DEV Community 👩‍💻👨‍💻

Cover image for Microsoft PowerToys is a must-have for Developers on Windows!
Ivan Jeremic
Ivan Jeremic

Posted on

Microsoft PowerToys is a must-have for Developers on Windows!

As the Docs say "Microsoft PowerToys is a set of utilities for power users to tune and streamline their Windows 10 experience for greater productivity."

1.) Color Picker

You are still using buggy Color pickers in form of a Browser Extension or similar? Well guess what Microsoft PowerToys comes with the most powerful color picker in the world, you can pick colors from anywhere browser/native and more, with a traditional browser extension you can't pick colors outside of the browser window but with this one you can even pick a color from an icon on your windows taskbar. After picking your color it provider you instantly all three major ways of using colors HEX - RGB - HSL and a set of complimentary colors.
You can simply open it by pressing: SHIFT + WIN + C

pt-colorpicker-editor

2.) File Explorer add-ons utility

Enabling Preview Pane
To enable, first ensure that "Enable SVG preview", "Enable SVG thumbnails", and "Enable Markdown preview" are all set to On in the PowerToys Settings.

powertoys-settings-fileexplorer

Next, open Windows File Explorer, select the View tab in the File Explorer ribbon, then select Preview Pane.

powertoys-fileexplorer

3.) Image Resizer utility

After installing PowerToys, right-click on one or more selected image files in File Explorer, and then select Resize pictures from the menu.

powertoys-resize-images

Drag and Drop

Image Resizer also allows you to resize images by dragging and dropping your selected files with the right mouse button. This allows you to quickly save your resized pictures in another folder.

powertoys-resize-drag-drop

Settings

Inside the PowerToys Image Resizer tab, you can configure the following settings.

powertoys-imageresize-settings

4.) Awake utility

Awake is a utility tool for Windows designed to keep a computer awake without having to manage its power & sleep settings. This behavior can be helpful when running time-consuming tasks, ensuring that the computer does not go to sleep or turn off its screens.

pt-awake-settings-menu

The following Awake states can be selected:

  1. Off (Passive) - The computer awakeness state is unaffected. The application is waiting for user input.
  2. Keep awake indefinitely - The computer stays awake indefinitely, until the user explicitly puts the machine to sleep or exits/disables the application.
  3. Keep awake temporarily - Keep machine awake for a pre-defined limited time. Once the time elapses, computer resumes its previous awakeness state.

5.) FancyZones utility

FancyZones is a window manager utility for arranging and snapping windows into efficient layouts to improve the speed of your workflow and restore layouts quickly. FancyZones allows the user to define a set of window locations for a desktop that are drag targets for windows. When the user drags a window into a zone, the window is resized and repositioned to fill that zone.

pt-fancy-zones2

Choose your layout (Layout Editor)

pt-fancy-zones2

If multiple displays are in use, the editor will detect the available monitors and display them for the user to choose between. The chosen monitor will then be the target of the selected layout.

pt-fancy-zones2

Space around zones

pt-fancy-zones2

Creating a custom layout

The zones editor also supports creating and saving custom layouts. Select the + Create new layout button at the bottom-right.

There are two ways to create custom zone layouts: Grid layout and Canvas layout. These can also be thought of as subtractive and additive models.

The subtractive Grid model starts with a three column grid and allows zones to be created by splitting and merging zones, resizing the gutter between zones as desired.

To merge two zones, select and hold the left mouse button and drag the mouse until a second zone is selected, then release the button and a popup menu will show up.

pt-fancy-zones2

The additive Canvas model starts with a blank layout and supports adding zones that can be dragged and resized similar to windows.

Canvas layout also has keyboard support for zone editing. Use the Arrows keys to move a zone by 10 pixels, or Ctrl + Arrows to move a zone by 1 pixel. Use the Shift + Arrows keys to resize a zone by 10 pixels (5 per edge), or Ctrl + Shift + Arrows to resize a zone by 2 pixels (1 per edge). To switch between the editor and dialog, press the Ctrl + Tab keys.

pt-fancy-zones2

Quickly changing between layouts

With a custom layout, this layout can be configured to a user-defined hotkey to quickly apply it to the desired desktop. The hotkey can be set by opening the custom layout's edit menu. Once set, the custom layout can be applied by pressing the Win ⊞ + Ctrl + Alt + [hotkey] binding. The layout can also be applied by pressing the hotkey when dragging a window.

In the demo below, we start with a default template applied to the screen and 2 custom layouts that we assign hotkeys for. We then use the Win ⊞ + Ctrl + Alt + [hotkey] binding to apply the first custom layout and bind a window to it. Finally, we apply the second custom layout while dragging a window and bind the window to it.

pt-fancyzones-quickswap

6.) Keyboard Manager utility

The PowerToys Keyboard Manager enables you to redefine keys on your keyboard.

For example, you can exchange the letter A for the letter D on your keyboard. When you select the A key, a D will display.

powertoys-keyboard-remap

7.) PowerRename utility

PowerRename is a bulk renaming tool that enables you to:

  1. Modify the file names of a large number of files (without renaming all of the files the same name).
  2. Perform a search and replace on a targeted section of file names.
  3. Perform a regular expression rename on multiple files.
  4. Check expected rename results in a preview window before finalizing a bulk rename.
  5. Undo a rename operation after it is completed.

In this demo, all instances of the file name "Pampalona" are replaced with "Pamplona". Since all of the files are uniquely named, this would have taken a long time to complete manually one-by-one. PowerRename enables a single bulk rename. Notice that the "Undo Rename" (Ctrl+Z) command enables the ability to undo the change.

powerrename-demo

8.) PowerToys Run utility

PowerToys Run is a quick launcher for power users that contains some additional features without sacrificing performance. It is open source and modular for additional plugins.

To use PowerToys Run, select Alt+Space and start typing!

If that shortcut isn't what you like, don't worry, it is fully configurable in the settings.

pt-powerrun-demo

9.) Video Conference Mute (Preview)

Important

This is a preview feature and only included in the pre-release version of PowerToys. Running this pre-release requires Windows 10 version 1903 (build 18362) or later.

Quickly mute your microphone (audio) and turn off your camera (video) while on a conference call with a single keystroke, regardless of what application has focus on your computer.

Usage

The default settings to use Video Conference Mute are:

  1. ⊞ Win+N to toggle both Audio and Video at the same time
  2. ⊞ Win+Shift+A to toggle microphone
  3. ⊞ Win+Shift+O to toggle video

When using the microphone and/or camera toggle shortcut keys, you will see a small toolbar window display letting you know whether the your Microphone and Camera are set to on, off, or not in use. You can set the position of this toolbar in the Video Conference Mute tab of PowerToys settings.

Note

Remember that you must have the pre-release/experimental version of PowerToys installed and running, with the Video Conference Mute feature enabled in PowerToys settings in order to use this utility.

This was a quick intro to Microsoft PowerToys

It is developed on GitHub under Microsoft's official GitHub account https://github.com/microsoft/PowerToys the recommended way of downloading it is directly the .exe from the GitHub releases page https://github.com/microsoft/PowerToys/releases/download/v0.43.0/PowerToysSetup-0.43.0-x64.exe

Have fun!

Top comments (0)

All DEV content is created by the community!

Hey, if you're landing here for the first time, you should know that this website is a global community of folks who blog about their experiences to help folks like you out.

Sign up now if you're curious. It's free!