PowerToys 0.64 launches with File Locksmith and Hosts File Editor

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 3, 2022
Windows software
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Microsoft released PowerToys 0.64 Stable to the public today. The new version of the open source tools collection for Windows includes two new programs and other changes.

file locksmith in PowerToys

The two programs, File Locksmith and Hosts File Editor, have been in testing for some time. The first, File Locksmith, adds a "What's using this file?" context menu entry to File Explorer. It reveals which processes on Windows are using the file right now.

The program's main purpose is to give users information that Windows itself does not provide when actions such as delete or move are executed. If a file is in use, certain actions may not be executed by the operating system. Windows does not reveal necessary information about that to the user, but File Locksmith does.

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File Locksmith may look up information for one or multiple files in one go. Note that the context menu entry is in the classic File Explorer context menu on Windows 11 and not in the modernized version.  The scan takes a second or two before results are shown in a program window.

whats using that file

Each process that has a file in use is listed in the File Locksmith interface. There, users find an option to kill the process to unlock the file. Sometimes, it may be better to close the program through its window, but at other times, this may be a fast way to unlock files that are locked on the operating system.

Hosts File Editor is the second new tool that is included in the new PowerToys release.

hosts file editor

It is a basic Hosts File Editor that allows administrators to add, edit, enable and disable entries. You can check out our guide on the Windows hosts file for a deeper introduction. Basically, what it does is give administrators an option to block or redirect hostnames. Some content blocking systems use the hosts file to redirect requests to ad servers so that advertisement can't be delivered. It is also used for development purposes.

The program feels cumbersome when you use it. Take the adding of new entries to the Hosts file as an example. You activate the new entry option, which opens a pretty menu. There, you need to fill out the available fields and click on the add button afterwards.

The plain text editor, Notepad for example, offers a superior experience for many administrators as it is faster and allows for the pasting of multiple lines. The only advantage that PowerToys Hosts File Editor has is that there is less room for errors due to the separation of the fields.

There is also a filter tool, but it is basic as well. Hosts File Editor is one of the weaker tools of PowerToys. It lacks importing and exporting functionality, faster editing and needs a less clunky interface.

The official release notes highlight other improvements in the new release. Users find an option to back up and restore the settings now, which is useful if PowerToys is run on multiple devices or for backup purposes.

Organizations find Group Policy Objects for PowerToys now on GitHub, which they may deploy to control which tools become available on devices. There is also GPO documentation that offers more details.

Now You: do you use PowerToys? What is your take on the new tools?

Summary
PowerToys 0.64 launches with File Locksmith and Hosts File Editor
Article Name
PowerToys 0.64 launches with File Locksmith and Hosts File Editor
Description
We review the two new PowerToys tools File Locksmith and Hosts File Editor that Microsoft integrated into the open source tools collection for Windows.
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Ghacks Technology News
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Comments

  1. Trey said on November 3, 2022 at 7:19 am
    Reply

    The host file editor look clunky. For a better one see:

    https://www.sordum.org/8266/bluelifehosts-editor-v1-3/

  2. John G. said on November 3, 2022 at 8:02 am
    Reply

    I don’t understand why these features are enabled in W10/11. And also I can’t understand why the Powertoys need to install as a whole, there should be an option at install that allows to install only the choosen options by the user. Thanks for the article!

    1. John G. said on November 3, 2022 at 8:30 am
      Reply

      * are not enabled in W10/11.

  3. KERR said on November 3, 2022 at 10:49 am
    Reply

    A HOSTS file editor… in this day and age!?

  4. ECJ said on November 3, 2022 at 2:13 pm
    Reply

    The items they’ve been adding in PowerToys are more interesting than their operating system updates.

    I don’t understand why they don’t just include these features as part of the operating system?

  5. PurpleHairMeltdown said on November 3, 2022 at 3:29 pm
    Reply

    For these pointless tools, they are out of ideas. If you want to see how awful the UI is, try editing a host file with 8000 entries. Consider using Notepad++ or a comparable program instead. It’s possible that Filelock is helpful, but Windows should to have had this feature built in 13 years ago.

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