effects, and a wide variety of powerful tools.
Download Paint.NET: Getpaint.net
11. Dynamic theme (free)
Dynamic Theme is a small wallpaper tool that lets you download and set desktop or lock screen background Bing and Windows Spotlight images. The latter is notorious for its frequent bugs, so the dynamic theme is here to save the day (still not bug-proof). The app also gets extra points for its native-looking UI that resembles the stock Settings app.
Download the dynamic theme: Microsoft Store
Of course, we can’t list every app in one article. If you know of other hidden gems for Windows 11 and 10, let us and others know in the comments below to spread the knowledge!