All Microsoft’s PowerToys for Windows 10, Explained

The official Microsoft PowerToys logo.Microsoft

Microsoft is hard at work on PowerToys for Windows 10. This open-source project adds many powerful features to Windows, from a bulk file renamer to an Alt+Tab alternative that lets you search for windows from your keyboard.

How to Get Microsoft PowerToys

The PowerToys Settings window.

You can download PowerToys from GitHub and enable the features you want from within the PowerToys Settings application. It’s free and open-source.

On March 31, 2020, Microsoft released version 0.16.0 with four new tools: An Alt+Tab alternative, an image resizer, a Markdown preview pane, and an SVG preview pane.

Window Walker, an Alt+Tab Alternative

Searching for a Chrome browser window in the Window Walker PowerToy

Window Walker is a text-based Alt+Tab alternative with a search feature. To open it, press Ctrl+Win. You’ll see a text box appear.

Start typing a phrase to search for open windows that match it. For example, if you have multiple Chrome browser windows open, you can type “Chrome” and you’ll see a list of them. Use the arrow keys to scroll through the windows and press Enter to select one.

This tool can be very helpful if you have a lot of windows open and are digging for one in particular. For example, if you have ten different browser windows open and you’re looking for one that’s showing a particular website, you can press Ctrl+Tab, start typing the name of the website, and find the browser window displaying that website.

PowerRename, a Bulk File Renamer

Batch renaming file with Microsoft's PowerRename PowerToy

Microsoft’s PowerToys include a batch renaming tool named “PowerRename.” With this feature enabled, you can right-click one or more files or folders in File Explorer and select “PowerRename” in the context menu to open it.

The PowerRename tool window will appear. You can use the text boxes and checkboxes to quickly batch rename files. For example, you can remove words from a file name, replace phrases, add numbers, change multiple file extensions at once, and more. You can even use regular expressions. The preview pane will help you fine-tune your renaming settings before you go through with renaming the files

This utility is much simpler than most of the third-party batch rename tools available for Windows.

Image Resizer, a Bulk Image Resizer

Using Windows 10's Image Resizer PowerToy

PowerToys offers a quick image resizer that integrates with File Explorer. With it enabled, select one or more image files in File Explorer, right-click them, and select “Resize Pictures.”

The Image Resizer window will open. You can then choose a size for the image files or enter a custom size in pixels. By default, the tool will create resized copies of the selected image files, but you can also have it resize and replace the original files. You can even click the “Settings” button and configure advanced options like image encoder quality settings.

This tool is a quick way to resize one or more image files without opening a more complicated application.

FancyZones, a Zone-Based Window Manager

Setting up zones with the FancyZones PowerToy

FancyZones is a window manager that lets you create layouts of “zones” for windows on your desktop. Windows normally lets you “snap” windows in a 1×1 or 2×2 arrangement. FancyZones lets you create more complex layouts.

By default, you can press Windows+` (that’s a tilde, the key above the Tab key) to open the Zone Editor. Then, while dragging and dropping a window, you can press and hold the Shift key (or another mouse button, like your right mouse button) to see the zones. Drop a window in a zone and it’ll snap to that layout on your screen.

FancyZones offers a quick way to setting up complex window layouts without carefully resizing each window. Just drop windows into the zones. You can configure all of its many options and keyboard shortcuts by opening the PowerToys Settings window and clicking “FancyZones” in the sidebar.

Windows Key Shortcut Guide

The Windows Key shortcut guide overlay in PowerToys

Windows is packed with keyboard shortcuts that use the Windows key. For example, did you know that you can press Windows+E to open a File Explorer window, Windows+i to open a Settings window, or Windows+D to show your desktop? You can also press Windows+1 to activate the first application shortcut from the left on your taskbar, Windows+2 to activate the second, and so on.

The Windows Key Shortcut Guide will help you learn and remember these shortcuts. With it enabled, you can hold the Windows key on your keyboard down for about one second to view an overlay that displays common shortcuts. Release the key to dismiss the overlay.

File Explorer Preview Panes for SVG and Markdown

Previewing an SVG file in File Explorer's Preview pane.

File Explorer has a preview pane, which can show previews of images and other file types directly in File Explorer. Press Alt+P in File Explorer to show or hide it. Select a file and you’ll immediately see a preview.

With the File Explorer options enabled in PowerToys, windows will be able to show previews of SVG (scalable vector graphics) images and documents formatted in Markdown.

The PowerToys package is still in its early stages, with more tools planned before the 1.0 release. Microsoft expects to release the final version in September 2020.

We’ll keep this article updated with new features as they’re released.

RELATED: Master Windows 10’s Alt+Tab Switcher with These Tricks


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