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Users are always searching for ways to make their computing lives better–the Windows 10 PowerToys are made specifically for this purpose.

No matter how many features Microsoft crams into its Windows 10 operating system, there will always be users looking for a faster, better, or at the very least, different way of doing things. The iteration of an operating system (no matter how well it works) is just part of human nature and it cannot be suppressed, so, why not embrace it?

Microsoft’s acknowledgement of this force of human nature is the Windows 10 PowerToys download. A set of slightly unusual free Windows tools has been a part of the Windows operating system landscape since Windows 95, but their availability has been noticeably absent for Windows 10—at least until September 2019.

In 2019, Microsoft, in partnership with development company Janea Systems, released the first two PowerToys for Windows 10, accompanied by a promise of more releases in the near future. This TechRepublic cheat sheet describes each available tool or feature provided by Microsoft’s official Windows 10 PowerToys. Note: This article is also available as a download–Cheat sheet: Windows 10 PowerToys (free PDF).

SEE: 20 pro tips to make Windows 10 work the way you want (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

When was Windows PowerToys first available?

The first set of Windows PowerToys were made available for Windows 95. That first set of 15 free utilities were published and endorsed by Microsoft and made available in a free download.

From the beginning, PowerToys were designed to be used by “power users” seeking ways to tweak the way the operating system functions. In some cases, a careless change made using a PowerToys utility by an inexperienced user could cause havoc with the Windows operating system, so novice users were encouraged to use caution.

For the most part, though, PowerToys would allow users, whether they considered themselves “power” or not, to more easily make tweaks to the look and feel of Windows without a deep dive into configuration screens or the dreaded and dangerous edit of the Windows Registry file. Windows 95 PowerToys included:

  • TweakUI was used for tweaking obscure Windows settings.
  • CD Autoplay allowed all CDs to autoplay, not just audio CDs.
  • Command Prompt Here opened a command prompt in the current directory.
  • Explore from Here opened File Explorer in the current directory.
  • FlexiCD allowed a user to control an audio CD from the Taskbar.
  • Xmouse 1.2 allowed a user to change window focus by moving the mouse cursor, no click needed.

Through the years and the various Windows versions, individual PowerToys have come and gone. Each new Windows version inspired a new set of tools based on what developers perceived was needed to improve and enhance that version. Windows 10 has inspired a completely new set of PowerToys.

Additional resources

How can I get Windows 10 PowerToys?

Traditionally, each power toy has been offered as a separate executable file, available as a free download from a specific Microsoft website. For Windows 10, Microsoft is taking a slightly different approach: All Windows 10 PowerToys are now included as part of a free downloadable system that users can configure. Figure A shows you what the Windows 10 PowerToys system looks like.

Figure A

Windows 10 PowerToys Version 0.20.0 is available on GitHub right now. Release v0.20.0 adds a Color Picker to the list of PowerToys utilities. This app allows users to pick a color from their screen and save it to the Windows 10 clipboard.

These PowerToys are currently available:

  • FancyZones
  • Windows key Shortcut Guide
  • PowerRename
  • Preview Pane addons for File Explorer
  • Image resizer
  • Window walker
  • PowerToys Run
  • Keyboard Manager
  • Color Picker

SEE: All of TechRepublic’s cheat sheets and smart person’s guides

What can Windows 10 PowerToys do?

Here is a list of available Windows 10 PowerToys with a brief description of what each toy does.

FancyZones

FancyZones allows users to manage where and how each separate application window open on a Windows 10 desktop will display.

For example, you could use FancyZones to set up a Windows 10 desktop where Outlook always displays on the right-hand side of the desktop, Twitter or other social media always displays on the left-hand side of the desktop, and Word or Excel always displays in the middle between the other two. There would be three distinct and perpetual zones displayed at all times. Figure B shows how you select that configuration.

Figure B

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Figure B

Windows key Shortcut Guide

The Windows key Shortcut Guide will display all of the available keyboard shortcuts for the current Windows 10 desktop (Figure C). This PowerToy is activated by holding the Windows key down for the length of time specified in the tool’s configuration settings. The default is 900ms. Now users won’t have to remember all those Windows key-related shortcut combinations.

Figure C

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Figure C

PowerRename

The PowerRename Windows 10 PowerToy provides users with advanced tools for bulk renaming of file names. The toy extends the Windows Shell Context Menu to add an entry for PowerRename to File Explorer (Figure D). With PowerRename enabled, simple search and replace or more powerful regular expression matching to the bulk renaming process are added to your toolset. A preview area is displayed as you perform search and replace procedures so users can see how file names will change before initiating the action.

Figure D

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Preview Pane addons for File Explorer

This Windows 10 PowerToy expands on the Preview Pane feature already available in the standard File Explorer application by adding additional file types. Preview Pane allows users to preview the contents of a file after clicking it in File Explorer without actually opening the file, as shown in Figure E. Version 0.16.0 adds preview support for Scalable Vector Graphics (.svg) and Markdown (.md) files. Additional file types are in development.

Figure E

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Image Resizer

The Image Resizer Windows 10 PowerToy adds additional functionality to File Explorer by allowing users to apply bulk image resizing. Users select images in File Explorer and then select the new Resize pictures item on the context menu (Figure F), revealed with a right-click on any image.

Figure F

f-windows10-powertoys-cheat-sheet.jpg

Windows Walker

The Windows Walker Windows 10 PowerToy is designed to be an alternative to the standard Alt-Tab feature of Windows 10. Users press the CTRL-Windows key combination instead of Alt-Tab to pull up a search box (Figure G). A user enters keywords into the search box to narrow down the currently open apps and screens on their desktop.

Figure G

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PowerToys Run

PowerToys Run acts as a quick launcher in Windows 10. It is another extension of the ALT-Tab concept and taps into the Windows 10 file indexing system. To activate the tool, use the keyboard combination ALT-Space and start typing the name of your desired application, as shown in Figure H. PowerToys Run will search the system and start listing possible applications based on your search phrase. When the application you desire appears, click or tap to run.

Figure H

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Keyboard Manager

The Keyboard Manager application in Windows 10 PowerToys is a simple keyboard re-mapper. Run the application from the PowerToys menu (Figure I) and either remap a single key on your keyboard or remap a shortcut keyboard combination. Whatever you remap will remain active as long as Keyboard Manager is enabled and PowerToys is running in the background.

Figure I

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Color Picker

Color Picker was contributed to the Windows 10 PowerToys project by Martin Chrzan. The utility allows you to identify any color on your screen by either its HEX or RGB code and then save that information to the Windows 10 clipboard for later use (Figure J). It is a simple tool, but it can save time and prevent frustration for developers and content creators working on color design.

Figure J

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New Windows 10 PowerToys will be added to the list of available tools periodically.

Additional resources

Why are Windows 10 PowerToys important?

Windows 10 PowerToys provide tools and features that can make users of the Windows operating system more productive and, by extension, happier. Over the years, many users have come to depend on one or more of these PowerToys for their daily computer productivity. For many power users, PowerToys improve their quality of life.

Beyond making users more productive, PowerToys have also provided a glimpse of what features and tools could become an integral part of the Windows operating system in the future. Many of these once separate tools have become just another part of the operating system during its next iteration.

Additional resources

Editor’s note: This article was updated to reflect Windows 10 PowerToys version 0.19.0.

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Samsung Brings Its Flagship Camera Innovation to Galaxy A Series – Galaxy A71 & A51, to Make Your Social Profile Lit

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Our social media profiles are reflection of our true personalities. Needless to say, we make that extra effort to make them look and feel special. What helps us in the process is a powerful smartphone that can not only capture stunning photos and videos, but also help us quickly process and share them across to our friends and family members.

Samsung’s phones are known for their excellent smartphone cameras. Over the years, the company has been shipping highly innovative and impressive cameras on its flagship smartphones. Samsung is now bringing its innovative flagship camera experiences to its Galaxy A series phones, the Samsung Galaxy A51 and Galaxy A71. These new flagship-level features can help you spice up your social media profiles by capturing and sharing stunning photographs and videos.

Let’s take a look at some of the most impressive new camera features in Samsung’s Galaxy A71 and Galaxy A51 smartphones at can help you take your social media posts to the next level:

Single Take Makes Your Special Moments Extra Ordinary

Everything you do is worth sharing on your social media profiles and messaging platforms. Your social profiles help you stay connected to your loved ones by helping you share your most memorable moments. Single Take is a new feature on Galaxy A71 and Galaxy A51 smartphones, which was earlier available only on Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S20 series.

Single Take lets you indulge in your special moments, while still capturing the best parts of it. Imagine being at a birthday celebration of a loved one, and wondering about which camera mode to select. Single Take can help you enjoy the moment while still being able to capture all the important details in the form of 10 photos and videos based on the moment and lighting condition.

All you have to do is pick Single Take mode, and capture a moment for a few seconds. Your Galaxy A71 or Galaxy A51 phone will be able to deliver stunning photos and videos that ensure you don’t miss out on anything important, and still end up with a bunch of great photos and videos to share on your social media profile.

Night Hyperlapse to Impress Everyone on Your Feed

Out at a party? The new Night Hyperlapse mode can help you capture stunning night-time videos to impress your social media friends and family. The mode helps you capture long-exposure style videos and light trails that are nothing but pieces of pure bliss when you share them on your social media profiles. Your friends and family will nudge you, asking you how you captured these. Night Hyperlapse mode is now available on Samsung Galaxy A71 and Galaxy A51 phones.

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Custom Filters to Add that Special Touch to Your Photos

While social media is fun, it’s also filled with a lot of noise. You’re not going to make it if you don’t look different and extra special. Well, Samsung has you covered here as well. The new Custom Filters feature in the Samsung Galaxy A71 and Galaxy A51 can help you create stunning and highly personalized photos using custom-set filters.

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All you have to do is create a custom filter using any of your existing photos. Custom Filters uses on-device AI to capture the rich colours and vibes of your existing photos. You can then use these filters and apply them on new photos you capture on the Galaxy A71 or Galaxy A51 to create personalized photos. Once you share these on your social media profiles, they’ll look stunning and extraordinary, unlike anyone else’s photos.

Smart Selfie Angle to Make You and Your Friends Looks Great

Selfies are quite an essential part of social media. While everyone is shooting and sharing selfies, not all of them are going to look as good as yours, thanks to this highly innovative camera feature on the Galaxy A71 and Galaxy A51.

The new Smart Selfie Angle mode on the Samsung Galaxy A71 and Galaxy A51 help you capture great selfies with your friends. Every time you use the front camera to capture a selfie with your friends, the camera can automatically switch to a wide-angle mode. The mode is built to capture great details when more than one person is involved in a selfie. This means your selfies with your friends are going to look fabulous when you share them on your social media profiles.

AI Gallery Zoom Adds That Magical Touch to Existing Photos

AI Gallery Zoom is a great feature that can help you improve existing photos on your phone. For example, if you get one of your photos from a friend, on a messaging platform, it could turn out to be slightly blurred due to compression systems.

This feature ensures those unclear photos look more clear in your Gallery. It can make images look sharper and visually appealing, so you can easily share them on your social media profiles. The feature uses an on-device AI-powered mechanism so your personal data doesn’t leave your phone ever. The feature is also useful if you’re migrating from an older, less powerful smartphone, and are importing photos from it.

Switch Camera While Recording Is Perfect for Vlogging

While most smartphones feature front and rear cameras, they rarely let you capture a single video using both the cameras. Well, Samsung’s Galaxy A71 and Galaxy A51 phones can now let you record videos using both the cameras without stopping recording. It’s an amazing feature that’s perfect while you’re sharing live videos or simply making a quick vlog for your social media profiles.

Quick Videos Ensure You Don’t Miss Anything

Consider this, you come across a really special moment, and by the time you fire up the Camera app on your phone and start recording the video, it’s gone. Samsung Galaxy A71 and Galaxy A51 now come with a new feature called Quick Videos that takes care of this problem.

You can now quickly capture a video by long-pressing the shutter button. This way, you can easily record a great video and share it on your social media profile. Quick Videos feature is ideal while you’re at home or on a vacation, and you simply want to capture a quick moment and share it with everyone.

Samsung Galaxy A71 and Galaxy A51 Are Perfect for Social Influencers

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What’s stopping you from becoming the next big thing on a major social media platform? It could be your existing smartphone. Switch to the new and powerful Samsung Galaxy A71 or Galaxy A51 and feel the difference today. The smartphones now come with Samsung’s highly innovative and powerful flagship-grade smartphone features that can make your social media posts pop, turning you into a celebrity amongst your fans and followers.

Click here to buy now and for more specified details of the latest Samsung Galaxy A51

Click here to buy now and for more specified details of the latest Samsung Galaxy A71

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How to copy expressions without changing cell references in Excel

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Microsoft Excel updates cell references when you copy an expression. Here are a couple of workarounds for those rare occasions when you don’t want to change the cell references.

Image: AndreyPopov, Getty Images/iStockphoto

Microsoft Excel has a helpful behavior in regard to copying expressions. After entering a row or column of expressions, you can copy them, and Excel will update the cell references according. Otherwise, you’d have to enter all expressions manually and that would be tedious and open to error. However, it’s not uncommon to run up against a situation when you won’t want to update the references. There’s no easy built-in way to do this. In this article, I’ll show you two quick workarounds for copying expressions without updating the cell references.

SEE: 60 Excel tips every user should master (TechRepublic)

I’m using Microsoft 365 on a Window 64-bit system, but this works in older versions. You can work with your own data or download the demonstration .xls file. Both methods work in the browser. 

How copy works with expressions in Excel

When you copy an expression by using the fill handle, Excel updates relative cell references. For instance, if you copy the simple expression =B3/C3 one cell to the right, Excel will adjust the column reference and enter the expression =C3/D3. If the column reference is absolute ($), Excel will change nothing, and copy =$B3/$C3. However, if you copy the expression down one row, Excel will update the row reference because it isn’t absolute: =$B4/$C4. The same behavior is in play whether you use Ctrl+C to copy the expression or move it. This behavior makes it difficult—impossible—to copy an expression when you don’t want to update the cell references unless all of those references are absolute: =$B$3/$C$3. 

SEE: TechRepublic Premium editorial calendar: IT policies, checklists, toolkits, and research for download (TechRepublic Premium)

The easy way handles a single expression in Excel

If you have only a few expressions to copy, retaining the original references, you can use the formula bar in edit mode. It’s quick, easy and gets the job done. We can illustrate this using the simple data set shown in Figure A as follows:

  1. Select D3.
  2. Go to the formula bar and highlight the entire expression.
  3. Press Ctrl+C.
  4. Press Esc.
  5. Select the destination cell, F3, and press Ctrl+V.

As you can see in the data set to the right in Figure A, both expressions reference the same cells, B3 and C3. If you’re working in the browser, you’ll need to erase the ‘ character in the destination cell before it will evaluate the expression.

Figure A

excelcopyexp-a.jpg

  Let’s copy the expressions in column D without updating the cell references. 

This method is quick and easy but works with one or a few expressions. If you have a lot of expressions, this method will take a long time. Now, let’s look at a second method that takes a bit more work but works with lots of expressions simultaneously.

The hard way handles many expressions in Excel

If you want to make the same change to several instances of the same content, what tool do you usually use? Replace—that’s right! That’s the tool we’re going to use to copy many expressions without changing the cell references at the same time:

  • First, we’ll add a special character to the beginning of selected expressions using = as the Find string and # as the replace string Excel will treat the expressions as text 
  • Then, we’ll copy the expressions to the new destination.
  • Finally, we’ll replace the special character we used in step 1 with the = character.

SEE: How to expose expressions that return a defined error value in Microsoft Excel (TechRepublic)

Now, let’s run through a quick example using the expressions in column D:

  1. Select D3:D8.
  2. Press Ctrl+h or choose Replace from the Find & Select dropdown in the Editing group (on the Home tab)
  3. Enter = in the Find what control.
  4. Enter # in the Replace with control (Figure B). You don’t have to use #; you can use most any other character but use one that’s not in use or you might get unexpected results. That’s why I chose #. If # is in use, come up with another character or even a string of characters, such as AAA or ZZZ.
  5. Click Replace All.
  6. Click OK to confirm and Close.

As you can see in Figure C, Excel treats all of the selected expressions as text.

Figure B

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  Enter the find and replace characters.

Figure C

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  Excel displays the expressions as text.

Using your favorite copy and paste method, copy the contents of D3:D8 to F3:F8. Now, it’s time to replace the # character with the = character. To do so, repeat the above instructions, but in step 3, enter # and in step 4, enter =, reversing the original search strings. When you’re done, you will have matching expressions in columns D and F (Figure D). You can select both sets by creating a non-contiguous selection or you can run the Replace task twice.

Figure D

excelcopyexp-d.jpg

  With a few easy steps, you copied a selection of expressions without changing the cell references.

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A Human-Computer Duet System for Music Performance

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Despite the popularity of virtual musicians, most of them cannot play together with human musicians following their tempo or create their own behaviors without the aid of human characters. The authors of a recent paper created a virtual violinist having these characteristics.

A Human Computer Duet System for Music Performance

Image credit: 刘睿忱 via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

It can track music and adapt to the human pianist’s tempo varying with time and with performance, making the two voices harmonized. The virtual musician’s body movements are generated directly from the music. The motion generator is trained on a music video dataset of violin performance and a pose sequence synchronized with live performance is generated.

These features mean that the human musician can practice, rehearse, and perform music with the virtual musician like with a real human, by following the music content. The proposed system has successfully performed in a ticket-selling concert, where a movement from Beethoven’s Spring Sonata was played. 

Virtual musicians have become a remarkable phenomenon in the contemporary multimedia arts. However, most of the virtual musicians nowadays have not been endowed with abilities to create their own behaviors, or to perform music with human musicians. In this paper, we firstly create a virtual violinist, who can collaborate with a human pianist to perform chamber music automatically without any intervention. The system incorporates the techniques from various fields, including real-time music tracking, pose estimation, and body movement generation. In our system, the virtual musician’s behavior is generated based on the given music audio alone, and such a system results in a low-cost, efficient and scalable way to produce human and virtual musicians’ co-performance. The proposed system has been validated in public concerts. Objective quality assessment approaches and possible ways to systematically improve the system are also discussed.

Link: https://arxiv.org/abs/2009.07816