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

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

whether you are now using your computer for work or your personal life, now is a good time to master some of Windows’ productivity features. With these built-in tricks, you can do everything from setting shortcuts on the taskbar to saving battery power. Microsoft usually isn’t as candid about its hidden features in the way that Apple is, which can sometimes make it harder to know how to take advantage of all that Windows has to offer. But we’ve covered you 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 that corresponds to the position of the pinned program on the taskbar. For example, Windows key + 2 opens the second pinned item on the taskbar.

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

5. Find out how much space apps take up

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

To see how much space apps, temporary files and documents are taking up, navigate to Settings > System > Storage† Tap Show more categories to see a full list.

To get an idea of ​​what to throw, tap Cleanup 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 a good dead weight to drop.

6. Quit 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 your data.

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

7. Use background scrolling for multiple windows

Windows 11 lets you scroll up and down in any window, even if it’s not the one you’re working directly in. This is a useful tool if you have many windows open that you want to look through at the same time — for example, if you want to open new submenu options in new windows to save you time 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 part of the text on each. While in one window, move your mouse or use the touchpad to move to the second window and scroll. Even though you are not active in that window, it should allow you to move up and down the page.

The feature should be enabled by default, but if not, go to Settings > Bluetooth & Devices > Mouseand switch Scrolling through inactive windows when hovering over them until on† You can then place your mouse over a window in the background and use the scroll wheel to scroll.

8. Show file extensions in File Explorer

Microsoft hides file extensions by default, which makes life difficult for people who need to search for specific types of files, such as JPEGs and JPGs. Until see file extensions in Explorerdo the following:

1. Use Search in the taskbar and type File Explorer Optionsand click on it. (There are also other ways to get here, such as using Start menu search, but this method works just fine.)

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

3. If it is checked, uncheck the box that says Hide extensions for known file types† Click To applyand Okay† You should now see file extensions for all files in the file explorer.

You can also use the File Explorer Options menu to choose to view blank drives, hidden files and folders, and more.

9. Minimize distractions with Focus assist

It’s frustrating trying to get your work done when notifications keep interrupting you. You can control how much you get with Focus assist.

Set it up by going to . to go Settings > System > Focus help out† Choose from three options: Out (get all notifications from your apps and contacts), Priority only (see only selected notifications from a priority list you customize, and send the rest to your action center), and Alarms nothing but (hide all notifications except alarms).

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

For more tips and tricks for Windows 11 laptops, visit how to maximize your computer’s battery life

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