Windows XP Powertoys

Years ago I used remember downloading a suite of programs designed to allow Windows users to add functionality to their Operating System as well as alter more advanced settings not readily available so whilst searching for something to write about today I thought I’d check that these products were still available free of charge from the Microsoft website.Fortunately the group of products known as ‘Windows Powertoys’ are not only still available but they have also recently been updated and so it seemed obvious that I should mention their existence in this article.

All these products designed for Windows XP were created after the Operating System had actually been released and can be downloaded from the rather uncatchy website address http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/downloads/powertoys/xppowertoys.mspx

Below I have listed what I believe to be the most useful PowerToys available along with a brief description of the functionality they will add to your Windows XP machine so you can decide whether you should spend your time downloading them:

Tweak UI

This is especially useful for more advanced Windows users as it allows you to alter more advanced settings in Windows XP which aren’t normally accessible through the standard Windows interface.

Alt-Tab Replacement

As you know when you hit <ALT> and <Tab> together you can cycle through the programs that are currently running to multitask between applications.This useful utility will change the selection box that appears so that you can actually preview the application in question before switching to it which is beneficial if you are running several instances of one program; for example five Internet Explorer windows.

Power Calculator

Particularly useful for mathematicians or scientists; this calculator allows you to draw graphs and work with functions which are features missing from the standard Windows calculator.

Image Resizer

This utility allows you to select a large number of images and instantly resize them which is useful particularly if you wish to make them smaller in order to send by e-mail or to save space on your hard drive.

Taskbar Magnifier

Particularly useful for those that have difficulty reading a computer screen; this utility allows you to magnify a given part of the screen on request.

Slide Shows

There are two utilities available here; one to create HTML slide shows of your digital pictures (useful for those wishing to publish their pictures on the Internet) as well as one designed for viewing images burned onto a CD as a slide show.

There are several other utilities other than the ones mentioned above that are certainly worth a look; I think that most Windows XP users would benefit from at least one of these and the good news is that as well as being free they can also be downloaded individually so you need only install the ones that you actually need.The size of the utilities varies from 0.2mb up to 2mb so even those on the most modest of connections shouldn’t have a problem downloading.

About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.

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