How to Set Up Microsoft's New Spotlight-esque PowerToy in Windows - - Windows Tips and Tricks with Geek

Sunday, October 18, 2020

How to Set Up Microsoft's New Spotlight-esque PowerToy in Windows

Launching apps is easy on Windows 10: Just mash the Start button, begin typing in the name of the app and odds are good that you’ll be able to quickly pull up whatever you were trying to find. You’d never use Windows Key + R and your operating system’s “Run” box to launch most apps—but thanks to the latest Windows 10 PowerToy, that might become your new default.

Microsoft has finally debuted PowerToys Run, the latest creation you can grab as part of the company’s ever-fun collection of PowerToys for Windows 10. If you haven’t played around with any of these before, we’ve previously taken a look at how each of them work. I encourage you to check out that roundup, as PowerToys add a ton of extra functionality to Windows 10, including awesome new file-renaming and image-resizing tools you can use to make a bunch of changes at once.

As for PowerToys Run—really, a revamped Wox Launcher—you should be pretty familiar with how it works if you’ve ever used Spotlight in macOS. In this case, you’ll mash ALT + space bar once you’ve enabled the feature in your PowerToys settings. 

What should you type in? Anything you want. You can use the prompt to pull up any application on your system, yes, but also folders and files. When you locate what you’re looking for, you can launch it or use the provided icons to open the file or app’s containing folder. You can even copy the file, folder or app’s path directly to your clipboard. So, yes, it’s kind of like Spotlight—and then some. 

If you want to get even fancier, you can launch shell and PowerShell commands from the launcher, or ask the launcher to solve math problems for you—ideal for those who are tired of pulling up the calculator all the time.

Alt + space bar is annoying, but we can fix that

My only gripe with the new PowerToys Run launcher is that hitting ALT + space bar is kind of awkward. However, thanks to another PowerToy Microsoft released as part of the 0.18 update, we can make this shortcut a little more tolerable.

Pull up PowerToys’ settings and click on Keyboard Manager. From there, click on “Remap a shortcut” and you can map that ALT + space bar combination to anything else you like—Windows Key + R, the Windows Key itself or any other combination. The sky’s the limit.

Make sure you have the shortcuts in the right spot, though; Microsoft’s description is a smidge confusing, as you would think that your “Original Shortcut” would be “the thing you’re trying to access with new keys,” but it’s not.

Once you’re done, click on OK, and your new shortcut should be good to go—assuming PowerToys is launching when you start Windows 10, which is something you can check (and set!) in the General section of PowerToys’ settings. While you’re there, feel free to go wild with the keyboard remapping. It’s incredibly useful if you’re rocking one of those tiny mechanical keyboards with twenty keys on it, or if an important key on your keyboard no longer works and you haven’t gotten around to fixing or replacing it.

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