Toys, for Windows, with Power! A set of super useful tools to make Windows better, much better.

Hands up, who remembers Microsoft PowerToys from Windows 95?

I do! And I am very happy that there is a Windows 10/11 version of it! And even better is that it's open source software on GitHub.

PowerToys currently includes 17 utilities, and the beauty of this collection is that you can turn any one of those utilities off and they won't load and use system resources.

Screenshot of the main settings screen of PowerToys listing all the available utilities

In the past I've occasionally used "Always On Top" (you can predict what it does, right?), "FancyZones" (best for people with a single, enormous screen), and "Screen Ruler" (again, you can guess what this one does).

Where PowerToys really shines though is the one utility that I've been using many different imperfect other utilities for: it's PowerToys Run!

I've concluded in the Agent Ransack tip already that Windows search is pretty terrible. That is the same search that powers the start menu, and it is equally terrible. 

Remember ScreenToGif? I installed that and I honestly can never remember what it's actually called, so I just type "gif" to find it. Right? Wrong:

Screenshot of the Windows Start menu after looking for an app with "gif" in it's name, it didn't find the app and it recommends Bing search results instead

The Windows Start menu search over all these years has never improved, which is why we have to keep pinning apps, or have to have shortcuts all over our desktop, just so we can find what we need.

What if, I could just tap ALT+SPACE, search something and it would just find exactly what I need? Yes, we can:

Screenshot of PowerToys run finding ScreenToGif perfectly after just typing "gif"

Okay Apple Mac users, stop your gloating, I know you've had this for years in Spotlight 😉

PowerToys Run comes with many plugins but, for me, those often just give me too many results. A lot of the plugins also require a special modifier character to be typed first and even though I've tried hard, I just couldn't remember those modifiers. I've disabled most plugins and am currently only using the 3 main ones that are important to me:

  • History
  • Program
  • Windows System Commands

For me, PowerToys Run is a must-have on each machine, I dabble with the other utilities but most of them don't stick. Just as well, that keeps the app lean and mean, just the way I like it.

Sebastiaan Janssen
Sebastiaan Janssen