Our favourite free Home windows 11 apps from the Microsoft Retailer

The Microsoft Retailer has been round for practically 10 years now — it launched because the Home windows Retailer with Home windows 8 — however in comparison with app marketplaces on different platforms, it will possibly really feel like a barren wasteland. On Home windows, I’d hazard the overwhelming majority of apps are nonetheless put in by way of old-school .exe information and different third-party packages.

Nonetheless, there are advantages to perusing by way of Microsoft’s app retailer.

Many of the software program there tends to be better-optimized for touchscreens, which is helpful in case you have a 2-in-1 PC. Likewise, Microsoft has extra management over the apps that land on its market, which helps stop the unfold of malware.

On the whole, these apps additionally use extra trendy code and are optimized to make use of fewer system sources. They have an inclination to behave extra like cellular apps on this regard, though there are some extra conventional apps and system utilities within the Home windows Retailer as nicely.

When you haven’t checked out the Microsoft Retailer in a very long time, we’ve performed the arduous work of looking by way of its choice of apps for some hidden gems. Listed below are some Retailer apps it’s best to undoubtedly try.


PowerToys is a utility package deal created by Microsoft that provides a wide range of genuinely helpful options to Home windows 11, together with system-wide shortcuts to entry them.

Some highlights embody:

  • Fancy Zones: permits you to create customized window layouts, which is very helpful in case you have a big monitor or multi-monitor setup.
  • Coloration Picker: a system-wide coloration picker that may very well be helpful for designers and visible artists.
  • Video Convention Mute: a common ‘mute’ button for each your microphone and digicam that works with any software program.
  • All the time On Prime: enables you to ‘pin’ any app so it doesn’t turn into obscured by different home windows.
  • Picture Resizer: resize any picture into a wide range of configurable sizes by merely right-clicking from the File Explorer.
  • PowerToys Run: that is the Home windows equal to macOS’ Highlight, providing just a few extra options over boring-old Begin menu search. That features trying to find information, in addition to working processes, doing fast calculations, working shell instructions, executing system duties, and far extra.
  • Awake: rapidly customise how lengthy your display and system stays on.

And there’s far more. Higher but, Microsoft is consistently including options to PowerToys — it’s probably the greatest utilities the corporate has ever made for Home windows.

Drawboard PDF

Drawboard PDF has been round because the Home windows 8 days, and it’s one of many few Home windows Retailer apps that’s been constantly up to date since then. What makes Drawboard particular as a PDF annotation device is its mixture of intuitive markup options and considerate design — it appears to be like and feels each bit like a contemporary app, and is very helpful in case you have a touchscreen laptop computer with stylus help.

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Drawboard PDF

Though some options can be found as paid upgrades, it’s a full-fledged PDF reader even in free mode. I take advantage of it frequently to signal paperwork, scribble on textbooks, and annotate sheet music  — and it’s additionally the very best PDF reader I’ve come throughout for Home windows.


On the whole, I’m attempting to keep away from apps that work simply high-quality by way of a browser. Certainly, a number of the streaming ‘apps’ within the Home windows Retailer are actually simply internet apps packaged into an app you possibly can pin to your Begin Menu, providing in any other case similar performance to the browser variations.

However the Netflix app presents just a few advantages over its internet model: most notably, full decision and the flexibility to obtain episodes.

By default, Netflix maxes out to 720p in virtually each browser, which is fairly ludicrous contemplating 1080p is a naked minimal on virtually each show today. Solely Edge and the Netflix Home windows App formally help increased resolutions; in case you don’t wish to use Microsoft’s browser, the Home windows App is your solely approach to get full decision (you may also want to put in an HEVC codec as nicely if you would like 4K decision).

In fact, if you wish to watch Netflix content material on the go, you’re significantly better off downloading it beforehand than hoping for a powerful Wi-Fi sign at an airport or at one other venue.


FocusCommit combines job administration options with a Pomodoro timer to assist maintain you productive. You may maintain monitor of your duties utilizing a Trello-like Kanban board, or a normal to-do checklist.

It additionally presents some helpful bonus options, equivalent to statistics on job completion and targets to maintain your self motivated. The app additionally has extra options behind a paywall, together with a number of white noise choices and integration with Google Duties and Microsoft To Do.

Trendy Flyouts

One of many greatest complaints about Home windows 11 was that it felt unfinished. Regardless of being one of many greatest Home windows redesigns ever, some components of the UI stay outdated. One notable eyesore are the flyouts — the little pop-ups that present up while you regulate your quantity or brightness. These have been basically unchanged since Home windows 8.

Trendy Flyouts is a small app that merely replaces the outdated rectangular flyouts with new ones which can be a significantly better match for Window 11’s aesthetic.

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Remember that Microsoft is already engaged on an replace to those design components, however who is aware of when they are going to be obtainable to the broader public?


There are three kinds of folks on the planet: those that change their wallpaper regularly, and those that possibly set their wallpaper as soon as each few years, and those that are nonetheless utilizing the inventory Home windows background.

When you’re within the latter classes, Splash! permits you to mechanically replace your wallpaper and lock display utilizing photographs from inventory pictures web site Unsplash. You may set photographs to replace at a wide range of intervals, from quarter-hour to at least one week. The free app helps resolutions as much as 1080p, however the paid model ($2.49) helps 4K content material.


For years, Microsoft has promised enhancements to the built-in File Explorer, however its primary performance and design have barely modified in a long time. Home windows 11 noticed some aesthetic enhancements, however the simply-named Information app is the replace I want Microsoft made.

That’s primarily due to one primary function: tabs. In the end, you possibly can have a number of explorer situations in a single window, serving to maintain issues organized. It additionally permits you to view two tabs on the similar time in its dual-pane mode.

Tabs apart, Information additionally simply appears to be like nicer, incorporating the translucent acrylic components of Microsoft’s Fluent design language all through the complete window, reasonably than solely a small a part of it. And so far as I can inform, it presents practically all the identical day-to-day performance of the built-in app. Outdoors of the occasional bug, it’s merely higher than Microsoft’s built-in resolution.

Paint 3D

Microsoft Paint has been a staple of Home windows since model 1.0, and it’s seen remarkably few updates since then. However in 2016, the corporate tried to legitimately modernize the app with a substitute known as Paint 3D.

Paint 3D