PowerToys is a set of utilities for power users to tune and streamline their Windows experience for greater productivity. Inspired by the Windows 95 era PowerToys project, this reboot provides power users with utilities to squeeze more out of the Windows 10 shell and customize it for their individual workflows.
What tools are included in PowerToys?
Microsoft keeps adding utilities to the suite, however the 12 main tools are: Always on Top, PowerToys Awake, Color Picker, FancyZones, File Explorer add-ons, Image Resizer, Keyboard Manager, PowerRename, Mouse Utilities, PowerToys Run, Shortcut Guide, and Video Conference Mute.
What is the purpose of PowerToys?
PowerToys are smaller add-ons or utilities that can enhance and customize your Windows experience. Microsoft created PowerToys for power users looking for a bit more personalization and tweakability.
What are the two most useful tools in PowerToys?
PowerToys offers several handy tools for specific use cases, but two very popular ones are FancyZones, which lets you rearrange your window layout to run multiple apps on one screen, and PowerToys Run, which is a Spotlight-like launcher that includes quick search for apps and files in Windows.
Is Microsoft PowerToys free?
Yes, PowerToys is free and open-source.
Does PowerToys work on Windows 11?
PowerToys is compatible with Windows 10 and Windows 11
To kick the tires on the first two utilities, download the installer here. The main PowerToys service runs when Windows starts and a user logs in. When the service is running, a PowerToys icon appears in the system tray. Selecting the icon launches the PowerToys settings UI. The settings UI lets you enable and disable individual utilities and provides settings for each utility. There is also a link to the help doc for each utility. You can right click the tray icon to quit the Power Toys service.
PowerToys settings UI.Note that some PowerToys functionality requires running in an elevated process. Elevation is required to interact with and manipulate windows from processes that have a higher set of rights than the current user. This is why the PowerToys.exe requests elevation when launched.
If you find bugs or have suggestions, please open an issue in the Power Toys GitHub repo. The backlog for creating new utilities is here. You can provide feedback on the backlog to suggest new ideas or a different priority order by joining the backlog discussion in this issue.
Current PowerToy utilities
The currently available utilities include:
Always on Top
Always on Top enables you to pin windows on top of all other windows with a quick key shortcut (⊞ Win+Ctrl+T).
PowerToys Awake is designed to keep a computer awake without having to manage its power & sleep settings. This behavior can be helpful when running time-consuming tasks, ensuring that the computer does not go to sleep or turns off its screens.
ColorPicker is a system-wide color picking utility activated with Win+Shift+C. Pick colors from any currently running application, the picker automatically copies the color into your clipboard in a set format. Color Picker also contains an editor that shows a history of previously picked colors, allows you to fine-tune the selected color and to copy different string representations. This code is based on Martin Chrzan’s Color Picker.
FancyZones is a window manager that makes it easy to create complex window layouts and quickly position windows into those layouts.
File Explorer add-ons
File Explorer add-ons enable preview pane rendering in File Explorer to display SVG icons (.svg), Markdown (.md) and PDF file previews. To enable the preview pane, select the “View” tab in File Explorer, then select “Preview Pane”.
Image Resizer is a Windows Shell extension for quickly resizing images. With a simple right click from File Explorer, resize one or many images instantly. This code is based on Brice Lambson’s Image Resizer.
Keyboard Manager allows you to customize the keyboard to be more productive by remapping keys and creating your own keyboard shortcuts. This PowerToy requires Windows 10 1903 (build 18362) or later.
Mouse utilities add functionality to enhance your mouse and cursor. With Find My Mouse, quickly locate your mouse’s position with a spotlight that focuses on your cursor. This feature is based on source code developed by Raymond Chen.
PowerRename enables you to perform bulk renaming, searching and replacing file names. It includes advanced features, such as using regular expressions, targeting specific file types, previewing expected results, and the ability to undo changes. This code is based on Chris Davis’s SmartRename.
PowerToys Run can help you search and launch your app instantly – just press the shortcut Alt+Space and start typing. It is open source and modular for additional plugins. Window Walker is now included as well. This PowerToy requires Windows 10 1903 (build 18362) or later.
Windows key shortcut guide appears when a user presses ⊞ Win+Shift+/ (or as we like to think, ⊞ Win+?) and shows the available shortcuts for the current state of the desktop. You can also change this setting and press and hold ⊞ Win.
Video Conference Mute
Video Conference Mute is a quick way to globally “mute” both your microphone and camera using ⊞ Win+Shift+Q while on a conference call, regardless of the application that currently has focus. This requires Windows 10 1903 (build 18362) or later.
Currently, PowerToys is available in the following languages: Chinese (simplified), Chinese (traditional), Czech, Dutch, English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Portuguese (Brazil), Russian, Spanish, Turkish.
Community led and developed in the open
Our goal for the PowerToys project is for it to be an extension of the Windows power user community and for it to provide the functionality these users find most valuable. Our backlog of utilities is on GitHub, and we encourage the community to provide feedback on the backlog in this issue. Each utility has its own feature backlog. You can also contribute to the Windows shortcut guide backlog and the FancyZones backlog. For new utility suggestions, please create a new issue to discuss the idea.
Creating your own PowerToys utilities
While opening bug reports, feature suggestions, and feedback on the backlog are all incredibly valuable for this project, if you’re one of the many power users that are also developers, you can contribute directly to the product.
When the PowerToys project was first announced this spring, we didn’t think the reception would be as enthusiastic as it has been. The project started with just an empty repo, with a roadmap and a place for power users to provide suggestions and ideas. However, over 4000 users starred the repo, showing a strong interest in the project. Given this enthusiasm, we’re anticipating many developers will want to contribute to PowerToys, and we’ve made sure that the documentation, project architecture, and tools are ready for the community to dive in.
Before getting started, it’s worthwhile to read the contribution guidelines for the project. After that, you should read the “Developer Guidance” section of the PowerToys readme, which has a link to the new PowerToys utility Visual Studio template. Each utility is a .dll, which is loaded by the PowerToys runtime and each utility can provide settings to the PowerToys settings framework with a JSON blob. The settings UI takes this JSON and automatically creates a settings UI for the utility. More information on the settings format can be found in the Settings spec.
- New utility: Screen Ruler is a quick and easy way to measure pixels on your screen.
- New utility: Quick Accent is an easy way to write letters with accents. Thanks @damienleroy!
- New utility: Text Extractor works like Snipping Tool, but copies the text out of the selected region using OCR and puts it on the clipboard. Thanks @TheJoeFin!
- PowerToy Run ships with a new Plugin letting you search in past query results. Thanks @jefflord!
- The Text Extractor utility fails to recognize text in some cases on ARM64 devices running Windows 10.
- After installing PowerToys, the new Windows 11 context menu entries for PowerRename and Image Resizer might not appear before a system restart.
- There are reports of users who are unable to open the Settings window. This is being caused by incompatibilities with some applications (RTSS RivaTuner Statistics Server and MSI AfterBurner are known examples of this). If you’re affected by this, please check the linked issue to verify if any of the presented solutions works for you.
- Added a new utility: Screen Ruler.
- Added a new utility: Quick Accent. Thanks @damienleroy!
- Added a new utility: Text Extractor. Thanks @TheJoeFin!
- Upgraded the Windows App SDK runtimes to 1.1.4.
Always on Top
- Fixed a bug causing the border to linger when closing an Outlook popup window.
- Fixed the HSB color format to correctly track HSV instead of HSL.
- Fixed an issue where the zoom factor wasn’t reset when reopening the zoom window. Thanks @FWest98!
- Removed the button to open Settings from the FancyZones Editor, as it was opening behind the overlay.
- Changed the Highlight distance control to a slider in the FancyZones Editor, to address accessibility issues with screen readers.
- Fixed an issue where the FancyZones Editor would duplicate or edit the wrong layout.
- Fixed an issue that caused canvas layout width/height to be changed without even opening the layout in FancyZones Editor.
File explorer add-ons
- Quality of life improvements to Developer Files preview, including a progress bar while loading, performance improvements, an improved dark mode, and logs. Thanks @Aaron-Junker!
- Fixed possible WebView related vulnerabilities in the SVG and Markdown handlers.
- Fixed some race conditions in Developer Files preview causing the loading bar to hang.
- Added localization support to the Developer Files preview messages.
- It’s now possible to configure default color for Stl Thumbnails. Thanks @pedrolamas!
- Added an option to format JSON and XML files before rendering. Thanks @davidegiacometti!
- Fixed an issue that was generating a silent crash when the context menu was triggered when not selecting any file or folder. (This was a hotfix for 0.61)
- Improved performance when loading a big number of files.
- Fixed a specific case in which PowerRename tried to rename a file to an empty string.
- The UI now shows when a file can’t be renamed due to its name being too long or containing invalid characters.
- Added a fix to the VSCodeWorkspaces plugin to better support portable installations. Thanks @bkmeneguello!
- The Folder plugin now expands %HOMEPATH% correctly.
- Fixed a case where a previous result was being activated when searching for new results. Added a setting to better control input throttling. Thanks @jefflord!
- Added support for port numbers in the URI plugin. Thanks @KohGeek!
- Fixed query errors when the search delay option was turned off.
- New History plugin to search for old search results. Thanks @jefflord!
- Changed the default TimeDate activation keyword to ), as queries starting by ( are expected as Calculator global queries, and added information in Settings so users know that some activation keywords may conflict with normal usage of some plugins when trying to do a global query. Thanks @htcfreek!
- The Unit Converter plugin updated its UnitsNet dependency and now supports plural units. Thanks @FWest98!
- Improved the validation logic in the Calculator plugin. Thanks @htcfreek!
- Improved: Clean up old install folders and logs at startup. Thanks @davidegiacometti!
- Image and phrasing adjustments.
- Icon and image updates for the new utilities. Thanks @niels9001!
- Fixed the Narrator shortcut to include the newly added Control key.
- Fixed a regression that was causing the PowerToys shortcut to be deleted on update. (This was a hotfix for 0.61)
- Updated the .NET dependency to 6.0.8.
- Fixed wrong links to installers in README. Thanks @unuing!
- Removed FXCop leftovers. Thanks @CleanCodeDeveloper!
- Added version number to missing binaries and added a CI script to verify that all binaries have their version numbers set correctly.
- Updated a dependency to fix building on Visual Studio 17.3 C++ tools.
- Fixed and reactivated the CI unit tests for FancyZones.
- Cleaned up and removed dead code from PowerRename code base.
- Added a script for verifying the solution targets match the expected CPU architectures. Thanks @snickler!
- Obsolete package Castle.Core was removed. Thanks @davidegiacometti!
- Language typos were corrected across the PowerToys assets. Thanks @pea-sys, @eltociear and @obairka!