Closeup of the Microsoft PowerToys icon on a dark blue background

How to customize Windows with PowerToys

need to know

  • PowerToys is a constantly expanding suite of software with a wide range of features
  • FancyZones is probably the most popular feature of PowerToys
  • Keyboard Manager allows you to remap keyboard keys or system shortcuts

Whether or not you want to tweak the way computer programs work, you may find that Microsoft PowerToys can make some serious (and simple) improvements.

PowerToys is an ever-expanding variety of settings and tools for Windows 10 and 11 that haven’t been fleshed out enough to come preinstalled with the operating system. Many of its features are based on free, open source software or come from volunteer contributors, and are registered as such where applicable.

These features are modified and added regularly, but you may encounter some bugs and limitations.

How to download and install Microsoft PowerToys

PowerToys is only available from GitHub, a Microsoft-owned website where developers share free and open source software or code. To download it, go to github.com/microsoft/PowerToys and click release on the right side of the page.

Choose origins to expand the drop-down list, then click File. exe to Download it, which will be named something like “PowerToysSetup-0.56.2-x64.exe”.

Screenshot of Microsoft PowerToys How to download Github

Once the download is finished, open the file and follow the installation steps.

After you install it, it should launch automatically, as well as launch when your computer starts up from now on. When it is active, it can be found by expanding the system tray at the bottom right of the desktop taskbar.

Screenshot of Microsoft PowerToys Always On Top

always on top

When PowerToys is active, press control + start key + T It will pin the active window so that you are always ahead of other programs. The pinned window has a colored border, which you can disable or modify visually. You can also disable pin/uninstall notification sounds.

Individual apps can be excluded from this feature, which means that they cannot be installed – this does not mean that they bypass installed windows.

Screenshot of Microsoft PowerToys Awake

Awake

Awake allows you to bypass the sleep settings of your screen. But since you can also do most of the same things from within the Windows Settings menu, it’s not one of PowerToys’ most useful tools.

Screenshot of Microsoft PowerToys Color Picker

color picker

The Color Picker allows you to copy colors from an active application to your clipboard by pressing converts + start key + c. Left click to copy the color or scroll up to enlarge the area for pixel perfect selection. Up to 20 colors can be saved to the clipboard at one time, but they disappear when you restart your computer or if you clear your clipboard.

Screenshot of Microsoft PowerToys Color Picker with zoom in/out

The Color Picker will also give you the value of the color while you hover your mouse over it or after you copy it. The default color value is displayed in HEX (typically used in visual editing programs like Photoshop or GIMP), but you can set it to others like RGB, CMYK, decimal, and more.

Screenshot of Microsoft PowerToys FancyZones homepage

Fancy Zones

FancyZones is perhaps the most popular feature of PowerToys. It allows you to customize your additional window arrangements beyond the standard left/right or corner position that Windows 10 and 11 use by default, as well as how capture works.

Screenshot of Microsoft PowerToys FancyZones editor

There are many pre-made arrangements, and you can make your own using Canvas or Grid creation patterns. We recommend using the grid where possible, as the canvas gets stuck if you adjust the display size settings.

Each monitor in a multi-monitor setup can have its own individual settings and you can create regions that span across multiple monitors.

You can set a shortcut that allows you to quickly switch between screen layouts based on the task at hand. default is control + start key + alternativealong with the number you selected for the order.

You can also toggle active windows within the arrangement using start key + page link or start key + down the page.

Screenshot of choosing a Microsoft PowerToys FancyZones region

By default, you have to hold down the Shift key while dragging the window to activate the snap feature. But you can disable this, which means that all you have to do is drag and drop a window to any area.

And you can modify the visual style, adjust the opacity and color of the interface, as well as the amount of space between regions and the thickness of the stroke marked around an active region.

Screenshot of Microsoft PowerToys File Explorer home page

File Explorer Add-ons

File Explorer add-ons are somewhat of a misnomer. For now, all it does is allow file previews for a wider range of file types. Some file types, such as .pdf, can actually be previewed without PowerToys, but enabling them via PowerToys makes them look a bit cleaner.

On top of doing this in PowerToys, you need to activate previews within Windows File Explorer. Open any folder and click View, then Preview Pane.

You can also enable thumbnail previews for these file types, like you already get with image files, when the folder width is set to icons that are too large or too large.

Screenshot of Microsoft PowerToys preview pane and file extension

Screenshot of Microsoft PowerToys Image Resizer

Image size

This allows you to move and resize images en masse. Select a group of image files and then right-click and select Resize Images. Copies of the originals will be created at the size you specified (eg 854 x 480 pixels).

Screenshot of Microsoft PowerToys Image Resizer Select Resize Images

There are three scaling styles: Fill, Fit, and Stretch. Completely fill in the area of ​​​​the image and cut out everything that does not fit in it. It will fit as close as possible without cropping the image (for example, a 1000 x 200 image will be resized to 854 high, with a proportional width), and the stretching will fill the entire space, scaling the image dimensions without cropping any content.

Screenshot of the new Microsoft PowerToys Image Resizer file names

Resizing images also gives you the option to remove all metadata that doesn’t affect image rendering, killing two birds with one stone if privacy is the priority.

By default, new copies of the original images are created, along with a tag at the end to indicate the image size you selected – eg “image01 (Small) .jpg”. You can change this format to include the actual pixel dimensions of the new image, or you can set it to edit and save the original images, rather than creating new copies.

Screenshot of Microsoft PowerToys Keyboard Manager

keyboard manager

Keyboard Manager allows you to reassign keyboard keys or system shortcuts. If your Enter key is broken, you can reassign it to Right Shift (assuming you mostly use left shift). The number pad key can become a media play/pause button, and a screenshot shortcut (start key + converts + s) can be reset for dictation and more.

Screenshot of Microsoft PowerToys Keyboard Manager showing how to reset a key

Unfortunately, custom buttons for Windows shortcuts, such as a screenshot or emoji button, cannot be reset without changing the shortcut on which they are based.

Some keyboard buttons cannot be reset by PowerToys at all. For example, the Logitech MX Keys Mini keyboard has two buttons to decrease or increase the backlight under the keys. These keys do not interact with Windows, so PowerToys cannot detect them. In this particular case, these two keys can be reset using Logitech software, but this won’t necessarily be the case with every keyboard.

It looks like you can’t remap keys to act as mouse buttons via PowerToys at this time, which could be useful for some medical needs. For that, you will need a separate program like Key Extender.

Screenshot of Microsoft PowerToys Mouse Utilities

Mouse Tools

Mouse Tools includes three features: Find My Mouse, Mouse Highlighter, and Mouse Pointer Crosshairs.

Screenshot of Microsoft PowerToys Mouse Utilities showing Find My Mouse

If you find yourself shaking your mouse to try to locate your cursor, Find My Mouse is the answer. Once PowerToys is installed, it is turned on by default. press Left Ctrl twice (or change it to shake the mouse) and the screen will be dark everywhere except for a spot of light around the pointer. You can dismiss apps individually or deactivate them while in gaming mode.

Screenshot of Microsoft PowerToys Mouse Highlighter

Mouse Highlighter leaves a colored dot wherever you click, with different colors for the left and right buttons. The next time you click, the point moves. You can adjust the fade duration and point delay, as well as its color, radius, and transparency. Activate and deactivate Mouse Highlighter by pressing start key + converts + h.

A screenshot of the crosshairs of the Microsoft PowerToys cursor

Mouse Pointer Crosshairs create vertical and horizontal lines that span the screen, centered around the cursor. Thickness, color, opacity, and strokes can be adjusted. Unfortunately, crossed lines do not follow the cursor when using Windows’ built-in screenshot feature, which makes it more useful. Toggle the crosshairs on and off control + alternative + s.

Screenshot of Microsoft PowerToys showing power rename

PowerRename

PowerRename can collectively rename files, folders, and subfolders, as long as the original files contain identical sections of their name. This is especially useful for image files that you want to put together, such as photos from a vacation. For example, a large set of images might start with the word “IMG” or “DCMI”. It basically performs the search and replace operation, similar to the Word feature.

Screenshot of Microsoft PowerToys Power Rename

New file names can be generated based on the date the file was created, using a large number of formats. But it can’t select files based on date and time data, which is a limitation.

Screenshot of Microsoft PowerToys Power Rename

To use PowerRename, select the files and folders you want to rename, right-click any of them, and select PowerRename. To edit the renaming format, tap (me) Icon to the right of the “Replace With” text field.

Screenshot of Microsoft PowerToys preview pane and file extension

Note before using PowerRename: Some users have reported that files can be broken if Windows File Explorer is not set to display file extensions. To enable this, open any folder and tap Opinionthen make sure File Name Extensions It is ticked.

Screenshot of Microsoft PowerToys showing the PowerToys Run

Play PowerToys

This is a modified version of the Windows search bar for power users. press alternative + Void and start writing. You will get regular Windows search results, as well as various running processes and admin commands.

Screenshot of Microsoft PowerToys showing how to run PowerToys search

The vast majority of people will get a fine by clicking on start key Activates Windows search when searching for files, folders, and programs. But PowerToys Run does one important thing that Windows Search does not: It uses the default web browser for online searches, rather than just Microsoft Edge.

Screenshot of Microsoft PowerToys Shortcuts Guide

Shortcut Guide

This is a quick way to check some Windows shortcut commands. press start key + converts + / To open the cheat sheet. Be sure to add mentally start key to any of the shortcut commands or it will not work.

If you think you’ll forget the shortcut guide shortcut, you can set it so that holding down the start key will open it.

Screenshot of Microsoft PowerToys showing video conference muting

Video conference mute

This tool creates universal shortcuts to mute and unmute the camera, microphone, or both. In this case, “mute the camera” means that the video broadcast is turned off.

Video conferencing apps generally have built-in shortcuts for these functions, but the commands vary from program to program. Having one set of general commands means you always know what to hit.

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