Power Toys are a set of useful Windows utilities that were originally developed
for Windows 95. They include features that the developers felt should have been
integrated into the 95 operating system, but that were never finished in time
(so the story goes). As a result, they were offered after the release
of Windows 95 as separate add-ons which could be downloaded for free from Microsoft.
The most popular Power Toys component is Tweak UI (User Interface). It should
be noted that Power Toys are not supported by Microsoft. This means if you run
into a problem, you can't expect Microsoft to help you. But don't let that scare
you from using them. Power Toys can add some very useful functions to your systemfunctions
that may become indispensable to you once you get used to them.
I should also note that Microsoft misleads you when it implies, with this bold
statement at their download site, that the original Power Toys should only be
used with Windows 95: THIS DOWNLOAD IS NOT INTENDED FOR USE ON PCS RUNNING
MICROSOFT® WINDOWS® 98. I can tell you from experienceand
so can many othersthat many of the original Power Toys work fine on Windows
98, ME and Windows XP. So don't let that statement scare you either.
But this fact does not apply to all the Power Toys! There are only a
few that don't work too well with 98 and up. In this article, I will explain
which ones you should or should not install with later versions of Windows.
IMPORTANT! Make sure to use the latest version of the Windows
95 Power Toys suite which you can download here:
Minor bug fixes have been made to the 95 Power Toys since they were first released,
so if you have a saved version on your hard drive from years back, scrap it
and download the currently available version.
Power Toys Update
Recently, Microsoft released the first new set of Power Toys since 95,
for Windows XP. These aren't updates to the 95 Power Toys, but a whole set of
new onescustom made for XP. They also install differently than the 95
ones do. Be sure to use the latest version of the XP Power Toys, as well, since
some revisions have been made since they were first released about a year ago.
The current version of Windows XP Power Toys are available here:
Ok, let's get into what these Power Toys consist of and how to install them.
We will begin with the original Power Toys and then cover the XP ones.
Windows 95 Power Toys
The whole set of Windows 95 Power Toys comes in a self extracting EXE file
Here is that download link again:
After downloading, place the EXE file inside a new folder, with nothing else
in it. Then double click on the EXE. This will extract the entire contents of
W95powertoy.exemade up of 31 filesinto your new folder. Alternately,
if you have Winzip, you can right click the EXE and choose to have the contents
extracted to a new folder, automatically.
One of the extracted Power Toy files is named Install.inf. This file
will install the entire suite of Power Toys on your computer. I DO
NOT RECOMMEND YOU DO THIS! Actually, you do not need to use Install.inf,
at all. So feel free to delete it. Each utility can be installed individually.
Installing them individually will allow you to choose only the Power
Toys that appeal to you. In addition, if you are using Windows 98 or higher,
installing the whole suite would be a bad idea, because, as was already mentioned,
there are a few Power Toys that don't work well with later versions of Windows
and some that simply aren't needed.
How To Install Individual Power Toy Components
Most of the Power Toys are made up of two files eacha DLL
or EXE file and an associated INF file. It is the INF file you use to install
the toy you want. You install it by right clicking the INF file
and choosing Install. If you organize the contents of your Power Toys
folder by name, you will see that the INF and their associated files both have
the same name, except for the extension. A few of the Power Toys are stand alone
EXEs with no INF file. In those cases, simply double clicking the EXE will launch
Windows 95 Power Toy Contents
- CD AutoPlay95/98/Me/XP (may or may not produce an error in
98 and later)
To use the CD AutoPlay on a Windows 95 system, Install both INF files.
This is useful for older CD-ROMs that are made without the AutoPlay standard.
With CD AutoPlay Extender installed, a dialog box will open up when you
insert a CD-ROM that doesn't have the Auto Play design. You will then
be able to view the contents of the CD or run the Setup file.
Some Windows 98 users report that this program brings up a DLL error
message, but once you click OK and exit the error message, the
utility works. I never had the problem myself using this with Windows
98. AutoPlay also gets installed with Flexi CD, so the same problem may
occur if you install that Power Toy, described next.
- Flexi CD95/98/Me/XP (may or may not produce an error in 98
Enhances the Windows 95 AutoPlay mode for audio CDs. With FlexiCD
installed, inserting an audio CD will automatically start playback.
This is just a simple CD player which resides in your system tray and enhances
AutoPlay for Windows 95 by adding auto play.
Clicking the tray icon brings up the Windows Multimedia Properties, allowing
you to control your CD. It also allows you to eject a CD or close the CD
Personally, I don't find this one too useful at all, even though it may
work on all systems without problems.
- Cabinet File Viewerfor Windows 95 ONLY
Handy extension for Win95 that lets you easily view the contents of cab
files as if they were ordinary folders. I used to like it when I had 95.
I preferred it to WinZip for cab file viewing. Do not use on 98 and
up. Problems have been reported where users could no longer open cab
files in 98 after installing Cabview.
- Round Clock95/98/Me/XP
This is one of those programs that doesn't have an INF file associated
with it. It's a simple stand alone EXE that, when clicked, displays the
time in either digital or analog (a round clock) format. You can also
set the font and display. Just double click it to see it in action. Cute,
but not very useful in my opinion.
- Explore from Here95/98/Me/XP
This adds an Explore from Here entry to the right click
menu of all folders. When you choose it, it opens Windows Explorer with
that folder as the root. Handy when you need or want an Explorer view
from any folder, as it saves you from having to launch Explorer to find
and open that folder in the Explorer view.
- Fast Folder Contents95/98/Me/XP
This one can be handy too. It adds a Contents option to the right
click menu of all your folders. Selecting it lets you see a list of
the entire contents of the folder. You can also open or execute any file
from that list. I have this one installed on 98se and works great!
This installs an icon in your system tray that displays the contents
of your desktop anytime you click it. Useful for 95, but 98 has a Desktop
toolbar that gives you access to your desktop contents, too. However it
can still be used in 98 to XP without problem.
- DOS From Here95/98/Me (doesn't work in XP)
This is useful if you work in DOS a lot. It adds a Dos From Here entry
to the right click menu of all folders. Choosing it opens up a Windows
DOS window with that folder set as the active directory at the prompt. For
example, if you have a desktop folder named "Stuff" you can right
click on it and choose Dos From Here. The command prompt will be C:\Windows\Desktop\Stuff.
Works in 98/Me, too.
- Find Xnot handy for 98 up
This is an enhancment of Windows Find component to make it more useful
for Windows 95. It allows you to add categories and new extensions. It's
accessible from Add/Remove Programs. One thing it does, which is
not part of 98, is that it allows you to search the Internet, too. Works
on 98/Me and XP. However, with XP I found that it gives an error when uninstalling.
- QuickResnot needed in 98 and up
You may like this one in 95. It adds an icon to the Task Bar that, when
clicked, displays your monitors resolutions and settings, and allows you
to change them without having to reboot. This feature was integrated into
This is my can't live without, all time favorite Power Toyone I've
been using since 95 and, contrary to what many believe, works on XP Pro
without problem, too. It's a most useful enhancement to your Send To
Here are the most useful commands it adds to it:
- Send To Any Folder (right click any file and copy or move it to any
folder on your system)
- Send To Clipboard as Contents (copies the contents of files to clipboardmost
useful for text files)
- Send To Clipboard as Name (copies just the file name/path to clipboard)
- Send To Command Line (copies the file name/path to the command linei.e.,
the Run box)
- Send To Email Recipient (right click any file and choose Send To
Email Recipient and the file will automatically be inserted into
a new email message)
NOTE! Some users have reported problems using the Windows 98 Send
To Desktop feature after installing SendToX . It just stops
working. If this is a problem on your system, you can download registry
fixes from the files section of WinTips&Tricks at this link:
SendTo Fix for Windows 98
SendTo Fix for Windows XP
Personally, I've used SendToX on 95, 98, and XP without any fix or problem.
Note! If you are not a member of WinTips&Tricks and
would like to join, you can do so here:
Also, more tips on using Windows SendTo feature can be found in this
This is another one of my favorites that I've been using for years. This
one adds a Target entry to the right click menu of your
shortcutsboth Windows and DOS shortcuts. Simply right click the
shortcut, choose Target and the directory containing the shortcuts
target file will open with the target file highlighted. This is another
one I use in both 98 and XP without problem.
NOTE! The earlier version of this toy caused problems for some
users. Right clicking a shortcut would cause their computer to crash.
If you have this problem, there's a little registry fix available for
this, too, in my Files section:
Or, if you're not a reg newbie and would like to do it manually, it involves
deleting these 3 keys:
Again, personally I have not had any problems with the Target toy in
98 or XP and the majority of users do not experience this problem.
- Xmousenot recommended in 98 up (feature available in Tweak
This is another stand alone EXE file that appeals mostly to Unix users.
It causes the active window to follow your mouse. In other words, it changes
the active window to the one the mouse is pointing to. You probably won't
find this one very useful, but may want to experiment with it for fun.
It also puts an icon in your Control Panel where you can adjust settings
for it. If you're using the later version of TweakUI, you won't need this,
as it's included in the Mouse tab.
- TweakUI95/98/Me/NT/2000 and XP with caution
This is the one everyone knows about and the most useful of all the Power
Toys. TweakUI allows you to make all sorts of system tweaks
without having to mess with the registry.
It adds a Control Panel icon which you use to implement the tweaks you
want. In XP, there is one tweak in particular that should be avoided using
this version (1.33). It's the Log on automatically at startup.
Avoid that one like the plague! It is known to cause XP to freeze during
What you should know about Tweak UI
The TweakUI 1.33 included in the Windows 95 Power Toys is old! It
has been updated and a later version can be found on the Windows 98 CD
or downloaded from the net via this link:
The later version is improved, includes many more options, and works
on all versions of Windows from 95 to XP. However, in the case of Windows
XP, I advise using the new TweakUI 2.0 made specifically for XP. But do
not try to use the new Windows XP TweakUI in previous Windows 9x version,
as it not work!
Reported problems using Tweak UI in Windows versions later than 95
The following list was compiled by online correspondent Koldbear
from studying numerous newsgroup posts:
- Do not change the first icon (My Computer) on the Desktop
tab. Doing this disables some desktop context menu items on Windows
- Do not uncheck Search Results on the Desktop tab. You'll lose
the search function altogether. Again, this is a Win ME issue. In Win
XP, this produces a yellow triangle with an exclamation point.
- Do not hide the TweakUI icon on the Control Panel tab. It will
be difficult to use TweakUI if you do!
- Do not uncheck Show Control Panel on Start Menu on the IE tab.
You'll be unable to access the Control Panel at all.
- Do not uncheck Shell Enhancements on the IE tab.You'll lose
more functions than you might think!
Windows XP Power Toys
This is the first new version of Power Toys developed for Windows since
the original 95 ones. However, most of these new Power Toys do not replace or
update the 95 ones. Most are brand new utilities made specifically for Windows
XP. This means that some of the 95 Power Toys are still useful for XP.
Unlike the 95 Power Toys, the entire suite of XP Power Toys are not available
as one compressed, self-extracting EXE file. Each XP Powertoy is an individual
download as an EXE file. Just double click the associated EXEs file to install
The XP suite is also much larger than the 95 suite, which could easily fit
on a floppy disk. The 10 XP Power Toys executables are about 5.60meg, as compared
to under 500 KB for the 15 Windows 95 Power Toy utilities.
Again, as was mentioned earlier, make sure to download the latest XP Power
Toys. Some changes have already been made since they were originally released.
Important! Be sure to uninstall any previous version of the same Power
Toy before installing a new version. If you don't, you may run into problems.
Note! The following XP Power Toys are no longer available in the current
Shell Media Player
Faster User Switcher
ISO Image Burner
Apparently problems were reported and they've been withdrawn. So if you have
any of these older Power Toys and they work fine for you, be sure to save them,
because you can't get them anymoreat least, not from Microsoft.
- Tweak UI
This is the best TweakUI version that has been made, but only works on
Windows XP. This new TweakUI is a completely stand alone EXE. You can run
it from anywhere, no installation needed. Much like msconfig.exejust
double click it and it's ready to use. It also includes a button to launch
the Group Policy Editor, from which a multitude of other settings
can be altered. However, this only works with the Pro (or Corporate)
version of XP, as there is no Group Policy Editor in the Home version. Unlike
the previous Tweak UI, this one doesn't place an icon in your Control Panel,
nor is it run from there. However, if you would like to have the XP Tweak
UI in your Control Panel, you can use a reg hack to put it there.
- Image Resizer