How to Customize PowerToy to Look Like Microsoft’s New Spotlight on Windows

Launching apps in Windows 10 is easy: just click the Start button, start typing the name of the app, and chances are good that you can quickly open whatever you’re trying to find. You would never use Windows Key + R and the Run box in your operating system to launch most applications, but thanks to the latest version of Windows 10 PowerToy, this could be your new default setting.

Microsoft has finally unveiled PowerToys Run, the latest creation that you can get as part of the always fun collection of PowerToys for Windows 10 . If you haven’t tried any of them before, we’ve already covered how each one works. I recommend that you check out this overview as PowerToys adds a ton of additional functionality to Windows 10, including awesome new tools for renaming files and resizing images that you can use to make multiple changes at once.

As for PowerToys Run – actually an updated Wox Launcher – you should be pretty familiar with how it works if you’ve ever used Spotlight on macOS. In this case, you will press ALT + SPACEBAR after enabling this feature in PowerToys settings. When you do this, you will see this:

What should you enter? Anything you want. You can use query to open any application on your system, yes, but also folders and files. When you find what you are looking for, you can launch it or use the provided icons to open the folder containing the file or application. You can even copy the path of a file, folder, or application directly to the clipboard. So yeah, it’s kind of like “Spotlight” – and something else.

If you want to get even more interesting, you can run shell and PowerShell commands from the launcher, or ask the launcher to solve math problems for you – ideal for those who are tired of constantly pulling out a calculator:

Alt + space is annoying, but we can fix it

My only problem with the new PowerToys Run launcher is that pressing ALT + SPACEBAR is pretty awkward. However, thanks to another PowerToy released by Microsoft as part of the 0.18 update, we can make this shortcut more bearable.

Open PowerToys preferences and click Keyboard Manager. From there click on “Reassign Shortcut” and you can map that ALT + spacebar combination to anything – Windows Key + R, the Windows Key itself, or any other combination. The sky is the limit.

However, make sure you have the shortcuts in the right place; Microsoft’s description is a little confusing as you would think that your “Original Shortcut” would be “what you are trying to get with new keys”, but it is not:

When you’re done, click OK and your new shortcut should be ready to go – assuming PowerToys starts when Windows 10 starts up, which you can check (and install!) In the General section of PowerToys preferences. While you’re there, feel free to experiment with keyboard remapping. It’s incredibly useful if you’re rocking one of these tiny twenty-key mechanical keyboards, or if an important key on your keyboard no longer works and you don’t bother fixing or replacing it.


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