The user interface in Windows 8 went through some major changes. The version brought with it some new features such as the power user menu. Due to the popularity of the feature, it was included in Windows 10 as well.
The start menu was fully removed in Windows 8. Instead, Microsoft introduced the Power user menu, which was a hidden feature. It was not meant to be a replacement for the start menu. But the user can access some advanced features of Windows using the Power user menu. Windows 10 has both the start menu and the power user menu. While some Windows 10 users are aware of this feature and its uses, many are not.
This article will tell you everything you need to know about the Power user menu.
What is the Windows 10 Power User Menu (Win+X)?
It is a Windows feature first introduced in Windows 8 and continued in Windows 10. It is a way to access tools and features that are accessed frequently, using shortcuts. It is just a pop-up menu that contains the shortcuts for commonly used tools. This saves the user a lot of time. Hence, it is a popular feature.
The Power user menu can be accessed in 2 ways – you can either press Win+X on your keyboard or right-click on the start menu. If you are using a touch-screen monitor, press and hold the start button to open the Power user menu. Given below is a snapshot of the Power user menu as seen in Windows 10.
The Power user menu is also known by a couple of other names – Win+X menu, WinX menu, Power User hotkey, Windows tools menu, Power user task menu.
Let us list down the options available in the Power user menu:
- Programs and Features
- Power options
- Event viewer
- Device manager
- Network connections
- Disk management
- Computer management
- Command prompt
- Task manager
- Control Panel
- File explorer
- Shut down or sign out
This menu can be used to manage the tasks quickly. Using the traditional start menu, it may be difficult to find the options found in the Power user menu. The Power user menu is smartly designed in such a way that a new user doesn’t access this menu or perform any operations by mistake. Having said this, even experienced users should take care to back up all their data before making any changes using the Power user menu. This is because certain features in the menu may lead to loss of data or may make the system unstable if not used properly.
Each option in the Power user menu has a key associated with it, which when pressed leads o quick access to that option. These keys eliminate the need to click or tap on the menu options to open them. They are called Power user menu hotkeys. For example, when you open the start menu and press U and then R, the system will restart.
Let us now see what each option in the menu does, along with its corresponding hotkey.
1. Programs and features
Hotkey – F
You can access the programs and features window (which will otherwise have to be opened from the Settings, Control Panel). In this window, you have the option of uninstalling a program. You can also change the way they are installed or make changes to a program that wasn’t installed properly. Uninstalled Windows updates can be viewed. Certain Windows features can be turned on/off.
2. Power options
Hotkey – O
This is more useful for laptop users. You can choose after how much time of inactivity the monitor shall turn off, choose what the power button does, and choose how your device uses the electricity when it is plugged to the adapter. Again, without this shortcut, you would have to access this option using the control panel. Start menu > Windows System > Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Power options
3. Event Viewer
Hotkey – V
Event Viewer is an advanced administrative tool. It chronologically maintains a log of events that have taken place on your device. It is used to view when was the last time your device was turned on, whether an application crashed, and if yes, when and why it crashed. Apart from these, the other details which are entered in the log are – warnings and errors that appeared in applications, services, and the operating system and status messages. Launching the event viewer from the conventional start menu is a long process – Start menu → Windows System → Control Panel → System and Security → Administrative Tools → Event Viewer
Hotkey – Y
This shortcut displays the system properties and basic information. Details that you can find here are – the Windows version in use, the amount of CPU and RAM in use. The hardware specifications can also be found. The network identity, Windows activation information, workgroup membership details are also displayed. Although there is a separate shortcut for Device Manager, you can access it from this shortcut as well. Remote settings, system protection options, and other advanced settings can also be accessed.
5. Device Manager
Hotkey – M
This is a commonly used tool. This shortcut displays all the information about installed devices You can choose to uninstall or update the device drivers. The properties of device drivers can also be changed. If a device is not working as it should, Device Manager is the place to start troubleshooting. Individual devices can be enabled or disabled using this shortcut. The configuration of various internal and external hardware devices attached to your device can be changed.
6. Network Connections
Hotkey – W
The network adapters present on your device can be viewed here. The properties of network adapters can be altered or disabled. Commonly used network devices that appear here are – WiFi adapter, Ethernet Adapter, and other virtual network devices in use.
7. Disk Management
Hotkey – K
This is an advanced management tool. It displays how your hard drive is partitioned. You can also create new partitions or delete existing partitions. You are also allowed to assign drive letters and configure RAID. It is highly recommended to backup all your data before performing any operations on volumes. Entire partitions may get deleted which will result in loss of important data. Thus, do not try to make changes to disk partitions if you are not sure about what you are doing.
8. Computer Management
Hotkey – G
The hidden features of Windows 10 can be accessed from computer management. You can access some tools within the menu such as Event Viewer, Device Manager, Disk Manager, Performance Monitor, Task Scheduler, etc…
9. Command Prompt and Command Prompt (Admin)
Hotkeys – C and A respectively
Both are essentially the same tool with different privileges. The command prompt is useful for creating files, deleting the folders, and formatting the hard drive. The regular Command Prompt does not give you access to all the advanced features. So, Command prompt (admin) is used. This option grants administrator privileges.
10. Task Manager
Hotkey – T
Used to view the applications that are running currently. You can also choose the applications that should start running by default when OS is loaded.
11. Control Panel
Hotkey – P
Used to view and modify the system’s configuration
File Explorer (E) and Search(S) just launched a new File Explorer window or a search window. Run will open the Run dialog. This is used to open a command prompt or any other file whose name is entered in the input field. Shut down or sign out will allow you to shut down or restart your computer quickly.
Desktop(D) – This will minimize/hide all the windows so that you can have a look at the desktop.
Replacing the Command Prompt
If you prefer PowerShell over command prompt, you can replace the command prompt. The process for replacement is, the right click on the taskbar, choose properties and click on the Navigation tab. You will find a checkbox – Replace Command Prompt with Windows PowerShell in the menu when I right-click the lower-left corner or press Windows key+X. Tick the checkbox.
To avoid third-party applications from including their shortcuts in the Power user menu, Microsoft has purposely made it hard for us to customize the menu. The shortcuts present on the menu. They were created by passing them through a Windows API hashing function, the hashed values are stored in the shortcuts. The hash tells the Power user menu that the shortcut is a special one, thus only special shortcuts are displayed on the menu. Other normal shortcuts will not be included in the menu.
Recommended: Show Control Panel in WinX Menu in Windows 10
To make changes to the Windows 10 Power user Menu, Win+X Menu Editor is a commonly used application. It is a free application. You can add or remove items on the menu. The shortcuts can also be renamed and reordered. You can download the application here. The interface is user friendly and you do not need any instructions to start working with the app. The application also lets the user organize the shortcuts by grouping them.