MS PowerToys

For Windows users, there is free collection of utilities called PowerToys that add some functionality to Windows. While there are a dozen tools in PowerToys, there are two I’m particularly enamored with: mouse utilities and video conference mute.

Working with two or three screens, it can be a challenge to find my mouse pointer. Frankly, I’m tired of moving my mouse around and glancing from screen to screen hoping to catch the movement. With mouse utilities, pressing the left CTRL button on my keyboard twice darkens all screens and gives my pointer a spotlight. In the screenshot below, my mouse pointer was in the center of this circle. Because my screen capture tool doesn’t capture the mouse pointer, we’ll have to pretend that the poorly drawn red arrow is my mouse pointer. Clicking a mouse button removes the spotlight.  

The second tool I use from the PowerToys suite is video conference mute. Regardless of the conference app, on the keyboard, pressing WINDOWS + SHIFT + Q instantly turns off the microphone and the camera.

These are the other tools that may be useful to me, but I haven’t had occasion to use them yet.

Always on Top: Pin a window so that it remains on top of other windows

FancyZones: Create a layout for the different windows that you have open, and then quickly enable that layout whenever you need it.

ImageResizer: Resize a bunch of images in one fell swoop.

PowerRename: Change the names on a bunch of files, also in one fell swoop.

Shortcut Guide: With a keyboard shortcut, you can view all of the keyboard shortcuts available for a particular window.

The remaining tools as of this writing are:

PowerToys Awake: Keep your computer from going to sleep.

Color Picker: Get the color code (HEX, RGB, or HSL) for any pixel on your screen.

Keyboard Manager: Remap any key on your keyboard. Caution: Do this only if you have a very good reason.

PowerToys Run: This looks to be a quick search tool for your computer’s files, folders, and programs.

File Explorer add-ons: Preview uncommon file types in file explorer. One file type it lists is pdfs, however, Microsoft has added this functionality to file explorer. No need to use PowerToys to preview pdfs.

Because they add utilities to this suite, by the time you read this, there may be more options available than listed in this blog post.

Seriously, if you have more than one screen, being able to spotlight your mouse pointer will be a game changer.

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