Microsoft revives PowerToys with open-source tools for Windows 10 power users

Party like it's 1995

Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft’s newfound infatuation with open-source projects is spawning an unexpected love child that might just bring a tear to the eyes of PC veterans. PowerToys, a collection of power-user tools for enthusiasts from the Windows 95 through XP era, will return this summer in preview form with a pair of Windows 10 utilities, with many more projects being put forward for consideration.

You’ll find the modern PowerToys suite hosted on GitHub, as The Verge spotted this morning. The pair of projects kicking off the endeavor look mighty helpful indeed.

powertoys maximize to new desktop Microsoft

The Maximize to New Desktop button. 

The first, called the “Maximize to new desktop widget,” takes advantage of the virtual desktops that remain one of Windows 10’s most helpful tools that you might not know about. It reveals a pop-up button when you hover over the Minimize button for an application. “Clicking it creates a new desktop, sends the app to that desktop and maximizes the app on the new desktop,” the overview readme explains. Cool!

powertoys windows shortcuts Microsoft

A preview of how the Windows Shortcut Guide tool in PowerToys could appear.

The second utility is a simple (yet much-needed) Windows key shortcut guide. If you hold down the Windows key for longer than a second, a pop-up shortcut guide appears that “shows the available shortcuts for the current state of the desktop,” meaning the shortcuts you’ll see are contextualized for the task at hand. Again: Cool! Frankly, I’d love for this to appear as a native Windows 10 feature if it works as well as it seems it should.

Those two utilities could just be the beginning, though. Microsoft is considering 10 other PowerToys utilities, as described in the project’s readme:

  1. Full window manager including specific layouts for docking and undocking laptops
  2. Keyboard shortcut manager
  3. Win+R replacement
  4. Better alt+tab including browser tab integration and search for running apps
  5. Battery tracker
  6. Batch file re-namer
  7. Quick resolution swaps in taskbar
  8. Mouse events without focus
  9. Cmd (or PS or Bash) from here
  10. Contents menu file browsing

Since the revived PowerToys live as open-source projects, Microsoft’s looking for help developing the tools, and feedback into which of the additional utilities under consideration should be prioritized. “Please use issues and +1’s to guide the project,” the GitHub page pleads. Head on over and start helping out if you want to do your part in bringing this legend back to life.

Between this and the vastly improved Windows Terminal, this summer’s looking to be a great one for PC enthusiasts who enjoy getting their hands dirty!

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Brad Chacos

Brad Chacos

PC World (US online)
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