The best new features of Microsoft Windows 11

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Windows 11 was officially released on October 5th, and just to be on the safe side, I installed it on my primary work computer that morning.

Most experts advise you to back up all your data first and do a clean install (i.e. from scratch), which reduces your chances of becoming a weird bug victim. undiscovered upgrade. But I like to live dangerously. That, and I’m a lazy, lazy man.

In any event. I’m happy to report that not only did my upgrade go without a hitch; I also really enjoy Windows 11. I don’t know how to describe it other than to say it’s a pleasant operating system. And while I have a relatively new and fast computer, it actually feels significantly faster than Windows 10, which wasn’t slow to begin with.

So: overall, golf clap for Redmond. If you’re about to make the movie and your computer can handle it, I think it’s worth the upgrade. It’s free, which is my second favorite thing after laziness.

There are also some new and notable features. Here are a handful to try out once you’re up and running.

The taskbar and the start menu

Grab your pearls if you want, as one of the most upsetting changes has been moving the taskbar to the middle of the screen instead of the left side.

It takes about 30 seconds to get used to it, but during those 30 seconds I had to aggressively fight the urge to push it back. If you can’t resist the temptation, you can put it back by right-clicking on an open area of ​​the taskbar, selecting “Taskbar Settings” and then under the “Behaviors” menu. of the taskbar ”, by changing the“ Alignment of the taskbar ”setting to from the center to the left.

Give it a chance, though: it’s pretty cool in the middle.

Now the Start menu, on the other hand, is just plain better: I don’t want to go back to the old one. The large live tiles that no one used in Windows 10 are gone; in their place are frequently used applications and recently viewed files. There is a conspicuous search bar to find something quickly, or you can just click the “All apps” button for an alphabetical list of your programs.

New themes and sounds

Themes and packaged with Windows 11 have a lot to do with everything I touched on earlier. There are six to choose from (I’m a Sunrise man myself), with more available in the Microsoft Store.

Right-click on the desktop, choose Personalize, and then check out the Colors menu, which lets you choose an accent color or set it to automatically match the colors in your background image. It’s a nice touch. Then in the Themes menu you can switch between the available themes or download new ones.

The sounds too, the sounds! They are very little computer. Instead of harsh sounds, beeps, and buzzers, almost everything now sounds like it’s being played by a polished harpist. You can define custom sounds if you want by searching for “sounds” in the Personalization menu and choosing “Edit System Sounds” from the result.

Widgets

When I first heard of the Widgets feature in Windows 11, I imagined the “stay on desktop” style widgets from the Windows Vista era. This is not what it was.

Instead, click the Widgets icon – a half-white, half-blue square – in the taskbar for a quick dashboard of weather, news, and photos.

You’ll probably want to customize this a bit, which you can do by clicking the “Add Widgets” button above your news feed, and then clicking the “Customize Your Interests” link at the bottom of the window.

From there, a web page will open and you can quickly add general interests. Great. But there is another setting to explore: the “Tune your feed” link at the bottom of the left menu.

This allows you to select your favorite news editors so that news comes from them more often than other sources. There are around 70 options, ranging from big news agencies to popular blogs.

If you don’t feel like doing so much work, you can leave your feed as is and click the three-dot icon at the bottom right of each news card to block any sources you don’t want to hear. speak.

Instant layouts and groups

By far my favorite feature of Windows 11, Snap layouts can go unnoticed if you’re generally quick to maximize and minimize windows.

Instead, hover your mouse cursor over the box in the upper right corner of a window and after about a second you’ll get a pop-up grid selection that lets you perfectly position the current window in a part of the screen.

Once your first window is positioned, you will see previews of your other open windows next to it and can select which ones will fill the other parts of the screen.

Once you’ve got everything the way you like it, hover over one of the captured window icons in the taskbar to view it as part of a Snap group.

Right click on the grouping and you will be given several options to choose from, the most valuable being “Collapse Group” which minimizes all windows at once to free up desktop space.

When you’re ready to reopen the collection, just hover over one of the group icons on the taskbar and click on the group to put all of its windows back in place at once.

Voice input

It’s getting late. You’ve been typing on the keyboard all day. Only three more emails to resend, but your wrists give up. Hello, voice typing – another existing but much improved feature.

Click anywhere in a text entry box, be it a search bar, web form, or email, and press the Windows key and H on your keyboard . This will open up a small dictation overlay, at which point you can start talking instead of typing. The accuracy is pretty good right out of the box, and you can submit your voice samples to improve the overall voice technology by clicking on the gear icon.

Biopsy tool

I used the old windows capture tool to capture screenshots all the time. It was quick and easy. The new one is simple, fast and much more useful.

It’s in your list of apps, or just click the magnifying glass in the taskbar to find it.

Once opened, you can grab a selection of your screen, an active window, or the entire screen as before, but it’s what happens next that is much more useful. Now you have options that are still simple but just plain better for annotating captured images, including a very handy crop tool that wasn’t there before.

And my favorite part: if you forget to annotate something or if you muddle something, you can now open the previous captures and continue editing them. No more having to open them in a fancy image editing app just to make a quick fix. Simply open the Capture tool and select the three-dot menu on the right to open an image file for editing.

Go further with the Tips app

We just scratched the surface today, my friends. Like Windows 10, Windows 11 has a useful Tips app, which can be found in your apps menu or by searching the Start menu.

Right now, you have access to tips for getting around the interface, widgets, keyboard shortcuts, personalization, and security, but keep an eye out for additional tips as they come. added.


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