Microsoft PowerToys sounds like it should be a new videogame franchise or children’s interactive device. No, Microsoft hasn’t shifted its focus towards kids, but it has given some adults new things to play with inside Windows.
Tinkering with code in the Windows operating system is usually left to the professionals, but Microsoft PowerToys makes it possible for everyone. It’s a set of freeware system utilities designed to add Windows functionality beyond what is ordinarily available. Tap or click here for the Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts you need to know.
By using PowerToys, there is no fear of executing unauthorized code on your Windows computer. Microsoft itself developed all the tools provided. Let’s take a look at what you can do with this cool toy.
How to use Microsoft PowerToys
To explain how PowerToys work, it must be understood that they are shell extensions. They are bits of code that extend the abilities of the Windows operating system. They are not traditional download and install applications.
With that in mind, the Microsoft PowerToys available have all been developed to enhance the operations of Windows. Here are six utilities that we think are amazing.
1. Keyboard Manager
Keyboard Manager is fantastic for all those who wish they could change the layout of their keyboard.
While it won’t physically change the layout, it does allow you to remap any of the keys. You can also create your own keyboard shortcuts with the newly mapped keys.
2. Shortcut Guide
You’ve probably looked down at your keyboard in frustration at some point, trying to remember a specific Windows shortcut. This is where the amazing Windows Key Shortcut Guide comes in.
When you hold down the Windows key for more than one second, the guide will pop up. It will then show you all the available keyboard shortcuts for the window that it’s in.
By default, you can pin your open windows to either side of the screen. This allows you to have a full view of two windows at the same time. But FancyZones take that a step further. The window manager allows you to create and manage complex window layouts and position them fast.
4. Image Resizer
Resizing an image for social media or blog posts usually involves opening something like Microsoft Paint. It can get messy, and sometimes the file compression doesn’t work too well.
Based on code by Brice Lambson, Image Resizer is a Windows Shell Extension. That means that you don’t have to open an app or program to resize a photo. Simply right-click on it, select the dimensions and your PC will do the rest. You can also resize multiple images at the same time.
5. PowerToys Run
PowerToys Run upgrades the default search function in Windows and combines it with the Run command. The shortcut is launched by pressing Alt+Space and then type in the app you are looking for. When the results are shown and you click on it, it will automatically run that app.
6. Video Conference Mute
This one has definitely been developed during the COVID pandemic. Physical meetings have shifted online, and nobody really seems to know what the right etiquette is.
But with Video Conference Mute, you won’t be caught on camera or speaker doing something you are not supposed to. With a tap of the Windows key + N, it will quickly mute your microphone and video regardless of what’s on the main screen. It is an experimental version, for now, that requires Windows 10 1903 (build 18362) or later.