Hidden features of Windows 11 that will change the way you use your computer

Windows 11 began its phased rollout last year, and since then, Microsoft has said its latest operating system is ready for wide rollout. This means that anyone with a computer that meets the minimum requirements should be able to download and install Windows 11.

Whether you’re use your computer for work or your personal life, now’s a good time to master some of Windows’ productivity features. These built-in tricks can help you do everything from setting up taskbar shortcuts to saving battery power. Microsoft is generally not as forthright about its hidden features in the same way that Apple is, which can sometimes make it more difficult to know how to take advantage of all that Windows has to offer. But we’ve got you covered here with our list of hidden features you can start using right now to get the most out of Windows 11.

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So no matter which Microsoft, Dell, HP or other Windows compatible rig you have, these clever tips will help you stay organized and get more done. Plus, here’s everything you need to know about Windows 11, the best features in Windows 11 and how it compares to Windows 10

1. Minimize every window except the active one

If your desktop screen has gotten too crowded with open windows, you can quickly minimize them all except the one you are currently working in. You’ll need to turn this on in Windows 11 by heading to Settings, then System, then Multitasking and turning on Title bar window shake

Just click the title bar of the window you want to remain open to select it. Then, hold the mouse down and move the window back and forth quickly — shaking it, essentially. After a couple of quick shakes, all other open windows will minimize, leaving only the one you’ve shaken open. Neat, huh?

2. Open the ‘secret’ Start menu

You know that to get to the Start menu, you hit the Windows icon at the bottom over on the left of the screen or on your keyboard. But Windows 11 includes a lesser-known second Start menu that makes accessing important features like the Command Prompt, the Control Panel and the Task Manager much easier. You can access it two different ways, either by pressing the Windows key + X, or right click the Windows icon/Start button. 


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3. Take a screenshot on Windows 11

I know, it’s a basic one — but it’s amazing how easy it is to forget how to take a screenshot on your laptop or desktop when you don’t do it often. 

There are at least eight different ways you can take a screenshot with Windows. If you want to capture and save a picture of your entire screen, the easiest way is to hit the Windows key + Print Screen key, and that picture will be saved to the Pictures > Screenshots folder. 

Read more: Need a Productivity Boost? Give These Windows 11 Multitasking Features a Try

To capture just one part of your screen, hit the Windows key + Shift + S to open a tool called Snip & Sketch, which allows you to click and drag to create a screenshot, which is saved to your Clipboard.

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4. Open pinned items from your Taskbar with keyboard shortcuts

If you’ve pinned programs to your Taskbar at the bottom of your screen to create a shortcut, you don’t have to click the icons to open them. Instead, use the keyboard shortcut Windows key + [Number key], with the number key corresponding to the position of the pinned program on the taskbar. For example, Windows key + 2 will open the second item pinned on the taskbar.

This is especially useful if you’re typing furiously and don’t want to take your fingers off the keyboard. It may seem more natural to reach for the Windows key.

5. Learn how much space apps take up

Computers start running slower as they run out of space. A quick way to speed them up can be to get rid of apps that are taking up more space than they should, especially if you don’t use them regularly.

To see how much space your apps, temporary files, and documents take up, go to Settings > System > Storage. Play Show more categories to see a full list.

To get an idea of ​​what to throw, tap Cleaning Recommendations to see what Windows 11 suggests. You probably won’t get rid of your browser, but you might find that a game you haven’t played in years is quite a drag to put down.

6. Close background apps to save battery

Apps running in the background can receive information, send notifications, and stay up to date even when you’re not using them, which can be useful, but can also eat up your battery and data.

To control which apps run in the background and save battery and data, go to Settings > System > Power and battery. Play Battery saving and then adjust when battery saver turns on to limit some notifications and background activity.

7. Use background scrolling for multiple windows

With Windows 11, you can scroll up and down in any window, even if it’s not the one you’re working on directly. This is a useful tool when you have many windows open that you want to view at the same time. time, for example if you want to open new submenu options in new windows to save time when clicking back and forth on the same page.

Try opening two programs, for example, an Internet browser page and a notepad or Word document. Arrange both on the screen so that you can see at least some of the text in each. While in one window, hover your mouse or use the trackpad to switch to the second window and scroll. Even though it’s not active in that window, it should allow you to move up and down the page.

The feature should be on by default, but if it isn’t, go to Settings > Bluetooth and devices > Mouseand toggle Scroll inactive windows when I mouse over them for On. You can then hover your mouse over a window that is in the background and use the scroll wheel to scroll.

8. Show file extensions in File Explorer

Microsoft hides file extensions by default, making life difficult for people who need to search for specific types of files, such as JPEGs and JPGs. For view file extensions in file explorerDo the following:

1. Using Search on the taskbar, and type File explorer optionsand click on it. (There are also other ways to get here, like using Start menu search, but this method works fine.)

2. In the window that appears, click the View tab.

3. If checked, uncheck the box that says Hide extensions for known file types. Click ApplyY OKAY. You should now see the file extensions for all the files in File Explorer.

You can also use File Explorer’s Options menu to choose to show empty drives, hidden files and folders, and more.

9. Minimize distractions with Focus Assist

It’s frustrating trying to get work done when you’re constantly interrupted by notifications. You can determine how many you get with focus assist.

Set it up by going to Settings > System > Focus assist. Choose from three options: Off (receive all notifications from your apps and contacts), priority only (see only selected notifications from a priority list that you customize and send the rest to your action center), and alarms only (hide all notifications except alarms).

You can also choose to automatically turn this feature on during certain hours, when you’re playing a game or when you’re using an app in full-screen mode, for example.

For more tips and tricks for Windows 11 laptops, see how you can help maximize your computer’s battery life.

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