Windows 10: First Open Source PowerToys released

[German]Microsoft has released the first preview of PowerToys for Windows 10 users. The PowerToys known from Windows 9x are Open Source and available free of charge.


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History of PowerToys

The PowerToys were free programs under Windows 95/98, with which certain Windows functions could be optimized or adapted. So there was the CabView function with which you could view and unpack the contents of CAB archives (today the Explorer can do this). With CDAutoPlay you could start CDs automatically (Windows can also do that in the meantime). The context menu extension Open Command Prompt here also found its way into the later Windows version (you have to press the Shift key to get the context menu command). The Send To function is also included in the context menu of all Windows versions by default. So the PowerToys became redundant in later Windows versions. An overview of the functions of that time can be found on this website.

Restarting the project

Inspired by the PowerToys project under Windows 95, some developers have dared a restart. This reboot is intended to give power users the ability to get more efficiency out of the Windows 10 shell and customize it for individual workflows. The announcement will take place at the beginning of May 2019, I had reported about it in the blog post Windows 10: PowerToys will come as Open Source.

First tools released

Now the Microsoft developers have released previews of the first two tools for Windows 10. I just came across the announcement on Twitter.

The tools are presented in the tech community article Announcing the first preview and code release of PowerToys from September 5, 2019. Within this article, the tools are introduced.


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To try out the tools, this installer is offered. Once the PowerToys are installed, the main PowerToys service runs when Windows is started and a user logs in. Once the service is running, a PowerToys icon appears in the taskbar.

Power Toys tray icon.Power Toys-Tray-Icon

Selecting the icon starts the PowerToys settings user interface. The settings interface allows you to enable and disable individual utilities and make settings for each utility.

PowerToys settings UI.
(PowerToys settings, Source Microsoft)

There is also a link to the help document for each utility. You can right-click the tray icon to stop the Power Toys service.

Note that some PowerToys features require elevated privileges. Therefore, PowerToys.exe requests them via User Account Control at startup.

At startup the two tools Windows key shortcut guide and FancyZones are released. Further details may be read here.


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1 Response to Windows 10: First Open Source PowerToys released

  1. P F Kelly says:

    Powertoys installs OK. I use administrator privelages. Win ver 1903. However clicking the icon on the taskbar brings up the PowerToysSetup window. It is blank.

    I can run FAncyZonesEditor so I don’t care so much, but it should work.

    I also tried moving the *.pdb files from PowertoysSymbols, but that made no difference. I don’t know what the symbols are for and no explanation was given for them.

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