Windows, Now With More Toys

If you were around way back in the Windows 95 days, you might remember the PowerToys from then. Years and years later, it's back in a similar form, but for Windows 10.

I just got started with it and it's another tool in my belt to help me feel comfortable using Windows every day after many years of using Macs.

Let me take you through it.

You might have read that I recently came from a Mac. I have a follow-up post to this on how to use PowerToys Keyboard Shortcuts to make your keyboard more mac-like


PowerToys is a few things in one package, and different folks describe it differently.

The official GitHub repository says this:

"...set of utilities for power users to tune and streamline their Windows experience for greater productivity."

Well, I love productivity (if you've seen any of my screencasts, I hit the keyboard shortcuts hard), so I'm gonna go with that!

😎 By the way, PowerToys is 100% open source at

I just installed this thing a few hours ago and started messing around with it. It's at version v0.18.0, but the install was not as bad as I thought. Let's go over it!

🍟 Get a Package Manager

There are a few ways to install it, but I decided to use WinGet because it's also new and I hadn't used it yet.

My colleague has detailed instructions for installing WinGet, but the gist of it is you need to be a Windows Insider (free and open for anyone to join, despite how the name might sound πŸŽƒ) and then you can download it from the Windows Store. That's the easiest way.

WinGet is also open source here

πŸ₯¨ Use WinGet to Install It

When you have it installed, getting PowerToys is a command:

$ WinGet install powertoys

Run this in PowerShell, not WSL2

πŸ• Get Used to the Features

The very first thing to do is bask in the awesomeness of "PowerToys Run". Seriously.

Just hit left-alt+space and a search bar pops up.

You can type anything in there and quickly get to "things" on your computer. That generally means a metric ton of things that you didn't even know you had. But it also means ... YOU CAN GET TO YOUR APPS WITH NO CLICKS!!!!πŸŽ‰πŸ€˜πŸ„β€β™€οΈ.

I really missed that from my Mac days.

Anyway, hit left-alt+space, type in "PowerToys", and hit enter. That will take you to something that looks like the standard Windows settings app, but it's actually the added features that PowerToys gives.

Check out that left bar. 7 new features plus a "General" thing at the top. I'm gonna boil each complex feature down into a single sentence, Aaron styleβ„’. Here goes:

🍚 General

Go here to do general stuff (πŸ˜‚), most importantly getting updates to PowerToys itself.

πŸ₯§ FancyZones

Automatically resize each window in different patterns on the screen, like side by side or in rows.

Yes, the name is amazing. The zones are indeed fancy 🍰! But the feature overall is pretty slick and powerful once you get the hang of it. You'll want to try out a few different setups to figure out the best one for you.

🍣 File Explorer preview

See rendered previews of SVGs and rendered Markdown in the file explorer. Optional second sentence πŸ’°: I imagine there will be more formats in the future.

🍀 Image resizer

Resize any image with a right click from the file explorer.

🍎Keyboard Manager

Remap any key or keyboard shortcut from a nice UI.

πŸ‰ PowerRename

Rename tons and tons of files by highlighting them all and right clicking.

🍍 PowerToys run

The belle of the ball for me - basically Alfred or Spotlight for Mac, but for Windows.

πŸ₯¦ Shortcut guide

A full-screen pop-up that reminds you any time of the keyboard shortcuts you have set up.

🚒 Keep Calm and PowerToy On!

Of course, I'm not doing any of these items justice in a single sentence. You can learn a bit more about each one here, and follow the links in each section to go deeper.

Look out for my next post on using PowerToys to make your Mac keyboard work smoother Windows. See you soon!