The Free Apps We're Most Thankful For

While the US is getting its Thanksgiving on, we're thankful every day for all the free apps out there that improve our lives (and the developers that make them!). Here are our favourites.

Party photo by Shutterstock

1. Feedly

Category: News Readers

See also: The Best Extensions and User Scripts to Power Up Feedly, The Best New Features Feedly Has Added for Google Reader Switchers, Five Best Google Reader Alternatives.

Alternatives: The Old Reader, Tiny Tiny RSS

2. Google Maps Category: Maps See also: The Best Extensions to Make Google Maps Even More Awesome, The Best Ways to Use Google's New(ish) My Maps Tool, How to Set Up the Ultimate Personal Google Maps, Make your GPS App Give You Better Directions, and Wean Yourself Off Your GPS Dependency.

3. Dropbox

Category: Cloud Storage

See also: The Cheapskate's Guide to Getting Free Dropbox Space, How to Get 8GB+ Extra Dropbox Space for Free with Google AdWords, Seven Downloads and Extensions to Make Dropbox Even More Awesome, Top 10 Clever Uses for Dropbox, How to Supercharge Your Dropbox with Wappwolf, The Start-to-Finish Guide to Securing Your Cloud Storage, and more Dropbox coverage

4. Google Chrome

Category: Web Browsers

See also: The Always Up-to-Date Power User's Guide to Chrome, The Best Packaged Apps for Chrome, The Best Chrome Apps You're (Probably) Not Using, The Secret Powers of Chrome's Address Bar, Speed Up Chrome for Android with this Settings Tweak, Lifehacker Pack for Chrome, and more Chrome coverage.

5. Firefox

Category: Web Browsers

See also: The Always Up-to-Date Power User's Guide to Firefox, The Best About:Config Tweaks for Making Firefox Better, Lifehacker Pack for Firefox, Speed Up Firefox By Enabling Its New HTTP Cache, and more Firefox coverage.

6. Gmail

Category: Email See also: How to Master Gmail with These Tips, Shortcuts, and Add-Ons, Top 10 Clever Tricks Built Right Into Gmail, Fix Gmail's Newest Annoyances with These Userstyles and Userscripts, Everything You Need to Know About Gmail's New, Super-Confusing Layout, How to Use Inbox by Gmail for More Productive Email and more Gmail coverage.

7. Evernote

Category: Notes

See also: I've Been Using Evernote All Wrong. Here's Why It's Actually Amazing, What's All the Fuss About Evernote? Should I Be Using It?, The Best Evernote Apps for Organising Even More of Your Life, Note Taking Styles Compared: Evernote vs Plain Text vs Pen and Paper, and more Evernote coverage.

Alternatives: OneNote vs Evernote, Springpad vs Evernote, Simplenote

8. Pocket

Category: Reading

See also: The Best Way to Save All the Useful Articles You Come Across Online, and How to Use Pocket Like a Pro to Save Everything from the Web.

Alternatives: Instapaper and Readability

9. Plex

Category: Media Centres See also: How to Stream Your Media Anywhere with Plex, Plex vs XBMC, RasPlex Puts Plex on the Raspberry Pi, and Create a Home Server with Plex.

10. Google Keep

Category: Notes See also: Not Just Another Notes App: Why You Should Use Google Keep, and Google Keep Adds Reminders So You'll Never Forget to Act on Your Notes.

11. Pushbullet

Category: Notifications

See also: How to Use Pushbullet to Get Notified of Anything on Any Device, and Send Text Messages from Your Computer with Pushbullet.

12. Skype

Category: VoIP

See also: Get Better Quality Video Chat, Disable Skype's Ads, The Five Best Webcams and more Skype coverage

13. Spotify

Category: Music Streaming

See also: The Best Spotify Tips and Tricks You're Probably Not Using, Why Spotify Apps Are Actually Pretty Useful and more Spotify coverage

14. Google Drive

Category: Cloud Storage/Office Suites See also: 8 Extensions That Make Google Drive More Powerful than Dropbox, How to Stream Your Media Anywhere with Dropbox and Google Drive, How to Make Google Drive Work Like a Desktop Suite, and Four Skills That Will Turn You Into a Spreadsheet Ninja.

15. Google Calendar

Category: Calendars See also: The Coolest Things You Can Add to Google Calendar, Manage Your Money with Google Calendar, How to Use Google Calendar as a Project Management Tool, and 8 Great Experimental Features to Enable in Google Calendar's Labs.

16. Google Play Music

Category: Music Streaming

See also: Google Turns YouTube into a Streaming Music Player with Music Key.

17. Google Now

Category: Personal Assistant

See also: Everything You Didn't Know You Could Do with Google's Voice Commands, Top 10 Awesome Features of Google Now, How to Train Google Now to Give You Better Suggestions, Learn Over 60 Google Now Commands with This Infographic, and Speed Up Google Now with This Simple Tweak.

18. Swiftkey

Category: Keyboards

See also: How to Improve Your Predictive Keyboard, SwiftKey Adds Custom Keyboards You Can Resize and Move, and Improve Your Typing with SwiftKey's Heat Map.

Alternatives: Five Best Android Keyboards and iOS Keyboards.

19. Wunderlist

Category: To-Do Lists

See also: Wunderlist Is a Simple, Elegant, and Free To-Do App that Synchronises Across Your Machines, Back to Basics: How to Simplify Your To-Do List and Make It Useful Again, and How to Fix the Recent Syncing Issues in Wunderlist.

20. Google Hangouts

Category: Messaging/Video Chat

See also: Five Google Hangouts You Can Join to Learn Something New (or Have Fun), 15 Free Google Helpouts to Get Expert Tips for Your Everyday Problems, and Google Hangouts Adds SMS Support, Location Sharing, and GIFs.

21. LastPass

Category: Password Managers

See also: The Intermediate Guide to Mastering Passwords with LastPass, Is LastPass Truly Secure, How to Build a (Nearly) Hack-Proof Password System with LastPass and a Thumb Drive How to Automatically Fill in Repetitive Web Forms (and Avoid Tons of Tedious Typing), LastPass Updates with a New Design, Shared Passwords and More, and more LastPass coverage.

22. XBMC

Category: Media Centres

See also: Create a Kickass, Seamless, Play-Anything Media Center: The Complete Guide, How I Built the Media Center of My Dreams for Under $US500, Turn a Raspberry Pi Into an XBMC-Based Media Center, How to Make XBMC Easier to Use (Especially for Non-Geeks), XBMC vs Plex, Top 10 Ways to Power Up Your Home Theatre PC and more XBMC coverage.

23. VLC

Category: Media Players

See also: The Best Hidden Features of VLC, Set a Video as Your Wallpaper with VLC, How to Fix Movies that Are Really Quiet, then REALLY LOUD, and more VLC coverage.

Alternatives: PotPlayer


Category: Automation

See also: How to Supercharge Your Favourite Services with IFTTT, How to Post to Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ at the Same Time with IFTTT, All the New Stuff in IFTTT for iOS and Android, and What You Can Do with Them, Make Your iOS Notifications Smarter, The Best Uses for IFTTT's Location and Feed Channels, and more IFTTT coverage.

25. Authy

Category: Security

See also: Here's Everywhere You Should Enable Two-Factor Authentication Right Now, Authy is a PIN-Protected Manager For Your Two-Factor Authentications, Authy Brings Two-Factor Authentication to Your PC, No Need for a Phone, and The Best Two-Factor Authentication App for Android and iPhone.

26. TeamViewer

Category: Remote Access

See also: Use Your Home Computer from Anywhere: A Comprehensive Guide to Remote Controlling Your PC, How to Get the Best Experience from TeamViewer, and How Do I Troubleshoot My Parents' PC Remotely?.

27. Avast! Free Antivirus

Category: Antivirus

See also: The Best Antivirus App for Windows, and How to Disable Avast's Annoying Sounds and Popups.

Alternatives: Five Best Antivirus Programs

28. Any.DO

Category: To-Do Lists

See also: Five Best To-Do List Managers, and The Coolest "Extra" Features in Any.DO.

29. Ubuntu (and other Linux Distros)

Category: Operating System

See also: Getting Started with Linux: The Complete Guide, How to Find the Perfect Linux Distribution for You, Five Best Linux Distributions, Build a Killer Customised Arch Linux Installation (and Learn All About Linux in the Process), Ubuntu vs. Mint: Which Linux Distro Is Better for Beginners?, Turn an Old Computer into a Networked Backup, Streaming, or Torrenting Machine with Ubuntu, and more Linux coverage.

30. MusicBee

Category: Music Players

See also: The Best Music Player for Windows, Five Best Desktop Music Players, Top 10 Underhyped Windows Apps, and Music Player Showdown: Which Desktop Player Is Best for Syncing to Android?.

31. uTorrent

Category: BitTorrent Client

See also: How to Completely Anonymise Your BitTorrent Traffic with a Proxy, How to Disable Ads in uTorrent, How to Monitor Your BitTorrent Downloads from Any Computer or Mobile Device, How Do I Torrent Safely Now That Demonoid Is Down?, How to Add Automatic Virus Scanning, Video Conversion, and Remote Downloading to uTorrent for Free and more uTorrent coverage.

Alternative: Transmission

32. CCleaner

Category: Utilities

See also: The Maintenance You Need to Do on a Windows PC, and CCleaner Enhancer Makes CCleaner Even Better, Now Cleans 270 New Apps.

33. HandBrake

Category: Video Conversion

See also: How to Rip a DVD to Your Computer, The Hassle-Free Guide to Ripping Your Blu-Ray Collection, and Calculate the Perfect HandBrake Video Encoding Settings for Your Device.

34. VirtualBox

Category: Virtualisation

See also: The Power User's Guide to Better Virtual Machines in VirtualBox, The Beginner's Guide to Creating Virtual Machines with VirtualBox, Should I Run a Second Operating System in a Virtual Machine or Dual Boot?, and How to Run Mac OS X Inside Windows Using VirtualBox.

35. CyanogenMod

Category: Android ROMs

See also: Everything You Need to Know About Rooting your Android Phone, How to Flash a ROM to Your Android Phone, Are ROMs Really Necessary on a Nexus?, Android ROMs vs Xposed, and CyanogenMod Unveils New User Accounts for Remote Find and Wipe.

Alternatives: Five Best Android ROMs

36. F.lux

Category: Utilities

See also: Make Your Computer and More Friendly to Use at Night, and Prevent Eyestrain at Your Computer.

37. GIMP

Category: Image Editing

See also: Top 10 Photoshop Tricks You Can Use Without Buying Photoshop, How to Make GIMP Work More Like Photoshop, and Build Your Own Adobe Creative Suite with Free and Cheap Software.

Alternatives: Five Best Photoshop Alternatives

38. LibreOffice

Category: Office Suite

See also: Battle of the Office Suites: Microsoft Office and LibreOffice Compared, LibreOffice 4.0 Adds Better Collaboration and Text Comments, Plus a Lot More, and Four Skills That Will Turn You Into a Spreadsheet Ninja.

39. Thunderbird

Category: Email

See also: The Best Plugins to Supercharge Thunderbird, What Desktop Email Clients Still Do Better than Webmail, How to Sync Your Desktop Email Client (Outlook or Thunderbird) Across Multiple Computers, and Thunderbird to Slow Down Development, Focus on "Security and Stability" Only.

40. Picasa

Category: Photo Manager

See also: How to Upload and Share Photos on Flickr, Picasa, or Facebook, Picasa 3.5 Organizes Your Photos with Facial Recognition, and Picasa Now Offering Virtually Unlimited Photo Storage, Brings Google+ Tagging.

41. Twitter

Category: Social Networking

See also: Top 10 Uses for Twitter (That Aren't Self-Indulgent), How to Fix Twitter's Biggest Annoyances, How to Mute Retweets from Any User on Twitter, Navigate the New Twitter Like a Pro with Keyboard Shortcuts, Why's Everybody So Pissed About Twitter, and Should I Care?, How to Deal with Your Biggest Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ Annoyances and more Twitter coverage.

42. AutoHotkey

Category: Utilities

See also: The Best Time-Saving AutoHotkey Tricks You Should Be Using and more AutoHotkey coverage.

43. Launchy

Category: Utilities

See also: Why You Should Be Using an App Launcher (and How to make It Do More Than Launch Apps) and The Best Application Launcher for Windows.

44. Quicksilver

Category: Utilities

See also: Turn Any Action Into a Keyboard Shortcut on Your Mac.

Alternatives: Alfred

45. Mailbox

Category: Email

See also: Malbox Is the Best Gmail Client We've Seen for iOS, and Get 1GB of Free Dropbox Space with Mailbox.

46. Titanium Backup

Category: Utilities

See also: How to Set Up a Fully Automated App and Settings Backup on Android, How to Upgrade to a New Android Phone and Take Everything with You, and How to Speed Up Your Old or Sluggish Android Device

47. Notepad++

Category: Text Editors

See also: How to Get More Plus Out of Notepad++, The Best Programming Text Editor for Windows, and Make Notepad++ an Even Better Editing App with Powerful Plug-Ins

Alternatives: Five Best Text Editors

48. 7-Zip

Category: File Compression

See also: From Saucy Pics to Passwords: How to Share Sensitive Information Over the Internet.


    Sadly, Microsoft is not on the list, except for Skype, which it took over recently. Let's hope that Skype stays in the list.

      What does microsoft release for free, other than skype?

        Microsoft Security Essentials.
        Fairly decent, free, and stays out of the way.

          A few years ago, I would have agreed with you that MSE was good, but it's really gone backwards. Just do a Google search and you'll see that many people have come to the conclusion that MSE is no longer very useful.

          I think this list is superb - it's about the best top 50 list i've seen in a long time. I don't agree with every selection, but there's nothing that stood out to me as "total crap".

          Lifehacker deserves a big applause for a first rate job!

        MS Word Viewer, MSSQL Express. Though if you want a free database engine, you could also use DB2, Oracle, MySQL or Postgresql. Also Hotmail I suppose.

        MS Security Essentials used to be OK, but it's so far behind the curve these days that "better than nothing" is about the best that could be said for it.

          Read that list to a normal and watch their eyes glaze over.

      Skype sucks now. Doesn't connect first time, drops out, bad connections, video streaming not clear. Ever since Microsoft took over the quality has gotten worse. Try comparing Skype and FaceTime when you call between two iPads, the results are staggeringly different. The Windows client is no different. I figure that not enough back end horsepower has been added to the Skype service lately.

    I only use 5 of these, and don't find the majority particularly compelling.

    Seriously? Dropbox? The limit on free referral space sucks. Try Copy instead it starts at 15GB (use my referral code to get an extra 5GB) and has no limit on the amount of space you can get for free!

      Ignoring space, does Copy have similar features to Dropbox? Folder syncing on a PC, gallery views for photo folders, etc., easy sharing, etc.? Not being sarcastic, literally interested in trying out an alternative for thee extra space so long as it doesn't lack in other areas.

        It doesn't have the gallery views, but matches Dropbox feature for feature other wise.

    Quick tip for those of you complaining about free dropbox space, if you have a galaxy s3. You can take advantage of a smallish glitch. If you install a different rom on your phone it will re assign the free dropbox space you get with the phone. I currently have 128gb of storage for free on dropbox.

    I like "over".adds text to photos,crop etc.simple way to make memes

    I am also thankful for the free password manager Sticky Password which saves me a lot of time. But of course. Google Chrome is the best :)

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now