Microsoft releases PowerToys v0.53.1 and adds new Always On Top utility

Microsoft PowerToys

The first PowerToys release of 2022 is here, and it is a strong start to the year. With the release of PowerToys v0.53.1, Microsoft has not only added a new utility in the form of Always On Top, but has also made lots of fixes, changes, additions and improvements to the existing tools in the suite.

Among the other notable additions to this release are new supports options in the File Explorer preview pan, and the arrival of web searching from PowerToys Run. Microsoft says that "the v0.53 release cycle was designed for a maintenance sprint but with some amazing community support, it is loaded with greatness" -- and there certainly is a lot of greatness to explore.

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The Always On Top tool does very much what you would expect, making it possible to make an app or window appear on top of others. The feature can be toggled on an off using the Win + Ctrl + T shortcut. The addition of web search to PowerToys Run is something that many people will be pleased to see, giving you the option of conducting online searches by typing ?? followed by your search term.

There are a huge number of fixes in this release, and this is reflected in the sizable changelog.

It is worth pointing out a known issues with this latest version of PowerToys. There is nothing serious to worry about, but Microsoft warns:

The new installer currently has a visual quirk when upgrade if you have a custom install path. It will show the default install path but it will actually overwrite the current location. We are investigating how to fix this.

The full changelog looks like this:

Always on Top

  • Welcome to the family! With a quick Win+Ctrl+T, the window in focus is toggled to be on top. Toggle again, and it reverts back to normal.


  • HEX input improvements for adjust color menu including support for hex code without hashtag and short hex code like #CF0. Thanks @htcfreek!
  • Better bottom right screen detection for overlay


  • Increased negative space margin
  • Fix for not snapping child windows
  • Fix for clearing keyboard focus on editor launch
  • Fix to improve overlays to reduce brightness and hide numbers. Thanks @davidegiacometti

File Explorer

  • Added G-code support for thumbnails and preview pane. Thanks @pedrolamas

Image Resizer


  • Row highlighting + preview support now implemented. Thanks @niels9001
  • Fixed AltGR input issue
  • Improved folder renaming support
  • Opens on active monitor

PowerToys Run

  • Web searching has been added! ?? What is the answer to life will go to your favorite search engine via your browser. You can change the default action key too! Thanks @cyberrex5 for primary implementation and @franky920920 and @htcfreek for supporting
  • VS Code workspace improvements. Thanks @ricardosantos9521
  • Binary and Hex number support. Thanks @gsuberland
  • Ability to use factorials in calculations
  • PT Run will not show in Window Walker results anymore. Thanks @davidegiacometti
  • Fix log / ln calculations
  • Fix to make previous results clear
  • Fix to detect symlinks and prevent recursive loops
  • Fix for trackpad scrolling being too fast
  • Removed unneeded nuget package. Thanks @ChaseKnowlden
  • Better detection for if a packaged app can be elevated
  • Improve crash resiliency for Program plugin. Thanks @davidegiacometti
  • Improved Windows setting results. Thanks @htcfreek
  • Fixed a bug where some similar activation phrases aren't working as expected. Thanks @htcfreek and @cyberrex5.

Video conference mute

  • Disabled by default as this requires elevation to register the virtual camera.
  • Changed (default) hotkey for mute camera & microphone from Win+N to Win+Shift+Q to not conflict with a Windows 11 keyboard shortcut


  • Multiple accessibility, layout, image, string and icons fixes. Thanks @niels9001


  • Improved mutex support to prevent multiple PT Run instances from running


  • NOTE: The new installer currently has a visual quirk when upgrade if you have a custom install path. It will show the default install path but it will actually overwrite the current location. We are investigating how to fix this.
  • Large progress toward user based installing vs machine wide. Upgrade scenario still needs additional work.
  • Removed custom bootstrapper and now are using a WiX bundle.
  • Removed unused image assets that were still being shipped. Thanks @niels9001

ARM64 support

  • Setting WinUI3 proof-of-concept and validate we do need at least one more feature, elevation support from WinUI 3 unpackaged applications.

Dev improvements

  • New YAML based pipeline for building our signed installer. This will allow us to consolidate our CI to use same file. This was critical for us to unblock ARM64 and .NET 6 migration.
  • Our submodules will no longer auto fetch to prevent locking issues. If you want a refresher on how to do this, head to our dev docs
  • Localization system shifted to Touchdown from CDPx. This should remove many of the loc issues.
  • Consolidated a lot of the naming of EXEs and DLLs along with projects
  • Update to spell checker. Thanks @jsoref
  • /dup response has been added
  • /reportbug /bugreport will ask for a "report bug" zip

You can download PowerToys v0.53.1 here, or you can upgrade an existing version by checking for updates from within the app.

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