Get to Know Your Free Apps in Windows 10 - dummies

Get to Know Your Free Apps in Windows 10

By Andy Rathbone

The Windows 10 Start menu comes stocked with several free apps, each living on its own square or rectangular tile. Every tile is labeled, helping you know what’s what.

The tiles for some apps, known as live tiles, change constantly. The Money app tile, for example, constantly updates with the stock market’s latest swings, and the Weather tile always tells you what to expect when you walk outdoors.

The Windows Start menu shows only some of your apps. To see them all, click the words All Apps in the Start menu’s lower-left corner. The Start menu’s right column changes to show all of your installed apps, sorted alphabetically. (Click the word Back to return to normal viewing.)

You may spot some or all of the following apps on the list, ready to be launched at the click of a mouse or touch of a finger:

  • 3D Builder: A perk for the few owners of three-dimensional printers, this lets you create plastic doodads from computer files.

  • Alarms & Clock: This offers a world clock, timer, and stopwatch, but you’ll probably visit for the alarm clock. It lets you set different wakeup times for every day of the week.

  • Calculator: With a toggle between standard, scientific, and converter modes, this app will please grade schoolers, math majors, chefs, and physicists.

  • Calendar: This app lets you add your appointments or grab them automatically from calendars already created through other online accounts.

  • Camera: The Camera app lets you snap photos with your computer’s built-in camera or webcam.

  • Contact Support: Click here to begin your journey through Microsoft’s official technical support channels.

  • Edge: Microsoft’s new browser, Edge, arrives in Windows 10, ready to replace Internet Explorer.

  • Get Started: This app offers descriptions Windows 10’s most basic features.

  • Mail: The Mail app lets you send and receive e-mail. If you enter a Windows Live, Yahoo!, AOL, or Google account, the Mail app sets itself up automatically and stocks your People list with your contacts.

  • Maps: Handy for trip planning, the Maps app brings up a version of Microsoft Bing Maps.

  • Money: This live tile opens with business headlines. Scroll to the right to see a 30-minute delay of the Dow, NASDAQ, and S&P with the usual charts depicting fear and uncertainty.

  • Movies & TV: Microsoft’s video storefront lets you rent or buy movies and TV shows. The app also lets you watch videos you’ve taken with your camera or smartphone.

  • Music: This app plays music stored on your PC. But Microsoft hopes you’ll buy or rent music from its store, as well.

  • News: Visit here to read the news of the day, compiled from news services around the world. (Techie alert: You can add RSS feeds from your favorite websites.)

  • OneDrive: This term describes the Microsoft Internet cubbyhole where you can store your files. By storing them online in OneDrive, you can access them from nearly any Internet-connected computer, phone, or tablet.

  • OneNote: This popular note-taking app receives an entry on the Start menu in Windows 10.

  • People: Windows 10’s People app simply collects your friends’ names and contact info.

  • Phone Companion: This app helps you link your Windows, Android, or Apple phone with Windows so they can share information.

  • Photos: The Photos app displays photos stored in your computer, as well as on OneDrive, your Internet storage space.

  • Scan: With this gem, Windows simplifies the often complicated process of scanning text and images into your computer.

  • Search: This fetches Cortana, your personal search assistant, who responds to your commands, both verbal and typed into the Search box.

  • Settings: This takes you to the new Windows 10 Settings app, which contains almost all of the settings found in the Control Panel from earlier Windows versions.

  • Sports: You can find sports news and scores here, as well as a way to add listings for your favorite sports teams.

  • Store: The Windows Store is the only way to add more apps on your Start menu. The Windows Store also carries some programs you can install on your Windows desktop.

  • Weather: This weather station forecasts a week’s worth of weather in your area, but only if you grant it permission to access your location information. (Unless your computer has a GPS — Global Positioning System — the app narrows down your location by closest major city rather than street address.)

  • Xbox: Coveted mostly by owners of Microsoft’s Xbox One video game console, this lets you track high scores (for both you and your gaming buddies), chat with other gamers, view your achievements, and visit the Store app to buy more games.

The bundled Windows apps work best when running full screen on a tablet, and they’re not as powerful as normal desktop programs. But for some odd reason, Microsoft configured the Windows desktop to use some of these Start menu apps rather than standard desktop programs.

Confused about how to choose which apps and programs handle which tasks? Here’s a hint: On the desktop, right-click a file and choose Open With. A menu appears, letting you choose which program should handle the job. To stay on the desktop, choose your desktop program from the menu, not the currently assigned Start menu app.