Windows 10 has 7 NEW PowerToys – Here’s how to use them
Microsoft has brought back a blast from the past. A set of tools we had back in the windows 95 days that allowed us to add additional features and cool utilities to our Windows. And now with Windows 10 we can do that again. Let me introduce you to the Windows 10 PowerToys!
What are Microsoft PowerToys?
PowerToys are essentially a bunch of free system utilities and enhancements for Windows that were originally developed by Microsoft but didn’t make it into the official “Windows release”. Back in the olden-Windows day, these utilities performed extra functions that “power users” wanted. Amongst others, some of these functions were: CDAutoPlay which made non-audio CD automatically play, FindX which added drag-and-drop capabilities to Find (now called Search), Send To X which added the ability to send items to clipboard or desktop.
Today PowerToys are free and open-source software licensed under the MIT License and hosted on GitHub. The project that welcomes contributions of all types. From spec’ing, design, documentation, bugs, and of course, coders as long as you abide by the contributor’s guide.
How to download PowerToys?
The PowerToys are located in Microsoft’s Github where you can download the PowerToys for free. On the page look for the Assets section and select one of these files to download:
I selected the PowerToysSetup-0.18.2-x64.msi and simply installed it like I do any software.
Where are the PowerToys located after installation?
After the installation, the PowerToys live in the system tray (that bit next to the clock)
Simply click on that “tv looking” icon and you will find the PowerToys Settings!
What are the current PowerToys utilities?
As of the time of writing this, PowerToys is on version v0.18.2 and in this version you get:
- File Explorer Preview
- Image Resizer
- Keyboard Manager
- PowerToys Run
- Shortcut Guide
Let’s dive into each one of these and what each PowerToys utility actually does:
The current Windows 10 version, by default, allows you to snap open applications to the screen so you can have a nicer working environment. However, these are limited. FancyZone is a manager that makes it easier to arrange and snap open applications into efficient layouts that you can define. You are no longer restricted by what Windows has defined.
Simply drag an open application into a zone and it is automatically resized to fit into that zone!
File Explorer Preview:
If you work with SVG (.svg) or Markdown files (.md) than you know that currently, Windows doesn’t allow you to preview those files in the File Explorer. This can be a pain and this is what the File Explorer Preview utility fixes.
Once you enable it, you can simply navigate to that file and click on it where the preview will be shown.
This is a blessing for anyone who has to resize images. Instead of having to open the image in a graphics program to resize it, now you can simply right-click on the file in the File Explorer and instantly resize the image. You can do one file or many files and it works like a charm!
In the PowerToys setting, you can define the image sizes and you can even create your own size too!
The Keyboard Manager allows you to customize the keyboard by remapping keys and creating your own keyboard shortcuts. Initially, I was could not think of a use for it until I realized that there are some parts of the keyboard I never touch – such as the Numbers in the NumPad. So with the Keyboard Manager, I remap those keys to other combinations of keys. For example, I remapped my Number 0 key to F5 so now it’s easier to hit that button to refresh the webpage I am on.
If you have ever had the need to rename a large number of files, then this is the utility you have been waiting for.
PowerRename allows for bulk renaming of files using the same type of Find and Replace thinking that we get in Word or Excel. You simply select the files you want to rename, then type the text you want to find and type the text that needs to replace it.
We love the Windows Search and the PowerToys Run takes that to another level. By pressing a combination of keys on your keyboard that you define such at CTRL + Space, it opens up a new search facility in the middle of the screen that allows you to quickly find the app or text you are looking for.
We know that Windows has many shortcuts when you hold the Windows Key on the keyboard, but its difficult to remember them all. When you enable the ShortCut Guide and long hold on the Windows Key, it shows the available shortcuts for the current state of the desktop.
You can open applications, open the File Explorer or the Action Center. Over time, you will start to remember the shortcuts you use regularly.
So in summary:
I am excited to have these PowerToys back and look forward to more utilities as they are added. I will add these to this post when they do!
Having the flexibility to enable or disable each utility is also great. This allows you to disable the utilities you don’t need and simply keep the ones that you do.
Try these out and let me know which one is your favorite PowerToy utility – for me it has to be the PowerRename and the Image Resizer – just saves hours of manual work!
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