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News and Perspectives from IT Experts
January 12, 2022

Windows 11 Essential Tips and Tricks

The newest Microsoft OS has lots of hidden functions, so check out the best Windows 11 hacks that will make your life easier.

Microsoft started rolling out Windows 11 to compatible devices in October 2021. This means that you’ve probably had plenty of time to upgrade to the new OS, test out its main features and even do the Windows 11 vs Windows 10 comparison.

However, what you may not yet be aware of is that Windows 11 comes with lots of hidden functions that can make your experience even better. This is what we are exploring today.

Here are our top Windows 11 useful tips and tricks.

You can move the Start button

First things first. The iconic Windows Start button has always been located in the left bottom corner of your desktop. In Windows 11, the Start button has been moved — it is now centered at the bottom of your computer's display.

Not all Windows users are fans of this modification. But fear not! If you want to see the Start button back in its original place, you can easily move it.

Here’s how to move the Start button on Windows 11:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Select Personalization.
  3. Scroll all the way down to the Taskbar and click it.
  4. Locate the Taskbar behaviors option and click it.
  5. Select the Taskbar Alignment drop-down. It will say Center. Change it to Left.

There you have it — you will now see the Start button in its usual place.

You can minimize every window except the active one

If you get overwhelmed with too many open windows on your desktop, you can minimize all of them — with the exception of the one you are currently working on. To use this feature, you will need to first turn it on:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Open System.
  3. Here, navigate to Multitasking.
  4. Under Multitasking, turn on the Title Bar Window Shake option.

Title Bar Window Shake lets you “grab” a Windows title bar and “shake” it to minimize (or to restore) all non-active windows.

Once you’ve turned the feature on, you will be able to quickly close all open windows. To do it, simply click the title bar of the window that you want to continue using, hold it and shake it (move the windows back and forth quickly). Once you’ve given it a few quick shakes, all the windows except for the one you are using will close. You can then do the same to bring these windows back.

You can access the secret Windows 11 Start menu

Typically, to get to the Start menu, you need to press the Win key on your keyboard or click the Windows icon at the bottom. Windows 11, however, adds an option for accessing the second Start menu where you can quickly get to features like the Command Prompt, the Control Panel and the Task Manager. You can open the second Start menu in two different ways: you can use the Win + X key combo or click the Start button.

There are many different ways to take a screenshot

If you don’t take screenshots on your PC often, it’s easy to forget how to use this simple feature.

On Windows 11, there are several ways to take a screenshot. In fact, there are at least eight different ways to do so.

The easiest way to take a screenshot on Windows is by using the Win key + Print Screen key combo. Your screenshot will be saved in the Pictures > Screenshots folder.

If you want to capture just a part of your screen, use the Win + Shift + S key combo — which will bring up a tool called Snip & Sketch. The screenshot will be saved to your clipboard.

You can also use the Windows Game bar to take a screenshot. Use the Win + G key combo to bring up the Game bar. Here, open the Capture window and you’ll see the camera icon. Click it and your screen will be captured. You will find your screenshot in the Videos/Captures folder.

You can open pinned items from your Taskbar via keyboard shortcuts

Here’s another laptop hack. If you have programs pinned to your Taskbar, you don’t have to click their icons to launch them. There is a handy keyboard shortcut for just that — use the Win key + a number key (with the number corresponding to the Taskbar position of the pinned program that you want to open).

You can see how much space your apps are taking

The more you fill up your storage, the slower your PC may run. To counter that, you will need to offload the apps that you are not using often but which take up a lot of space.

To see how much space certain apps are taking up, go to Settings > System > Storage. To see a full list, simply click “Show more categories”.

If you are not sure what apps to get rid of, go to “Cleanup recommendations”. Here, you will see what Windows suggests you remove based on how often you use these programs and apps.

You can close background apps to save battery

Applications that you have running in the background remain active even when you are not using them: they receive data, get updates, etc. This can drain your battery quicker.

To limit the number of apps running in the background, go to Settings > System > Power & battery. Select “Battery saver” and set it to limit certain background activities.

You can avoid distractions with Focus assist

Staying focused is getting more and more difficult in the digital world — especially when you get constantly bombarded with notifications. The Focus assist feature can help you manage that.

To activate the feature, simply go to Settings > System > Focus assist. Here, you will be able to choose between three options:

  • Off (you receive all notifications from your apps and contacts)
  • Priority only (you only receive notifications from your priority list, which is customizable)
  • Alarms only (you will receive no notifications — except for alarms)

You can also choose to automatically activate this feature during certain hours.

You can have all your file extensions shown in File Explorer

By default, file extensions are not shown in File Explorer. This may make it difficult to search for specific file types. In Windows 11, you can choose to see file extensions in File Explorer. Here’s how:

  1. Go to Search.
  2. Type “file explorer options” and click the first result.
  3. In the new window, select the View tab.
  4. If it’s checked, uncheck the box that says “Hide extensions for known file types”.
  5. Click Apply and then OK.

You should now be able to see file extensions for all files in File Explorer.

You can use background scrolling for multiple windows

Windows 11 gives you the option to scroll up and down in any window — not just the one you are actively working in. This can come in very handy when you have lots of windows open and want to look through them at the same time.

Here’s how it works. Open two apps on your PC – for instance, a browser and a Word document. Organize them on your screen so that you can see some text in each app. Now, while you are working in one window, hover your mouse over the second window and scroll. Even though this is not your active window, you will be able to move up and down the page.

Typically, this feature is on by default. But if it’s not, just go to Settings > Bluetooth & devices > Mouse and toggle on the “Scroll inactive windows when I hover over them” option.

We’ll stop with our list of Windows 11 hacks here – we hope that they have been helpful and your Windows 11 experience is now better.

There is one more, although non-Windows-related, bonus hack we’ve reserved for PC lovers. If you need to send large files or folders, try FileWhopper, an online file transferring service that will help you send files and folders of any size quickly and securely.

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