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How to get the new Spotlight-like Microsoft launcher on Windows 10

One of the most exciting things Microsoft did last year was to resurrect PowerToys. PowerToys was a set of tools that power users used but they were useful for other end-users as well. Microsoft eventually discontinued the app.

The new PowerToys is still in preview but it’s been getting updates regularly. The latest update finally brings a much-awaited feature; a new launcher which is very much like Spotlight search on macOS.

Spotlight launcher on Windows 10

To get the new Spotlight-like launcher, follow the steps below;

  1. Visit the Github page for PowerToys and download the latest version available at the time.
  2. Run the MSI file.
  3. Once PowerToys is installed, run it with admin rights.
  4. Double-click the app’s icon in the system tray to open its settings.
  5. Go to the PowerToys Run tab and make sure that the feature is enabled.
  6. To use the launcher, tap Alt+Space to open it.
  7. Enter a search term, use the up/down arrow keys to select an item, and tap Enter.

Customizing PowerToys Run

By default, PowerToys run will not show you more than 4 items in the search results. You can change this, as well as the keyboard shortcut that you use to open it.

  1. Double-click the PowerToys icon in the system tray to open its settings.
  2. Go to the PowerToys Run tab.
  3. In ‘Maximum numbers for results‘ enter how many items you want to see when you search for something.
  4. Under the ‘Shortcuts’ section, record a new shortcut to open the launcher but make sure it doesn’t interfere with any other shortcut on the OS.

PowerToys Run is still in beta but, if it turns out to be better than Windows search which is a feature that users have been struggling with for years, it could replace it. It appears to be able to find files and folders right after installation. It may be utilizing the index of files that Windows 10 creates but it appears to be quicker, and more accurate on the draw.

Disable other PowerToys tools

If this is your first time using PowerToys and the launcher is the only tool you’re interested in using, you can disable all the other ones. Go to each tab (there is one for each tool), and turn off the ones you do not intend to use. The change will be applied right away so you don’t have to quit and relaunch PowerToys again.

If you’re already running PowerToys, you can perform an in-place update from the General tab on the app’s settings.

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