Microsoft

PowerToys for Windows XP

You can get more flexibility out of the Windows XP user interface by using Power Toys. This article introduces you to the various utilities and what they do.


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.

Obtaining PowerToys
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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Content for this article was derived from the TechRepublic Windows XP e-newsletter. You can have tips like this delivered via e-mail each week by signing up here.

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.

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