Microsoft is releasing a new Spotlight-like launcher app for Windows 10 today. Designed to replace and modernize the existing Win + R shortcut, the new PowerToys Run launcher includes quick search for apps and files across Windows, plugins like a calculator, and the ability to find running processes.
This early version will support basic search tasks that are typically handled by the built-in Windows Start menu search functionality. But there are plans to make this a more powerful launcher that’s similar to Alfred on macOS and more functional than Apple’s Spotlight search.
The current Win + R functionality is basic and used by Windows power users to launch cmd prompts, regedit, powershell instances, and even shortcuts to areas in Windows like the Control Panel. This new PowerToys Run launcher will support all of the same commands that Run does currently in Windows, but Microsoft is collaborating with an open-source community that’s contributing to make it far more powerful.
Microsoft has been working with the makers of Wox and WindowWalker to incorporate these projects into PowerToys Run. The basics are arriving today, albeit in an early version that will have some bugs here and there.
The benefits of a launcher mean we’ll soon get plugins or the ability to add custom web searches, snippets, and more. Microsoft’s existing Windows Start menu handles search results from the web, but it also forces you into Bing search results and opens the Edge browser for any web queries.
Alongside PowerToys Run, Microsoft is also releasing a Keyboard Manager PowerToy today. It’s a simple keyboard remapper that allows Windows 10 users to redefine keys on a keyboard. Keys will be remapped as long as the Keyboard Manager and PowerToys are running in the background, and you can swap individual keys and even Windows shortcuts.
The Keyboard Manager is part of the latest 0.18 release of PowerToys, available on Microsoft’s GitHub distro.
PowerToys Run and Keyboard Manager are part of the many PowerToys that Microsoft is developing. Microsoft originally brought back PowerToys last year to allow anyone to improve Windows 10 for power users, and the first set arrived in September. PowerToys were first introduced back in Windows 95. The apps were a quick way for Windows engineers to test prototype features, and Microsoft soon packaged some of the best ones into PowerToys bundles.