Microsoft updates PowerToys with built-in web search

The Windows key being pushed on a blue laptop
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Microsoft has released the latest version of its PowerToys Windows customization tool with a host of new features.

Release 0.53.1 includes the ability to keep a window on top of all the others, along with a built-in web search function.

"The v0.53 release cycle was designed for a maintenance sprint but with some amazing community support, it is loaded with greatness," said Microsoft on its GitHub page for the latest version.

The 'Always on Top' feature lets users toggle the focused window to stay on top by pressing Win + Ctrl + T. This feature also enables a border around the pinned window, making it easier to identify, which could be useful for prioritizing a streaming media Window when watching video, for example.

It follows the release of the window snap layout feature in Windows 11 that allows users to save window positions in different configurations.

The web search function initiates a search in the user's primary browser by typing "??" in the PowerToys Run dialog. This was the primary update in PowerToys Run, but others included the ability to use factorials in calculations, along with several bug fixes. It's possible to use browsers other than Microsoft's default Edge program, which Microsoft recently made easier to replace. Users can also set a different action button if they prefer.

Microsoft's third big-ticket feature is the ability to preview G-code files using thumbnails and the preview pane. G-code is a popular numerical programming language used to control industrial cutting machines.

Other updates in the tool range from a change to the way that the color picker feature accepts hex values for numbers, through to better support for renaming folders in the PowerRename feature.

PowerToys is a set of freeware system utilities for WIndows power users. Originally built into WIndows 95, it has been an open-source product since Windows 10. Microsoft thanked a range of open-source contributors in its release notes.

Danny Bradbury

Danny Bradbury has been a print journalist specialising in technology since 1989 and a freelance writer since 1994. He has written for national publications on both sides of the Atlantic and has won awards for his investigative cybersecurity journalism work and his arts and culture writing. 

Danny writes about many different technology issues for audiences ranging from consumers through to software developers and CIOs. He also ghostwrites articles for many C-suite business executives in the technology sector and has worked as a presenter for multiple webinars and podcasts.