The official Microsoft PowerToys logo.

We love Microsoft’s PowerToys, a free, and open-source collection of useful utilities for Windows 10. With the release of PowerToys 0.18 today, Microsoft is adding a “PowerToys Run” application launcher and a keyboard shortcut manager.

PowerToys Run is a classic keyboard-based application launcher—it can switch to running applications, too. It’s a lot like Spotlight on a Mac, and it looks like a more modern replacement for the Win+R keyboard shortcut.

Unlike the standard search feature in Windows 10’s Start menu, it’s all about launching apps and files—not searching the web with Bing. And, unlike the standard Run dialog, it has built-in search features so you can search for an application by name.

PowerToys Run will also feature customizable plug-ins so you can add features like a calculator or dictionary. Microsoft explains the details in this Launcher design document.

A mock-up of PowerToys Run for launching apps.
This is a mock-up of the PowerToys Run interface. The final version will look different. Jessica Yuwono/Microsoft

PowerToys will also gain a keyboard key remapper named “Keyboard Shortcut Manager” for remapping individual keys and multi-key shortcuts. It’ll be more powerful than SharpKeys and more user-friendly than AutoHotkey for this task.

Like SharpKeys, which remaps keys via the Windows Registry, the Keyboard Shortcut Manager will let you remap a single key to another single key. For example, you could make Caps Lock function as Shift or something else.

Like with AutoHotkey, you’ll also be able to edit built-in Windows keyboard shortcuts. Do you want to make Windows lock the screen instead of open the Game Bar when you press Windows+G? You can do that from this interface, too.

An early version of Keyboard Manager settings in PowerToys.
This is an early version of the Keyboard Manager tool in PowerToys. Its interface may change over time. Microsoft

These new features were announced at Build 2020, but Microsoft will keep adding more useful tools to PowerToys this summer. A “complete” release of PowerToys 1.0 is expected for September 2020. We’re excited to see everything Microsoft adds in the future.

RELATED: All Microsoft's PowerToys for Windows 10 and 11, Explained

Profile Photo for Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
Read Full Bio »