New Utilities in the Spirit of the Original PowerToys
Examples of those original PowerToys included FlexiCD, which let users control the playback of an audio CD from the taskbar, Quick Res, which allowed for quick screen resolution changes, Xmouse, which would automatically shift window focus based on the cursor position, and arguably the best-known PowerToy, TweakUI, which granted access to dozens of user interface customization options. The suite of PowerToys continued on through Windows XP, but mostly died off with the move to Windows 7 and beyond (with the exception of SyncToy, a file synchronization app that still works even in Windows 10).
But those who miss those sometimes useful, sometimes quirky, and always nostalgic utilities are in for a treat: Microsoft is bringing back PowerToys, this time as open source projects on GitHub.
PowerToys is a set of utilities for power users to tune and streamline their Windows expereince for greater productivity. Inspired by the Windows 95 era PowerToys project, this reboot provides power users with ways to squeeze more efficiency out of the Windows 10 shell and customize it for individual workflows.
This isn't a reboot or re-release of the original apps, however, but rather a set of all new apps and utilities designed in the spirit of those first PowerToys. The first two PowerToys, slated for release this summer:
Maximize to New Desktop Widget: The MTND widget shows a pop-up button when a user hovers over the maximize/restore button on any window. Clicking it creates a new desktop, sends the app to that desktop and maximizes the app on the new desktop.
Windows Key Shortcut Guide: The shortcut guide appears when a user holds the Windows key down for more than one second and shows the available shortcuts for the current state of the desktop.
Microsoft also has more utilities in the works, and is soliciting feedback from the community to help prioritize development order. These potential future PowerToys include:
- Full window manager including specific layouts for docking and undocking laptops
- Keyboard shortcut manager
- Win+R replacement
- Better alt+tab including browser tab integration and search for running apps
- Battery tracker
- Batch file re-namer
- Quick resolution swaps in taskbar
- Mouse events without focus
- Cmd (or PS or Bash) from here
- Contents menu file browsing
Those interested in the project can keep an eye on PowerToys over at GitHub, as well as grab the source code for upcoming utilities once they’re released.