How to make up for Windows 11 shortcomings
There are many features that would be useful for users, but Windows does not have them. But PowerToys does, so we’ve rounded up the most useful ones.
Windows is a great system, but it has a lot of shortcomings – it’s missing a lot of features that could be considered essential, as we pointed out in a previous article about Windows 11. Microsoft PowerToys is a kind of toolbox that makes up for some of this. We’ll show you the best features, whether it’s a picture sizer, color picker, mouse click pointer, or even a keyboard manager.
Want to resize photos quickly? After selecting one or more photos in the File Manager, you can activate the Image Resize function from the local menu, which can resize photos to a smaller or larger size based on preset profiles or custom sizes. In the profiles, you can set not only the desired resolution but also whether the Image Sizer should keep the aspect ratio, stretch the image or crop it. The feature supports PNG, BMP, JPEG, TIFF, WMPhoto, and GIF files, coupled with quality adjustment options.
Where’s the mouse?
Have you ever had a mouse pointer you couldn’t find? No problem, just press Ctrl twice in a row and the system will show you where the cursor is. You can activate this option in the Mouse utility section, in case it’s not on by default.
Read the colors!
If you want to know the exact color of anything on the display, use the Colour Picker, which you can activate by pressing Win+Shift+C. Just tap the tiny eyedropper on any pixel on your screen and you’ll get the color code – HEX, RGB, CMYK, or (almost) any other format. You can even use the scroll wheel to zoom in on the mouse pointer area while holding down the Ctrl key. You can also use the icon next to the color code to copy the code to the clipboard. It’s also helpful that there are histories, so the Colour Picker saves the last colors you looked at in case you need them later.
Show mouse position and clicks
Let’s go back to the mouse for a moment, because not only can you search with the Ctrl key, but there are two other options linked to it. The Crosshair mouse pointer is used to show you exactly where the mouse is by intersecting two lines, while the Mouse highlight shows you where the clicks are. These functions can be toggled on and off with Ctrl+Alt+P or Win+Shit+H. They’re particularly useful when you’re recording video on the screen, so viewers can always see exactly where the action is happening.
Perhaps one of the best modules is PowerToys Run, which can be activated by pressing Alt+Space and is nothing more than a search box that appears under the mouse pointer, where you can type anything you like: the name of an installed application, a web address, a file or folder name and so on. There are 18 topics to search on in total; there’s hardly a faster and more convenient way to launch the software. Web addresses or web searches are opened in the default browser, and if you want to issue a command line command, you can send it straight to the Command Prompt.
Turn off the camera image and sound
Mute Video Conferencing is also a useful option; you can use Win+Shift+Q/A/O to mute the webcam image and microphone, or just the image or just the microphone. While this option is usually available in chat programs and camera drivers, PowerToys’ solution works much better. You can use the shortcuts to toggle the picture and sound even when you’re not focused on the chat app. In the settings, you can choose whether this applies to everything or just one device you specify.
Here you can change the function of the keys on the keyboard just like you can change the keyboard shortcuts. Launch PowerToy, then select Keyboard Manager from the left-hand menu. You can change the function of a key by selecting the Bypass key, and the key commands by selecting the option of the same name. You can create a new rule with the + button. In the Physical key or Physical shortcut field, you have to specify which key/command you want to change, and in the Copy to next field, you have to specify the new function you want to change. If you select “Disabled”, the button/key command will simply not work – useful if you want to temporarily disable the Win button for a game, for example, or if you’re annoyed by constantly clicking on Caps Lock, which you never use. For keyboard shortcuts, there’s even the option to set a target application for the rule.
Rename files in groups
It’s almost unbelievable that Windows doesn’t allow you to change the names of multiple files by default; fortunately, PowerRename fills this gap. You can also find this feature in the File Manager’s local menu, called Rename Plus. Renaming works on a “what for what” basis (if you want to change more than one thing, you may need to go through several steps), or if you’re a pro, you can use RegEx statements so you can specify whole complex patterns. You can also request case alignment and numbering of elements. PowerToys will also show you exactly what the filenames will change to before renaming.
Professional window management
Aero Snap works great in both Windows 10 and Windows 11, making it really easy to neatly arrange multiple windows. PowerToys FancyZones takes this feature one step further by offering multiple layout options by default, as well as allowing you to create completely customized layouts. FancyZones can be activated by pressing Win+Shift+ö; a pop-up window lets you choose which scheme you want to use, and then all you have to do is simply drag and drop the software into the desired zone while holding Shift. PowerToys also displays the current zone layout on the screen to help you. A useful feature is that you can place more than one program in the same zone, which PowerToys manages as a group; the quickest way to switch between programs placed in the same zone is to press Win+PgUP/PgDn. Also related to window management is the Always visible function: by pressing Win+Ctrl+T you can set the active window to “always on top”, i.e. the window of the application in question will be visible under all circumstances.