Windows OS

How to Use Microsoft PowerToys and its Utilities to Customize Windows

Microsoft PowerToys” is an open-source set of powerful utilities for Microsoft Windows designed primarily for users who want more customization options. It allows users to organize their desktops quickly, remap keys, rename files, resize images, or launch apps. Although it has a user-friendly interface, users are still unable to work with its features/utilities.

This guide unearths the secrets of “Microsoft PowerToys” while exploring the following content:

How to Install Microsoft PowerToys?

How to Use Microsoft PowerToys and its Utilities to Customize Windows?

  1. Always on Top
  2. Awake
  3. Color Picker
  4. FancyZones
  5. Hosts File Editor
  6. Image Resizer
  7. Keyboard Manager
  8. Mouse Utilities
  9. Paste as Plain Text
  10. TextExtractor

How to Install “Microsoft PowerToys”?

To install “Microsoft PowerToys”, open up the “Microsoft App Store” by entering “microsoft store” in the start menu search bar:

Now, enter “Microsoft PowerToys” in the search bar to install it:

Click on the “Install” button, and it will automatically download and install “Microsoft PowerToys” on the system:

It will take a while, and once installed, enter “powertoys” in the start menu’s search bar to launch it:

Here is the first look at “PowerToys” on Windows:

“Microsoft PowerToys” has many utilities for customization, as seen in the left pane on the welcome screen above. Let’s learn how to use them all.

How to Use Microsoft PowerToys and its Utilities to Customize Windows?

Microsoft PowerToys” and its “utilities” are explained as follows.

Always on Top

The “Always on Top” utility maintains a window or program on top of all the other open windows or apps. This implies that when additional windows or apps are launched on top of the window or application with this feature enabled, it will always be visible and accessible.

To use it, open the window/app and press the default keys, i.e., “Windows + Ctrl T”. It will result in a customizable “Dark Blue” color border around the selected windows/app. You can even change the default key combination by selecting the “pencil icon” highlighted below:


The “Awake” utility is basically about controlling the power settings on the system. It is similar to “Power Settings” on Windows but with a more user-friendly interface:

Color Picker

The “Color Picker” utility of “Microsoft PowerToys” allows users to select any color from their screen, copy it to the clipboard, and use it in other applications. It can be handy for individuals involved in color-oriented work such as graphic designing, web development, or anyone working with colors. It also shows the name and “HEX” code of the color where the mouse hovers when the default keys “Windows + Shift+ C” are pressed:


FancyZones” is a utility of “Microsoft PowerToys” that allows users to build customized window layouts. Users can organize their windows by dividing their screens into zones and dragging and dropping them into the zones. It is particularly beneficial for multitasking and working on numerous tasks simultaneously using the provided default key combination below:

Hosts File Editor

Another utility in the “Microsoft PowerToys” collection is the “Hosts File Editor”, which allows you to modify and manage the Windows hosts file. A text file called the host file, located in the Windows system folder converts domain names into IP addresses. Modifying the host’s file can ban or redirect particular websites or establish custom domain name mappings for testing reasons.

The “Hosts File Editor” program in PowerToys has various advantages over manually modifying the host’s file. It has a graphical interface for adding, editing and deleting entries in the host’s file. To discover specific items, simply put in the domain name and IP address, or use the built-in search option.

To launch and use “Hosts File Editor”, click on the highlighted option below:

Image Resizer

The “Image Resizer” is a utility of “Windows PowerToys” that allows you to resize images quickly. You may choose many images and resize them all at once to a specific size or percentage. It is important for web developers, bloggers, and anybody who needs to resize images:

To use the above utility, select the images, right-click, and click “Resize pictures”.

Keyboard Manager

Keyboard Manager” enables the users to remap keys on the keyboard to perform different functions. For example, the “Caps Lock” key can act as a “Ctrl” key, or you can remap the Windows key to open a specific application. It is profitable for users who want to customize their keyboard shortcuts:

Mouse Utilities

Mouse Utilities” is a collection of utilities provided in “Microsoft PowerToys” that enable users to customize and improve the functioning of their mouse. These tools include highlighting the location of the mouse cursor on the screen, displaying a visual indicator whenever you click the mouse button, customizing the behavior of the mouse wheel, adjusting the acceleration of the mouse cursor, customizing the appearance and behavior of the mouse pointer, and creating custom keyboard shortcuts for various mouse actions:

Paste as Plain Text

The “Paste as Plain Text” utility of “Windows PowerToys” allows you to paste text from the clipboard without formatting. When you copy text from a website or another program, formatting font style, size, color, and alignment is frequently required. It can be advantageous in certain situations but troublesome in others, especially if you’re trying to paste the text into a different format or wish to prevent any needless formatting.

The default shortcut keys to paste are “Windows + Ctrl + Alt + V”, which can also be customized:

Text Extractor

The “Text Extractor” utility of “Windows PowerToys” extracts text from an image or a PDF file. It is convenient if you have a document or image you wish to remove and utilize in another program.

To use the “Text Extractor”, launch the program and drag an image or PDF file into the window. The “Text Extractor” will automatically analyze the file and extract any text. The extracted text may then be copied to the clipboard or saved as a plain text file.

The default shortcut keys for “Text Extractor” are “Windows + Shift + T”:


To use “Microsoft PowerToys” and its utilities, users must install it first, and then after launching it, all its features/utilities can be viewed. Almost all the features have customizable shortcut keys. The most commonly used utilities such as “Always on Top”, “Awake” “Color Picker” etc. This guide taught how to use “Microsoft PowerToys” and its utilities to customize Windows.

About the author

Talha Saif Malik

Talha is a contributor at Linux Hint with a vision to bring value and do useful things for the world. He loves to read, write and speak about Linux, Data, Computers and Technology.