Windows 11 tips and tricks: 8 hidden settings to try

If you’ve just upgraded to Windows 11, you’ll soon find that the new operating system brings a lot of new features and improvements. In case you were wondering, there are a few hidden settings you can enable to get the most out of your fresh installation of Windows 11.

There are cover folders on Start, the ability to move the taskbar location, and more. We’ve gathered our favorites for you in one place.

Move the taskbar and start menu to the left

The Windows 11 taskbar on the left of the screen.

One of the biggest differences between Windows 10 and Windows 11 is the location of the taskbar and Start menu. In Windows 10, the taskbar and the Start menu are disabled on the left of the screen. Windows 11, however, changes that by moving both to the center. If that bothers you, you can easily change it back.

Just hit it Windows key + I to open the Settings application. So choose Customization and Taskbar. From there choose Taskbar behaviors and click Left under Aligning the taskbar. This should make Windows 11 look a bit more like Windows 10.

Bring back folders on startup

Windows 11 Start menu folders.

Another complaint from many people who have upgraded to Windows 11 from Windows 10 is the inability to pin folders to the Start menu. Well, Windows 11 has a built-in setting that can show folders next to the power button in the Start menu, but only system ones.

To display the main system folders in the Start menu, press the button. Windows key + I on your keyboard, then choose Customization. After that choose Start then Files. You can then toggle the switches to At for the various system folders that you want to see in the Start menu. The selection includes settings, file explorer, documents, downloads, music, pictures, videos, network and your home folder.

Hide recommended files in favor of suggested apps

Another main feature of Windows 11 is the Recommended section, which is powered by Microsoft 365. You’ll see your most frequently opened or recently opened files in this section of the Start menu. However, a lot of people don’t like this and choose to turn it off, leaving a blank space in the Start menu. It’s not exactly easy on the eyes, which is why we usually turn it off to show recently added apps, so as not to waste space. Here’s how to do it.

First of all, hit Windows key + I on your keyboard, then click Customization followed by Start. Toggle the switch to View recently added apps on and the switches for Sthe date recently opened items in Start, Jump Lists, and File Explorer to off. Keep in mind that if you choose to do this, you will no longer see file recommendations in File Explorer, as this setting is universal on Windows 11.

Disable widgets and chat

Changed taskbar icons in Windows 11.

Widgets and Chat are two of the main new features in Windows 11. They help you stay in touch with the people and things that matter most to you. However, if you are not a fan of these features, you can turn them off and save taskbar space. Here’s how.

First, press the Windows key + I on your keyboard, then choose Customization. From there choose Taskbar and seek Show or hide the buttons that appear on the taskbar. You can then toggle the switches to Task view, Widgets, Where To discuss to off.

Change the appearance of the touchscreen keyboard

The touch keyboard settings in Windows 11.

Windows 11 makes a number of changes that make the operating system more user-friendly on touch-enabled devices like the Surface Pro 8. One of those changes is the ability to change the touch keyboard. You can customize it to look and feel the way you want – and not just use the system’s default white or dark keyboard.

To do this, choose Windows key + I on your keyboard, then click Personalization, followed by Touch the keyboard. From there, you can choose different themes and keyboard sizes. There are a total of 16 predefined themes, but you can also create your own custom theme, change the size of the keys and much more.

Try the new keyboard shortcuts

Microsoft Surface Go keyboard and trackpad 3.
Mark Coppock / TechToSee

Much like Windows 10, Windows 11 has a new set of keyboard shortcuts. You can use them to save time during your busy day. These cover things like widgets, chat app, quick settings, notification center, Snap layouts, and more. We have included some for you in the table below.

Win + W Open the Widgets pane.
Win + A Open quick settings for Wi-Fi, brightness, etc.
Win + N Open the Notification Center.
Win + Z Open the snap layouts.
Win + C Open the Teams Chat app.

It’s also worth noting that Windows 11 still offers some of the same keyboard shortcuts as Windows 10. The shortcuts for copy, paste, emoji picker, and screenshots are all the same. We talk about this in a separate article.

Type with your voice in Windows 11

Voice typing in Windows 11.

One of the cool features of Windows 11 is the voice typing feature. You’re probably used to this on your iPhone or Android device, but Windows 11 has voice input built in as well. Hit it Windows key + H on your keyboard when you are in a text box and start to turn your voice into words. You will need to select the mic button from the context menu to start using the feature. You can then customize it to your liking by clicking the settings icon and adjusting the voice input so that it can insert automatic punctuation according to the rhythm of your voice.

Recover legacy context menus

The context menu inherited from Windows 11.

Windows 11 brings a new, more streamlined context menu, with common commands for copying, pasting, and renaming foreground files. If you’re a power user, however, you might want to consider a new shortcut to bring back the legacy context menu that’s hidden under Show more options. You can just click on an item as usual and then press Gap+ F10 on your keyboard to display the legacy context menu with the full list of options.

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