All Microsoft’s PowerToys for Windows 10, Explained

The official Microsoft PowerToys logo.Microsoft

Microsoft is working hard on PowerToys for Windows 10. This open-source project adds many powerful features to Windows, from a bulk file renamer to an Alt + Tab alternative that lets you search for windows from your keyboard.

How to get Microsoft PowerToys

The PowerToys Settings window.

You can download PowerToys from GitHub and activate the desired features in the PowerToys Settings app. It’s free and open-source. Download the MSI file from the website and double-click it to install it.

To access the PowerToys settings after installing and launching the application, locate the PowerToys icon in the notification area (system tray) on your taskbar, right click on it and select “Settings”.

On March 31, 2020, Microsoft released version 0.16.0 of PowerToys with four new tools: an Alt + Tab alternative, an image resizer, a Markdown preview pane, and an SVG preview pane.

Window Walker, an Alt + Tab alternative

Finding a Chrome browser window in the Walker PowerToy window

Window Walker is a text Alt + Tab alternative with a search function. To open it, press Ctrl + Win. You will see a text box appear.

Start typing a phrase to find the open windows that match it. For example, if multiple Chrome browser windows are open, you can type “Chrome” and you will see a list of them. Use the arrow keys to scroll through the windows and press Enter to select one.

This tool can be very useful if you have a lot of windows open and are looking for one in particular. For example, if ten different browser windows are open and you are looking for one that displays a particular website, you can press Ctrl + Tab, start typing the website name, and find the browser window that displays that website .

PowerRename, a bulk file renamer

Batch renaming a file with Microsoft PowerRename PowerToy

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 files in batches. For example, you can remove words from a file name, replace expressions, add numbers, change multiple file extensions at once, and more. You can even use regular expressions. The preview pane will help you fine-tune your rename settings before renaming files

This utility is much simpler than most third-party batch renaming tools available for Windows.

Image Resizer, a bulk image resizer

Using Windows 10 Image Resizer PowerToy

PowerToys offers a fast image resizer that integrates with the file explorer. When activated, select one or more image files in File Explorer, right-click them and select “Resize Images”.

The Image Resizer window opens. You can then choose a size for the image files or enter a custom size in pixels. By default, the tool creates resized copies of the selected image files, but you can also resize it 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

Zone configuration with FancyZones PowerToy

FancyZones is a window manager that allows you to create “zone” layouts for windows on your desktop. Windows normally allows you “Snap-on” windows in 1 × 1 or 2 × 2 layout. FancyZones allows you to create more complex layouts.

By default, you can press Windows + `(i.e. 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. Drop a window in an area and it will line up with that layout on your screen.

FancyZones offers a quick way to configure complex window layouts without carefully resizing each window. Just drop the windows in the zones. You can configure all of its many options and keyboard shortcuts by opening the PowerToys Settings window and clicking “FancyZones” in the sidebar.

Windows keyboard shortcut guide

Windows Key shortcut guide overlay in PowerToys

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 your desktop? You can also press Windows + 1 to activate the first application shortcut from the left of your taskbar, Windows + 2 to activate the second, etc.

The Windows keyboard shortcut guide will help you learn and remember these shortcuts. When activated, you can hold down the Windows key on your keyboard for about a second to display an overlay that displays common shortcuts. Release the key to close the overlay.

File Explorer Preview Panes for SVG and Markdown

Preview an SVG file in the Preview pane of File Explorer.

File Explorer has a preview pane, which can display previews of images and other types of files 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 File Explorer options enabled in PowerToys, windows will be able to preview SVG (scalable vector graphics) and documents formatted in Markdown.

The PowerToys package is still in its infancy, with more tools planned before version 1.0. Microsoft plans to release the final version in September 2020.

We will keep this article updated with new features as they are released.

RELATED: Master the Windows 10 Alt + Tab selector with these tips

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