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Microsoft PowerToys’ Crop and Lock lets you make mini app windows

Microsoft PowerToys’ Crop and Lock lets you make mini app windows


Crop and Lock gives you two options — a thumbnail that serves as a live feed from the app, and an interactive, scrollable window.

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An image showing the Microsoft logo on a black, green, and purple abstract background
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Microsoft has released a new feature for its PowerToys utility suite called Crop and Lock, which lets you crop an app window to show only the details you want to see. The company brought PowerToys back from the dead in 2019 and open-sourced it on GitHub; other tools for the suite include toggles for small-yet-useful features like plaintext pasting or the ability to keep an app always on top.

Crop and Lock, available for both Windows 11 and Windows 10 v2004 (19041) or newer, has two modes — a non-interactive Thumbnail crop that’s essentially a live feed of the area you select that updates with the page, and a “Reparent” mode that Microsoft writes is more interactive, but could have compatibility issues with some apps.

Assuming you have PowerToys installed, here are the keyboard shortcuts for the features:

  • Thumbnail: Windows key + Ctrl + Shift + T
  • Reparent: Windows key + Ctrl + Shift + R

You’ll need to make sure the window you want to crop is selected before you enter the shortcut — you can’t just grab any old app window on your screen.

A gif showing a mouse dragging a rectangle to select a section of the Microsoft Edge Browser, then scrolling up and down the page.
Crop and Lock in action.
Image: Microsoft

Our own Sean Hollister gave the feature a spin, making a thumbnail crop of his Steam downloads and another crop of his office lights from Home Assistant, so he could keep a small window of only those controls. He found that creating a micro web browser with the Reparent mode was nice, but only allowed for vertical scrolling.

A screenshot of a crop of the Steam app that shows only the download progress screen.
Steam in a thumbnail crop.
Screenshot: Sean Hollister / The Verge

Sean noted that when you close out of the cropped app window, the former, full window reappears.

Microsoft lists a few known issues:

Cropping maximized or full-screen windows in “Reparent” mode might not work. It’s recommended to resize the window to fill the screen corners instead.

Some UWP apps won’t react well to being cropped in “Reparent” mode. The Windows Calculator is a notable example of this.

Applications that use sub-windows or tabs can also react poorly to being cropped in “Reparent” mode. Notepad and OneNote are notable examples of applications that react poorly.

Crop and Lock was added to PowerToys version 0.73.0, which GitHub shows was released two days ago for both X64 and Arm64 architectures.