Here we present the best Electron applications available for Linux desktops, including Ubuntu, as well as macOS and Windows too.
We’ve written about a lot of diverse Electron apps over the past few years, ranging from desktop podcast clients to popular IDEs.
Not everyone appreciates Electron’s cross-platform versatility as much as we do. Heck, I once wrote an opinion piece explaining why Electron apps aren’t evil. Some have issues with the amount of memory Electron apps use up, the CPU cycles they eat up, and the disk size they take up.
But there are those who don’t mind using the odd Electron app here or there, to plug a gap. So I figured a roundup spotlighting some to the very best Electron applications available for Linux (and other OSes) could still be of interest.
What Are Electron apps?
Not familiar with Electron? Allow me to introduce you.
Put simply, Electron handles the difficult stuff. It’s a shortcut. It allows devs to focus on creating great apps with a great design that work great on all platforms.
Benefits of using Electron to build desktop applications include:
- Work on all platforms, including Linux
- Low barrier to entry — devs with web skills can reuse them
- Various OS integrations, including tray applets, media keys, etc
- Large community of developers and users
- Automatic updates
Downsides to using Electron to build applications include:
- Every app comes with the entire runtime
- Some apps are poor quality
- Large download sizes
- High memory usage
Each Electron app runs its own, separate instance of Chromium. This is where the bloat comes from as Chromium isn’t renowned for its resource consumption, even when left to run in the background, out of focus.
Electron fans (like me) argue that the benefits, features and utility provided by this class of app outweighs any claims of excess resource usage or lazy coding. After all, most of us won’t run 23 Electron apps all at once, just a 1 or 2.
And providing your laptop or desktop machine isn’t an antique, it will be able to cope with running a few Electron applications — so don’t be put off!
23 Best Electron Apps
So we’ve recapped what Electron is, what it does, and why people like (or don’t like) it. Let’s look at how developers are putting it to use on the desktop. Below is a list of 23 Electron apps I think are top-tier tools on any platform.
1. Visual Studio Code (Text Editor)
Microsoft’s Visual Studio Code is a free, open-source text editor tailored towards the needs and abilities of app and web developers.
VS Code includes integration with Git, syntax highlighting, intelligent code completion, snippets and code refactoring. It’s customizable too. Users can quickly change the look of the editor through themes, add more functionality through available modules, and rejig keyboard shortcuts.
Visual Studio Code supports C, C#, C++, HTML, JSON, Objective-C, Objective-C++, PHP, and more.
2. Etcher (Image Burner)
It’s easy to create a bootable USB stick on Windows, macOS or Linux desktops using Etcher.
The ISO writing app has an incredibly straightforward UI. Just attach a blank USB stick, select a compatible ISO image, and you’re basically away!
Etcher is free, open source software hosted on GitHub. You can download Etcher installers and runtimes for all major platforms from the official Etcher website:
3. Raven (RSS Reader)
Raven is a superbly designed desktop RSS feed reader for Windows, macOS and Linux.
The clean, distraction-free UI and three-panel layout makes it super easy to manage your RSS feeds, see the latest headlines, and even read articles – all from the same screen.
Raven works best locally, and supports importing a list of feeds as an .xml file. The latest version also integrates with the Inoreader RSS feed service, helping you sync read and unread items across devices and platforms.
Highly recommended for RSS feed addicts and news watchers alike.
4. Temps (Weather)
We’ve looked at the best weather apps for Linux before but vertical meteorological tool Temps, pictured above, didn’t make the cut.
A beautiful vertically-orientated design combines with subtle animations to create an app that as a mobile, yet tactile and engaging feel. Temps is able to auto-detect your location (though you can enter one manually if needed).
The main Temps window shows current conditions for a given place, including temperature, has a hidden, interactive ‘hourly’ conditions graph, and shows a terse 4 day forecast.
Frustratingly, you can’t reposition the main Temps app nor move it. Wise, it disappears as soon as you give another app focus. Despite this drawback the app remains useful. Its tray area item is able to display current conditions and temperature, which is a really handy touch.
Temps is worth a download if you’re an avid weather watcher.
5. Ramme (Instagram Client)
Instagram is one of the most-used mobile apps in the world — but did you know you can use Instagram on your desktop too?
Ramme is a free, open-source wrapper around the official Instagram progressive web app (PWA). It providers an excellent way to browse Instagram on a PC, and supports all other functions too, letting you comment on and like photos, follow or unfollow account, manage your profile, and more.
And yes: Ramme even lets you upload to Instagram from your PC, no phone needed!
Ramme is available for Windows, macOS and Linux. You can learn more about the app on Github.
6. Museeks (Music Player)
Museeks pitches itself as a “simple, clear and cross-platform music player” and, sure enough, it is exactly that.
Museeks plays most common media formats, including .mp3, .m4a and .wav; lets you create and edit playlists; has a play queue; sleep mode blocker, shuffle and loop options and even lets you adjust playback speed.
The straightforward UI and media library makes it easy to manage and sort through your music files. The library is presented in list form (no album artwork-based browsing here) and you can sort tracks based on title, artist, album or genre.
In all, a no-frills yet well featured Electron music player.
7. Tusk (Evernote Client)
As there’s no official Evernote client for Linux it’s left to the well-known note-taking service’s web-app to pick up the slack.
Tusk is an unofficial wrapper around the Evernote web app that adds a veritable trunk load of additional features and capabilities. So much so that I think it’s better than the official clients on most other platforms!
Tusk offers 70+ keyboard shortcuts, optional themes, and a distraction-free focus mode. It even lets you export Notes as PDF, HTML or Markdown Files so that you can take your natty notes elsewhere.
Regardless of OS, Tusk is an essential tool for Evernote users.
8. Typora (Writing App)
We first covered the Typora markdown editor back in 2016, and since then the simple app has picked up a fervent following — and quite rightly so.
Designed to be as out of your way as possible, the user interface is clutter free. There are no bolshy buttons or a flashy floating editing palette. Instead you format text using inline markdown (see here for more on markdown) and (by default) is automatically appears as formatted text using live preview.
Help is at hand should you forget how to insert an image or make text bold: just select some text and/or right-click on the document.
For a refined, mindful writing experience built around the easy-to-learn Markdown text editing format, Typora is well worth a try.
9. Windows 95 (OS)
I’m throwing in this curve ball for the benefit of nostalgic gamers and geeks of a particular vintage.
Yes, you can run Windows 95 on your desktop (Linux, macOS or Windows). We’re taking the entire OS here; tools, utilities, and games present and included. You can play Doom on Windows 95 on Linux, and you can create artwork in Microsoft Paint on Linux, too.
Created just because it could be, the Windows 95 Electron app provides a trippy way to experience operating system inception sans the headroom of a traditional virtual machine.
10. TweetTray (Twitter App)
This simple, tray-based app lets you share your thoughts and musings with the world without the worry of being sucked into the latest viral thread or celebrity screw-up.
Deliciously simple, the app lets you tweet from your desktop and nothing else. You can’t read tweets, reply to tweets, or favourite them, but you can share what you’re thinking and add gifs or images.
Tray based simplicity — and it’s free!
11. Mailspring (Email Client)
Desktop email clients are something of an antiquated taste these days, and if you’re a heavy Gmail user (like I am) you might skip over using one altogether.
But Mailspring offers a compelling reason not to do that.
Firstly, the app is incredibly well designed. It looks great, and it functions fantastically. It even supports custom themes and other layouts.
Second, it’s packed full of really useful features. Actually useful ones, like: multiple account support (IMAP and Office 365); unified inbox; super-fast email search; and custom themes and layouts to help you craft a UI that suits your tastes (or your desktop theme).
Support for mail signatures, built-in translation tools, a spell checker, and, if you want it, ‘pro’ features like link tracking and read receipts are all available in-app too.
So if you’re looking for a modern desktop email client for Linux, macOS or Windows, you honestly need look no further.
12. Simplenote (Productivity)
Simplenote is a (shock) simple note taking app. It’s free to use, its apps are open source, and it can work across platforms, including Android and iOS.
The Simplenote desktop apps all use Electron to deliver a clean, no-clutter note taking tool across platforms.
And while the desktop apps lacks the sort of advanced features available through Evernote (see item #7) I think it’s all the better for it: you get a robust tool with cloud sync and revision history, but free of bells, whistles and superfluous touches you don’t use.
When you need a focused, straight-forward note taking, check out Simplenote.
13. Rambox (Messaging)
Using modern messaging and social network site has a major downside: keeping tabs on them all.
Rambox aims to solve that. It consolidates your accounts for Twitter, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram, Slack and 90+ other services into a unified window.
So instead of you needing to open 12 tabs in a browser, you just open Rambox instead.
Rambox boasts some nifty desktop integration, like notifications of new/unread messages and a system tray applet with quick actions, supports a master password and a lock mode (to keep pesky hands off your socials) and a helpful ‘do not disturb’ setting for when you want to kick back and relax.
Rambox is free, open-source software (though pro plans are available) You can download the latest Rambox community edition release from the project site below.
14. Skype (Messaging)
No list of Electron apps would be complete without a reference to the best-known Electron app of them all: Skype.
Microsoft’s VoIP client isn’t the powerhouse it once was (thanks to video and voice calling being rolled out on seemingly every service imaginable, including Facebook Messenger and Telegram) but it still has its place.
But for those times you need it (i.e. to speak to relatives living abroad) it’s free, fast, and familiar (especially now it’s ditched the terrible Snapchat-esque features).
For privacy-minded alternatives to Skype I recommend you check out Signal and Wire, both of which use Electron for their desktop clients.
15. Discord (Messaging)
While we’re on the topic of VoIP clients it’d be remiss of me to skip over Discord, the free (but not open source) video game messaging service.
Discord boasts over 200 million users and is seen as an essential tool for sociable gamers (though many other communities use it too). It lets you join chat channels, send text, images or video to other users, and supports audio calling.
The best bit is that Discord runs on all major desktop operating systems thanks to Electron.
16. Musixmatch Lyrics
If you’re a Spotify listener, MusixMatch Lyrics is a handy companion app to have running. When you play music on Spotify it fetches and displays lyrics for it in real-time so that you can sing along!
THat’s basically all it does, but what else does it need to do?
“C’mon Barbie let’s go party…”
17. Left (Writing Tool)
Left is a novel tool designed to help long-form writers, those writing novels or fiction, and other wordsmith creatives. Heck, it’s not bad for drafting the odd blog post or two, either!
If you’re serious about writing, you need to try Left
Left is at its core a distraction-free text editor, but its feature set is built around the needs of writers and not coders. Key features include auto-complete, a built-in synonym suggester, writing stats (words, lines, characters, etc), as well as support for basic markup, and a speed-reader to make reading back what you write a more efficient practice.
There’s a great online guide for the app, too.
Left is free and open source software but you can choose to pay for it, ‘name your price’ style. If you want to try before you buy you can snag a download too — but I recommend chucking the developers a few dollars if you find it an invaluable tool.
In short, if you’re serious about writing, you need to try Left.
18. Upterm (IDE)
Part terminal, part interactive shell, part IDE: Upterm upends expectations.
Upterm features a handy auto-complete feature that pre-empts suggestions as you type. It’s like having tab complete, but smarter.
The tool also boasts compatibility with and support for running most CLI programmes and utilities, including staples like vim, emacs, htop, git, and more.
Upterm is not the only command line tool written in Electron, but it’s by far one of the most capable.
19. Poddr (Podcast Client)
If you’re looking for a desktop podcast client with a slick design, useful features and access to the most popular podcasts via iTunes, pal up with Poddr.
Poddr has all the features you’d expect, including podcast browse and search, episode lists, show descriptions, quick skip back/forward buttons, and more.
Linux users benefit also benefit from media key support and MPRIS integration. The app is also available via the Snapcraft store.
20. Sftp Client
Transferring files and from remote servers isn’t a flashy task, but it’s one that the perfunctorily named ‘sFTP Client‘ handles with ease.
Now, most desktop operating systems aren’t short of options when it comes to file transfer. Ubuntu (and most Linux distributions) have various capabilities baked in, and third-party apps like Filezilla are readily available.
Sftp Client won’t woo anyone welded to an existing method, but its clean UI helps transfer files over FTP, FTPIS, FTPES and SFTP, including SSH Terminal, without much fuss.
The app hides a couple of features behind a ‘pro’ plan (which costs money, naturally) but a free version is available too.
21. Noty (Sticky Notes)
I’m terrible at remembering what I need to do, so tend to scribble things down on post-it notes (aka sticky notes) and stick them all about my work area.
Most desktops come with a sticky note feature for use on the digital desktop. But, honestly, I end up with too many of them floating around. They just get in the way.
Enter Noty, a sticky notes app with a difference. It lets you create multiple notes …without needing multiple floating windows.
It features auto-save, supports checkbox/to-do list functionality, basic text formatting, and uses the FiraCode font to allow all sorts of nifty glyphs and arrows.
Revolutionary? No. Useful? Absolutely.
For bandwidth reasons I have to be careful about image sizes when I upload images to blog posts. I try to aim for a small file size (giving you faster loading times) but without impacting on quality.
Typically I use a native Linux image compression tool (like Trimmage) or the command line. But lately I’ve switched to using the aptly named Image Shrinker.
Simply drag and drop an image (including .jpg, .png or .svg) on to the app window and files are insta-shrunk and compressed, auto-renamed, and saved to the directory they were pulled from.
Quick, efficient, and really rather satisfying!
23. LosslessCut (Video Trimmer)
For quick and efficient trimming/cutting of video and audio files use LosslessCut.
It lets you quickly scrub through clips to mark a section of a video file to ‘cut’ out. You can select multiple sections and merge them together into one clip, all without needing to re-encode or reduce the quality.
LosslessCut is powered by ffmpeg so most common video formats are supported. And because it works without re-encoding or processing video it’s super fast, too.
Cut video is saved to the same directory as the original video, without overwriting it.
Electron apps aren’t popular, but they can be useful
What Electron apps do you use?
Share your thoughts in the comments section below
Lossless Cut image: Ghacks