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Free Microsoft PowerToys for Windows 10 and Windows 11

Updated January 6, 2022

Microsoft developers have always liked 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 entirely free.

Free Microsoft PowerToys for Windows 10 / Windows 11

It is kind of like Déjà vu for me with the PowerToys for Windows 10 / Windows 11. 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 handy utilities that you wonder why they were not part of Windows to begin with. In fact, some of the functionality of the PowerToys do get built into later releases of Windows.

The latest version, PowerToys for Windows 10 / Windows 11, currently has twelve (12) utilities (as of 1/6/22) included, and there are plans to add even more. As more features are added, I will update this article.

Note: Starting with version 0.37, PowerToys for Windows 10 / Windows 11 will require Windows 10 version 1903 or greater.

And since the Windows 10 / Windows 11 PowerToys are all inside one program, updates and new features will be easy to install. 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 / Windows 11

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 the 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 / Windows 11
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 beneficial 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 / Windows 11
You change just the file names or only 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 / Windows 11
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 previewed using the Preview Pane inside of the File Explorer.
Screen capture of the File Explorer Preview Pane PowerToy for Windows 10 / Windows 11
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 / Windows 11
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.

v0.18 - Released 5/19/20

Keyboard Manager - This utility allows you to remap a single key on your keyboard to another. You can also map current keyboard shortcuts to different key combinations.
Screen capture of the Keyboard Manager PowerToy for Windows 10 / Windows 11
Keep in mind that when remapping keyboard shortcuts, you are limited to a combination of two keys.

PowerToys Run - This utility can perform all sorts of different functions. Type a couple of letters, and PowerToys Run will display a list of programs, folders, and files with the letter(s) in their name(s).
Screen capture of the PowerToys Run for Windows 10 / Windows 11
It can also search for running processes, run shell commands, and do simple math calculations.

v0.20 - Released 7/31/20

Color Picker - This utility will display the color of anything you place your mouse cursor over in both HEX and RGB values. You can copy the color value to the clipboard by left-clicking on the object.
Screen capture of the Color Picker PowerToy for Windows 10 / Windows 11
You can change the hotkey shortcut used to bring up Color Picker, and the values (HEX or RGB) copied to the clipboard. And if you have a scroll wheel on your mouse, you can use it to bring up a magnifier window to get an even more detailed color pick.

v0.41.2 - Released 6/28/21

Awake - This utility will keep your Windows 10 computer from going asleep. This is really handy when you are doing updates and upgrades. No more do you have to create a special power plan to keep your computer awake.

Screen capture of the Awake PowerToy for Windows 10 / Windows 11

Remember that if your computer goes to sleep, anything it was doing, like performing a Windows 10 Feature update, will be paused. So when you need to prevent your computer from going asleep, Awake can be the perfect solution.

v0.49.0 - Released 10/28/21

Video Conference Mute - This utility lets you turn off your camera and mute your microphone with a single keystroke. This utility has finally made it to the stable release of PowerToys, as it was previously categorized as experimental in previous releases.

Screen capture of the Video Conference Mute PowerToy for Windows 10 / Windows 11

There are three (3) keyboard shortcuts that the Video Conference Mute utility uses. The first one will mute the camera and microphone, the second will mute just the microphone, and the third will mute just the camera. And these shortcuts can be customized to a user's preference.

Mouse utilities - This is a collection of useful apps that extends and enhance the functionality of the mouse and cursor in Windows 10 / Windows 11. Currently, there are two (2) utilities in the collection: Find My Mouse and Mouse Highlighter.

Screen capture of the Find My Mouse PowerToy for Windows 10 / Windows 11

Find My Mouse is a simple utility that displays a spotlight on the mouse cursor when the left control key is pressed twice. Quite handy when you are using multiple screens.

Screen capture of the Mouse Highlighter PowerToy for Windows 10 / Windows 11

Mouse Highlighter is another simple utility that highlights the mouse cursor when clicking either mouse button. You can choose which color is displayed for each mouse button (left or right), the opacity, radius, fade delay, and fade duration.

v0.53.1 - Released 1/6/22

Always on Top - This utility will keep a program that is running on top of all of the rest of the open program windows. This PowerToy can be helpful if you have a program that you want to always be in front of all other app windows.

Screen capture of the Always on Top PowerToy for Windows 10 / Windows 11

Along with putting a particular app window in front of the others, you can also have a border around that window. You can select the color and thickness of the border. You can also have Always on Top play a sound when you activate it.

If you would like to give the PowerToys a try, I include two (2) links at the bottom of this article. The PowerToys are only available for the 64-bit versions of Windows 10 and Windows 11. As I told you before, the PowerToys download is on GitHub, and for an average Windows 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 / Windows 11 PowerToys download link on GitHub
The second link is to the PowerToys releases page. The link to download PowerToys is in the Assets section at the bottom of each release.

Windows 10 / Windows 11 PowerToys on GitHub - Description page
Windows 10 / Windows 11 PowerToys on GitHub - Download page

How to get to and use the Run dialog box in Windows

Updated October 19, 2021

There may be a time when you need to run a program in Windows that does not have a shortcut to it. Usually, it is a program that is not often used. So here is how to start an application using the Run dialog box.

How to get to and use the Run dialog box in Windows

The Run dialog box is for running programs that you don't necessarily use that often and does not have a shortcut. It may be a system application or a downloaded installation program.

There are two (2) ways to use the Run dialog box. If you know the name of the application you want to start, you can usually type it into the Run dialog box and click OK.

For example, if you have Microsoft Word installed on your computer, you can type Winword (the actual name of Microsoft Word) in the Run dialog box and click OK. Microsoft Word will then start. That is because the program directory is in the Path (it is an environmental variable). The Windows system directory is in the Path by default.

If your program is not in the Path, you will have to click on Browse and manually find the program you want to start. Once you have the name of the program you want to start in the Run dialog box, click on OK.

Now bringing up the Run dialog box is relatively simple. The way you go about getting to it is different in each version of Windows, but there is one keyboard shortcut that works for all versions.

Windows logo key Windows logo key + R

Here are all of the ways to access the Run dialog box in the different versions of Windows.

How to bring up the Run dialog box in Windows 7

The Run dialog box in Windows 7
The Run dialog box in Windows 7

  1. Left-click on the Start menu.
  2. Navigate to All Programs > Accessories.
  3. Left-click on Run.

Or

  1. Left-click on the Start menu.
  2. Type Run in the search box right above the Taskbar.
  3. Left-click on Run in the search results.

Or

  1. Press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + R.

How to bring up the Run dialog box in Windows 8.1

The Run dialog box in Windows 8.1
The Run dialog box in Windows 8.1

  1. Left-click on the Start button.
  2. When the Start screen appears, type Run. It will automatically bring up the Search dialog box with Run in the search field, and the results will appear below it.
  3. Left-click on Run.

Or

  1. Right-click on the Start button to bring up the Power User menu.
  2. Left-click on Run.

Or

  1. Press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + X to bring up the Power User menu
  2. Press the R key.

Or

  1. Press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + R.

How to bring up the Run dialog box in Windows 10

The Run dialog box in Windows 10
The Run dialog box in Windows 10

  1. Type Run in the Search box (Cortana) on the right side of the Start button.
  2. Left-click on Run in the search results.

Or

  1. Left-click on the Start menu.
  2. Scroll down the list of programs until you come to the Windows System folder.
  3. Left-click on the Windows System folder to expand it.
  4. Left-click on Run.

Or

  1. Right-click on the Start menu to bring up the Power User menu.
  2. Left-click on Run.

Or

  1. Press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + X to bring up the Power User menu
  2. Press the R key.

Or

  1. Press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + R.

How to bring up the Run dialog box in Windows 11

The Run dialog box in Windows 11
The Run dialog box in Windows 11

  1. Left-click on the magnifying glass to the right of the Start button to bring up the Search dialog box.
  2. Type Run into the Search box and left-click on the app Run.

Or

  1. Left-click on the Start button to bring up the Start menu.
  2. In the upper right-hand corner of the Start menu, left-click on All apps.
  3. Scroll down the list of programs and left-click on Windows Tools.
  4. Left-click on Run.

Or

  1. Right-click on the Start menu to bring up the Power User menu.
  2. Left-click on Run.

Or

  1. Press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + X to bring up the Power User menu
  2. Press the R key.

Or

  1. Press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + R.

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