Microsoft PowerToys were first introduced with Windows 95. They’ve been updated with nearly every new release of Windows since then, with the exceptions of Windows Vista, 7, and 8, and they’ve always been available as freeware utilities for anyone who wishes to download, install, and use them. They latest versions of Microsoft PowerToys, including both the Windows 10 and 11 versions, are open-source and now available on GitHub.
The Purpose of Microsoft PowerToys
By default, the Microsoft Windows operating system favors novice users over more advanced, power users. By eliminating access to some key features, or by hiding them in other utilities, the chances that a novice user will mess up their new PC or laptop are slim.
However, advanced users aren’t just left by the wayside. It’s still possible for these power users to achieve the level of control and customization they want over the Windows operating system (OS) – and that’s exactly where Microsoft PowerToys comes in.
Although they’re developed by experts at Microsoft, these utilities aren’t included in any standard Windows installation. Instead, they need to be downloaded, installed, and launched manually. Once activated, however, Microsoft PowerToys can add a whole new level of functionality to your Windows OS.
Features and Functionality
The latest version of Microsoft PowerToys, version 0.60, is compatible with both Windows 10 and Windows 11. It adds a plethora of new features and options, including:
• Always on Top: Easily pin different windows and make sure they stay on top of other windows with this feature.
• Color Picker: Quickly identify colors in a myriad of different color tables, including RGB, CMYK, HEX, and more.
• PowerToys Awake: Prevent your system from going to sleep or automatically shutting down without having to manage your system’s sleep or power settings.
• Keyboard Manager: Enable customized key remapping and shortcuts with this option.
• Find My Mouse: Instantly bring your focus to the on-screen mouse cursor at the touch of a button.
• Mouse Highlighter: Highlight individual mouse clicks on the screen with this option.
• Video Conference Mute: Quickly disable or enable both your camera and microphone with the click of one convenient button.
• Shortcut guide: Bring up an on-screen overlay that lists the most common keyboard shortcuts.
Remember, this isn’t meant as an all-inclusive list of every feature contained in the latest iteration of Microsoft PowerToys. Instead, it’s meant to give you a general idea of the kind of functionality you can expect. It’s also important to note that the features in PowerToys can also be updated at any time and, in the past, elements have been removed or added throughout the suite’s lifecycle.
Using Microsoft PowerToys on Other Systems and Platforms
Microsoft PowerToys has been released for other systems, too. For example, a version was made specifically for Windows XP Tablet PC Edition. Separate versions of PowerToys were also released for Windows XP Media Center Edition and even Windows Media Player for Windows XP. It’s also been seen on Windows Mobile platforms, Microsoft OneNote, and Visual Studio.
What is Microsoft PowerToys?
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