Microsoft releases the first PowerToys utilities for Windows 10 -- FancyZones and Shortcut Guide

PowerToys reboot

It has been a little while since news broke that Microsoft was bringing back PowerToys for Windows 10 but four months down the line the company has kept its word.

Microsoft has just released the first preview of PowerToys, and you can download two new utilities right now. Kicking things off are FancyZones, a window manager which greatly enhances window snapping for improved productivity, and Shortcut Guide, which uses a screen overlay to reveal the keyboard shortcuts you can use at any given time. Sadly, however, there is no TweakUI for Windows 10.

Unlike the original version of PowerToys, this time around all of the settings for individual utilities are found in a single interface. For now, only FancyZones and Shortcut Guide show up, but this list will grow with future updates.

Shortcut Guide is a simple tool, but a great one. With the utility activated, if you hold down the Windows key for a second, all of the available keyboard shortcuts you can use will be indicated in an overly -- a great way to learn time-saving tricks.

But FancyZones is more interesting. The utility not only lets you snap windows into various arrangements to help improve your productivity and workflow, it also enables you to save and restore them for future use. Think of it as window snapping on steroids. Brilliant stuff.

For help getting started with FancyZones, check out this introductory video:

The release of PowerToys was met with eager excitement following Microsoft's announcement on Twitter:

Microsoft says that it has been blown away by the reaction to PowerToys and is eager for developers to create their own utilities. The company says:

When the PowerToys project was first announced this spring, we didn't think the reception would be as enthusiastic as it has been. The project started with just an empty repo, with a roadmap and a place for power users to provide suggestions and ideas. However, over 4000 users starred the repo, showing a strong interest in the project. Given this enthusiasm, we're anticipating many developers will want to contribute to PowerToys, and we've made sure that the documentation, project architecture, and tools are ready for the community to dive in.

Before getting started, it's worthwhile to read the contribution guidelines for the project. After that, you should read the "Developer Guidance" section of the PowerToys readme, which has a link to the new PowerToys utility Visual Studio template. Each utility is a .dll, which is loaded by the PowerToys runtime and each utility can provide settings to the PowerToys settings framework with a JSON blob. The settings UI takes this JSON and automatically creates a settings UI for the utility. More information on the settings format can be found in the Settings spec.

You can download the PowerToys installer from GitHub.

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