Most users have their PC on one of the power plans that put their PC to sleep after a certain period of inactivity. The Sleep mode is a really convenient option for when you step away from your PC for some time. Your PC uses less power than when it is full-blown on, but it also keeps your apps open, and you can get to working in a matter of seconds when you’re back.

But sometimes, you’re performing time-consuming tasks on your PC. And you want those tasks to continue even after you’ve stepped away. For that to happen, you need to make sure your PC doesn’t sleep. You have two options to keep your PC awake in such a scenario: Changing your power settings, which can be a headache to change back every time. Or, you could use the ‘Awake’ utility from PowerToys that overrides your power plan settings momentarily to keep your PC awake.

What is PowerToys Awake Utility?

Before getting to the Awake utility, let’s dissect the outer shell first. What exactly is PowerToys? If this is your first brush with this app, a brief introduction is due. PowerToys is a set of utilities from Microsoft that the company deems is made for the “power users.” The name seems a little on the nose now, doesn’t it? But it is quite apt.

The utilities that PowerToys offers let the users customize their PC uniquely. It contains several utilities like FancyZones, Video conference mute, Awake, ColorPicker, Keyboard Manager, to name a few. This set of utilities can greatly enhance your productivity.

Circling back to Awake now, it is rather the simplest of the bunch. When Awake is running, it overrides your PC’s power and sleep settings, and your PC follows the instructions from Awake instead.

It doesn’t mess with your current power plan settings. Neither does it require you to create any custom power plans. It rather spawns threads in the background and sort of tricks your PC into staying awake by saying it needs to be in the specific state. And once you quit the app, your PC returns to its normal state of awakeness and sleep cycle. To use Awake, you need to download the PowerToys app as it doesn’t come pre-installed.

Installing PowerToys

If you use any of the PowerToys utility already, you have your work cut out for you. But if not, you need to install it. As the app is still in preview mode, you have to download the app from its GitHub page. Awake is available on both the stable and experimental release of the app. Experimental PowerToys has an additional utility – Video Conference Mute – that the stable version does not offer. So, depending on whether you want to use this particular utility, you’ll need to install the Experimental version.

Otherwise, you’ll do fine sticking with the stable version. For this guide, we’re installing the stable version. Go to the Microsoft PowerToys GitHub page. The current stable version is v0.43.0. Scroll down until you find the option ‘Assets’ and download the .exe file for PowerToys.

Run the file once it downloads and follow the instructions on the screen to set it up.

Using Awake from PowerToys

Whenever you need to use the Awake utility, you can use it from the PowerToys settings. Open and run PowerToys from the Start or Search menu or the system tray depending on how you set it up.

PowerToys settings window will open. From the General tab, make sure that you’re running PowerToys in Administrator mode. If it says ‘Running as User’, turn on the toggle for ‘Always run as administrator’ and click the ‘Restart as administrator’ option. If it says ‘Running as Administrator’, you don’t need to do anything additional.

Now go to the ‘Awake’ option from the navigation menu on the left.

Turn on the toggle for ‘Enable Awale’ if it isn’t already.

Now, depending on your needs, you can configure the behavior for Awake.

Awake has the following states that you can use:

  • Off (Passive): This is the default state for Awake. When it is in the passive state, Awake does not affect your PC’s awakeness status and it operates according to your power plan settings. It’s basically in standby, waiting for your input.
  • Keep awake indefinitely: When you select this state, it keeps your PC awake indefinitely until you either explicitly put the PC to sleep, disable the setting, or exit/ disable the application.
  • Keep awake temporarily: In this state, you set a timer and your PC stays awake till the time elapses. After that it goes back to it’s normal state of awakeness as per your power plan settings. If you change the timer before the previous time has elapsed, that will reset the timer.

Select one of the above states depending on what you need at the moment. When selecting ‘Keep awake temporarily’, enter the hours and minutes as well.

Next, there’s also an option for whether you want to keep the displays that are connected to your machine on. In the default state, the displays turn off after a certain time while your PC is still awake. To keep the screen on, check the option for ‘Keep screen on’.

And that’s all you need to do to keep your PC awake.

Using Awake from the System Tray

Instead of opening the PowerToys settings every time, you can also control Awake from the system tray. But you should have PowerToys configured to run on startup, and Awake enabled from PowerToys for the Awake icon to be present in the system tray. Otherwise, you can only use it from the system tray after you’ve first launched PowerToys and enabled Awake the traditional way.

Go to the notification area of your taskbar and click the ‘Show hidden icons’ arrow.

The system tray will open. Go to the icon for Awake (a cup) and right-click it.

A menu will appear that’ll have all the configuration options. To select the state for Awake, go to ‘Mode’ and select the desired option from the sub-menu. The system tray provides a convenient way to change the modes for Awake without having to open PowerToys settings every time.

To change the setting for ‘Keep Screen on’, click the option for same from the menu. When the option is selected, a tick will appear next to it indicating its status.

To close Awake to return to the normal state of awakeness for your PC, click ‘Exit’.

You can also directly quit PowerToys from the system tray to close Awake.

Awake is a great way of keeping your PC awake without having to change your power plan settings every time. You can also execute Awake as a standalone application from the PowerToys folder using Command Line Interface arguments.