Master Windows 11: The Ultimate Guide to Tips, Tricks, and Hidden Features

Windows 11, the latest version of Microsoft’s operating system, comes packed with useful new features and customization options. While the interface looks sleeker and more modern, there’s a whole lot more under the hood to help you work faster and smarter.

This comprehensive guide will walk you through the best tips, tricks, and hidden functionalities to help you get the most out of Windows 11. Whether you just upgraded your device or want to optimize your existing setup, these pro tips will transform how you use your computer.

1. Streamline Your Workflow With These Time-Saving Shortcuts

One of the easiest ways to work more efficiently is by using keyboard shortcuts. Windows 11 supports a robust set of shortcut keys to help you navigate quickly without having to lift your fingers from the keyboard.

Here are some of the most useful Windows 11 shortcut keys:

  • Win + A – Open Quick Settings
  • Win + I – Launch Settings app
  • Win + X – Open context menu for power shortcuts
  • Win + Tab – Switch between open apps and desktops
  • Win + Shift + S – Take screenshot
  • Win + V – Open clipboard history
  • Win + . – Emoji panel
  • Ctrl + Shift + Esc – Open Task Manager
  • Alt + Tab – Switch between open apps
  • Alt + F4 – Close active window

Learning the various shortcut keys will shave precious seconds off common tasks, helping boost productivity. Pinned apps can also be launched quickly using Win + [Number].

You can even create custom keyboard shortcuts for frequently used apps and settings under Settings > System > Keyboard.

2. Organize Open Apps and Desktops With Virtual Desktops

Virtual desktops, introduced first in Windows 10, lets you organize open apps across multiple desktop screens. This keeps your work organized when multi-tasking on various projects.

You can create and switch between virtual desktops using the Win + Tab shortcut or by clicking the desktop button on the taskbar. Rearrange open windows across desktops by simply dragging them.

To delete a virtual desktop, hover over its thumbnail and click the X icon. You can have multiple desktops open, with different apps running on each, and easily switch between them.

3. Optimize Default Apps For Common File Types

Windows may not always open files and links with your preferred app. To streamline your workflow, check the default apps configured for different file types and protocols under Settings > Apps > Default apps.

For instance, you can have web links open automatically in your favorite browser. Media files like photos and videos can be set to open with apps like Photoshop and VLC media player.

Microsoft Office documents such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint presentations can also be configured to open in Office apps installed on your system.

Set defaults based on your everyday needs so you don’t have to manually open files each time.

4. Unlock the Power User Menu for Advanced Tools

For easy access to some powerful tools and system settings, unlock the Power User menu simply by right-clicking the Start button or using the Win + X shortcut.

Here are some handy options available:

  • Apps and Features – Uninstall or modify apps installed on your PC.
  • Power options – Sleep, shut down, restart your PC.
  • Task Manager – Monitor system resources and processes.
  • File explorer – Quick access to your files and folders.
  • Command prompt – Launch the command line interface.
  • Device manager – Manage connected devices and drivers.
  • Network connections – Manage WiFi, Ethernet, VPNs etc.

The Power User menu puts these essential system tools just a click away instead of buried deep in Settings.

5. Install Android Apps Through the Amazon Appstore

One of the most exciting features in Windows 11 is support for Android apps. While still in beta, you can install Android apps on Windows by enabling the Amazon Appstore.

Here are the steps:

  1. Turn on Virtual Machine Platform under Settings > Privacy & security.
  2. Open Microsoft Store and search for Amazon Appstore. Install it.
  3. Sign in with your Amazon account or create one.
  4. Browse and install Android apps just like on your phone!

Popular apps like Audible, Kindle, Uber, Subway Surfers and more are available. The Android integration unlocks a whole new set of apps for Windows users.

6. Set Up Multiple Desktop Backgrounds Using Slideshow

Personalizing your desktop with an attractive wallpaper is one of the first things most users do. But did you know Windows 11 allows setting up a slideshow that automatically cycles between images?

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Right-click your desktop and select Personalize
  2. Under Background, choose Slideshow
  3. Select Add folder and choose a folder with your background images
  4. Under Change image every, specify timing in hours or minutes
  5. Hit Save changes

Now sit back and enjoy as your desktop background changes automatically based on the defined interval. You can add multiple folders with images for more variety.

7. Install Neat Tools with Quick Assist App

Windows 11 comes pre-installed with a super useful app called Quick Assist. It allows remotely connecting to another Windows PC to troubleshoot issues.

But did you know Quick Assist also includes some handy tools you can install on your own computer?

Open Quick Assist and click See more under the Tools heading. From here, you can install useful system utilities like a color picker, screen ruler, keyboard, laser pointer and more.

These tools run as overlays on your screen without having to open separate apps. Give them a try for boosted productivity.

8. Optimize Default Folder Locations

Over time, default folders like Documents, Pictures, Downloads and others can get cluttered making files difficult to find.

You can easily relocate these folders to keep your data better organized. Just right-click on the folder, select Properties > Location and choose the new path.

For instance, you may want to move the Documents folder to an external drive or a cloud sync folder. similarly, large downloads and media files can be relocated from the C drive.

Customizing where Windows stores your data helps effectively arrange files and free up primary disk space.

9. Search Faster With Filters and Operators

The integrated Windows search lets you quickly find apps, settings, files and more on your PC. But you can unlock advanced search features for even faster lookups.

Here are some useful tips:

  • Type kind:folders to show only folder results
  • Use kind:communications to find mails, Skype data etc.
  • kind:images displays photos and pictures only
  • kind:videos filters just video files
  • Add has:audio to find audio and music files
  • size:gigantic finds large files over 1GB
  • modified:this month shows recently changed files
  • me filters files related to your account
  • finds mails from a sender

Leverage these filters and operators to search more efficiently on Windows. Play around with variations to uncover different results.

10. Set Up Multiple User Profiles for Seamless Switching

If your Windows PC is shared with family members or colleagues, setting up multiple user profiles helps easily switch between separate environments customized for each user.

To add a new user profile:

  1. Go to Settings > Accounts > Family & other users
  2. Under Add someone else, click Add user
  3. Create user account credentials and privacy settings
  4. The new user profile is now ready to sign-in and can set up their own desktop, apps and preferences.

Switching between user profiles keeps files and settings distinct for each user account. This also prevents accidental or unauthorized access to data across profiles.

11. Extend Your Desktop Workspace to External Monitors

Do you have multiple monitors connected to your computer? Windows 11 lets you extend and expand your desktop workspace across all displays for multitasking bliss.

Here’s how to set it up:

  1. Connect your external displays to the laptop or PC.
  2. Go to Settings > System > Display
  3. Under Multiple Displays, choose Extend these displays
  4. Rearrange the monitor layout based on physical placement
  5. Confirm Apply

Your mouse will seamlessly transition between displays as if it were one giant monitor. You can now drag apps across to position on different screens.

12. Batch Rename Files Using PowerToys

If you handle large batches of files, renaming each one individually can be tedious. That’s where PowerToys comes to the rescue!

PowerToys is a free utility pack from Microsoft which includes advanced tools like:

  • File Explorer Add-ons – Bulk rename utility among other Finder enhancements
  • Image Resizer – Resize images in bulk
  • PowerRename – Sophisticated file renamer
  • Keyboard Manager – Customize shortcut keys

To install PowerToys:

  1. Open Microsoft Store and download PowerToys
  2. Launch PowerToys and enable modules of choice

Now you can right-click a group of files in Explorer and use the Bulk Rename utility to rename multiple files in one go. Add prefixes, suffixes, customize case and more for the ultimate renaming flexibility.

13. Minimize Distractions With Focus Assist

Finding yourself constantly distracted when trying to focus? Windows 11 includes a superb Focus Assist feature to help minimize disruptions.

When enabled, Focus Assist can automatically:

  • Mute notifications
  • Block desktop pop-ups
  • Silence incoming calls
  • Pause background syncs and updates

To turn on Focus Assist, open Quick Settings (Win + A) and tap the focus icon. Choose between Priority only or Alarms only based on your needs.

Focus Assist lets you lock-in and get things done without constant pings, alerts and rings disturbing your workflow. The mode switches off automatically after a specified duration, or can be manually disabled at any time.

14. Back Up Your Data Using File History

Data backups are crucial to avoid losing your important files forever. Windows 11 includes a built-in tool called File History to conveniently back up your photos, documents, music and more.

To enable automated file backup:

  1. Go to Settings > System > Backup
  2. Under File History, turn on Automatically back up my files
  3. Add the folders you want backed up
  4. Specify an external drive under More options

File History will now regularly back up your files for peace of mind. You can easily restore previous versions of a file or folder when needed.

15. Smartly Organize and Sync Content With OneDrive

OneDrive integration is baked right into Windows 11, providing an easy way to store, sync, share and manage your files.

Reliably back up important folders like Documents, Pictures, Desktop and Downloads to have them available anytime, anywhere. Simply save these folders directly into the OneDrive directory.

Stored files sync seamlessly across your Windows and mobile devices. OneDrive also enables conveniently sharing folders and files with others.

Leverage OneDrive as part of your storage workflow to enhance productivity. Offload rarely used files from local storage to online cloud storage for efficiency.

16. Snap Apps Side-By-Side for Multitasking

The Snap feature in Windows 11 lets you neatly arrange app windows side-by-side for effortless multitasking.

To snap an app:

  1. Hover over a window’s Maximize button
  2. Drag the app to either left or right screen edge when thumbnail appears
  3. App will snap into place occupying half the screen
  4. Open another app and snap it to the opposite side

Up to three apps can be snapped together this way. You can also pile additional windows on top that remain in place. Quickly snap and arrange apps instead of endlessly adjusting window sizes and positions.

17. Dictate Text Faster with Voice Typing

Typing long documents can get tiring. For effortless drafting, use Windows 11’s voice typing feature to dictate text instead.

  1. Open Word or other text editor
  2. Click the Microphone icon on the taskbar or press Win + H
  3. Allow access to your microphone when prompted
  4. Start speaking to dictate text hands-free
  5. Add punctuation marks like commas, full stop etc while pausing

Voice typing is great for quick notes, drafts and forms. The dictation happens live without saving recordings. For privacy, no data leaves your PC.

Give your hands a break and dictate effortlessly using speech-to-text conversion built right into Windows.

18. Customize the Look Using Themes

Personalize Windows 11 your way with custom themes. From the Settings app:

  1. Go to Personalization > Themes
  2. Under Customize your Windows, change background, accent color and more
  3. Alternatively, click a pre-defined theme thumbnail
  4. Hit Apply when done

Accent color changes the Start menu, taskbar, window borders and other elements. Make these pop with your favorite hue.

Wallpaper can be changed per the earlier tip on cycling backgrounds. Windows offers a wide selection of built-in wallpapers, or you can use your own image.

Themes allow tweaking multiple visual elements in one go for a cohesive customized look. Go beyond the standard settings with Windows themes.

19. Unlock the Control Panel for Classic Settings

The Settings app offers most configuration options on Windows 11. But for those who prefer the old-school Control Panel interface, there’s a trick to open it:

1. In Settings, click System on the sidebar

2. Select About at the bottom of the System page

3. Under Related settings, click Open Control Panel to launch it

Many familiar settings like User Accounts, Network Status, Power Options, Programs and Features, System Properties and more reside here.

While Microsoft is pushing Settings as the new control center, the classic Control Panel still provides access to several tools for power users.

20. Factory Reset Your PC Without Losing Data

Over time, Windows computers can slow down with accumulated junk, misconfigurations and corrupted data. While reinstalling Windows will wipe the slate clean, you don’t have to lose personal files in the process.

Windows includes a Fresh Start option that resets your PC while keeping your data intact. Here’s how:

  1. Go to Settings > System > Recovery
  2. Under Fresh start, click Get started
  3. Confirm you have backed up data and apps
  4. Choose Just remove my files to retain personal data
  5. Click Review my choices and then Fresh start to begin

This will reinstall Windows, apps that came with your PC and drivers, while migrating your settings and data seamlessly. Your PC will feel fresh and snappy again.

21. Automatically Arrange Open Apps

When juggling multiple open applications, their overlapping windows can quickly get disorganized.

Windows 11 offers a handy Automatically organize my desktop feature under Settings > System > Multitasking.

Turn this on and Windows will automatically cascade and rearrange open application windows neatly so they don’t overlap but remain easily accessible.

This toggle essentially duplicates the traditional cascade windows layout option but saves you the manual step. Open apps neatly tile themselves without you having to intervene.

Give it a try if you have dozens of active windows and prefer them arranged automatically.

22. Pin Apps to the Start Menu

Populate the Start menu with your favorite apps for quick access just a click away.

To pin apps:

  1. Locate the app in the Start menu, search results or app list
  2. Right-click on the app and select Pin to Start
  3. Pinned apps will show up on Start above the alphabetical list

You can also simply drag-and-drop apps directly onto the Start menu to pin them. Unpin any time by right-clicking and selecting Unpin from Start.

Organize Start exactly how you like by pinning the apps you use daily for maximum convenience.

23. Quickly Share Files from File Explorer

Windows makes it easy to instantly share files from File Explorer without any extra steps:

  1. Right-click a file you want to share
  2. Select Share from the menu
  3. Choose sharing method – email, zip, OneDrive, etc
  4. Select recipient and send away!

The handy share feature built right into File Explorer lets you quickly send files from any folder with fewer clicks.

You can also access detailed sharing options by using Alt + Shift + S keyboard shortcut on selected files or folders.

Leverage the robust file sharing abilities baked into Windows 11 for streamlined workflows.

24. Show More Tray Icons For Quick Access

The notification area in the taskbar keeps useful context menu items just a click away. To fit more icons here:

  1. Right-click an empty spot on the taskbar
  2. Select Taskbar settings
  3. Turn off Collapse system icons

This setting expands the notification area to fit wider icons, allowing you to pin more items for quick access.

Add network, keyboard settings, clipboard, touchpad toggles and other frequently used icons. Now you can access them without opening the Settings app.

25. Prevent Background Apps from Running

Apps running in the background can occasionally slow down your system if they are not required. To restrict background apps:

  1. Open Settings > Privacy & security > Background apps
  2. Under ‘Let apps run in background’, toggle off any apps not needed

Windows will automatically suspend unnecessary background processes, boosting PC performance.

You can always toggle apps back on anytime requirements change. Smartly regulating background apps helps optimize system resources.

26. Quickly Open Advanced System Settings

The Advanced System Settings window includes many powerful tweaks for customizing Windows behavior. Instead of digging to access it:

  1. Type sysdm.cpl and hit Enter

This launches the System Properties dialog with advanced tools neatly organized including:

  • Startup and Recovery
  • Remote Settings
  • System Protection
  • Hardware
  • Advanced performance settings
  • Virtual memory

The Advanced System Settings provides easy access to several advanced configuration options in one place for power users.

27. Optimize Startup Programs for Faster Boot

Too many programs starting up together can slow down your boot time. To optimize startup apps:

  1. Open Task Manager
  2. Click the Startup tab
  3. Select apps not required on boot and click Disable

This will prevent unnecessary apps and processes from loading each time you turn on your PC.

28. Use Timeline to Resume Past Activities

The Timeline feature tracks your browsing history, accessed files and previously used apps. To easily jump back into past activities:

  1. Open Task View using Win + Tab
  2. Click Timeline to see your activity history
  3. Select a past timeline item to resume working where you left off

This enables seamless continuity when resuming work across restarts, updates or crashes.

29. Split Screen Snapping for Three Apps

We covered snapping two apps side-by-side earlier. But Windows 11 takes multi-tasking further by allowing snapping up to three apps split-screen:

  1. Snap two apps left and right
  2. Hover over title bar of the third app
  3. Drag it to the top edge to fill that portion when divider appears
  4. The screen will split into three parts

This advanced snapping is great for referencing multiple sources simultaneously. Customize the sizing easily by dragging the dividers.

30. Quickly Access Notifications

To peek at notifications without switching windows, hover over the taskbar icon of an app sending notifications. After a couple of seconds, the notification toast will pop up.

Additionally, you can expand the notification center by clicking the hidden arrow icon on the right edge of the taskbar.

These provide easy access to notifications without disrupting your current workflow.


Windows 11 offers an array of useful tips and tricks to enhance your productivity and customize the interface to suit your needs. Implement some of the shortcuts, tools and methods outlined above to streamline your workflows.

Keep discovering new features and capabilities on Windows 11 with each update. And don’t hesitate to look up specific tasks – there are likely even more helpful ways to accomplish them efficiently using built-in options you may not know about. Mastering these tips will make you a power user in no time!

Hope you found this comprehensive guide useful. Let us know in the comments if you have any favorite Windows 11 productivity tips we should cover. Happy optimizing!

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How can I customize the taskbar on Windows 11?

You can customize the taskbar by adjusting settings for alignment, auto-hiding, icon sizes and more under Settings > Personalization > Taskbar. Right-click the taskbar itself to pin apps or toggle search.

  1. Does Windows 11 support multiple desktops?

Yes, Windows 11 supports virtual desktops to organize open windows. Create and switch between desktops using the Win + Tab shortcut or taskbar button. Apps can be snapped separately on different desktops.

  1. Where are Start menu settings on Windows 11?

To customize Start, open Settings > Personalization > Start. Options include showing recent files, most used apps, app list toggles, plus choosing start layout and mode. Rearrange pinned apps by drag and drop.


  • Mira Edorra

    I'm Mira Edorra, your go-to gadget gal! I’m originally a California girl, born and raised in Silicon Valley, where people are as busy as bees, making all sorts of amazing tech stuff. But now, I live all the way over in the UK! At 32, I’m living the dream as a digital nomad, Traveling is my jam and gadgets are my peanut butter - a perfect combo, don't you think? As I bounce around the globe , I get my hands on loads of cool gizmos, and I just can't wait to share all my discoveries with you!From testing drones on mountain peaks to troubleshooting laptops in cozy cafés, my travels fuel my tech expertise. Got a gadget query? I'm your girl. Even if I don’t have the answer right away, Google and I are like Sherlock and Watson - we leave no mystery unsolved.

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