Microsoft PowerToys are utilities that were designed and developed to provide a solution to common issues and enhance user-experience. These are small features which were originally missing from Windows 10 and have been now inculcated due to public feedback. PowerToys allow Windows 10 to do something extra, beyond its normal features.
Windows XP users had access to Windows PowerToys and were significantly used back in the days. However, after Windows XP Microsoft stopped developing them for later operating systems like Windows Vista, 7 and 8. Although Windows XP PowerToys did work fine in Windows Vista and 7, there were no such tools for Windows 8 & 10 users until the recent reappearance. But it seems Microsoft has finally realized the importance of these small utilities and has begun developing PowerToys for Windows 10.
The first Microsoft PowerToys project included TweakUI utility that allowed users to customize Windows appearance easily, which otherwise require tweaking the registry. It is not clear why Microsoft discontinued PowerToys after Windows XP but the good news is that they are coming back as opensource available at Microsoft’s GitHub. Other Windows Power toys in Windows XP included Wallpaper Changer, Calculator Plus, ISO image burner, Image resizer etc.
What Are The Features Of The New Windows 10 Power Toys?
There are three PowerToys utilities available to download and try as of now:
Fancy Zones is like any other window manager which first allows you to design and create a complex layout and then position multiple windows in the layout created. The primary goal for creating this PowerToys in Windows 10 is to ease multitasking and facilitates drag and drop of your task windows into the layout. The Layout created with the help of the Windows PowerToys contains different zones of different sizes and positions. The tasks windows are designed to accumulate a particular zone and change their size and position accordingly and fill the target zone.
As the name suggests, this Windows PowerToys can assist you to rename multiple files at once. Also, known as batch file renamer, Microsoft has used the Windows shell extension to achieve this bulk renaming of files.
Windows Key Shortcut Guide
To save time and effort, we go around using shortcuts every now and then. For example, to open the Windows settings, press the windows key on the keyboard along with the letter ‘I’ and for File explorer, press the windows key and the letter ‘E’. This is no encyclopaedia of shortcuts by Microsoft yet and for that very reason they decided to develop a PowerToys in Windows 10 by the name of Windows key shortcut guide. The idea behind this Microsoft PowerToys utility is that when the user holds down the Windows key for a couple of seconds, all the Windows shortcuts that would work on the current screen would appear on your screen.
Microsoft has released only three PowerToys until know but is considering many more. An unconfirmed report has mentioned a list of other PowerToys utilities such as:
Maximize to new desktop widget: This tool helps the user to hover the mouse cursor on any minimised app in the taskbar and create a new desktop where the app will open in a maximised window. A click of a button will enable the user to generate a new desktop with no apps and the it would be convenient to switch between the real and virtual desktops.
Animated GIF Screen Recorder: This PowerToys will enable the users to capture the screen recording of computer’s desktop and all task which are carried on the desktop.
Process terminate tool: This utility will help terminate unrequired tasks and services running in the background.
Other Windows 10 PowerToys may include:
Quick resolution swaps in taskbar
Mouse events without focus
Microsoft has requested its users to suggest new ideas and vote for the already created PowerToys on GitHub website
How To Get Power Toys In Windows 10?
Microsoft has developed a standalone installer which can be downloaded from its GitHub website and used in any computer running Windows 10 even if the PC is not connected to internet. Currently only 3 PowerToys can be downloaded as one bundled file from the link below:
Click on the link above and scroll down the page until you see the ‘PowerToysSetup.msi’ and click on it. The file will be downloaded in a matter of seconds as it is only 3 MB in size. Double-click the installer file and follow the instructions on the screen with affirmative responses. Once installed, explore the various options and discover new ways to benefit from these PowerToys utilities.
Once installed, double click on the shortcut created on your desktop or type ‘Power Toys’ in the search bar on the bottom-left corner of your screen and the PowerToys app will be launched. To access the control screen of this app you will need to check it in the system tray icon on the taskbar and a single mouse click will launch the settings panel on your desktop screen. You can enable/disable any PowerToys using the toggle buttons.
How To Use The Windows 10 PowerToys?
Click on Edit zone button and customise your layout and click on apply. You will be able to drag and drop 4 of your open applications into the zones, holding the shift key and it would look somewhat like this:
The first window is the Firefox browser, the second contains MS-WORD and the third on the top has MS-Paint with the calculator app in the last zone.
There are no settings yet under PowerRename but it is a very useful tool when you want to add a word to multiple files. Suppose I wanted to add the words Summer Vacation to all my vacation photos, then I would select all the files at once and make a right click and choose ‘Power Rename’ from the list.
The following windows would open up and I can either rename them or add a word. The preview of how the image would be renamed also appears in the box below. Click on Apply to put on the changes required.
Windows Key Shortcut Guide
To use this PowerToys utility, press and hold the Windows key on your keyboard and you will find a screen display all shortcuts applicable on your desktop.
There are other settings which can be customized as per user discretion.
Windows 10 PowerToys is a project undertaken by Microsoft to reduce our dependence on third-party software. Though it will take time to build all the required features into Windows 10, we can still hope and wait until that is done. Our contribution would be to vote and suggest new ideas on the GitHub portal by signing in and post our observations. It is free to sign up and requires a Microsoft account to be able to do that. One more important feature is that the codes for these PowerToys are open-source, which mean all the developers out there can contribute to make Windows 10 even better than it is now.
Do bookmark this page (CTRL + D) and come back for updates on more PowerToys releasing in future. If you find new uses for the existing PowerToys kindly drop off a comment in the section below.