Windows 11, like many operating systems of the present and past, has a habit of hiding the good stuff. When it comes to productivity, it’s often easier to scour the web for something you assume must exist than for the user interface (UI) to organically point you in the direction of that feature.
Many businesses and professionals will ponder whether it’s worth upgrading to Windows 11. Alongside a number of exciting features introduced with Windows 11, a handful of useful tips and tricks that might get users over the edge are a bit difficult to stumble upon, but that can boost your productivity if you use them successfully.
There are several ways to take a snapshot in Windows 11, but perhaps the most versatile is the Snipping tool. Instead of using the Print button, which takes a picture of the entire screen and has to paste it into another program, click Windows + Shift + S.
Your screen will go dark and four options will appear, each offering a different way of choosing the picture you want to take. Once you’ve decided between rectangle, freeform, window, or full screen, you can choose what you want to capture and save it via the Snipping Tool window that pops up once you click the notification on the right side of your screen Screen.
Know your keyboard shortcuts
There are hundreds of keyboard shortcuts embedded in Windows 11, and while you could become a full-on productivity guru and have an entire keyboard dedicated to Windows 11 macros – like some video editors – it might be more handy to remember the ones you use the most .
For many professionals, that means using combinations like Windows + the number that corresponds to the order of shortcuts on your taskbar. Some of the most useful are pressing Windows + I to open your settings and Windows + U to open Accessibility. Here’s a more complete list of shortcuts curated by Microsoft itself.
Turn on window shake
We could joke about what you’re hiding from shoulder surfers, but this window shake trick will be really useful so you can focus on just one window at a time and minimize everything else on your screen.
While you can set everything on your screen to skedaddle with Windows + M, enabling the window shaker feature lets you shake a window back and forth to make it the only item on your screen. Although this setting isn’t enabled by default, you can enable it by opening Settings, scrolling down to the Multitasking section on the right, and turning on window shake.
Customize your quick settings
We all have these tools that we keep going back to. For many, this could be network settings, Bluetooth devices, focus mode indicator, and audio settings. To view this handy menu, click next to Date and Time in the bottom-right corner of your screen.
From there you can add various options including Airplane Mode and Keystrokes. You can also jump directly from this smaller menu to the broader settings panel by clicking on the appropriate gear icon.
Rename your audio sources
It might seem simple, but knowing what audio source you’re connected to, rather than the common name of your monitor or headphones, can really help move from deep, quiet work to broader presentation.
Eventually, you end up using multiple audio sources throughout the day — like your laptop, headphones, external monitor, and Bluetooth speakers — which can create confusion when, for example, you log into a video conference meeting and encounter audio issues. First go to Settings and then Sound before selecting the little arrow next to the device you want to change.
There are multiple options here, from changing the quality of audio you’re sending to your headphones to enabling spatial audio, but renaming your device is as simple as clicking the Rename button just below your device icon.
Microsoft is no stranger to speech recognition technology. For one, in 2021 it acquired Nuance – the makers of the Dragon Naturally Speaking software. Speech input, formerly known as dictation, can be used both as an accessibility tool and as a way to speed up your workflow.
To enable voice input, press Windows + H and then click the small microphone icon in the window that appears. You will hear a small beep to indicate the program is listening. In terms of privacy, you can choose whether or not to send voice clips to the window, and you can also choose to have the software automatically provide punctuation marks for you.
Expanding the Start Menu
Sometimes referred to as “the secret start menu,” right-clicking the Windows icon brings up a simple menu that lets you go straight to your power options, open PowerShell, or Task Manager without having to click through several menus. You can also access this feature by pressing Windows + X.
Show file types
In each person’s journey, they often encounter a jumble of different files with confusing, conflicting names created using a variety of software, from Microsoft Word to Adobe InDesign. Knowing what file type you’re looking for can be helpful, as Windows 11’s File Explorer can be there to tell you. To enable this, click the View tab, scroll down to View, and then click Filename Extensions. Regardless of which view you use, you can tell what type of file it is.
Turn on accessibility settings
Rather than just picking one accessibility feature, let’s look at the entire menu. To access it, open your settings window and scroll down the list on the left. There, third from the bottom, is the universal symbol for accessibility in technology: a small humanoid.
Click on this menu and you will see a plethora of options. For example, you can change the text size on your screen, enable eye tracking if you need it, and also change your screen’s contrast and color filters.
Bind the snippet tool to Print Screen
A lot of the hidden Windows 11 tips and tricks revolve around accessibility, and with good reason, but there’s one specific setting that’s invaluable, regardless of whether those settings are typically part of your workflow. By clicking on the switch named “Use the Print screen button to open Screen Snipping” you can make saving these screenshots a little easier.
As the demands of our time have become more intense and our screen real estate has expanded accordingly, wrestling with the items cluttering our digital workspaces can be complicated.
Windows 11 allows you to align windows to different layouts by hovering over the window icon at the top right. Once you have snapped these windows, they will also appear as a snapping group on your bottom bar. By segmenting your work in this way, you can quickly change how your screen appears depending on your tasks and workflow.
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