Microsoft PowerToys is a collection of freeware system utilities developed by Microsoft for use on the Windows operating system. These programs add or change features in order to increase productivity or provide more customization. Windows 95, Windows XP, Windows 10, and Windows 11 are all supported by PowerToys.
The Windows 10 PowerToys are free and open-source software licensed under the MIT License and hosted on GitHub. You can download it here.
PowerToys for Windows 10
PowerToys were added to Windows 10 four years after its initial release. Microsoft relaunched PowerToys on May 8, 2019, and made them open-source on GitHub. The first preview release, which included FancyZones and the Windows key shortcut guide, was available in September 2019.
Included components. PowerToys for Windows 10 comes with the following utilities:
- Color Picker adds a tool for color identification (in HEX, RGB, CMYK, HSL and HSV, among others).
- FancyZones adds a window manager that makes it easier for users to create and use complex window layouts.
- File Explorer (Preview Panes) adds SVG, Markdown and PDF previews to File Explorer.
- Image Resizer adds a context menu to File Explorer for resizing images.
- Keyboard Manager adds options for remapping keys and shortcuts.
- Mouse utilities adds tools that enhance mouse and cursor functionality on Windows. Currently, the collection consists of: Find My Mouse which focuses on the cursor’s position. Mouse Highlighter which points out mouse clicks on the screen.
- PowerRename adds an option for users to rename files using search and replace or regular expression in File Explorer.
- PowerToys Run adds a Spotlight-like tool that allows users to search for folders, files, applications, and other items.
- Shortcut Guide adds a full screen overlay that allows the user to view the windows key shortcuts available in the current window.
- Video Conference Mute adds tools to disable/enable the camera and microphone.
- Windows key shortcut guide adds option to display common keyboard shortcuts that use the Windows key.
Microsoft PowerToys Version 0.55 Introduces Several New Utilities and Improvements
Microsoft has released the PowerToys 0.55 app which marks the third release of the new version of the utility app in 2022.
According to Microsoft’s release notes, version 0.55’s release cycle is a continuation of setting up PowerToys ARM64, fixing top issues, and introducing a number of new features.
With this PowerToys version, the development team was able to upgrade the codebase to .NET 5 and, later this month, to .NET 6 and beyond, bringing stability and speed improvements. Microsoft announced three new features to accompany the launch of the new utility:
- File preview pane for developers is a File Explorer add-on. This will result in at least 150 new file extensions. Monaco Editor is used to enhance this experience.
- File Explorer Add-on: Creates a preview pane for STL files. Because STL is a widely used 3D file format, this add-on enables quick visual inspection.
- Ctrl+Alt+P for the crosshair pointer in the mouse utility. This feature was created in collaboration with Microsoft’s accessibility team. When the team mentioned the idea of finding the mouse cursor by looking through the narrowest angle, we knew we could quickly enable this feature using code from the mouse utility.
In addition to the new features above, there are some other changes listed as follows:
- The .NET runtime is now at version 5, the next release will be upgraded to .NET 6 and then the sixth version will help us to reduce switching between multiple parts in one release, so we’re going this route. What is the significance of this? Because this is the most important item required for ARM64 support. Aside from that, it will speed up development when we are using the .NET 6 version.
- Added UEFI commands to system commands.
- When leaving a meeting with Video Conference Mute (VCM), the microphone state will now be left in the last state it was used. The current microphone state will be retained when you exit PowerToys.
The list of changes also includes a number of enhancements to PowerToys, such as issues with Image Resizer, Run, Settings, VCM, FancyZones, and Always On Top.
Brief Explanation about Available Tools in PowerToys
The tools listed below are available through PowerToys. However for other alternatives, you can use additional applications here.
Keyboard Manager is a program that allows you to modify the function and shortcut keys on your keyboard. Perhaps this feature is more useful for advanced Windows users, rather than beginners. Because it can be perplexing.
However, if you want to be specific, this tool is extremely powerful. You can even modify the shortcuts for specific apps.
Windows Key Shortcut Guide
Do you frequently forget about various Windows shortcuts? Not a problem, you can use this tool. If PowerToys is active, all you have to do is hold down the ‘Windows’ button for about 1 second. The keyboard shortcut guide will then appear in front of your eyes.
You can also specify how long the button must be held down before this function appears. The display’s transparency can then be adjusted as well. As a result, you can seek assistance whenever you need it.
FancyZones can help you quickly organize your application windows. You can divide the window area on the screen and then drag the application to that area to lock it in place.
If you have PowerToys installed, you can activate it in the application’s Settings. The window’s position can then be adjusted using Settings or the shortcut key Win+’. This feature also allows you to use multiple monitors.
As the name implies, this tool can pick up colors from anywhere, including other running applications.
You can enable the Color Picker in the app’s Settings if you have PowerToys installed. You can access this feature by default by pressing the shortcut key Win+Shift+C. Moreover, it is possible to change it, including for copied color information.
File Explorer Add-ons enable PDF, Markdown and SVG files Preview
This File Explorer add-on will expand your options. For the time being, the only addition is display support for Markdown and SVG files. When this option is enabled, you can see how the two files will appear in the Preview pane.
One of the most useful features is Image Resizer allowing you to resize multiple images at the same time. Simply select the image file, right-click, select ‘Resize Pictures,’ and enter the desired size. You can also place it directly in a separate folder.
You can also decide what size you require ahead of time. To do so, right-click on the image, choose ‘Resize Pictures,’ and then ‘Settings.’
This feature is also one of the most useful. PowerRename allows you to rename multiple files at once.
If PowerToys is active, select the file to be renamed, right-click, select ‘PowerRename,’ and then rename as desired. Furthermore, you can undo (reverse) the renaming.
PowerToys Run will include an advanced search feature. Simply press the shortcut Alt + Space and type what you’re looking for (applications, files, etc.).
Aside from the search function, Windows allows you to run some advanced commands. Surprisingly, you can also perform calculator functions here (for example, type 9*30 to see the results).
- Windows 11 or Windows 10 v1903 (18362) or newer.
- .NET Core 3.1.20 Desktop Runtime or a newer 3.1.x runtime. The installer will handle this if not present.
- x64 architecture currently supported. ARM support to become available at a later date.
To ensure that your machine meets these requirements, check your Windows version and build number by selecting ⊞ Win+R, then type winver and press OK. Or enter the ver command in Windows Command Prompt. It is much better if you update to the most recent Windows version in Windows Settings.