10 features that will change your life on Windows

10 features that will change your life on Windows

Almost three years ago, Microsoft resurrected the PowerToys. This collection of utilities intended for Power Users and grouped together in a universal application was introduced in Windows 95 before disappearing under Windows XP. Microsoft, which has finally decided to bring its PowerToys up to date on Windows 10, has unveiled a new version open-source and hosted on the Github platform, in 2019.

But what is it really possible to do with these PowerToys ? If you’ve never heard of it, know that it’s a single application that brings together several tools.
Each of them makes it possible to add one or more functionalities to Windows, which is not present by default. Thanks to these PowerToysyou can, for example, set an application to keep above all others on the screen, keep your PC active without having to change the power settings, take advantage of a color picker similar to what exists on image editing software to copy the hexadecimal code of a displayed color on the fly, or even create defined window layouts to maintain the location and size of your usual working windows.

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Thanks to PowerToys, which are frequently updated with new functions, you will enjoy exclusive functions and be able to rethink certain uses that you make of Windows 10 or Windows 11. Here is all that is possible to do.

If you haven’t already, start by downloading and installing the PowerToys on your Windows PC. By default, the application is set to run in the background when Windows starts. If you want to change some of its settings, you can do so by opening the application after clicking on its icon from the hidden icon drawer in the Windows taskbar.

Download Microsoft PowerToys for Windows (Free)

1. Pin one window on top of the others

This is one of the most recent features incorporated into Microsoft’s PowerToys. Named Always on Topthis function is normally enabled by default in PowerToys.

To pin an open window above all others on your screen, open the window in question, and use the keyboard shortcut Windows+Ctrl+T. The active window, which is now pinned to the screen, is recognizable by its blue outline.

2. Use the color picker

Selecting a color for reuse is a common task for any user involved in image editing or graphic design.
the color pickeralso known as an “eyedropper”, allows you to sample the color displayed on the screen, or rather to copy its hexadecimal code, in order to use it in graphic design software such as Photoshop.

To activate the color picker, use the keyboard shortcut Windows + Shift + C. The “eyedropper” should then appear. Move it over the color you want to copy, then click it.

A new window, containing the selected color, its hexadecimal code as well as its RGB and HSL codes, is then displayed to allow you to copy the different values ​​you need.

3. Create and save your window layouts

If Windows 11 inaugurated a very practical function of docking windows on hover of the button maximizing a window with the mouse, this system has these limits. Unfortunately, it does not allow you to create and save new window layouts.

The PowerToys can, however, get you out of this mess thanks to the FancyZones. Thanks to this tool, it is possible to create window layouts corresponding exactly to your needs. Even better, these new layouts can be saved for easier reuse.

To activate the FancyZonesuse the keyboard shortcut Windows + Shift + %. The editor of FancyZones then opens, with several predefined templates, but above all a button Create a layout at the bottom right.

Choose your layout, Grid Where Canvasand click Create.

By default FancyZones divides your screen into three different columns. To split a block in its height, position the blue divider where you want it and simply click inside the block.

You can then adjust the size of each area using the various handles displayed. To split a block the other way, hold down Uppercase down by clicking on it.
It is possible to merge two blocks by holding the click and dragging it from one to the other to access a button Merge Zones.

You can then organize your open windows by dragging them into each block created while holding the key Uppercase of the keyboard pressed.
Feel free to open the main PowerToys window, then view and change the many settings associated with FancyZones to take full advantage of this feature.
For example, you can configure FancyZones to replace Windows Snap, the native window snapping feature of Windows 11.

4. Resize images quickly

Rather than using an editor or an image viewer to resize your photos, it is possible to do it directly from the right-click contextual menu thanks to the PowerToys.

To do this, select one or more images at a time and right click on the selection. Click on Show more options to open the full context menu, then choose to Resize images.

The window ofImage Resizerthe image resizing tool for PowerToysopens.
Below the mention Select a sizeclick the drop-down menu to choose one of the predefined sizes, and click the button Resize.

If the predefined sizes offered by the tool do not suit you, you can customize them or create new ones by opening the main window of the PowerToys, then going to the tool section Image Resizer.

5. Find the mouse cursor easily

If you’re using your machine with multiple screens, chances are you’ll end up wasting time trying to figure out where the mouse pointer is. To no longer have to shake it frantically to hope to see it move on one of your screens, Microsoft has integrated into its PowerToys Mouse Utilities.

By default, the PowerToys allow you to easily locate your mouse on the screen. To do this, simply press the button twice in succession. CTRL located to the left of your keyboard.

The mouse pointer should then appear on a colored pad, the color of which can be customized in the Settings. These same settings will allow you toEnable mouse highlighter.

Very practical if you happen to make video tutorials, this function is activated and then deactivated using the keyboard shortcut Windows + Shift + H and displays a yellow dot with each click made with the mouse.

6. Rename Files in Batch

Looking for an easy way to rename many files simultaneously? The PowerToys will be of great use to you, a dedicated tool being integrated into it.
PowerRenamethat’s its name, is active by default and directly integrated into the right-click context menu.

To rename your files in batch, all you have to do is select them, right-click on them, then click on Show more options to open the full context menu. Finally click on PowerRename.

The utility window should then open. It allows you to search for terms and replace them, by setting several conditions.

7. Use a quick launcher

If you’ve ever used a Mac, you’re probably familiar with Spotlight, a powerful search engine that doubles as a quick launcher (via the shortcut command + Space).
If such a function is not provided natively on Windows 10 and Windows 11it does indeed exist, provided that Download PowerToys on your PC and activate it.

To take advantage of this, open the main window of the Settings from PowerToys and select PowerToys Run in the left column. There you will find a button to activate the option.

To open it on the screen, you only have to use the key combination Alt + Space. A search field then opens in the middle of the screen. It lets you quickly find and launch an application, open a document, or search the Web.

This field of research is also capable of carrying out a multitude of actions. You can use it as a calculator, or a command interpreter, or even convert units. All possible uses are listed and can be activated in the Settings from PowerToys.

8. Display a dictionary of shortcuts

Having trouble remembering basic keyboard shortcuts with the Windows key on your keyboard? Don’t panic, the PowerToys can come to your rescue. Open the general panel of Settingsselect Shortcut Guide at the bottom of the left column, then enable the option.

You now only have to remember one keyboard shortcut, Windows + Shift + / to display on your screen the dictionary of the main keyboard shortcuts using the Windows key.

9. Mute video conferencing

With the pandemic that has shaken the planet in recent years, teleworking has exploded, and the use of videoconferencing tools with it. It was therefore necessary to get used to communicating by webcam, and above all to think of cutting off your microphone to prevent your colleagues from hearing you when, a little too comfortable at home, you curse out loud when you don’t. don’t agree.

To avoid this kind of discomfort, the PowerToys integrate a new tool allowing to Mute the sound of the videoconference. Inactive by default, you will have to go to the Settings from PowerToysin the section Mute Video Conferencing displayed at the bottom of the sidebar, to activate it.

Once in place, you will only have to remember three keyboard shortcuts to effectively manage the sound of your webcam or your microphone:

Windows + Shift + Q to mute camera and microphone

Windows + Shift + A to mute microphone only

Windows + Shift + O to turn off camera sound

10. Remap your keyboard

The PowerToys also offer functions to be reserved only for the most experienced users. This is the case, for example, of Keyboard Manager which simply allows you to “remap” the keys on your keyboard as well as the shortcuts.

This tool should therefore be used sparingly if you do not want to render your keyboard inoperative. You can remap the keys on your keyboard by going directly to the dedicated section from the Settings from PowerToys.

In the event of a problem, the remapped keys can be deleted, and the function can be deactivated to find a keyboard working as it originally did.


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