For Windows 10 and 11, here are 12 critical and free utilities.

With these free apps, you can speed up your computer, find anything on it, and conduct other important tasks.

Modify your system with these simple-to-install Windows 10 and 11 utilities to make it faster and easier to use.

Many of the programs I’ve listed here have been around for multiple Windows generations. Despite all of Windows’ changes, they’re still popular because they provide functionality that isn’t included with the operating system, perform better than the built-in tools, or improve performance.

These aren’t anti-malware programs. They don’t make any changes to the Windows user interface. They aren’t intended to be used in a wide range of situations (such as image editors, office tools, or web browsers). Nope. These are all specialized applications with the primary objective of improving and simplifying the use of Windows. All of them are either free to use or have a free version.

CCleaner

CCleaner can instantly clear browser history, cache, cookies, logs, temporary user passwords, and other background files that Windows and the web browsers installed on your system has gathered over time but aren’t required to run. This can free up a significant amount of storage space.

I also enjoy CCleaner because it allows you to uninstall most of the Microsoft products that come with Windows 10 and 11, such as Cortana and OneDrive, but neither OS will let you uninstall out of the box.

MiniTool Partition Wizard with DiskGenius

DiskGenius and MiniTool Partition Wizard both allow you to create, copy, delete, merge, resize and divide partitions on your computer’s hard drive or SSD. For example, you could want to partition a big network disc to keep shared files distinct from your Windows OS. Other programs in similar packages can copy the entire contents of a disc to another drive, including migrating your Windows system or attempting to restore damaged or lost partitions.

These two utilities are so similar that their choice boils down to which one has the more pleasing UI. DiskGenius appeals to me since it can help you migrate your PC’s main drive, which contains an installation of Windows, to a smaller disc by automatically resizing it to fit. This useful feature is usually not included in other drive-management software.

Everything

After you’ve installed this tool, you’ll be able to quickly locate files on your Windows PC. Start typing the first few letters of a filename into the search box and wait for the results to narrow down. The shorter the list of results becomes as you type more letters, until Everything only finds the file you’re looking for. The search results can be displayed as file thumbnails, and Everything generates previews of your files as quickly as possible in this mode.

LockHunter and IObit Unlocker

In Windows File Explorer, you might come across a file or folder that looks to be “locked.” You can’t seem to get rid of it, transfer it, or rename it for some reason. Because they are still “connected” to the program you used to view them, this can happen to documents, pictures, or video files. Windows has failed to “free” it for whatever reason.

IObit Unlocker and LockHunter are both capable of resolving this issue. And each one will unlock that file or folder, allowing you to remove or modify it as usual.

Keyfinder

Assume you wish to uninstall a licensed product from your current Windows PC and reinstall it on another. Alternatively, you may need to format your computer’s hard disc, which will need reinstalling a licensed program. Before you remove or format your drive, run Magical Jelly Bean’s Keyfinder if you can’t find your program’s licensing key.

It searches your Windows PC for any licensed programs installed and creates a handy list with the licensing keys for each item. Thereafter, you can save all of your license keys in a text file that you can access at any time. This useful tool can retrieve the keys to over 300 licensed apps.

Recuva

If you delete a file accidentally, and it isn’t in the Windows recycling bin, this application might be your best bet for recovering it. Recuva can scan the drive where the deleted file was initially saved and display a list of any deleted files it finds. Each filename on this list will be assigned a color that indicates how likely it is that you will be able to restore the file to its original condition.

The search feature in Recuva will also sort through any deleted files it discovers. If you’re looking for a specific term in a document, for example, you can search deleted files for it.

Sandboxie

Sandboxie Windows 10 and 11 include built-in features that, to some extent, prevent viruses or programs from causing harm to your computer. However, if you need to be extra cautious, Sandboxie can provide a more direct method, especially if you’re installing or running an application you’re not familiar with.

Sandboxie creates a “sandbox” for that suspicious program to run in, isolated from the rest of your data and programs. Sandboxie keeps all hazardous operations contained in the sandbox if the software attempts to launch malware or if your web browser downloads something malicious. By doing so, the malicious program won’t interfere with your PC’s usual processes by deleting, locking up, or rewriting files.

Sandboxie also creates a shortcut on your desktop that you can use to run your normal browser in a sandbox at any moment.

Seer 

Seer brings Quick Look, a feature popular among Mac users, to Windows. Seer loads a preview of a file when you click it and press the space bar at the same time.

If it’s a picture, it appears as a floating image on the Windows desktop. Seer opens the file in a basic viewer program if it’s a PDF, RTF, or text file. You can also look at the file list to see whether any compressed files (such as ZIP) are present. Seer can play audio and video files, albeit the quality isn’t as good as it is with a media player. You can also install plug-ins to expand the file kinds that this application can preview, such as Microsoft Office documents.

Speccy

When you run Speccy, it extensively examines your PC’s hardware and organizes it into categories such as CPU, RAM, motherboard, storage, and others. To obtain technical information about a component, select a category. For example, Speccy will tell you your motherboard’s chipset, BIOS version number, and how many expansion slots it has under “Motherboard.” It will either print or save all of these detailed specifications to a text file.

Revealer of Wi-Fi Passwords

Finding the Wi-Fi network passwords saved on your Windows 10 or 11 PC is a time-consuming operation that entails delving into the operating system’s network settings. The best kind of tool is Magical Jelly Bean’s Wi-Fi Password Revealer, which does exactly what it says on the tin. Simply start it, and it will provide a list of all the Wi-Fi networks you’ve signed in to using your PC, along with any passwords. It also displays each Wi-Fi network’s security authentication and encryption mechanisms.

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