The 14 Best Windows 11 Tips and Tricks1 min read
Some of the best Windows 11 features are hidden away, often to be found only by accident. We’ve taken the time to bring these cool features and other tips to the surface so you can finally enjoy them. If you’re still on the fence about whether you should upgrade to Windows 11, this list of the best Windows 11 tricks should help you make a decision.
Use Snap Layouts to Organize Windows
Snap layouts is a lifesaver if you’ve been manually dragging and resizing windows around your screen to make them fit well together. It simplifies window management by letting you select a layout for up to four windows.
Not only can you split the screen so two windows take up equal halves, but, as you can see in the screenshot, there are five other options. Hover over the maximize button, or press Win+Z, to see all of them.
Once you’ve snapped some windows together, they’ll form a ‘snap group’ so they stay together until you manually detach them.
If your screen is big enough, window snapping can even mimic a multi-monitor setup, but without the hassle of adding other monitors to your PC.
Install Android Apps
Yep, all the best mobile apps for Android are available right from your computer with Windows 11. The games and other apps you get will be just as accessible as your traditional desktop apps, and you don’t even need an Android device to make it happen.
Access Virtual Desktops
If you, like most of us, have just one monitor we have good news: you’re not stuck with just one workspace. If you like keeping work and play separate, or even individual projects, you can easily create a virtual desktop in Windows 11 (press Win+Tab).
Imagine you had several monitors on your desk next to one another but instead of turning your head to see them, they slid right in front of you when you wanted them. It takes a bit of time to get used to using your computer this way, but once you get it, you will have difficulty returning to one workspace.
Left-Align the Start Button
Windows 11 puts the Start button and other taskbar icons in the center of the screen, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. There are several taskbar options you can customize to make Windows 11 look and feel the way you want.
Beyond changing the taskbar alignment, you can customize the overall size and color, and combine taskbar buttons like you can in older Windows versions.
Pin Your Favorite Apps for Quick Access
There’s no reason to search your computer for your favorite apps; instead, you can pin them to the Start menu or taskbar. Right-click an app and select Pin to Start or Pin to taskbar to put it just a click away so it’s always there when you need it.
Open Taskbar Items With a Keyboard Shortcut
Now that you know how to pin apps to the taskbar, you can launch them even faster with a neat keyboard shortcut: Win+1, Win+2, etc.
For example, if Slack is the sixth icon (don’t count Start and Search), pressing Win+6 will open that program.
This trick isn’t restricted just to pinned items. Any program that’s currently open and visible from the taskbar can be opened this way.
Find Hidden Shortcuts From the Start Button
Pressing Win+X, or right-clicking the Start button, reveals a list of shortcuts to a handful of Windows settings and other options. This is called the Power User Menu, and you’ll find it comes in handy for quick access to things like Run, Power Options, Terminal, and the list of installed apps.
Take Better Screenshots
Most of us know about the print screen button. Pressing it will capture everything that’s visible on the screen. But there are other ways to take screenshots in Windows 11, using the Snipping Tool.
Open the Snipping Tool with the keyboard combination of Win+Shift+S. You can still take a full screenshot, but there are also options to click and drag over the specific area you want to capture, and one to screenshot only the window you click.
Use File Explorer Tabs to Free Up Screen Space
Windows 11 is the first version of Windows that includes built-in support for File Explorer tabs. Just press + next to the current tab to open another one, or right-click a folder and choose Open in new tab. You can also drag the tabs around to arrange them however you see fit.
It’s easy to see just how useful this is for saving screen space.
Open Files With Your Favorite App
You’re bound to run into the problem where the “wrong” app opens when you double-click a file. For example, a different word processor program may open when you try to edit a DOCX file, but you’d prefer to use MS Word.
Lots of examples could be given. In any case, all versions of Windows let you change file associations, but it works differently between every version. In the Windows 11 Settings app, it’s the Default apps section you need to visit to make these changes.
Customize Quick Settings
Quick Settings, located by the clock, houses the toggles and quick-access options. There’s a good chance the default state isn’t exactly what you want. Maybe you want the option to turn on airplane mode, for example, but you don’t care about making a mobile hotspot.
Fortunately, it’s easy to hide features you don’t need, show the ones you do need, and shuffle tiles around to your liking.
View Live Captions During Meetings
Speaking of Quick Settings, the Accessibility tile provides a shortcut to turn on live captions. This Windows 11 feature turns audio into text in real-time. It’s especially useful for online meetings, but it works for other uses such as displaying lyrics for music videos and transcribing in-person conversations.
See More Right-Click Options
When you right-click a file or folder, you might notice some options are missing. In reality, they’re just hidden in an overflow menu. Select See more options to get that traditional menu back (pictured above).
Quickly Hide All Open Windows
Sometimes, there are just too many windows open at once. There are a few tricks to minimize everything immediately so you can see your desktop again.
Press Win+D to minimize everything, or select the Show desktop button on the far right of the taskbar (it’s invisible until you hover over it). Typing Win+D again will instantly put all the windows back the way they were.
You can also turn on Title bar window shake. This is very similar to those two methods, but instead, when you shake the window you’re using (quickly drag it left and right), that window will remain open while everything else becomes hidden. Enable it in Settings > System > Multitasking.
Fast-switching to the desktop isn’t new to this version of Windows. However, the window shake method is turned off by default in Windows 11, so you have to manually enable it for it to work.
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