Some apps are essential and everyone who’s anyone knows to have them on their computer. Some apps, however, are fantastic, yet fly under the radar. Today, we look at our top 10 underhyped apps on Windows.
We’ve shared our favourite underhyped webapps a few times before, but we were shocked to find we hadn’t done the same for our beloved desktops. So, this week, we’re tackling Windows. Come back next week to see our favourite underhyped Mac apps!
WizMouse is that app you never knew you wanted until you use it. It allows you to scroll in windows when you mouse over them, not just after you click on them — something OS X and Linux have built-in, but Windows is seemingly missing. It may seem trivial, but after using it for a while, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it. It’ll even enable the mouse wheel in applications that don’t support it, or even reverse the direction for the “natural” scrolling some people prefer. Check out our original post on it for more.
Skitch isn’t necessarily the best screenshot tool around, but it’s long been our favourite screenshot annotation tool for the Mac, and now it’s on Windows. It’s amazing what a few well-placed arrows, text, and shapes can do when you’re trying to explain something — and, while you could just do it in Microsoft Paint, Skitch makes it look good (and easy). The Evernote integration is pretty great too.
You’ve probably heard of PotPlayer before — after all, it’s our App Directory pick for the best video player on Windows. Despite that, however, it seems to be a much lesser-known app that deserves more attention. It’s fast, lightweight and has more settings for tweaking your video than you can shake a stick at (plus it can play just about any video you throw at it). As such, it earns higher praise from us than more popular players like VLC, at least if you want those advanced settings. If you’ve been using another player and want more, PotPlayer is where you’ll find it.
Windows’ taskbar is still the best taskbar around, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. Bins is a simple $US5 app that adds a few really handy features to the taskbar, most notably the ability to group multiple apps into one square. Click on that square and it’ll launch the primary app, but hover over it, and you can choose which app to launch. It’s perfect for those that have multiple music players, photo editors, or other things that you don’t want taking up space on your taskbar. Check out our post on it to see even more stuff that it can do.
Chocolatey brings Linux’s lightning-fast, super configurable package management to Windows. What does that mean? It means you can install a load of apps at once (perfect for clean installs) with no effort. Or, you can try out that new app without having to find its site, download the file, and install it yourself. Everything happens with just a few keystrokes. Check out the video to the left to see it in action.
Dexpot is an awesome little utility that adds a ton of features to the windows on your desktop — and gives them all sorts of shortcuts. Its main purpose is to split your desktop up into four different workspaces, much like the Spaces feature on OS X or the Workspaces feature on Ubuntu. It can also make windows transparent, give you an Exposé-like view of all your open windows, and more. If your desktop is starting to feel a little cluttered with Windows, Dexpot is the perfect app to save your productivity.
Growl is an incredibly popular program on the Mac, but its Windows version doesn’t get a lot of attention — despite the fact that its grown into quite the notification system. Growl essentially puts all the popups, balloons, and other notifications on your desktop into one unified system that you can control, customise, send to other machines, or even forward to your phone. It supports many popular apps and it’s very easy to set up. Check out our guide to Growl for Windows for more info.
At first glance, MusicBee seems like just another music player for Windows, but it’s actually the perfect balance between the existing programs out there. It’s fully-featured, like Winamp, but much lighter weight, and 100% per cent free. It’s not quite as customisable as foobar2000, but is much easier to use and has more than enough customisation features for the average user. It’s even got a lot of tagging features for those that might be considering something like MediaMonkey. Plus, it syncs with Android phones superbly. Does it beat out any of these players at their speciality features? No, but it has a little bit of everything, is super lightweight, and is sure to fit into anyone’s workflow. If you haven’t found a music player you truly love, try it out. It was a contender in our Hive Five on desktop music players, but barely scraped together six per cent of the final vote, so we’re still considering it very underhyped.
Nircmd isn’t an “app” in the traditional sense of the word, but it’s something we think every life hacker should have on their Windows computer. Essentially, Nircmd is a command line tool that performs all sorts of system functions with really easy-to-understand commands. Sound boring? Combine it with AutoHotkey — one of Windows’ most deservedly hyped apps — and you can perform nearly any system task with one keystroke. You can open or close your CD drive, start your screensaver, put your computer to sleep, change the volume, speak the text on the clipboard, kill instances of any program, or perform over 70 other tasks. Check out Nircmd’s full list of features to see what it can do, and check out our guide to integrating it with AutoHotkey to really make it awesome. Image: Neil T.
Microsoft’s note-taking application OneNote is one of those apps no one really talks about much, but is absolutely loved by everyone who uses it. It’s available for a lot of platforms, too (despite it being part of Microsoft Office), so if you’re finding that Evernote just isn’t quite powerful enough for your organisational needs, give OneNote a shot — you might be surprised at everything it can do given its lesser-known status.