Most of Windows 10’s tools have been around and improved for decades, but even today there are many third-party applications that go beyond the default settings.
Most of the options are open source, but all are free. None of them contain adware, so you can download these tools for free without feeling like you are downgrading in any way.
Before we move on to our suggestions, let’s first take a look at why you might need to download third-party apps on Windows 10.
Why should you use third-party apps on Windows 10
There are many reasons why you should use third party apps. First, most free tools are rarely updated by default. This means that if there is a software or performance issue, it can take a long time to fix. Typically, open source alternatives contain faster bug fixes and update release schedules.
Another reason to favor third-party apps on Windows 10 is that support for them is often much better. With popular non-Microsoft software, one of two scenarios is possible.
Either the software is run by the company that makes it and almost nothing else, which means they have more time to help with support. Alternatively, the software is open source, which means that there are often hundreds of answers to questions already left on the web by other software developers.
With that said, here is a list of alternative third-party apps that we’ll suggest in this article.
- Process Explorer to replace Task Manager
- Notepad ++ to replace Notepad
- VLC Media Player to replace Windows Media Player
- Audacity to replace Voice Recorder
Process Explorer vs. Task Manager
Task Manager quickly became a powerful performance management tool in Windows 10, but Process Explorer is even more powerful. Let’s take a look at the advantages of Process Explorer over Task Manager.
To start, you can find the process tree and terminate it completely. In Task Manager, you are forced to terminate each associated process individually. You can more accurately prioritize the processes on your CPU, as well as check which devices each process is using.
For example, you can find out if your webcam is being used by another application. You can force kill applications at any time and get a more accurate real-time view of your hardware usage. You can even see which DLLs are used by which application.
Process Explorer does not require installation. Just save the .exe file somewhere and double-click it to open it. This means you can save it to USB and use it easily on other PCs.
Process Explorer is a free tool built on Sysinternals, a development platform that hosts Microsoft’s free diagnostic tools.
Notepad ++ vs. Notepad
Notepad ++ has all the same word processing features as Notepad, but it is also useful for editing other types of files. If you’ve ever dabbled in coding or gaming, you may find times when you need to edit the source code in some way. Notepad ++ makes this much easier than the Default Notepad application in several ways.
You can collapse the code to make it easier to manage large files. You can also highlight the syntax to make the code easier to read. The number of different programming languages ??Notepad ++ can recognize in syntax is impressive. Expect support for big names like Java, C, C ++, Ruby, SQL and dozens of others.
Notepad ++ also has improved find and replace tools, autosave, bookmarking strings, and support for even more functionality through open source plugins and macros. You can also open multiple notepad tabs in one window.
It doesn’t matter if you just need a place to quickly type text, or a place to edit or view code, Notepad ++ does it all perfectly.
VLC Media Player vs. Windows Media Player
VLC Media Player offers an unrivaled library of features and extensions. VLC Media Player has excellent codec support – you can play everything from regular .mp4 and .MMV files to H.264 and WebM, which Windows Media Player cannot by default.
You can also watch streams directly from VLC Media Player if you have the correct stream link. Then all content can be streamed through the built-in equalizer and VLC audio settings.
If you care about customization, you can also add skins and install extensions to add more support. Extensions include adding history-weighted random play for songs so that the last played songs are less likely to play again, or subtitle import tools for quickly getting online subtitles for movies.
Audacity vs Sound Recorder
If you want to quickly make a rough recording, a Voice Recorder may come in handy. But Audacity is much more powerful in every way thanks to dozens of great built-in tools. You can quickly remove background noise, stop and start recording, and even add multiple tracks.
We found that the tools in Audacity really go as far as you want.
- Change the speed, tempo and pitch at the touch of a button.
- Add default equalizer settings or create your own.
- Use built-in effects to create filters for your voice or music.
- Quickly cut out sounds you don’t like, such as coughing or breathing.
By comparison, all a voice recorder can really do is record your voice.