Microsoft has announced the first preview and code release of PowerToys for Windows 10.
PowerToys is a set of utilities which was introduced by Microsoft first in Windows 95. This was to let users modify some of the trickiest settings without having any knowledge about Windows Registry. PowerToys has FindX, TweakUI, Quick Res, and many other great tools back in the days. Microsoft introduced a version two of the PowerToys with the release of Windows XP and that’s the end.
After 17 years Microsoft is thinking of introducing you can say a version three to Windows 10 users. One of the interesting things about version three of the tool is that it is open source and you can access all the codes on GitHub.
First two utilities
This first preview of PowerToys contains two utilities. The Windows key shortcut guide and a window manager called FancyZones.
Windows key shortcut guide
The Windows key shortcut guide is a full screen overlay utility that provides a dynamic set of Windows key shortcuts that are applicable for the given desktop and currently active window. When the Windows key is held down for one second, (this time can be tuned in settings,) an overlay appears on the desktop showing all available Windows key shortcuts and what action those shortcuts will take given the current state of the desktop and active window. If the Windows key continues to be held down after a shortcut is issued, the overlay will remain up and show the new state of the active window.
FancyZones is a window manager that is designed to make it easy to arrange and snap windows into efficient layouts for your workflow, and also to restore these 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.
To get started with FancyZones, you need to enable the utility in the PowerToys settings, and then invoke the FancyZones setup UI. There’s a button in settings to open this UI, or you can press Win+~ to launch it. When first launched, the UI presents a list of zone layouts that can be quickly adjusted by how many windows are on the monitor. Choosing a layout shows a preview of that layout on the monitor. Pressing the save and close button sets that layout to the monitor.
The editor also supports creating and saving custom layouts. This functionality is in the Custom tab in the editor UI. There are two ways to create custom zone layouts, window layout and table layout. These can also be thought of as additive and subtractive models. The additive window layout model starts with a blank layout and supports adding zones that can be dragged and resized, similar to windows.
FancyZones window editor mode.
The subtractive table layout model starts with a table layout and allows zones to be created by splitting and merging zones and then resizing the gutter between zones.