What would you like to see in Vista Power Toys?

Starting with Tweak UI for Windows 95, Microsoft has a long tradition of releasing geeky utilities that quickly become essentials for Windows power users. Now that Vista has been out for a few months, the first batch of power toys can't be far behind. I'm starting a list of ideas on the chance that someone at Microsoft is looking for some inspiration. Add your suggestions here.
Written by Ed Bott, Senior Contributing Editor on

Microsoft has a long tradition of releasing power toys for Windows. These are invariably unsupported (although the batch written for Windows XP were pretty polished) and generally pretty darn useful.

Power toys tend to come out when you least expect them, often starting out as a hobby project for a Microsoft programmer (Raymond Chen, author of the original Tweak UI, would be the first member of my Windows Hall of Fame). I suspect it takes some pushing to get Microsoft’s semi-official blessing and be released as unsupported code, so we might not see them until after SP1.

So, dear ‘Softies, on the off chance that you or someone you know is working on Vista’s Tweak UI and other would-be power toys, here are some ideas, absolutely free (and worth every penny). If you’ve seen some Microsoft utilities floating around that deserve wider mention, post them in the Talkback section. And if you’ve got a favorite tweak you’d like to see in a power toy, add your suggestions to the list here.

Here’s what I want to see in Vista Power Toys:

1. Search Toy. Give me a stripped-down search tool where I can set some criteria in a small dialog box and get results like the ones that appear on the Start menu when you use the Search box. You could start with Brandon Paddock’s Start++ and not go wrong.

2. Save My Settings. Let me save the settings for any individual program installed on my Vista PC. If I have program A, B, and C on my system, I’d like to save all the personalization information I’ve saved in the registry and in various settings files and templates. I would love a snapshot of my settings for Snag-It or BlogJet or Clear Context IMS Professional or ClipMate or RoboForm or OneNote or any of the other programs I can’t live without and install on any new system as soon as possible. The Windows Easy Transfer wizard does some of this, but I want a quicker version that will work with one or two programs at a time instead of my entire system.

3. Move Public Folders. Currently, you have to hack the registry to change the location of the Public folders to a drive other than the system drive. I’d like to be able to move these files with a couple Tweak UI clicks.

4. A point-and-click interface for RoboCopy. What? You haven’t heard of the Robust File Copy Utility, Robocopy.exe? It’s a command-line power user’s copy command, introduced in the Windows 2003 Resource Kit Tools and installed in the WindowsSystem32 folder in all editions of Windows Vista. Microsoft’s Derk Benisch has already produced Robocopy GUI. It deserves a wider audience.

OK, those are my suggestions. So what would you add to this list?

(PS: Blatantly copying great features from other operating systems is no problem at all. A good idea is a good idea.)

Editorial standards