Productivity tips for PowerToys Run on Windows

Tobias Zimmergren
Tobias Zimmergren

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In recent remote calls while sharing my screen, I've been asked about the productivity tools I'm making use of to quickly search, calculate, or launch apps. I'm making use of "Microsoft PowerToys".

Microsoft PowerToys is a set of utilities for power users to tune and streamline their Windows 10 experience for greater productivity.
- Source:

In this post in particular, I want to briefly hand out some productivity tips about PowerToys Run, allowing you to quickly launch apps and run commands. I really like it.

Microsoft PowerToys Run configuration.

I'm bringing up the PowerToys Run dialog with Alt+Space, but as you can see in the screenshot, you can modify to fit your style.

Search in Windows

Let's be honest. The search in Windows was never really optimal. Perhaps that's my belief because I usually searched for files using Total Commander, which did a stellar job. That, of course, was some 15 years ago at least.

Searching directly from the Run bar is as easy as entering ?and then any phrase.

Just enter the search phrase like this:

Searching in Windows using PowerToys Run.

I like this as an alternative when I know what I'm looking for. Specifically when I know I have a document or file with a particular name or convention. I can find it quickly like this.

This search experience isn't optimal compared to a fully fledged search where you can order by modified dates, folder names, file names, and more. However, it is a real efficiency boost when I work, and I never leave context of what I'm doing when I need to quickly look something up in a doc, etc.

Calculator at your fingertips

I've been an avid user of the calc.exe command, launched from Win+R. I am getting used to a new way of performing my quick calculations, though.

Start any command in the PowerToys Run bar with = and it will become a calculation by the Windows Calculator. You can directly copy the results to the clipboard.

Simply enter a calculation, starting with the equal sign:


You'll see the results immediately:

Showing how PowerToys Run uses the Windows Calculator.

A drawback with this compared to using calc is that you don't see the history as you'd do in Windows Calculator, like this:

Windows Calculator showing the History.

You can of course, to feel modern, launch the calculator from the Run bar instead of Win+R 🙌.

Quickly launch applications

Launching applications, or searching for applications, can be done with the . character (dot). By default, if you just type text you'll get search results, recent commands, browser navigation, and more.

If you are looking for a specific application to launch, you can do that by prefixing the command with a dot. Like this:


You'll only see applications in the list now:

Launch applications from PowerToys Run.

Jump into the Windows Registry Editor

When you need to find or modify something in the Windows Registry, for whatever your reasons, you might have used regedit from the command line or launch window, or you may have used the Windows shortcut to the Registry:

Launching the Windows Registry Editor.

What I like about PowerToys Run, is how I can not just launch the registry editor, but I can jump into the specific parts I'm looking for directly from the Run command. It also supports wildcards directly in the Run bar, as you can see:

Searching for something in the Windows Registry from the PowerToys Run command.

Conveniently, when you hit enter you're immediately opening the Registry Editor at the given location. If you don't spend much time in the registry, perhaps this tip isn't as crucial - but nevertheless a quick way to search for paths and launch the editor.

Windows Registry Editor launched at the location we searched for.

While there are many great features and productivity enhancements that come with the PowerToys Run commands, these are the ones I'm making regular use of, and that I've been asked about mostly.

I hope it can be of use.


Tobias Zimmergren Twitter

Hi, I'm Tobias! 👋 I write about Microsoft Azure, security, cybersecurity, compliance, cloud architecture, Microsoft 365, and general tech!

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