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💻 My favorite Windows apps

Ryan Collins
Just a geek developing through life.
Originally published at on ・3 min read

This past week I bought a new laptop, a Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Nano (say that five times fast). It’s been awhile since I have set up a new machine, so I started to document setting this one up. I’m surprised how quickly I had it set up, no wonder I haven’t automated it.

In no particular order, here are the apps I use regularly.


Windows comes with Edge installed, but I also install Google Chrome, Brave, and Firefox. Each browser has synced turned on, so I don’t have to install my favorite extensions. I jump between browsers pretty regularly, and barely have a favorite for any length of time.


For graphics I use Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo. They’re pretty awesome and very affordable.

I use Telegram Messenger for more than just messaging. It is how I transfer files between my devices and phone, along with backups.

These are the only three applications I use outside of games and browsers.

On my desktop I use Davinci Resolv for video editing. I haven’t installed it yet on my laptop because I don’t know if I will be doing much video editing on the go, but I probably will.

Windows Subsystem for Linux

I need my command line, so up comes WSL along with Ubuntu and Alpine. Ubuntu is used as my shell on the computer, while I use Alpine to connect over ssh/mosh to my virtual private servers. That task could be done under Ubuntu, but Alpine is really lightweight and I want experience with other distributions.

Along with WSL I install the Windows Terminal. It has come a long way in a short time. To set it up I copy the settings.json file from a machine where Windows Terminal is already set up how I like it.

Since I like playing around with Linux at the command line, I already have a bootstrap script and keep my dotfiles in a Git repo making it really easy to set up any Linux machine just as I like it.

I’m currently playing around with adding the Nix package manager. It offers more up to date packages and I really like how it works.


For screenshots I use Greenshot. I also like a good clipboard manager, so the Ditto clipboard manager is installed. I want to like ShareX for screenshots, but I haven’t had a chance to get comfortable with it.

I use Microsoft PowerToys for two things. Powertoys Run is how I launch applications under Windows. Fancy Zones offers the ability to customize the snapping of Windows. PowerRename is very powerful, so if you need to rename a bunch of files, check it out.

To store/backup my files, I use Google Drive Backup and Sync. Twenty bucks a year for 100GB is hard to beat. In my homelab I have FreeNAS set up as a file server, but I haven’t set up remote access to it yet. When I’m at home I connect to it though.

Compressed files are handled by 7-Zip. I really like being able to right click on a compressed file and expand it to a folder named after the file.

Finally, the utility I can’t live without, espanso, a cross platform text expander. I don’t know why it isn’t talked about more, but it is great!

Windows settings

The defaults work pretty well. Since I use virtual desktops, I change the default behavior for alt-tab to show the windows on all of the desktops, not just the desktop I am on. I also uncheck “When I snap a window, show what I can snap next to it”.


My programming font of choice to install is JetBrains Mono.

RetroArch, Steam, Epic, and GOG are installed for games. I also use Parsec to connect to my desktop when I need more horsepower.

All in all, my needs are pretty simple. A browser and command line gets me 80% of the way there. What Windows apps did I miss that you can’t live without?

Discussion (1)

aaronjunker profile image
Aaron Junker

Love to see PowerToys in your list!