Microsoft official gadget update

Microsoft official gadget update, these new features you may also be able to use

Microsoft official gadget update, these new features you may also be able to use PowerToys is a collection of gadgets from Microsoft for the Windows operating system that has been in highly active development. As of now, PowerToys has 17 different features built in, making it the "Swiss Army Knife" of Windows, and many of them are even better than similar third-party tools in terms of aesthetics and ease of operation. This article takes PowerToys v0.64 as an example and summarizes the top 5 new features added to PowerToys over the past quarter - maybe there is one that Windows users have been dreaming of.

Locksmith: Locating File Occupancy

Windows users have more or less encountered the scenario where they want to delete a file, but the system says "this file is in use" so they can't delete it. And sometimes the system does not clearly tell us exactly which software or process is occupying the file, do not want to search the memory while "needle in the haystack" in the list of processes in Task Manager, often you have to use third-party tools to forcefully delete or log off / restart the computer, wait for the system processes are no longer using the file to operate. This exclusion process is really a bit troublesome, but now we can easily solve it with Locksmith built into PowerToys. For files or folders that cannot be deleted, we can find the "What's using this file" option in the right mouse menu, and then Locksmith will show the software and processes that are reading, writing or using the file/folder in a graphical interface that is very much in line with the Windows system style. We can click on End Task directly in the Locksmith interface and then the file in question can be deleted. If you want to check if there are other processes using the file under your account, you can click "Restart as administrator" to see all the processes.

Host File Editor: Quickly modify the host file

If you want to force a domain name to resolve to a fixed IP address when you enter it, changing the system host file is an easy and direct way to achieve this. The main reason is that the host file is hidden too deep, and the editor needs to be given power when editing, and the editing experience also depends on the editor used. PowerToys' host file editor provides a set of more intuitive host file editing interaction, for example, we just need to start the host file editor in PowerToys and click "New Entry" in the upper left corner, then enter the IP address, host (domain name) and a comment for easy identification in the pop-up "Add New Entry" text box, check the available switches and click Add to take effect. If there are many entries in the host, it is easy to narrow down the scope by filtering on address, host and comments in the visual host file editor. On the one hand, if PowerToys itself is already running with authority, you don't need to consider the permission issue; on the other hand, you won't have the problem of unavailable host files due to editing content or formatting, which is more friendly for those who have less code base. Screen ruler: How big is this button? If you, like me, often need to prototype software products, you will often encounter situations where you need to measure the size of certain areas on the screen. For example, I often choose to directly reference certain software designs when prototyping, such as the approximate size of a button in the software. If it's a web page, then Chrome's developer tools can get the exact value, but if it's a native app, then I have to measure it with a screen ruler or some other method. In the past, I've measured pixels in native apps indirectly through some screenshot apps (like Snipaste), for example, by calling up a screenshot and seeing the pixels of the corresponding area in real time as I delineate the screenshot. However, this approach is not precise enough, and it only measures the pixels of a specific area, but not the distance between a measured object and other components on the screen. PowerToys' screen ruler is much more convenient. Once activated with the shortcut key (Windows + Shift + M by default), a screen ruler toolbar appears at the top of the screen just like the Windows default screenshot tool. This toolbar is resident by default and stays open during the task in question, allowing us to call up different measurement tools at any time. The "Boundary" tool on the far left of the toolbar is similar to the area measurement tool I use most often, using the mouse to first delineate an area and then accurately measure the length and width of the area; the "Spacing" measurement will measure both the horizontal and vertical spacing at the current cursor position, so that the relationship between the measured body and other components can be accurately calculated. In addition, the "horizontal" and "vertical" rulers can also automatically measure the length and width of the location based on the interface control under the current cursor by predetermining and adsorbing itself. If you are not satisfied with the accuracy of the pointer adsorption, you can also adjust it yourself in the PowerToys settings.

Text Extractor: Lightweight OCR Recognition

The Windows platform does not currently have a built-in image to text tool like iOS and some Android systems, and we used to have to use third-party apps for similar needs - even if sometimes we just wanted to simply pick up a few words from a picture. PowerToys' new text extractor is a "light" solution to this problem. Once activated by the shortcut (default Windows + Shift + T), we only need to use the mouse to frame the area we need to recognize as in the screenshot, and PowerToys will copy the recognized text directly to the clipboard, the whole process is very intuitive and easy to use. Perhaps thanks to the foundation of Microsoft OCR, PowerToys has a fairly high recognition rate for printed fonts in a single language, but when it comes to images that need to be recognized that contain multiple languages at the same time, the current recognition efficiency drops dramatically and may even fail to recognize the situation. In addition, the recognition can only generate plain text, unlike some professional OCR software, which can generate a specific type of document for a specific type of image. Therefore, it can only be used as a light OCR tool at this stage.

Quick Accent: accent input made easy

How to input accented notes under English keyboard has always been quite troublesome, for example, French, Italian, and Portuguese all contain accents. In the past, you could only select them by using switching to a specific input method or choosing a special insert accent symbol, which is not only slow in efficiency, but also extremely tedious in scenarios that require continuous input. If you often deal with foreign language input, you may want to keep PowerToys' Quick Accent on. After checking and activating Quick Accent in PowerToys, when typing specific accents for certain letters, simply press the left, right or space bar while holding down the letters of the keyboard, and the accent selection box will appear at the top of the screen. This is a much easier way to type than looking for accents one by one in a large pile. However, this feature may cause the problem of Pinyin on the screen when paired with ShuangPin input method, so remember to turn it off when not in use.


As of PowerToys v0.64, PowerToys includes 17 components with varying functionality, and in many ways has the ability to fully replace some third-party tools. If you have a need to extend functionality, PowerToys may be the first choice before installing third-party applications.