Control Your Messy Desktop With the New PowerToys in Windows 10

The phrase “PowerToys” probably won’t get you to work on your Windows computer, but just because Microsoft’s small set of fancy utilities isn’t appealing doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be used on your system. The company announced earlier this year that it plans to release PowerToys for Windows 10, and the first two are actually quite a useful addition to your daily life.

If you want to follow this quick guide to PowerToys on Windows 10, installing PowerToys on your system is very easy. Download the .MSI installer from Github , which includes both utilities, and run it. After you have installed PowerToys on your system and launched the application, a new icon will appear on the taskbar. (This is the one that looks like an RGB gradient with six dots at the bottom, second from the left in my screenshot.)

Right-click the icon and select Settings to start configuring the two PowerToys. The first, FancyZones , allows you to create transparent partitions on your system screen that you can use to build windows as a set (at a given size).

To customize the layout to accommodate different windows, click the FancyZones menu in PowerToys preferences and select Edit Zones. Once you’ve created your own layout (or used a standard template), you just need to press the Shift key before you start dragging the window around the screen. Your semi-transparent “zones” will pop up, and dragging the window over them will add it to everything you designed earlier. (You can even move windows between zones using the keyboard if you also enable the Override Windows Snap Hotkeys option.)

The second PowerToys utility, Shortcut Guide , is incredibly easy to activate – and incredibly useful. It is enabled by default when you install and run PowerToys (which you can set to “Run at login” in its general settings, and I recommend doing that). Now, when you hold down the Windows key for a few seconds, a handy pop-up menu appears on your screen that tells you about all the keyboard shortcuts you can use to interact with Windows. (The keys listed are what you should press in addition to the Windows key.)

You can always turn off the keyboard shortcuts guide if you don’t like it in the general PowerToys settings. In the dedicated settings for keyboard shortcuts guide, you can also adjust how long you need to hold down the Windows key for the guide to appear, as well as its opacity.


Leave a Reply