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PowerToys: 5 features for Windows 10 and 11 that you don’t know

PowerToys is a suite of Microsoft tools that unlocks hidden features in Windows

Table of Contents

PowerToys is a set of tools developed by Microsoft for Windows. These tools are designed to improve productivity and make certain tasks easier and more intuitive.

Microsoft PowerToys: what they are and what they are for

PowerToys, which debuted in the 1990s, has gone through a number of iterations while continuously adjusting to user demands. It is crucial for everyone who wants to get more out of their Operating System due to its ability to boost productivity and simplicity of use. Whether you’re a novice Windows user or an experienced user, adding PowerToys to your toolbox can significantly improve your daily tasks.

The tools included in PowerToys are designed to streamline and improve common processes, enabling users to work more efficiently while also taking advantage of multitasking optimization features. With PowerToys, users can customize their Windows experience to better suit their needs. Being a Microsoft product, it is optimized for Windows and offers a hassle-free experience. To activate the features shown in this article, you will first need to install PowerToys following the Microsoft procedure or from the Github site. Let’s take a closer look at 5 little-known tools.

WIndows 11 Professional

Windows 11 Professional

179,99€ 59,99€

Registry Preview

PowerToys Registry Preview is a tool designed to offer greater transparency and control when working with “.reg” files. These files are particularly sensitive, as they contain changes that can affect the integrity of the Operating System. Therefore, being able to view and edit their information prior to integration into the system registry can be essential in avoiding potential mistakes.

Registry Preview is a tool that allows users to view and, if necessary, modify the contents of “.reg” files before importing them into the Windows registry. This is particularly helpful if you want to make sure your modifications are appropriate or understand the impact of a “.reg” file before using it.

registry preview

How to activate and use Log Preview: Detailed guide

  • Launch the PowerToys application from the Start menu or system tray.
  • Within the PowerToys interface, browse to the “Log Preview” option and click on it.
  • Once you enter the dedicated section, you will see a switch to activate the function.
  • Click on the switch and make sure it is set to “Enable Log Preview“.
registry preview powertoys

Additional options:

  • If you want to make Registry Preview the default application for opening “.reg” files, you can do so via the “Default app” option. This will ensure that whenever you double-click a “.reg” file, it will open directly in the Registry Preview.

View and edit:

  • When you open a “.reg” file with Registry Preview, you will see its “raw” text content on the left side of the window. On the right hand side, however, you will have a structured and readable view of the registry, clearly showing the keys and values proposed for import.
  • If you want to make changes, you can do it directly from the raw view on the left side. Once the changes have been made and the information is secure, you can proceed with the import into the system registry.

Peek: Quick previews of your files 

Peek has the ability to provide quick previews of various files – from images to documents – directly from the File Explorer, without the need to open them with a specific application.

If you often find yourself browsing through numerous files and want a quick way to view their contents without having to open each individual file, Peek is the solution for you. With a simple keyboard command, you can get a clear view of the file content, making managing your data smoother and more efficient. Peek is just one of the many fantastic features introduced with Windows 11. Find out how to install Windows 11 for free and immediately use all the additional features of PowerToys.

peek

How to activate and use Peek

  • Launch the PowerToys application from the Start menu or system tray.
  • Within the PowerToys interface, scroll through the different features until you find the option labeled “Peek“.
  • Once you click on “Peek”, you will see a toggle that allows you to turn the feature on or off. Make sure the toggle is set to “Enable Peek” to activate the feature.
  • With Peek enabled, browse to Windows File Explorer.
  • Select the file you want to preview.

Press the “Ctrl + Space” key combination on your keyboard. A small preview window will appear, showing you the content of the selected file.

peek powertoys

Advanced preview options:

  • While in preview mode, you’ll notice a few additional options. For instance, if you want to open the file with a specific application, you will have a direct option to do so.
  • In addition, there is a “pin” button that allows you to pin the preview to a specific position on the screen, keeping its size constant. This can be especially useful if you want to quickly compare the contents of multiple files without having to constantly switch between windows.

File Locksmith

Have you ever attempted to transfer or remove a file on your computer only to get a notice stating that the file was already being used by another program or service? This is an ordinary problem that many computer users have, and PowerToys’ File Locksmith is made specifically to address issues of this nature. File Locksmith is a tool built into PowerToys that allows you to identify which applications or services are currently using a specific file or folder on your computer. This tool is especially useful when you run into problems trying to delete, rename, or move a file due to an access conflict.

file locksmith

How to activate and use File Locksmith

  • Start by opening the PowerToys application, which you can find in your computer’s Start menu or system tray.
  • Once PowerToys opens, search for and select the “File Locksmith” option from the list of available features.
  • After clicking on “File Locksmith”, you will see a toggle or option to enable the feature. Make sure you click or move the switch so File Locksmith is enabled.
file locksmith powertoys

Using File Locksmith:

  • Once the feature is activated, when you encounter a file or folder that you cannot edit due to a conflict, open File Locksmith and select the file or folder in question.
  • The application will show you a list of all software or services that are currently accessing that file or folder.
  • With this information, you can decide whether to close the conflicting application or service or wait for it to complete its operation.

Mouse Without Borders

Sometimes, the name of a piece of software may seem like an enigma, but it actually hides incredibly useful features. This is certainly the case with “Mouse Without Borders“, one of the excellent features offered by PowerToys. As the name figuratively implies, the Mouse Without Borders feature enables your mouse and keyboard to “cross borders” and connect to different devices that are part of the same network. This means you can control multiple devices using a single mouse and keyboard, making it easier to manage multi-monitor or multi-device environments.

mouse without borders

Mouse Without Borders setup guide:

  • Open the PowerToys application, which you can easily find in the Start menu of your Windows 11 computer.
  • In the PowerToys interface, search and select “Mouse Without Borders” from the list of available features.
  • You will now see an option or toggle to turn the feature on. Click or toggle the switch to turn on “Mouse Without Borders”.
  • After completing the setup on the primary device, proceed with the same setup on the secondary computers. Once completed, you will find that you can move your mouse between devices smoothly and seamlessly, as if they were part of the same system. The keyboard will follow the movement of the mouse, allowing you to type on whatever device you are currently controlling.
mouse without borders powertoys

Text Extractor

PowerToys Text Extractor is a revolutionary tool that transforms images containing text into actual textual data, eliminating the need to manually transcribe the information. This can prove extremely useful in many situations, such as when dealing with screenshots, infographics, or any other type of image that contains human-readable text. Ever had an image with text in it and wished you could copy that text as if it were into a document? The Text Extractor does exactly that. By selecting a specific part of an image, the Text Extractor reads and transforms the visible text into copyable text, which you can then paste wherever you want: documents, emails, chats, and so on. Fantastic, isn’t it?! Download Windows 11 and enjoy this amazing feature now.

text extractor

How to activate and use the Text Extractor

  • Launch the PowerToys application from the Start menu or system tray.
  • In the main interface of PowerToys, find and click on the option named “Text Extractor“.
  • You’ll find a switch that allows you to turn the feature on or off. Click on the switch so that it is set to “Enable Text Extractor”.
text extractor powertoys

Using the Text Extractor:

  • With the feature active, browse your computer or the web and locate the image you want to extract text from.
  • Select the image or the portion of it that contains the text of interest.
  • Use the key combination “Windows + Shift + T“. A preview window will appear showing you the extractable text.
  • With this mode activated, the recognized text will be selectable and copyable. Simply select the text, copy it (Ctrl+C) and then paste it (Ctrl+V) into the desired application or document.

Conclusions about PowerToys

With all of its features, PowerToys truly revolutionizes the Windows 11 user experience. Look no further if you’re looking for solutions to streamline and enhance your workday or gaming sessions – PowerToys has everything you need. This software provides you with everything you need for a Windows 11 experience that is even more effective and fulfilling, from Peek, which gives you rapid previews of your files, to Mouse Without Borders, which integrates your devices. If you haven’t already, it’s time to find out what you’re missing!

Microsoft PowerToys FAQ

Absolutely! Being an open-source project of Microsoft, it is regularly updated and maintained, ensuring security and stability.
PowerToys is hosted on GitHub. If you are a developer, you can fork the project, make your own contributions and submit a pull request.
No, PowerToys are free to download and use.
PowerToys have different versions suitable for various releases.

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