Microsoft introduced PowerToys in Windows 95, but stopped using it. You must be wondering what is PowerToys? PowerToys is a place for developers to experiment with and work with new utility tools such as adjusting the Windows user interface, changing the resolution, etc. Windows XP marks the demise of PowerToys, but it has become with Windows 10.
Microsoft announced the revival of the tool in May stating that the code for the suite will be released to the open source community. This will allow everyone to build productivity tools for Windows. Currently, there are two utility tools available, but Microsoft plans to add 10 more.
- How to configure Windows Sandbox on Windows 10
- Windows 10 has added “Cloud Reset” feature and here’s how to use it
- Errors on the latest Windows 10 updates and how to fix them (updating continuously)
Add functionality to Windows 10 with PowerToys
- 1. How to download and install PowerToys
- 2. Fancyzones
- 3. Install Shortcut guide
- 4. Window Walker
- 5. Image Resizer
- 6. PowerRename
- 7. File Explorer
- 8. Keyboard Manager
- 9. PowerToys Run
1. How to download and install PowerToys
You can download the first version of PowerToys according to the link below. Download the MSI file as shown below. Note that the file is currently signed by Janea Systems instead of Microsoft and is safe to use
Double-click the file to begin the installation process.
When you launch PowerToys, you will see two tools listed on the left sidebar: FancyZones and Shortcut Guide. The third option is General Settings.
The Overview link will open a tutorial posted on GitHub and the demo video link on YouTube.
This tool creates custom zones on the desktop for opening and locating different open windows.
Open PowerToys and click Edit zones in FancyZones.
A new window will open with some preconfigured zones. You can click on the plus or minus icon to change the number of these areas.
You can also access Focus mode so that each window is superimposed on top of each other. There are two additional settings for controlling margins around regions created at the end. Click Apply when done. If you don’t see the Apply button, press
X to maximize the window.
This is how the application divides the desktop. With the
Shift key pressed, drag and hold a window (any application window or folder) to place it in a specific area. It will resize automatically.
This is useful when working with multiple applications and windows at the same time. The FancyZones tool is quite useful for bloggers that both write and search, traders use multiple open windows, etc.
Click the Custom tab to create a custom zone. Just resize it from the edge and keep creating a new area until the home screen is filled.
3. Install Shortcut guide
The Shortcut Guide will provide you with a set of shortcuts. What are keyboard shortcuts used for? It is used to interact with desktop computers and Windows operating systems. Just press and hold the Windows key for a few seconds to activate the pop-up.
It offers you three different types of keyboard shortcuts:
- Shortcut key changes the position of the active window
- Popular Windows keyboard shortcuts
- Taskbar shortcut
All these shortcuts will work when combined with the Windows key.
For example, to open File Explorer, you’d press
E instead of just pressing E. Also, all of these keyboard shortcuts can work with any open window.
You can control how long it takes to launch shortcut overlays after pressing and holding the Windows key. Both values are expressed in ms (1 second = 1000 milliseconds).
4. Window Walker
Window Walker is actually one of the most useful PowerToys functions. Window Walker is basically like the
Tab key combination, but instead of having to cycle through all the open windows, you can import the program you want. If you usually have 10 to 25 windows open at once, this feature will be extremely helpful.
- Make sure Window Walker is enabled in PowerToys.
- Enter the name of the program currently running.
- Select the correct program and press
5. Image Resizer
Sometimes you need to crop a bunch of images with the same length / width specification. If you own PowerToys, you have a basic, beautiful option right in your context menu: Image Resizer.
- Select all the images you want to resize.
- Right-click on the image and choose Resize pictures from the context menu.
- Select the image size and check the settings you want.
- You can change file types, naming conventions, and more in additional settings menu.
- Press Resize to get the resized image!
This tool doesn’t quite replace more powerful third-party programs, but it’s fast and simple enough for basic tasks.
Like Image Resizer, PowerRename is quite basic compared to other available programs, but this brings a little bit closer to native Windows functionality. You can rename files and folders using the find and replace feature or, for more control, regular expressions.
- Select all the files you want to rename.
- Right-click on the files and select PowerRename from the context menu.
- Enter what you want to search for and the text you want to replace.
- Select an option, such as whether you want to put the file in a subdirectory.
- Select the file in the Preview section you want to rename.
- Click Rename to make changes.
7. File Explorer
Did you know that the Preview window in File Explorer shows you the contents of the file without having to open it? The feature doesn’t support every file type, which is why Microsoft is using PowerToys as a way for developers to add support for the types they want to be able to preview.
Enabling this feature now adds support for .svg (vector) and .md (markdown) files, but could be expanded to more in the future.
8. Keyboard Manager
With Keyboard Manager , you can create your own shortcuts or rearrange existing shortcuts. This is managed in PowerToys settings, under the Keyboard Manager section .
For example, you can use uncommon keys to control media playback or browser navigation. Alternatively, you can do something like change the shortcut
C (usually copy text) to for paste instead.
There are two parts: Remap keyboard to remap a single key to another, and Remap shortcuts to remap one shortcut to another.
Click Remap a key or Remap a shortcut . Click the plus icon to add remapping. On the left is an existing key or shortcut, and on the right is what you want to rearrange. Use the trash icon to remove any remapping action. When done, click OK.
9. PowerToys Run
PowerToys Run is a search engine to quickly launch apps, files, and folders. You can also use it to switch to things you’ve already opened.
By default, press Alt + Spacebar to open PowerToys Run (you can customize this option in PowerToys settings). Then just start typing to find something on the computer. Use the up and down arrow keys to move between the results and
Enter to launch.
If you want, use the icons next to each result to Launch As Administrator or the Open containing folder .
Everything is just getting started with PowerToys and we expect more utility tools to appear soon. Since the project code is currently open source, developers from all over the world can join and develop utility tools for PowerToys.
Microsoft has released Windows 10 “flavor” PowerToys for you to try. Note that these are preview builds and may work erratically on the system.
Other PowerToys in development include a shortcut manager, better search and Alt + tab management, battery monitoring, and more.
I wish you all success!