PowerToys 0.64 launches with File Locksmith and Hosts File Editor
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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