Microsoft programmers develop many internal applications for their own use that are never released to the public. A few are released, however, which Microsoft packages and publishes on its Web site as part of the PowerToys. The PowerToys include 11 utilities. Some of them are Windows XP-specific versions of old utilities; others are completely new. PowerToys for Windows XP includes:
- Super-Fast User Switcher allows you to quickly switch to another user by using the Windows and Q shortcut keys instead of going through the Welcome Screen.
- Open Command Prompt Window Here adds an option to the context menu in Windows Explorer that allows you to quickly start the command prompt in the selected folder.
- Improved Alt-Tab displays a preview of currently selected applications.
- Tweak UI allows you to change various hidden system settings not exposed through the Windows XP user interface.
- Power Calculator can graph, evaluate functions, and perform different conversions.
- Image Resizer allows you to resize images while retaining the originals.
- CD Slide Show Generator generates a slide show from pictures on your burned CDs.
- Virtual Desktop Manager implements technology that already exists within the Windows NT operating system that is never used. The application allows you to use up to four virtual desktops.
- Taskbar Magnifier magnifies part of the screen from the taskbar.
- HTML Slide Show Wizard helps you create HTML pages from your pictures and then prepare them for publishing on a Web site.
- Webcam Timershot takes pictures at a specified time from your camera and saves them in a folder or to a network location.
You can download PowerToys for Windows XP directly from Microsoft's PowerToys Web site. You must download each PowerToy separately, but none of them are bigger than 1 MB in size, so you can pick and choose at will while not spending lots of time downloading. Run the executable you download to install the appropriate PowerToy.
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If you don't like the program, you can remove it using Add/Remove Programs in Control Panel. Just remember, even though Microsoft provides these programs, it doesn't offer support for them. If they cause problems with your system, you're on your own.