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Free Microsoft PowerToys for Windows 10

Microsoft developers have always like to create handy system utilities that add more functionally to the Windows operating system. They call them PowerToys and are released as a stand-alone program with File Explorer add-ons. And as always, these programs are completely free.

Free Microsoft PowerToys for Windows 10

It is kind of like Déjà vu for me with the PowerToys for Windows 10. I hate to admit it and I'm going to show my age here, but I have used the two (2) previous versions of PowerToys. The first version was PowerToys for Windows 95. The second version was PowerToys for Windows XP. TweakUI (Windows 95 / Windows XP) and Command Prompt Here (Windows 95) / Open Command Windows Here (Windows XP) were two (2) of my favorites.

PowerToys have always been a cool collection of really useful utilities that you wonder why they were not part of Windows, to begin with. If fact, some of the functionality of the PowerToys do get built into later releases of Windows.

The third version, PowerToys for Windows 10, currently has six (6) utilities (as of 3/31/20) included and there are plans to add even more. As more features are added, I will update this article.

And since the Windows 10 PowerToys are all inside of one program, updates and new features will be easy to get installed. There is even an update button that takes you to the website so you can check for new releases.

Screen capture of the PowerToys General Settings for Windows 10

The PowerToys General Settings includes all of the options for all of the actual PowerToys. This means that there is only one place to enable/disable and configure the settings for the various programs.

Now you have to keep in mind that the PowerToys is an open-source project and code is freely available. That is why the installer is over on the developer website GitHub, which, by the way, Microsoft owns.

The following is a list of the PowerToys for Windows 10 versions, the date released and the utilities included. They are:

v0.12 - Released on 10/29/19

FancyZones - This is a utility that allows you to create zones (predefined areas for program windows) on your desktop for the various programs you run.
Screen capture of the FancyZones PowerToy for Windows 10
For example, you can create a layout that has a separate zone for your e-mail program, word processor and spreadsheet all neatly arranged on your desktop. This program is really helpful if you have multiple monitors and want to keep all of your running programs organized.

PowerRename - This utility does just what its name implies, it renames files. But it has so many options that it can be used in so many different ways.
Screen capture of the PowerRename PowerToy for Windows 10
You change just the file names or just the file extensions. You can exclude files, folders, and sub-folders. It is the swiss army knife of file renaming.

Shortcut Guide - This cool little utility shows you what Windows logo key Windows logo key shortcuts you can use at any given time.
Screen capture of the Shortcut Guide PowerToy for Windows 10
You just hold down the Windows logo key Windows logo key for a preset amount of time and the screen appears with the available shortcuts you can use. If you find these shortcuts handy, we have a complete list of Windows logo key shortcuts for Windows 10.

v0.16 - Released 3/31/20

File Explorer Preview Pane add-ons - This utility adds two (2) more file types that can be preiviewed using the Preview Pane inside of the File Explorer.
Screen capture of the File Explorer Preview Pane PowerToy for Windows 10
The two (2) file types are Markdown (.md) files - a lightweight markup language with plain-text-formatting syntax, similar to HTML and Scalable Vector Graphics (.SVG) files - an XML based vector image format.

Image Resizer - This utility is similar to the one for Windows XP, but this version has way more features. Right-click on one or more images and you will get a context menu. Left-click on Resize pictures and you get the Image Resizer screen.
Screen capture of the Image Resizer PowerToy for Windows 10
There are several picture sizes to choose from or you can create a custom size. Left-click on the Settings link and you get even more options for resizing your images. A must-have for anybody that does photo editing.

Window Walker - This utility is a text-based alternative to using the Alt + Tab keyboard shortcut (Task Switcher). Just type letter or two and Window Walker will display a list of running apps that have the letter(s) in their name(s).
Screen capture of the Window Walker PowerToy for Windows 10
Then you use the up and down keyboard arrow keys to navigate the list. As you highlight the name, a preview of the program appears on the screen.

If you would like to give the PowerToys a try, I am including two (2) links at the bottom of this article. The Windows 10 PowerToys are only available for the 64-bit versions of Windows 10. As I told you before, the PowerToys download is on GitHub and for an average Windows 10 user may be kind of hard to find.

The first link is to the PowerToys project description page. It has an overview of all of the programs included in the PowerToys.
Windows 10 PowerToys download link on GitHub
There is a download link on that page, but it is labeled Supported. That is why I have also included a link to the download page.

Windows 10 PowerToys on GitHub - Description page
Windows 10 PowerToys on GitHub - Download page

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