Newsletter Archives

  • How to choose and use the best PowerToys for Windows 10/11


    Lance Whitney

    By Lance Whitney

    Microsoft packs a lot of cool tools into its free PowerToys offering. Here are some of the best.

    Microsoft’s latest incarnation of PowerToys has been around for a few years. Geared for Windows 10 and 11, PowerToys aims to add more features and flexibility to Windows.

    But now there are more than 15 individual tools in PowerToys. How do you know which ones are worth trying? Let’s check out what I think are the best of the bunch.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.05.0, 2023-01-30).

  • Windows PowerToys — returns!



    By Nathan Segal

    When it comes to utilities for Windows, most of us are conditioned to look either inside the OS or beyond Microsoft

    We forget that the folks in Redmond offer a wide variety of accessory tools and utilities online. When was the last time you visited Sysinternals, home of the classic Sysmon and Process Explorer?

    Another example is Microsoft PowerToys (GitHub page), which has been resurrected as an open-source app for Windows 10. This collection of useful tools is designed primarily for power users, but the average Windows jockey might want to look at them, too.

    Read the full story in AskWoody Plus Newsletter 17.36.0 (2020-09-14).

  • Windows (er, Microsoft) PowerToys 0.15 hits

    Looks like MS has squashed a whole lotta bugs in the previous version. There’s a description here:

    Current PowerToy Utilities


    FancyZones – FancyZones is a window manager that makes it easy to create complex window layouts and quickly position windows into those layouts.


    Windows key shortcut guide – The shortcut guide appears when a user holds the Windows key down for more than one second and shows the available shortcuts for the current state of the desktop.


    PowerRename – PowerRename is a Windows Shell Extension for advanced bulk renaming using search and replace or regular expressions. PowerRename allows simple search and replace or more advanced regular expression matching. While you type in the search and replace input fields, the preview area will show what the items will be renamed to. PowerRename then calls into the Windows Explorer file operations engine to perform the rename. This has the benefit of allowing the rename operation to be undone after PowerRename exits.

    If that looks like the old version, yeah, it does to me, too. But this one “Resolved almost 100 issues.”

    I was a great believer in the XP PowerToys. Win10, not so much. If you’re using any of them, tell me what you think.

  • The new new PowerToys are here

    Time to resurrect this post from May:

    The rebirth of Windows PowerToys. Not.

    Now we’re hearing about new, new, new PowerToys, which is to say (1) an overlay list of Windows key shortcuts (lame) and (2) a window manager that lets you snap to any location (possibly useful).

    Last May, we were promised the Windows key shortcut utility (which has changed in design since May), and a “Maximize to new desktop” feature, which seems to have fallen by the wayside.

  • The rebirth of Windows PowerToys. Not.

    The hype machine is in high gear.

    Latest headline: Microsoft re-releases Windows PowerToys, this time as an open source project.

    Many of you have asked why I haven’t commented on the return of one of Windows’ most-beloved add-ons. It’s complicated.

    The Win95 PowerToys were great. I wrote about them in many books and sang their praises in dozens (hundreds?) of articles.  But the “PowerToys” that Microsoft released aren’t PowerToys in the traditional sense of the term. They’re two add-ins that may or may not do what you want.

    Here’s how I described the PowerToys in WinXP Hacks & Mods for Dummies:

    The collection of programs known as Windows PowerToys started as kind of a “skunk works” project back in the early days of Windows 95. The folks who wrote the shell of Windows 95 built a whole lot of capability into the program that never saw light of day: tweaks and twiddles and (yes) hacks and mods that, thanks to The Powers That Be, never made it into Windows 95’s official feature set.

    As the Windows 95 effort wound down, a few bored developers spent time perfecting their testing tools — their Power Toys. After Win95 hit the stands, some enterprising engineer convinced The Powers That Be to release those internal testing tools, to make it easier for guys in white lab coats (like me!) to dig deeper into the belly of the beast. The programs were unpolished, unsophisticated, hadn’t been designed or reviewed by committees, never saw the inside of a Microsoft Usability Lab@@mdand they proved wildly popular with the techie crowd.

    The Powers That Be asked the engineers for more, and they gladly obliged, in many cases gleefully resurrecting features that TPTB had zapped from the shipping version of Win95. That’s how TweakUI came into being. The guys and gals who built all of these cool capabilities into Windows, only to see them clipped by the Bean Counters, Usability Droids, and Marketing Flaks, got a chance to strut their stuff. And, boy howdy, did they show those Bean Counters a thing or three.

    The PowerToys had a great run with Win95 and then XP — and then Microsoft dropped them in Vista. The TweakUI PowerToy, in particular, had all sorts of capabilities that took many years for Microsoft to absorb into Windows. For years, the SyncToy stood out as the best way to sync files.

    These new “PowerToys” don’t have the same genesis. They don’t cover the same ground. And they don’t have the same renegade spirit. But they do have one trait the old geezers didn’t: They’re open source, so anybody can go in and change them. Which is great.

    Anyway, if either of these new “PowerToys” strike your fancy, by all means install them:

    • Maximize to new desktop: Hangs off the restore button; click on it and Windows creates a new desktop with that app’s window maximized.
    • Windows key shortcut guide: Hold down the Windows key and see all the shortcuts. Just like the Alt key in the Office programs.

    Microsoft promises those two utilities will be out this summer (North America season), with a “backlog” of utilities they’re considering.