It is well known that newforms of integral weight are simultaneous eigenforms for all the Hecke operators, and that the converse is not true. In this paper, we give a characterization of all simultaneous Hecke eigenforms associated to a given newform, and provide several applications. These include determining the number of linearly independent simultaneous eigenforms in a fixed space which correspond to a given newform, and characterizing several situations in which the full space of cusp forms is spanned by a basis consisting of such eigenforms. Part of our results can be seen as a generalization of results of Choie–Kohnen who considered diagonalization of "bad" Hecke operators on spaces with square-free level and trivial character. Of independent interest, but used herein, is a lower bound for the dimension of the space of newforms with arbitrary character.