We are going to explain what the Windows 11 PowerToys are and what they are for, a set of tools you can use to add new functions to your computer. They are tools developed by a team of Microsoft itself, although they do not come preinstalled and you will have to download and install them by hand.
Let’s start the article by briefly explaining what exactly are these power toys, the Microsoft PowerToys. Then, we will go on to tell you what they are with a complete list of features available and what each one is for. And finally, we will briefly tell you how to install them and how they work.
What is Microsoft PowerToys
Microsoft PowerToys are an official collection of utilities designed for advanced users. What they do is add new advanced functions to Windows 11 to get more from the operating system, all with tools created by Microsoft developers.
They are a group of functions that do not come preinstalled in Windows 11, and that come grouped in a single application. Therefore, they are official because they are from Microsoft, but they do not come preinstalled and you need to download them if you want to use them. With them, you will be able to do things and you will have new options that Windows 11 does not offer by default.
The original set of PowerToys took its first steps with Windows 95 and Windows XP many years ago, so they are a classic. But they disappeared, until in 2019 the Microsoft team decided to launch an open-source project inspired by these tools, originally intended for Windows 10 but continuing their progress for Windows 11.
The idea of this set of tools is to make life easier for advanced users so that they do not need to make changes to the registry to perform certain special actions that Windows 11 does not allow by default. By not having to modify Windows for it, the possibility of spoiling the operating system is eliminated.
What are the PowerToys and what are they for?
Now, here you have the list of PowerToys features available for Windows 11, with the purpose of each of them. Here, keep in mind that throughout the time the Microsoft team will continue adding new special functions.
- Always in the foreground: An option that is going to allow you to anchor windows so that they always stay in the foreground and above any other window that you open.
- Awake: A function with which you can easily configure the computer to stay active without having to enter the power settings.
- Color Picker: You can activate a quick color picker for the entire operating system, to open it whenever you want and get color codes.
- FancyZones: Allows you to organize windows by defining an area of the desktop to which you can move windows and organize them in an orderly fashion, with complex layouts and placement of windows in these layouts to bring order to open applications.
- File Locksmith: An extension for the Windows shell, and that serves to know which processes are using selected files and directories.
- File Explorer Add-ons: A set of controls to enhance the file explorer experience by managing custom preview controllers.
- Hosts File Edition: A simple utility to quickly manage host files.
- Image resizing: Allows you to add an option to resize an image to the right-click context menu.
- Keyboard Manager: Allows you to remap keys and keyboard shortcuts.
- Mouse Utilities: A collection of options to improve the operation of the Windows mouse.
- PowerRename: A Windows Shell extension or context menu to rename several files at once, what we could call bulk changes.
- PowerToys Run: A quick launcher with additional features that do not sacrifice performance. Opens a search window to find files and applications by typing their name.
- Quick Accent: An alternative way to type accented characters when your keyboard does not support specific accents.
- Screen Ruler: Allows you to measure on-screen pixels or selected areas of the screen quickly and easily.
- Keyboard Shortcuts Guide: It allows you to activate a help overlay to see the Windows 11 keyboard shortcuts.
- Text Extractor: It allows you to extract text from images or from any place on the screen.
- Mute videoconference: It allows you to global mute the microphone and webcam in a fast and simple form.
How to install Windows PowerToys
To install the application with Microsoft PowerToys, you have to go to the project version page on Github. On this page, at the top of the page you will see the latest version that has been released, and after the description with all the new features, in the Assets section, you will see the links to download the application. Download the one you want to use for your computer, which usually should be x64.
After downloading it, launch the PowerToySetup application and follow the installation steps. In these steps, you will have to accept the license and click on the Install button. You will need to give the application administrator permissions and that’s it, the installation of the set of applications will be done, something that may take a few minutes.
When the installation is finished, you will be able to open the PowerToys application. The application will open in a screen where you have a left column with all the PowerToys, and when you click on one it will open in the center of the screen to be able to configure it. In the General tab, I recommend that you keep the automatic update download enabled.
Now, simply click on the PowerToys you want in the left column to disable or enable them. In addition, you will also be able to configure each of the options and learn how they work or the keyboard shortcuts you need.
By default, when you close the application it will keep running in the background so as not to deactivate the PowerToys. You will have its icon at the bottom right of the Windows taskbar, and by right-clicking on its icon you can disable PowerToys or choose the Settings option to open its window again.