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How to Keep Apps Always on Top and Search the Web With PowerToys

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Windows comes packed with nifty apps and features for smooth and smart computing. But if you are a power user you would know that Microsoft PowerToys, with its innovative utilities, takes the Windows experience to a new level.

What’s more exciting is that PowerToys has been updated with some most-requested-for features by its growing open-source community. So let’s explore them and the cool benefits they offer.

What Are Microsoft Power Toys and Why You Should Use Them?

Microsoft PowerToys Settings

Developed by Microsoft and the PowerToys community, PowerToys are a set of free utilities that make using Windows easier, faster, and convenient for you.

If you like exploring and using the advanced features of Windows, you’ll enjoy how PowerToys enhance your productivity and efficiency. It’s like having a kit of ingenious tools always handy to master the Windows experience.

With PowerToys, you can resize multiple images in a go, customize your keyboard, and pick any color on your screen to add it to a new creation—so useful if you are a graphic artist or developer.

There is a lot more you can do with Windows using PowerToys, which you can download from its GitHub project page or the new Microsoft Store.

Right now we’ll be looking at some cool features that have been added recently like Always On Top, PowerToys Run Web Search, and Mouse Pointer Crosshairs.

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Stay Focused With Always On Top

PowerToys Always On Top Utility

When working on a project you might have found yourself constantly switching between apps and files, and then getting back to one window to get the job done. With the Always On Top system-wide utility, you can now pin that one window or app you want to work with, on top of all your windows.

For example, while solving a Math problem, you can keep the Calculator app always on top of other related windows. Or if you’re watching a movie on the VLC player on your PC, you can pin it on top so that it doesn’t go to the background when you click on another window.

Yes, with just a simple Win + Ctrl + T shortcut you can toggle a chosen window to be on top of other windows or apps. To deactivate your chosen window from being on top, use the Win + Ctrl + T shortcut again. You can also customize the shortcut to pin or unpin an app window.

When you pin a window on top, it will be highlighted with a blue border, which is the default color. You can always change the border color (which I’ve changed to green as you will see in the screenshot above), and its thickness to your liking. Moreover, you will also hear an activation sound, which can be turned off as well.

And even if you switch to another window, your Always On Top window will always be visible in its entirety.

If you are a gamer you’d usually be playing your favorite game on top of other windows. Always On Top also has a Game Mode exclusion option, so you can use that to continue running games on fullscreen above other pinned apps. Separately, you can also add a list of excluded apps to ensure that this feature won’t run on them.


Search the Web in a Snap With PowerToys Run

PowerToys Run Web Search Feature

Yes, you do have your browser to search the web. But PowerToys Run makes searching simple and snappy.

PowerToys Run is a quick launcher that lets you search for files, folders, and programs, helps you do quick calculations, and more. Well, PowerToys Run has been enhanced with a Web Search plugin.

Pressing the Alt + Space keys together brings up the launcher on your Windows screen. The direct activation command to search the web is ??. You can follow ?? with any question or topic, and it will search the web in your PC’s default browser.

For example, searching for PowerToys will quickly open up Google Chrome and Google Search, or Microsoft Edge and Bing, or any other default browser, and generate the results for PowerToys.

It’s a snappy search tool to have on your system, and handy to use, especially if the browser is not open.

Never Lose the Mouse With Mouse Pointer Crosshairs

Mouse Pointer Crosshairs Feature in PowerToys

Mouse Utilities have been a part of PowerToys, bringing comfort and convenience to users. The Find My Mouse feature highlights the position of the cursor when you press the left control key twice, while the Mouse Highlighter highlights every mouse click you make.

What’s new is Mouse Pointer Crosshairs, and it is no short of a gamechanger, especially for Windows users with visual field impairments.

This feature was co-developed with the accessibility team at Microsoft. As the name suggests, Mouse Pointer Crosshairs will create crosshairs on your Windows screen with the mouse pointer at its center.

So users with visual impairments will easily be able to spot and pick up the mouse cursor even on a crowded screen. Also, they will be able to track the pointer’s movement across the PC screen.

You can activate Mouse Pointer Crosshairs with the Ctrl + Alt + P shortcut, and this shortcut, along with other parameters can be customized to suit individual preferences.

You can change the Crosshairs’ color, opacity, center radius, and thickness. The Crosshairs border color and its thickness can also be changed to your liking.

Indeed, with Mouse Pointer Crosshairs, using a Windows PC can be a lot easier, faster, and also enjoyable for visually challenged individuals.

Become a Windows Power User With PowerToys

Besides the above cool features, the File Explorer utility has also received add-ons: a quick visual check can be done on the file explorer preview pane for G-code files used in 3D printing jobs, 150 developer files, and also STL 3D image files.

Microsoft and its community of developers constantly keep updating PowerToys with new plugins and utilities. Future versions of PowerToys are scheduled to have more innovative features like a shortcut to terminate unresponsive programs quickly and a lightweight Windows GIF capture tool for fast screen recording and editing. So if not doing it already, employ PowerToys to realize the full potential of Windows and become a power user as well.


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