Get the most out of Windows 11 with these 9 hidden features

These Windows 11 tips and tricks can save you time and effort.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Windows 11 is in the midst of a staggered rollout – meaning that Newer PCs can download Microsoft’s latest operating system, while other computers will still need to wait a little longer upgrade. Windows 11 brings a multitude of features designed to help you stay organized and get more done.

That you are use your computer for work or your personal life, now is a good time to master some of Windows’ productivity features. These built-in tricks can help you with everything from configuring taskbar shortcuts to saving battery power. Microsoft isn’t usually as upfront about its hidden features in the same way that Apple tends to be, which can sometimes make it harder to figure out how to take advantage of everything Windows has to offer. But we’ve got you covered here with our list of hidden features you can start using right now to get the most out of Windows 11.

Read more: Need a productivity boost? Try These Windows 11 Multitasking Features


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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. 

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 corresponding to the position of the pinned program on the taskbar. For example, Windows key + 2 will open the second pinned item on the taskbar.

This is especially useful if you type furiously and don’t want to lift your fingers from the keyboard. It may feel more natural to reach for the Windows key.

5. Find out how much space apps are taking up

Computers start to run slower as they run out of space. A quick way to speed them up can be to get rid of apps that take 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, go to Settings > System > Storage. Faucet Show more categories to see a full list.

To get an idea of ​​what to throw, press Cleaning 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. Close background apps to save battery

Apps running in the background can receive information, send notifications, and stay updated even when you’re not using them, which can be helpful, but can also drain your battery and data.

To control which apps are running in the background and save battery and data, go to Settings > System > Power & Battery. Faucet battery saver then adjust the activation of the battery saver to limit certain notifications and activities in the background.

7. Use Background Scrolling for Multiple Windows

With Windows 11, you can scroll up and down in any window, even if it’s not the one you’re working in directly. This is a useful tool when you have a lot of windows open that you want to browse at once. 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, such as an Internet browser page and a notepad or Word document. Arrange the two on the screen so that you can see at least some of the text on each. While in one window, hover your mouse or use the touchpad to switch to the second window and scroll. Even if you are not active in this 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 and devices > Mouseand switch Scroll inactive windows when I hover over them at At. Then you can hover your mouse over a background window and use the scroll wheel to scroll.

8. Show File Extensions in File Explorer

Microsoft hides file extensions by default, making life difficult for people who need to search for specific file types, like JPEGs and JPGs. AT view file extensions in file explorerproceed as follows:

1. Use Search in the taskbar and type File Explorer Options, and click on it. (There are also other ways to achieve this, such as using Start Menu Search, but this method works well.)

2. In the window that appears, click on the See tongue.

3. If it is checked, uncheck the box that says Hide extensions for known file types. Click on Applyand Okay. You should now see file extensions for all files in File Explorer.

You can also use File Explorer’s Options menu to choose whether to show empty drives, hidden files and folders, and more.

9. Minimize distractions with focus assist

It’s frustrating trying to get the job done when you’re constantly interrupted by notifications. You can determine how much you get with Focus Assist.

Configure it by going to Settings > System > Focus to help. Choose from three options: Disabled (receive all notifications from your applications and contacts), Priority only (see only selected notifications in a prioritized list that you customize and send the rest to your action center), and Alarms alone (hide all notifications except alarms).

You can also choose to automatically enable this feature at certain times, when playing a game or when using an app in full-screen mode, for example.

For more Windows 11 laptop tips and tricks, check out how you can help maximize your computer’s battery life.