10 Hidden Windows 11 Features You Should Be Using
Ever since Windows 11 was released in October 2021, it has been met with equal amounts of positive reception and criticism. As of January 2023, Windows 11 has been installed on 18.1% of computers globally, a modest increase from the previous months.
However, this growth is probably not as rapid as Microsoft would like: Windows 10 is still holding strong at 68.75% of the market after more than a year after Windows 11’s release, a sign that many users are reluctant to upgrade.
Some of this reluctance may stem from the opinion of some users that Windows 11 fails to provide any meaningful upgrades from the previous version, and that many of the changes are in fact a detriment to the user experience.
The start button, for so long reliably located in the lower left-hand corner, has been relegated to the bottom center of the screen, which has some users confused and disoriented.
For those that are frustrated by some of the new changes in Windows 11, some of the hidden features presented in this article will show you how to revert your settings back to the familiar ones. Others of these new features are genuine improvements that have been praised by techies but may not be obvious at first glance. Here are ten tips and tricks to get the most out of Windows 11!
10 hidden Windows 11 features to try out
1) Title bar window shake
If you’re like me, you might end up deep in a project wondering how you managed to open three separate windows and forty-seven tabs. Luckily, Windows 11 has a quick fix for that: a new feature allows you to shake the title bar of a tab to minimize all the others, decluttering your workspace.
You’ll have to turn this new feature on manually by going to Settings > System > Multitasking and turning on the toggle next to “Title bar window shake.”
2) Put your start button in its (rightful) place
Not loving that the start button has moved to the bottom center of the screen? No worries: to move it back to where your muscle memory expects it to be, first click on a blank space on the taskbar. Then, click “Taskbar settings” and navigate to “Personalization”. From the “Taskbar behaviors” drop-down menu, you will see “Taskbar alignment”, where you can switch the start button to the left.
3) Focus sessions
One of Windows 11’s most useful features is its focus sessions. With a focus session, you can disable all notifications for a predetermined amount of time.
There’s Spotify integration within so you can easily choose the musical accompaniment for your work, and if you have certain notifications that you can’t miss, you can also set those to come through even during a focus session.
You can begin a focus session either by opening the Clock app or by navigating to Settings > System > Focus. From there, you can set the amount of time for your session and for any break(s) you’d like to add.
4) Clipboard history
Windows 11 also takes the clipboard function a step further. When you hit Windows key + V in Windows 11, you’ll be able to choose from a list of recently copied items, meaning the copy and paste function won’t forget a copied item once you copy something else.
You’ll have to enable the function first by going to Settings > System > Clipboard and switching on the toggle next to “Clipboard history.”
5) Game bar
It’s important for gamers to be able to see important stats about their device’s function while they’re playing, such as GPU, CPU, system RAM usage, and current frames-per-second.
With Windows 11, those stats can be accessed with a simple shortcut, Windows key + G, which will display a drop-down box from the top of the screen. It is both moveable and transparent so as to not negatively impact the gaming experience.
6) Hardware and devices troubleshooter
One inconvenience of Windows 11 is that the hardware and devices troubleshooter has been removed from settings, making it difficult to access. This can be a pain when your computer isn’t recognizing an USB drive or E-reader and you want to solve the issue quickly.
You can access the troubleshooter by following these steps:
- Type “Command prompt” into the search bar in the taskbar.
- Choose “Run as administrator”.
- In the window that pops up, type “msdt.exe -id DeviceDiagnostic” and hit enter.
- This will make the Hardware and Devices Troubleshooter appear. At this point, click “Next” to begin troubleshooting.
7) Use multiple desktops
If you want to separate your activity between work, school, leisure, or other categories, having multiple desktops is a great option. This option was available in Windows 10 as well, but it returns in an upgraded form in Windows 11.
To begin using it, you’ll need to navigate to Settings > Personalization > Taskbar and enable the “Task view” icon. From there, you’ll be able to add new desktops and then toggle between them. In contrast to Windows 10, Windows 11 allows you to change the wallpaper for each desktop, making it easier to distinguish between each one.
8) Voice typing built-in
In Windows 11, voice typing is built into the entire system, so you can use it anywhere where you can type. To activate it, press Windows key + H.
Tip: If recording does not begin automatically, press the microphone icon, and press it again to stop recording.
9) Dark mode
In the last few years, device manufacturers have become more sensitive to concerns about digital eye fatigue, and one approach to this issue has been to allow users to choose between light and dark modes.
Windows 11 has also implemented this feature: by going to Settings > Personalization > Colors, you can choose between light mode, dark mode, or custom mode, with which you can specify the exact brightness of the screen.
10) Dynamic refresh rate
If your monitor is capable of processing a refresh rate above the default 60Hz, the new dynamic refresh rate setting in Windows 11 can enable the monitor to automatically adjust the refresh rate based on what you’re doing, so that demanding gameplay will appear crisp and clear without wasting battery during basic scrolling.
To activate this feature, head to Settings > System > Display > Advanced display. Then, choose your display from the drop-down menu next to “Select a display to view or change its settings”.
Finally, the drop-down menu next to “Choose a refresh rate” will allow you to see what options are available for your display device. Dynamic refresh rate is not available for all displays, but if your device supports it, it will show up there.
Though Windows 11 has faced its fair share of criticisms, it also provides some interesting features that make upgrading worth it. For most of the controversial changes made between Windows 10 and Windows 11, a visit to Settings can bring you back to the original interface.
If you’re looking for a new laptop with Windows 11 pre-installed, check out the Spin 3 Intel or the Swift 5: both are powerful devices whose formidable performance will allow you to take full advantage of all the best of Windows 11.
Matthew is a freelance content writer whose work has previously appeared in well-known language-learning blog Fluent in 3 Months and The Happy Self-Publisher. His creative work has also appeared in Otoliths, CafeLit, and the Eunoia Review. He is currently based in Taipei, Taiwan, where he is studying for a master's degree in Chinese Literature.