PowerToys update gives Windows 11 users new tools to play

PowerToys update gives Windows 11 users new tools to play with. Microsoft has released the latest version of PowerToys for Windows 11 and thanks to the open source community, power users now have a number of new features to test out.

Although version 0.53 of the software giant’s set of utilities for power users was originally intended to be an incremental release, contributors to the project were able to add several features including G-code support in the file explorer preview pane and thumbnails, a web search plugin and a new Always on Top utility.

First introduced with Windows 95 and then brought back for Windows 10 three years ago, PowerToys are a set of tools that are designed to make it more convenient to use Microsoft’s operating system to its full potential. However, these tools aren’t intended for the average user but for those who already know their way around Windows and want to be able to access key features and settings even faster.

The first new feature is the Always on Top utility that allows users to toggle a window in focus to be on top with a quick press of Win + Ctrl + T. To revert the window back to normal though, you just need to input this keyboard shortcut a second time on your Windows PC or laptop.

Opening up your favorite search engine and browser is now also easier as this can be done in PowerToys Run by entering “??” along with a question. For example, typing “?? What is the answer to life” will bring up Microsoft Edge and Bing or Google Chrome and Google Search along with search results answering your question.

Microsoft has also changed the hotkey to mute your webcam and microphone from Win + N to Win + Shift + Q to avoid conflict with an existing Windows 11 keyboard shortcut. Being able to mute your webcam and microphone with the press of a button can be particularly useful when using the company’s video conferencing software.

While these are just some of the highlights of the latest version of PowerToys , you can check out the full release notes on GitHub to see all of the changes and improvements.

Windows 11 may still have that new OS smell wafting off it, but there is still work to be done. We already know that Microsoft is only planning a single feature update each year, and it looks like the first major update for Windows 11 — codenamed Sun Valley 2 — could be available for testing in a matter of months.

Windows 11 22H2, as Sun Valley 2 is also known, is said to be scheduled to be completed in May. The update is expected to be finalized some time in the summer, and then be ready for a full release in the fall. But what can we look forward to in this release?

Over on Windows Central, Zac Bowden’s sources say that “the current engineering schedule has mainline development on version 22H2 scheduled for completion in May 2022”. The update is described as “finishing off” the operating system, adding features that were not quite ready in time for the release of Windows 11 in late 2021.

This includes widening the support for system-wide dark mode and adding support for third-party widget. Other changes and improvements that are expected to make an appearance include adding new functionality to the taskbar — perhaps making it more flexible in terms of docking, and maybe adding drag and drop support back — and updating some of the built-in apps such as Notepad.

Rumors suggest that Windows 11’s Mail and Calendar apps are set to be replaced with the new Outlook app currently known as Project Monarch. We can also expect to see Microsoft continuing to cut back the Control Panel as migration to the Settings app progresses.

Today, Microsoft is releasing its first Windows 11 Insider Preview of the new year, bringing the build number to 22526. As usual, it’s available in the Dev channel, which is for testing out new features and is not tied to any specific release of the OS. That means that the new features might arrive in this fall’s feature update, or they might not.

For this build specifically, the changes are pretty minor. Here’s the full list of changes and improvements:

We’re experimenting with showing ALT + TAB as windowed instead of full screen for some Insiders.
We have added support for wideband speech when using Apple AirPods products (AirPods, AirPods Pro, or AirPods Max), improving audio quality for voice calls.
Starting with Build 22518, Credential Guard is now enabled by default on Windows 11 Enterprise (E3 and E5) licensed PCs that are enterprise-joined.
We are experimenting with indexing more file locations so that using search to find important files in Files Explorer is quicker.

As you can see, there’s nothing really crazy going on here. It makes sense though. Despite the fact that there hasn’t been a new Windows 11 Insider Preview in the Dev channel in a few weeks, it’s worth remembering that that’s because the team was off for the holidays. They’ve only been back to work since Monday.

The few changes that are there are notable. ALT + TAB being windowed instead of full-screen is certainly a big visual change in behavior. However, it’s only available to a subset of the people that explicitly sacrificed their system’s stability in order to try new features by joining the Dev channel. The rest of the changes, such as wideband speech for AirPods, are available for everyone.

As always, there’s a long list of fixes and known issues:
Windows 11 build 22526 Fixes

[File Explorer]

Did some work to help address an issue where if you’d used search in File Explorer, and then explorer.exe crashed, the next time you tried to search in File Explorer it wouldn’t work.


We’ve made another fix to help address the recent searches flyout getting stuck on the screen (appearing transparent except the border).
Improved the resolution of app icons displayed in search results when the display scaling was set to greater than 100%.

[Spotlight collection]

If you’re using spotlight collection, the current image should migrate on upgrade now (if the build you’re upgrading from is Build 22523 or higher).


Fixed an issue result in the Widgets board potentially not having the correct resolution when hovering over the entry point on a secondary monitor.
Addressed an issue where the Widgets board would temporarily be blank, showing only an Add Widgets button (which also opened to a blank dialog).


Fixed a bugcheck with KMODE_EXCEPTION_NOT_HANDLED remote desktop users were encountering when attempting to shutdown or restart.
Microsoft Store should no longer show a message that trying to install the latest Web Media Extension update is returning error code 0x80073CFB.
Addressed a DWM crash impacting some Insiders on the previous flight.

NOTE: Some fixes noted here in Insider Preview builds from the active development branch may make their way into the servicing updates for the released version of Windows 11 that became generally available on October 5th, 2021.
Windows 11 build 22526 Known Issues


You may be unable to sign-in to certain apps such as Feedback Hub. Restarting your PC should correct the issue.
We’re investigating reports that some Insiders are seeing driver and firmware update failures in recent builds with the error 0x8007012a.


In some cases, you might be unable to enter text when using Search from Start or the taskbar. If you experience the issue, press WIN + R on the keyboard to launch the Run dialog box, then close it.


The taskbar will sometimes flicker when switching input methods.
The network icon sometimes goes missing in the taskbar when it’s supposed to be there. If you encounter this, please try using Task Manager to restart explorer.exe.

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