Microsoft revives Windows PowerToys as an open-source project

Cal Jeffrey

TS Evangelist
Staff member

PowerToys originated as a package of tools that Microsoft developers could use when testing new features in Windows. It decided to release some of the utilities in a bundled package for users. However, after Windows XP, the tools disappeared due to stricter security rules.

Microsoft just announced it has decided to reboot PowerToys as an open-source project for Windows 10. Developers already have several cool toys planned.

One of the first utilities will be a “maximize to new desktop” (MTND) button. This feature changes the behavior of maximize. You can still expand a window as usual by clicking the maximize button, but when you hover over it, an option to maximize the window on a new desktop appears. It is similar to what the macOS maximize button does by default.

They have also created a Windows shortcut guide. This toy adds new function to the Windows key by causing it to display a shortcut menu when held down. The menu appears as an opaque overlay on the desktop (above).

There are also 10 other tools that Microsoft is considering adding to the mix. These include:

  • Full window manager including specific layouts for docking and undocking laptops
  • Keyboard shortcut manager
  • Win+R replacement
  • Better alt+tab including browser tab integration and search for running apps
  • Battery tracker
  • Batch file re-namer
  • Quick resolution swaps in taskbar
  • Mouse events without focus
  • Cmd (or PS or Bash) from here
  • Contents menu file browsing

The developers are encouraging users to help them prioritize this list and suggest other ideas. Microsoft is also opening up the project to outside contributors as long as they agree to some licensing terms.

The first utilities should be up to preview some time this summer. Microsoft has more information on its GitHub page for those interested in downloading or contributing.

Permalink to story.

Last edited by a moderator:


TS Enthusiast
I'd like to see a PowerToy for virtual desktops that's similar to the only Mac OS "Spaces" utility. In that I can assign applications to a designated virtual desktop. It's one of the things I miss about Spaces of old (nacOS' current implementation isn't as customizable).

Also an PowerToy that will enable tabs within File Explorer. As it stands, I'll use either TidyTabs it Stardock's Groupy; depending upon the Windows device I'm using.

But I vividly remember using PowerToys on Win95 OSR 2, and subsequently on Win98 SE.

It's great to hear Microsoft is bringing it back for Win10.
This is about as exciting as a stamp collecting party in my Grandma's basement. This is why people just fall asleep when new Windows pc's come out every year. I wish they would quit with this million steps to nowhere thing they do and start giving us what we want instead of what they want to sell.

What would make me want to buy a new Windows pc would be changes that actually do something I like.

To be able to set Windows to power the pc on at a time I choose and do Windows updates, restart itself to make sure everything is ok. Then shut the pc power off. Also instant on pc's, like a TV does and what I really dream about is a version of Windows that lets me design the user interface, gui, look and sound of my personal Windows. Something made easy to do but looks cool. Just saying :)