9 Essential Windows Apps for Students | MakeUseOf

Technology has changed the way by which students approach their education and how teachers present in the classroom. A student has access to a vast number of apps on their computers.

Choosing the right kind of app can help you complete the assignment, gain or retain knowledge, and increase the learning outcome. We’ll show you some of the best windows apps for students that are sure to come in handy during this academic year.

1. OneNote

Research has shown that note-taking improves your learning outcomes. Microsoft OneNote comes with a wide array of features for capturing information and managing notes. You can type in notes, insert pictures, videos, tables, and more to structure and connect your ideas in an efficient manner.

OneNote Class Notebook is a free add-in for OneNote 2016 and is built into the OneNote app. It is a personal, collaborative workspace for every teacher and student. The teachers can create notebooks for each class and manage which students can access and distribute a content library of handouts.

With the Class Notebook, you can get real-time feedback from your teacher. It can easily integrate with the learning management system (LMS) to make assignments or submit grades directly from the notebook. If this interests you, read how to efficiently use OneNote at school.

Download: OneNote for Windows 10 | OneNote Desktop 2016 | OneNote Class Notebook (Free)

2. Google Drive

Google Drive is a free tool with a built-in office suite, file syncing, and cloud storage. It allows you and the teacher to collaborate and learn any subject. Docs help you to write essays and assignments with accurate citations. Follow these tips and tricks to boost your Google Docs productivity.

Sheets are great for studying data analysis, statistics, and maths. Slides let you make presentations and review lecture notes given by your teacher. The office suite is built into Google Drive, by which you can share or sync files with classmates and teachers.

If your school has subscribed to Office 365 for Education, sign in with your .edu email address and install the Office suite.

Download: Google Drive and GSuite for Education (Free)

3. Anki Flashcards

Studying any subject matter involves reading, taking notes, and memorization. Anki is a flashcard app to help you remember facts, formulas, or complicated terms. It's the best study app for your PC. Start by creating decks and note cards. You can include items with some words occluded (cloze), optional reversed cards, and more.

You can also create a card and customize its settings. The built-in card browser lets you view and edit any note you learned or added recently. While learning an old or new card, Anki will jumble your cards periodically to check how much you learned or memorized them.

Anki grades the learning progress and syncs it with Windows and mobile app. Anki flashcard supports both active recalls and spaced repetition techniques to boost your long-term memory.

Download: Anki Flashcards (Free)

4. myHomework

A study planner app for PC can help you organize homework and keep track of all the activities. With myHomework, you’ll never lose track of your classes, schedule, or homework. The dashboard gives a complete summary of the classes you attend, programs, and assignment details.

The Calendar view gives a quick overview of classes arranged in a date-wise manner. The Homework option has a Kanban-style layout with three lists: Complete, Late, and Upcoming. Within each card, you can create reminders and color-code the classes.

The free version of myHomework lets you sync, track assignments, classes, and due-date reminders. The premium subscription gives you more themes, lets you attach files, access an external calendar, and more.

Download: myHomework (Free, Subscription: $5 per year)

5. Wolfram Alpha

Google crawls the web to give you the best possible information. However, it’s not enough for students to learn something new. Wolfram Alpha is a computational search engine to answer any question using a built-in knowledge base and artificial intelligence.

You can use this tool to search for specific information on units, formula, equations, statistics, data analysis, scientific explanation with facts or figures, and more. You get to practice scientific quizzes and mathematical puzzles or get answers from various topics like finance, calculus, algebra, and statistics with a single click.

Download: Wolfram Alpha (Windows: $3, Web: Free, Subscription: $4.75 per month)

6. Polar

Polar is an integrated reader, document manager that lets you keep all your reading materials in one place. The app supports folders and tags, track your reading progress, and the built-in annotation tools allows you to simplify learning from various digital sources.

You can highlight, take notes, and manage them using the annotation sidebar. Polar implements spaced repetition for flashcards and annotations. With this, you can increase learning outcomes and retain stuff in your memory. The app supports Anki Sync to sync flashcards with Anki.

Polar supports incremental reading. It breaks the articles into logical steps to make it easier to digest. The built-in page marks tracks how much you read, and open the annotation sidebar to show any notes you’ve taken.

There is a Chrome extension that lets you capture any web page and save it into the app.

Download: Polar Bookshelf (Free, Subscription: $5 per month)

7. Zotero

Zotero is an open-source reference manager designed to collect, organize, and cite references. It's an essential school app for your laptop. Each reference constitutes an item. Item contains different metadata, depending on the type of document. On launch, you’ll see three sections: the left pane contains all the items under My Library.

Items appear in the center and its metadata in the right pane. When you find an interesting research paper, click the Zotero connector button to clip your articles. The app automatically fills the relevant metadata, attaches a link, and inserts a PDF if available. Then, add a tag or note to the item.

While working on the assignment, use the word processor plugin to insert your references as citations. Zotero supports all the major styles, including Chicago, MLA, APA, and journal-specific styles.

Download: Zotero (Free)

8. Grammarly

When you’re writing your first draft, it’s common to find spelling mistakes, poorly written sentences, or punctuations used incorrectly. Grammarly helps you improve the writing quality by identifying and correcting errors related to spelling, vocabulary, and even sentence structure.

It offers apps for mobile and tablet and add-ons that integrate with every browser. In addition, you also get other advanced correction tools such as plagiarism, vocabulary enhancement, built-in grammar advice, and professional proofreading at a nominal cost. Check out with your school if this app is available.

Download: Grammarly (Free)

9. Cold Turkey

Online games, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other websites are in a race for your finite attention. Many people blame themselves for being unable to stay away from social media. As a student, it becomes critical to keep your focus and set aside time for creative activities and sports.

Cold Turkey is a lightweight utility app that lets you block sites and distracting apps for a set amount of time. Select the websites and the time you want to restrict the sites for. During the lock, you cannot disable the program’s function or change the time.

Download: Cold Turkey (Free, Premium: $39)

10. Edraw MindMaster

Mindmaster is an intuitive and feature rich mind-mapping app for students. The app offers an interface similar to Microsoft Office. On the ribbon, you’ll find all the important mindmap elements. You can insert topics, pictures, links, draw relationship lines, add notes, and more.

On launch, select a template from the library. By default, the app offers many ready-made templates, clip art, and vector diagrams. The left panel is your main canvas. In the right, you’ll find options to change the look of the mindmap, add a background, symbols, task due-date, view and export outlines, and more.

If you disassemble mindmap into separate branches, Mindmaster can automatically create presentation slides from it. Then, add a background, notes, and export it as a PPT file.

Download: Edraw Mindmaster (Free, Premium: $79)

Essential Websites Every Students Should Bookmark

With the right kind of tools, you can plan, write, organize, and focus on the studies. The desktop apps for students discussed here are free, so they can easily be part of your educational toolkit. Maybe, you can use these lesser known sites every student should bookmark too.

As a student, it’s critical to balance studies, classes, and co-curricular activities. That's why you should think about how you spend your time at school and home too.