Whether you just got a new computer, or you have been using Windows 11 for a while, there are lots of hidden features and settings that are different from previous versions of Windows. These changes are meant to make Windows 11 more aesthetically pleasing and easier to use, but they won’t help if you don’t know where to find them. Here are the best new features you’ll get when you upgrade to Windows 11 and how to start using them now.
One of the first things you’ll notice when you upgrade to Windows 11 is that the Taskbar shortcuts are now in the center of your screen. This might make Windows 11 look cleaner, but lots of users complained about the change. So, the tech company added a way to move all the icons back to the left side of the Taskbar.
To move the icons back to the left side of your Taskbar, go to Settings > Personalization > Taskbar. Then scroll down and click Taskbar behaviors. Finally, select the drop-down menu next to Taskbar alignment and select Left.
Microsoft also added a few new shortcuts to the Taskbar, including Task View, Widgets, and Chat. If you don’t want to see these icons in your Taskbar, you can remove them by going to Settings > Personalize > Taskbar. Then click the slider next to the items you want to turn off.
New Start Menu Features in Windows 11
The next difference you’ll notice with Windows 11 is the new Start Menu layout. While Windows 10 let you scroll through all your apps and gives you plenty of space to pin all your favorite apps in the Start Menu, Windows 11 only shows you 18 pinned apps and 6 recommended files, folders, and apps.
To see a full list of the apps installed on your Windows 11 PC, you’ll have to click All apps in the top-right corner of the Start Menu.
You can remove apps from the Start Menu in Windows 11 by right-clicking them and selecting Unpin from Start. You can also change the order of any apps by clicking and dragging them or right-clicking them and selecting Move to top.
However, you can’t remove the Recommended section from the Start Menu in Windows 11. There are reports that Microsoft is changing this in the next major Windows 11 update. Currently, you can remove items from the Recommended section by right-clicking them and selecting Remove from list.
Or you can remove everything from the Recommended section by going to Settings > Personalization > Start. Then turn off the sliders next to the first three options at the top of the window.
Windows 11 also lets you add shortcuts to several folders and features in the bottom-right corner of the Start menu. These shortcuts allow you to quickly open Settings, File Explorer, Documents, and more. To do this, go to Settings > Personalization > Start > Folders and turn on any shortcuts you want to add.
New File Explorer Features in Windows 11
The design changes in Windows 11 also carry over to File Explorer, which now features a simplified toolbar at the top of each window. Unlike the huge ribbon in Windows 10 that had over a dozen different options, Windows 11 only has a few icons in the new File Explorer toolbar.
These shortcuts let you quickly cut, copy, paste, rename, share, or send a file or folder to the trash. You can find additional options by clicking the three-dot icon in the top-right corner of the window.
Windows 11 also features a more compact context menu, which pops up when you right-click a file, folder, or empty space. In recent versions of Windows, the context menu was growing so long that it was hard to find what you were looking for.
With Windows 11, you will only see the most important options in the context menu. If you don’t see what you are looking for, you can click Show more options to reveal all the hidden options.
There are also shortcut icons at the top of the context menu that quickly let you cut, copy, rename, or delete a file.
New Snap Layouts
Microsoft first introduced Snap Assist with Windows 7 back in 2015. This feature has allowed Windows user to split their screen between multiple apps to maximize their screen’s real estate while multitasking.
With the new Snap Layouts in Windows 11, Microsoft made things a bit easier by allowing you to arrange your windows without dragging them to the edge of your screen.
To use Snap Layouts in Windows 11, just hover your mouse over the Maximize button in the top-right corner of any window. Then you will see a pop-up window with different screen layouts to choose from. Once you choose a layout, the feature will let you choose how to arrange your other windows.
Once you add multiple windows to a Snap Layout, you will also create a Snap Group. Then you can instantly open all the windows in your layout by hovering your mouse over the apps in the Taskbar.
If you want to change how Snap Layouts and groups work in Windows 11, go to Settings > System > Multitasking. You can then click Snap windows to reveal additional settings that can be turned on and off individually.
Windows 11 is making it even easier to multitask with new improvements to the Virtual Desktops feature. While Windows 10 had a similar feature, it was not nearly as easy to use. Now, all you have to do is hover our mouse over the Task View button in your Taskbar, and you can quickly switch between your desktops or add more desktops.
If you left-click the Task View button instead, you will see all your open windows and Desktops, so you can easily switch between them. You can change the settings for this new Windows 11 feature by going to Settings > System > Multitasking > Desktops.
When Microsoft first announced Windows 11 in mod-2021, the tech company spent a lot of time touting its new widget pane. These big and colorful tiles will give you quick information about the weather, traffic, news headlines, and more. You can also personalize each widget, resize them, rearrange them, and more.
To access widgets on your desktop, you can either click the widgets button in your Taskbar or press the Windows + W keys on your keyboard at the same time. If you are using a Windows 11 touchscreen computer, you can also swipe right from the left side of your screen to access widgets.
Then you can change the settings for each widget by clicking the three-dot icon in the top-right corner of each time. To find out all the different widgets you can use, scroll down and select Add widgets.
New Voice Typing Feature in Windows 11
One of the best-kept secrets of Windows 11 is the new Voice Typing feature. This speech recognition technology comes built into the Windows 11 update, allowing you to write long emails or make internet searches with your voice alone.
While there was a similar feature in Windows 10, the new Voice Typing in Windows 11 is much more accurate than the previous version. Plus, the interface is much easier to use, and there are a few settings you can tweak.
To open Voice Typing on your Windows 11 computer, press the Windows + H keys on your keyboard at the same time. Then open an app with a text field like Word or Notepad and press the microphone button. As soon as you start talking, the feature should type every word you say.
If you press the gear-shaped icon in the Voice Typing window, there are two settings you can change. When you enable Voice typing launcher, Windows 11 will turn on the speech recognition feature whenever you select a text box. With Auto punctuation enabled, you won’t need to say words like “period” or “comma” because Windows will automatically add it for you.
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