If you were around way back in the Windows 95 days, you might remember the PowerToys from then. Years and years later, it’s back in a similar form, but for Windows 10.
Let me take you through it.
You might have read that I recently came from a Mac. I have a follow-up post to this on how to use PowerToys Keyboard Shortcuts to make your keyboard more mac-like
PowerToys is a few things in one package, and different folks describe it differently.
The official GitHub repository says this:
“…set of utilities for power users to tune and streamline their Windows experience for greater productivity.”
Well, I love productivity (if you’ve seen any of my screencasts, I hit the keyboard shortcuts hard), so I’m gonna go with that!
😎 By the way, PowerToys is 100% open source at github.com/microsoft.com/PowerToys
I just installed this thing a few hours ago and started messing around with it. It’s at version v0.18.0, but the install was not as bad as I thought. Let’s go over it!
My colleague has detailed instructions for installing WinGet, but the gist of it is you need to be a Windows Insider (free and open for anyone to join, despite how the name might sound 🎃) and then you can download it from the Windows Store. That’s the easiest way.
WinGet is also open source here
When you have it installed, getting PowerToys is a command:
$ WinGet install powertoys
Run this in PowerShell, not WSL2
The very first thing to do is bask in the awesomeness of “PowerToys Run”. Seriously.
Just hit left-alt+space and a search bar pops up.
You can type anything in there and quickly get to “things” on your computer. That generally means a metric ton of things that you didn’t even know you had. But it also means … YOU CAN GET TO YOUR APPS WITH NO CLICKS!!!!🎉🤘🏄♀️.
I really missed that from my Mac days.
Anyway, hit left-alt+space, type in “PowerToys”, and hit enter. That will take you to something that looks like the standard Windows settings app, but it’s actually the added features that PowerToys gives.
Check out that left bar. 7 new features plus a “General” thing at the top. I’m gonna boil each complex feature down into a single sentence, Aaron style™. Here goes:
Go here to do general stuff (😂), most importantly getting updates to PowerToys itself.
Automatically resize each window in different patterns on the screen, like side by side or in rows.
Yes, the name is amazing. The zones are indeed fancy 🍰! But the feature overall is pretty slick and powerful once you get the hang of it. You’ll want to try out a few different setups to figure out the best one for you.
See rendered previews of SVGs and rendered Markdown in the file explorer. Optional second sentence 💰: I imagine there will be more formats in the future.
Resize any image with a right click from the file explorer.
Remap any key or keyboard shortcut from a nice UI.
Rename tons and tons of files by highlighting them all and right clicking.
The belle of the ball for me - basically Alfred or Spotlight for Mac, but for Windows.
A full-screen pop-up that reminds you any time of the keyboard shortcuts you have set up.
Of course, I’m not doing any of these items justice in a single sentence. You can learn a bit more about each one here, and follow the links in each section to go deeper.
Look out for my next post on using PowerToys to make your Mac keyboard work smoother Windows. See you soon!