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Most users who do any serious tweaking of their system to enhance usability are familiar with the Power Toys that Microsoft has made available for Windows. Like previous versions, once a product has been released to manufacturing the Power Toys have followed. Microsoft makes it quite clear that the toys are not supported in any way and they are to be used at your own risk. I’ve seen it reported that the Power Toys were included on the Windows XP CD’s, but this is false as stated in KB Article Q310176. Microsoft had announced there would be an updated version of the Power Toys available in January of 2002. This date was pushed back and they are now expected in April 2002. Check here for latest info. Until the new toys are released, a search of the net should reveal a number of sites where the older version is available for download. A description of the original XP Power Toys follows.
The XP Power Toys
CD Slide Show Generator
Enables viewing images burned to a CD as a slide show. Use the Wizard to add and reorder the images then select the format for the slide Show. The slide show is viewable on any Windows based PC whether or not it is running Windows XP.
Resize one or many image files. Choose from one of four standard sizes or choose a size that is user specified. Options allow resizing of the original image or resizing a copy, preserving the original image. Image Resizer is a context menu item. Right click any image(s) and click [Resize Pictures].
ISO Writing Wizard
[ I've been told ISO Writing Wizard is available here. I haven't tried it or verified the download. ]
If you have the need to write ISO Images to CD use this Wizard to complete the task.
Open Command Window Here
An extremely handy Power Toy that adds the [Open Command Window Here] context menu option on file system folders. Rather than opening a command window to C:\ and navigating to the desired location, this toy provides users a quick way to open a command window (cmd.exe) pointing at the selected folder. Right click on the folder you would like to have a quick launch command window for and select [Open Command Window Here].
A calculator with support to graph and evaluate functions and perform conversions.
Switching eliminates going back to the Logon screen to switch to
another user. Press and hold the Windows key and then press the Q
key to cycle through available users. When the desired user tile is
showing on the screen release the Windows key to switch to this
This is supposed to be an enhancement to the existing existing Alt + Tab application switching mechanism of Windows XP. It provides a thumbnail preview of windows in the task list. Microsoft states it is compliant with the new Windows XP visual style, but in my tests the window it opens is fuzzy enough to be almost unreadable. You use this just as you do the existing Alt + Tab mechanism. Press and hold the Alt key and then press the Tab key to cycle through the running applications. When the desired application is highlighted release the Alt key. Move backwards through the task list by pressing and holding the Shift and Alt key and then pressing the Tab key.
Taskbar Magnifier allows you to open a magnifier screen on the taskbar next to the Notification area. The magnified image follows the focus of the mouse cursor. The Taskbar Magnifier is similar to the magnifier found in Accessibility options but with a smaller viewing area. Right click on the taskbar, click toolbars, and then click [Taskbar Magnifier] to activate Taskbar Magnifier.
Tweak UI is basically a safe way to alter registry settings for tweaking different aspects of XP by providing access to system settings that are not exposed in the Windows XP default user interface. Customization of Explorer, Taskbar, My Computer and many other settings are supported by Tweak UI.
Virtual Desktop Manager
If you like to organize your work by desktops, Virtual Desktop Manager allows Management of up to four (4) desktops from the Windows taskbar. Each desktop can be configured independently to run selected applications. Right click [Taskbar], click [Toolbars], and click [Desktop Manager] to launch the toy.
Allows taking and saving of single or multiple pictures from a webcam(s) connected to your computer at specified time intervals under a specified location and filename. Pictures may be saved to a network share, an ftp share, or an http webdav share.