Microsoft is working hard on PowerToys for Windows 10. This open source project adds many powerful Windows features, from a massive file renaming to an Alt + Tab alternative that lets you browse your keyboard windows.
I originally published this article on April 1, 2020. I updated it with information about the latest PowerToy: ColorPicker. It is part of PowerToys 0.20, launched by Microsoft on July 31, 2020.
How to get Microsoft PowerToys
Can download PowerToys from GitHub and activate the desired functions in the PowerToys configuration application. It’s free and open source. Download the MSI «PowerToysSetup» file from the site and double-click it to install.
To access PowerToys settings after installing and starting the application, locate the PowerToys icon in notification area (system) In the taskbar, right-click and select «Settings.»
How to update PowerToys
Do you have an older version of PowerToys installed? You can now check for updates directly from the General Settings panel. In General Settings, scroll down and click «Check for Updates» at the bottom of the panel to check for a new version.
Starting with version 0.18, you can also enable the «Download updates automatically» feature so that PowerToys can download and install updates automatically.
If you don’t see this button, you should download the latest PowerToys package from GitHub and install it to update.
Color Picker, a quick color picker for the entire system
People who work with graphics, from web designers to photographers and graphic artists, often need to identify a certain color and use it. That’s why tools like Photoshops have a color selection tool (eye drops) that lets you point the mouse cursor to one side of the image to identify exactly what color it is.
Color Picker is an eye drip tool that works anywhere in your system. After activating it in PowerToys, press Win + Shift + C to open it anywhere. You will see the color code displayed in hex and RGB, so you can use it in other programs.
Click once and the hexagonal color code will be copied to the clipboard to be pasted. If you prefer RGB, you can open the Color Picker screen in the PowerToys Settings window and choose to copy the RGB color code by clicking.
PowerToys Run, a fast application launcher
PowerToys Run is a text-based search engine launcher. Unlike the classic Windows Run dialog (Win + R), it has a search function. Unlike the Start menu search box, it’s about starting things on your computer instead of searching the web with Bing.
In addition to applications, PowerToys Run can find files quickly. You can even search and switch to open windows, just search for the window title.
To open it, press Alt + Space. This keyboard shortcut can be customized from the PowerToys Run panel in PowerToys Settings.
Start typing a phrase to search for applications, files, and even open windows. Use the arrow keys to select an item from the list (or simply continue typing to narrow it down) and press Enter to start the application, open the file, or switch to the window.
PowerToys Run has several other features, such as the «Open as administrator» and «Open the folder that contains» button for each option in the list. In the future, you will have add-ons such as a computer.
Keyboard Manager, to reassign keyboard shortcuts
Keyboard Manager provides a simple interface for remapping individual keyboard keys and multi-key shortcuts.
The «Reassign Keyboard» tool allows you to change a single key with a new one. You can make any key on the keyboard work like any other key, including special function keys. For example, you can turn the Caps Lock key you never use into a browser Back key to make web browsing easier.
The «Reassign Shortcut» panel allows you to change multi-key shortcuts to other shortcuts. For example, Win + E normally opens a File Explorer window. You can create a new Win + Space keyboard shortcut that opens a File Explorer window. New keyboard shortcuts can replace existing keyboard shortcuts built into Windows 10.
PowerRename, a massive renaming of files
Microsoft PowerToys include a batch renaming tool called «PowerRename». With this feature enabled, you can right-click one or more files or folders in File Explorer and select «PowerRename» from the context menu to open it.
The PowerRename tool window will appear. You can use text boxes and check boxes to quickly rename batch files. For example, you can remove words from a file name, replace phrases, add numbers, change multiple file extensions at once, and more. You can even use regular expressions. The preview panel will help you adjust the rename settings before continuing with renaming files.
This utility is much simpler than most Third-party batch renaming tools available for Windows.
Image Resizer, a massive image resizing
PowerToys provides fast image resizing that integrates with File Explorer. With this option enabled, select one or more image files in File Explorer, right-click on them, and select «Resize images.»
The Image Resizer window will open. Then you can choose a size for the image files or enter a custom size in pixels. By default, the tool will create resized copies of the selected image files, but can resize and replace the original files. You can even click the «Settings» button and configure advanced options such as image encoder quality settings.
This tool is a quick way to resize one or more image files without opening a more complicated application.
FancyZones, a zone-based window manager
FancyZones is a window manager that allows you to create «zone» layouts for windows on the desktop. Windows usually allows you «fix» the windows in a 1 × 1 or 2 × 2 arrangement. FancyZones allows you to create more complex models.
By default, you can press Windows + `(which is a tilde, the key above the Tab key) to open the Zone Editor. Then, while dragging and dropping a window, you can press and hold the Shift key (or another mouse button, such as the right mouse button) to see the areas. Place a window in an area and it will match the look on the screen.
FancyZones provides a quick way to configure complex window layouts without carefully resizing each window. Just put windows in the areas. You can configure all its options and keyboard shortcuts by opening the PowerToys Settings window and clicking «FancyZones» in the sidebar.
Shortcut Guide (for the Windows key)
Windows is full of keyboard shortcuts using the Windows key. For example, did you know that you can press Windows + E to open a File Explorer window, Windows + i to open a Settings window, or Windows + D to display the desktop? You can also press Windows + 1 to activate the first shortcut of the application on the left on the taskbar, Windows + 2 to activate the second, and so on.
The Windows shortcut guide will help you learn and remember these shortcuts. With this option enabled, you can hold down the Windows key on your keyboard for about a second to see an overlay with common shortcuts. Release the key to remove the overlay.
File Explorer preview (for SVG and Markdown)
File Explorer has a preview panel, which can display image previews and other file types directly in File Explorer. Press Alt + P in File Explorer to show or hide it. Select a file and you will immediately see a preview.
With the File Explorer preview drivers enabled in PowerToys, Windows will be able to display image previews and document SVG (scalable vector graphics) formatted in Markdown.
What happened to Window Walker?
Upgrade – This PowerToy has now been merged with PowerToys Run. You can enter a window title in the Run PowerToys box to find and switch to it.
Window Walker is a alternative Alt + Tab text-based with a search function. To open it, press Ctrl + Win. You will see a text box appear.
Start typing a phrase to search for open windows that match it. For example, if you have multiple Chrome browser windows open, you can type «Chrome» and see a list of them. Use the arrow keys to navigate through the windows and press Enter to select one.
This tool can be very useful if you have many windows open and are looking for a special one. For example, if you have ten different browser windows open and you’re looking for one that displays a specific website, you can press Ctrl + Tab, start typing the website name, and find the browser window that displays that website.
The PowerToys package is still in its infancy, with more tools planned before the release of 1.0. Microsoft expects to release the final version in September 2020.
We will keep this article updated with new features as they are released.