Supporting Techniques - Microsoft PowerToys

Microsoft PowerToys brings a bundle of utilities to Windows, some of which are finding their way into Windows 11; the app appears to be a testing ground for new UX ideas. It can be downloaded from the Microsoft Store, updates are automatic and frequent.

Some of the tools are added to the Windows File Explorer, others are launched by Windows key combinations, most of which are  WinKey + Shift + <character>.

The most useful tools that I have found in PowerToys are:


While I've used the Bulk Rename Utility for years, PowerRename offers a very clear UI for some simpler renaming operations that displays results in a nicely styled tree format. For instance, find and replace will search and display a whole file and folder structure, just right-click on a folder and pick PowerRename:

Paste As Plain Text

This uses the WinKey + Ctrl + Alt + V combination to paste copied text as unformatted. It sounds like a lot of keys, but they are three in a row plus the V so are easy to remember.

Text Extractor

WinKey + Shift + T launches a marquee, just drag this over the text that you want to copy and it is OCR'd to the clipboard:

Result: Experiences built for focus

Mouse Utilities

This contains several features

Find My Mouse: Shake the mouse or press Ctrl twice to locate the mouse with a configurable highlight, a white circle is the default.

Mouse Highlighter: This visually highlights left and right mouse click with small coloured circles, the defaults are yellow and blue. Toggled on/off by WinKey + Shift + H. Very useful when training or demonstrating to colleagues.

Mouse Jump: helpful when using multiple monitors, this shows an image of the whole screen array, click the desired point to jump there. Initiated by  WinKey + Shift + D:

Fancy Zones

I left this off my list initially, then I read about using drag + Shift key. Set up the zones in the layout that you need, you can have as many as you like, different sizes too (unlike the default Windows docking options). Having done that drag a window while holding down Shift and your zones light up:

More tips on this from Microsoft here: PowerToys FancyZones utility for Windows | Microsoft Learn