PowerToys for Windows 10 – FancyZone Tile Manager

Powertoys is Microsoft’s latest project that seeks to add some juice and flair to the Windows Desktop Experience. It ships with a suite of nifty utilities tailored to enhance productivity and spice up the desktop user experience for Windows 10 users. The release includes FancyZones, a swanky  Windows tiling manager and its shortcut key guide.

FancyZones makes it possible for users to create fancy Windows layouts and neatly align windows into the layouts.  The PowerToys project is hosted by Microsoft on GitHub and you can download the latest release on its GitHub page Be sure to download the .msi installer and run it.

PowerToys FancyZones Installation

Prerequisites

Before installing PowerToys, ensure you have the following set of prerequisites:

  1. Windows 10 1803 64-bit with build 10.0.17134.0 or higher.
  2. Windows SDK 10.0.18362.0 or higher
  3. Visual Studio 2019 community or later alongside Desktop development with C++

 Let’s now dive in and get started with FancyZone’s features.

Getting started with FancyZones

Once you have installed FancyZones, be sure to locate the PowerToys icon in the system tray as shown.

PowerToys FancyZone Quick Launch

Proceed and double-click the icon to launch the ‘Settings‘ panel. A list of possible modules will be displayed. Feel free to enable the modules you want but be sure to turn on FancyZones’ toggle button. Next, head out and click on the ‘FancyZones’ option on the left-hand menu just below ‘General Settings‘.

PowerToys General Settings

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Configuring your Windows layout

In the FancyZones tab, click on the ‘Edit zones‘ button as shown below.

Configuring FancyZones

Selecting the Layout

This opens the  ‘Choose your layout‘ Window that allows you to select your most preferred window layout. There are five default templates Focus, Columns, Rows, Grid, and Priority Grid. You can increase or decrease the zones in the templates with the help of the Plus/Minus buttons.

At the bottom, you can choose to display some space around the zones by checking on the ‘Show space around zones‘ checkbox. You can also increase or decrease the space by using the number box of Space around zones. Once you are done, click on the ‘Apply’ button. 

Configuring FancyZones Templates

Using the FancyZones

At this point, you are now good to go. To move an application into a zone, simply click and drag the application’s title bar and press the SHIFT key to display the zones you can drag it into. Drop the Window into the zone and it will automatically be resized to fill up the region.

Configuring FancyZones 2

Editing the Templates or Editing the Custom Zones

You can edit the template or layout by selecting the template and clicking on Edit selected layout. Similarly, if you want to add custom layout then you can click on the Custom tab, select the Create new custom and then click on Edit selected layout. Now you can manually edit the layout or create your own custom layouts.

Create Custom Layout

While editing a template you get a line to create a partition in the zones. Press the Shift button to change between horizontal or vertical lines and click to create partition. You can adjust the area or zones using the = buttons.

Configuring FancyZones Templates 1

While creating custom layouts click on Add new zone to add more zones in your layout. You can remove them by clicking on the cross icons. Also, you can increase or decrease their size by dragging the borders. Don’t forget to click on Save and apply.

Editing Custom Zones

FancyZones settings

In the FancyZones settings, you will find a list of configuration options, most of which are self-explanatory. Of importance is the ‘Override Windows Snap hotkeys‘ that allow FancyZones to entirely take the place of  Windows 10’s Snap functionality. Turning on this feature implies that the hotkey combination of  Windows Key + Cursor right will be disabled and will not allow windows to snap into half of your desktop monitor. Instead, this will move the windows into the newly created FancyZones regions.

The other option is the ‘Move newly created windows to their last known zone‘. This makes the windows ‘remember’ the region they were last in. For instance, if Outlook is above Skype, then enabling this option implies that you wouldn’t need to drag these applications into their zones every time they are launched. Cool stuff right?

FancyZone Settings

The Takeaway

Wrapping up, the PowerToys is still in its nascent stage but promises to add more features and developments in subsequent releases.

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