12 apps Windows power users must have

Whether you’re looking to replace the bloatware that came preloaded on your HP laptop, or simply on the hunt for best-of-breed apps, this list has you covered.

12 apps Windows power users must have -  title
Windows power users, ftw!

Are you a Windows power user?

You know, the guy who everyone approaches when they’re having trouble with their computer. The guy who knows all the shortcuts, tricks and tips for just about any app or program on said computer. The guy who has an app for something most people didn’t even know you could do, let alone have an app for.

If this sounds like you, you’ve known for some time that having the right apps installed can be a huge time-saver by boosting your productivity on the PC, or in some cases making it possible to swiftly take care of certain tasks that wouldn’t otherwise be possible to do.

With this in mind, we identify some killer, must-have apps that will help you get the most out of your Windows PC. Some of these easily outshine their bundlewear counterparts, the ones that work just fine for most people. But you’re a power user -- why settle for fine when you can have best-of-breed?

12 apps Windows power users must have - abbyy
1. ABBYY FineReader Professional [OCR]

ABBYY FineReader Professional is optical character recognition (OCR) software that is a step beyond the norm with its capability to convert PDF files into formats such as Microsoft Word and Excel. It can also save image-only PDFs into searchable PDFs, bringing you one step closer to a truly paperless office.

Importantly, ABBYY FineReader doesn’t work only in English, but recognizes and supports up to 190 languages, which the company says is more than any other OCR software in the market.

Price: $170

12 apps Windows power users must have - acronis
2. Acronis True Image Cloud [Backup]

Forget about those wimpy cloud storage services. Acronis True Image Cloud is a full-fledged backup app that lets you back up everything on your PC. This includes the operating system, application and your data, all of which can be uploaded and stored in the cloud with unlimited data.

This allows you to quickly restore all or part of your backup as necessary; the technology behind Acronis True Image Cloud even supports restoring your backup to a new PC of a different model or make. Up to 10 system states are maintained, and Acronis claims that its software is 50 percent faster than the competition.

Price: $70 (one PC, three mobile devices)

12 apps Windows power users must have - bvckup
3. Bvckup 2 [File mirroring]

Bvckup 2 is software created specifically to mirror the contents of one file location to another, be it on another storage drive or across the network. Engineered solely with reliability and performance in mind, its claim to fame lies in its sheer speed.

Under the hood, Bvckup 2 use an engine that identifies and copies only the modified parts of files. An asynchronous I/O engine, as native capability to work with multi-core processors, and support for shadow copying to copy locked files puts it in a league of its own. Folders can be scheduled as a batch job or kept synchronized in real-time.

Price: $20 (Personal)

12 apps Windows power users must have - cyberduck
4. Cyberduck [File transfer]

With its built-in support for cloud storage services such as Amazon S3, Google Cloud Storage and Rackspace Cloud Files, Cyberduck is a perfect image of what a modern FTP client should looks like.

Use Cyberduck for its traditional FTP, SFTP or WebDAV capabilities, and enjoy its advanced features such as resuming of interrupted file transfers, capability to define the number of concurrent transfers, and support to filter files with a regular expression. You can also edit any text of binary files with an external editor of choice, and have it uploaded automatically when done.

Price: Free

12 apps Windows power users must have - gimp
5. GIMP [Image manipulation]

Don’t do enough photo editing to justify ponying up the monthly subscription for Adobe Photoshop CC? GIMP (aka the GNU Image Manipulation Program), is a sophisticated open source image editor that is a compelling alternative to getting the image edited.

GIMP also provides extensibility through integration with programming languages including Scheme, Python and Perl, among others. The popularity of GIMP means that you should have no trouble finding guides on how to use it.

Price: Free

12 apps Windows power users must have - 1password
6. 1Password [Password manager]

Ratchet up your security posture with 1Password, a password manager that encrypts your most sensitive data such as passwords and credit card information in an AES-256 encrypted digital vault. Integration with the top Web browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Opera makes it easy to automatically save new passwords, fill-in credit card entries or sign into online accounts with a click of the mouse.

While built as a stand-alone app for maximum confidentiality, the use of a single file for the digital vault allows for it to be synced using a cloud storage services such as Dropbox and iCloud.

Price: $65 (or $5/monthly)

7 nitro new
7. Nitro Pro 10 [PDF reader/editor]

Nitro Pro is a desktop PDF application you never knew you needed. The premium app offers a variety of advanced capabilities such as the capability to create, convert, edit or the capability to sign PDF files.

Aside from its capability to generate PDF files, you can also use Nitro Pro to transform existing PDF files into Microsoft Word, Excel or PowerPoint files, or edit PDFs by replacing text and images within them. Importantly, Nitro Pro makes it easy to shuffle individual pages within various PDF documents into a brand new file.

Price: $160

12 apps Windows power users must have - phraseexpander
8. PhraseExpander [Text expansion]

If you’ve ever felt tired of typing in often-used phrases and template responses, you will be glad to know you aren’t alone. As its name suggests, PhraseExpander is an app specifically created to give you the capability to pull up often used phrases with the use of a shortcut keyword.

Though billed as a time-saver for medical professionals, its support for rich formatting and images makes it highly usable for the rest of us, too. Phrases automatically appear in a drop box as you type, greatly simplifying the task of pulling up saved phrases while negating the need to memorize them.

Price: $59 (standard)

12 apps Windows power users must have - dragon
9. Dragon Professional Individual [Speech recognition]

Dragon Professional Individual is the latest iteration of Nuance’s popular speech recognition software that is designed specifically for power users looking to drive productivity at work. Dragon Professional Individual packs the familiar and high-performance speech recognition technology from Nuance under the hood, but adds standalone transcription that can be easily adapted to multiple speakers using any pre-recorded audio files.

Dragon Professional Individual also features the customization options previously found in more enterprise-centric editions, such as the capability to recognize frequently-used custom text, manage multiple vocabularies or automate repetitive tasks by voice -- but without the restrictions and cost overheads of central management.

Price: $300

12 apps Windows power users must have - airfoil
10. Airfoil [Music streaming]

Airfoil for Windows works like a soaped up digital mixer to redirect your music to AirPlay, Bluetooth and other speakers. Choose from a variety of audio sources, including music streaming services like Spotify and Pandora, or Web-based sources from your favorite Web browser, legacy music player apps, or even your video conference app.

You can output to one or more wireless speakers simultaneously, while a free companion app lets you stream to Android, iOS or other Windows, Linux or OS X computers over the network. The team is also understood to be working on Chromecast support, though no dates are offered at this point.

Price: $29

12 apps Windows power users must have -  securecrt
11. SecureCRT 8.0 [Terminal emulator]

If you are looking for something more powerful than Telnet, SecureCRT lets you easily connect to or manage scores of remote devices via a variety of protocols such as telnet, SSH or even serial ports. Built with support for high-DPI monitors, sessions are arranged in tabs or groups of tab for easy organization, individual session can be customized with custom keyboard, display, connection and other settings.

Built-in scripting capability gives advanced users the capability to automate repetitive tasks using VBScript, Jscript, PerlScript or Python. Finally, support for file transfer protocols such as SFTP, Xmodem, YmodemZ and Zmodem -- as well as a built-in TFTP server -- makes it perfect for managing legacy networking gear.

Price: $139

12 apps Windows power users must have - x1
12. X1 Search [Desktop search]

Powerful desktop search comes back to the PC with X1 Search, which promises to unify search results across desktops, network file shares, email, SharePoint and cloud sources such as Box and OneDrive. Boolean and proximity search support delivers search results that are a clear step up from one based solely on keywords.

Results from multiple sources are unified and accessed from a single interface, which offers as-you-type results across all indexed resources. Importantly, X1 Search comes with full preview of attachments and files, with over 500 file types supported out-of-the-box.

Price: $50