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27 BEST Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 apps

Best Windows 8 apps

No decent apps for Windows 8? Think again! Here are 27 great Windows 8 apps


Metro Commander Pro (Free) – One of Windows 8’s weaknesses is that it lacks a touch-friendly file manager, a modern equivalent of the desktop’s File Explorer. Step forward Metro Commander Pro, a convenient little utility that Microsoft would do well to consider buying itself. The Commander provides shortcuts to common file types – music, pictures, videos – so that you don’t have to find each separately using the various, pre-loaded Windows 8 apps. There’s also shortcuts to OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) and Dropbox, as well as the option to navigate any attached drives. All files and folders are listed in finger-sized slots, so there’s no chance of opening the wrong file because of fat-finger syndrome on tablets, like there is in the desktop File Explorer, and it has all the usual options to copy, rename, delete or open files with different apps. Simple, yes, but effective.

Elements: The Periodic Table (Free) – When we were studying chemistry at school, the periodic table was a yellowing poster hanging behind the teacher’s desk. This app raises the bar and interest levels considerably. Tap on any element and you get a detailed breakdown that includes, among other things, physical properties, images, a potted history of the element and details of what it’s used for, as well as links to websites for further reading. Thus we learn that Promethium is ‘used in atomic batteries for spacecraft and guided missiles’, has a melting point of 1,042C and is suitably named after the Greek titan Prometheus, who stole fire from heaven. Had Mr Chivers been that interesting at school, we’d have known that already.


TeamViewer Touch (Free) – TeamViewer is a brilliant remote desktop app, allowing you to either control your home computer while you’re travelling with your laptop/tablet, or play the role of Tech Samaritan and help friends and family with a support issue. This touch-screen optimised version makes it easy to control a desktop/laptop PC from a tablet, with shortcut buttons for regular Windows commands such as the Start button, CTRL+ALT+DEL, plus all the Windows 8-specific commands for Charms and apps. If the PC you’re connecting to has two or more monitors, you can easily switch between them, and there’s a virtual keyboard for typing on the host PC, should you need to enter a password, for example. For nabbing files you accidentally left at home or rescuing a friend a need, it can’t be beaten.

TeamViewer Touch

Essential Anatomy 3 (£13.99, free trial available) – If you’ve ever wondered what the inside of the human body looks like, and didn’t want to spend years at medical school or a high-security prison, this amazing app is just the ticket. It peers inside the skin to give a fascinating insight into the organs, bones, muscles, arteries and anything else that comprises the average homo sapien. The 3D model can be spun around and manipulated with your finger or mouse, and the various layers of muscle, tissue and organs can be switched on and off, or individual bones isolated. With detailed descriptions of every body part, it’s a magnificent learning tool, but also terrific fun just to play with. Take up the 14-day free trial, at the very least.

Essential Anatomy

Code Writer (Free) – If you’re the kind of person who speaks in variables or loves a loop, than Code Writer could be right up your street. It’s a text and code editor, with distinctly helpful features such as syntax highlighting (automatically using different colours for different types of commands) and limited auto-complete, so that if you open a tag in HTML, the closing tag is created for you, reducing the likelihood of typing errors. It supports more than 20 different programming languages, including common web languages such as JavaScript, XML and HTML, as well as Ruby, PowerShell, Visual Basic and many more. This isn’t an app suited to touchscreen keyboard use, but it’s handy nonetheless.

Code Writer

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