While many of Windows 11’s features are widely publicized, they’re not always the most useful for advanced users. From keyboard shortcuts to hidden menus, there are many hidden Windows 11 features that make using Windows in general easier and more productive. If you are an advanced user, you may recognize some of these features from Windows 10.
1. Secret Start Menu
Windows 11’s Start menu is nice enough, but all the cool features are in the secret Start menu. Although this already exists in Windows 10, many users have not discovered it yet. The menu includes some extremely useful shortcuts, such as Run, Windows Terminal, Disk Management, Power Options, Event Viewer, Task Manager, and more.
You can access this menu by right-clicking the Start menu icon. It will appear in place of your normal Start menu.
2. Improved multitasking ability
Among Windows 11’s hidden features, multitasking is a real gem. Some settings are disabled by default, but multitasking gives you various ways to quickly access windows, snap windows, manage multiple desktops, and minimize everything except the active window, which is quite useful if you tend to have a lot of windows open while working.
Step 1: Access all the multitasking settings by going to Start > Settings > System > Multitasking. Alternatively, just search for Multitasking using the Windows search function.
Step 2: From here, you can customize the Snap window. This feature allows you to choose how the window reacts to the snap layout. While Windows 10 has these, they are much more limited. Now just hover your mouse over the window’s maximize button to see the available snapshot layouts. This allows you to organize your desktop in a way that works best for you.
Step 3: You can also choose how to manage multiple monitors, such as what your taskbar displays and how the Alt + Tab keyboard shortcut works. If you use Microsoft Edge, which is a lot better than when it was first released, you can now use Alt + Tab to navigate your last 5 tabs in addition to open apps. This makes switching from tabs to apps much faster.
And finally, minimize all windows just by clicking on the top of the window you want to open and shaking it gently with your mouse. Other open windows will minimize immediately.
3. Taskbar Shortcuts
Taskbar shortcuts help access your most-used apps and files faster. But what if you could just use a quick shortcut to open taskbar shortcuts?
All you have to do is memorize the order of the shortcuts. Press the Win key plus the corresponding number of the taskbar shortcut. For example, the shortcuts in the image below are:
- Brave browser
- File Explorer
- LibreOffice Writer
- LibreOffice Calc
Press Win + 5 to launch LibreOffice Writer. Obviously, if you rearrange your shortcuts, the corresponding number will change. In addition, these numbers do not apply to the Start menu or the Widget icons on the taskbar.
4. Sound level adjustment in apps
If you hate websites that shuffle ads or loud music, you’ll love this hidden Windows 11 feature. Instead of just quickly muting all sounds, adjust the sound at the application level. The Volume Mixer allows you to change the sound level for individual applications without changing the overall system volume. So, if you want Spotify to be louder but Chrome to be quieter, no problem.
Go to Start > Settings > System > Sounds. Select Volume Mixer.
There is one caveat when using the Volume Mixer. When you change the volume of the application, the application must be open and have the sound playing. For example, you must open a YouTube video in your browser to display it. However, your audio preferences remain the same after you set them up.
5. Quick screenshot option
In fact, this also works well with Windows 10. While many users know about the Win + PrtScr or Print Screen button, some have never tried the Snipping Tool. This allows you to take a screenshot of only the desired part of the screen.
Open the Snipping Tool like any other application through the Start or Search menu. Alternatively, just press Win + Shift + S to get started, then simply draw the shape you want to capture.
If you are trying to take a screenshot of the Windows login screen, this will not work. However, there is a workaround if you need screenshots for troubleshooting or instructions.
6. Window scrolling doesn’t work
This may not be a feature you use often, but it works well if you need to scroll through an inactive window. If you have multiple windows open on your desktop, you don’t always need to bring a window to the foreground just to scroll it.
To use inactive window scrolling, you need to have both windows open at the same time. Just hover over the inactive window and scroll with the mouse wheel.
This works well when you need a quick comparison between pages or to look up information without switching back and forth between active windows.
This should work without having to change any settings, but if it doesn’t, follow these steps:
Step 1: Go to Start > Settings > Bluetooth & devices > Mouse.
Step 2: Enable Scroll inactive windows when I hover over them.
7. Powerful clipboard
The New and Improved Clipboard is one of Windows 11’s best hidden features. It’s no longer just a place to store lots of copied items. While this is still useful, it now includes classic ASCII emojis, emoticons, icons, and GIFs. If you have to use a lot of symbols, such as ©, ℉ or é, you will save a lot of time by using the clipboard instead of trying to remember the right code to type.
Press Win + V to open and enable the clipboard feature. All your recently used items are saved in each section of the clipboard and in the clipboard favorites area.
8. Remove background conduit
If you’re using the desktop, you might not be too concerned about background apps using power. However, they still take up other valuable resources, which can slow down performance. Windows 11 lets you easily adjust which apps can run in the background, giving you more CPU, RAM, and battery life. There are two ways to manage background apps.
Step 1: First, go to Start > Settings > System > Power & battery. Select Battery Saver in the Battery section. By default, it will turn on when your battery power is only 20%. If it is not on battery power, you cannot enable this feature. You can, however, change the percentage by selecting Turn battery saver on automatically at.
Step 2: The next option is to manage individual apps. You can do this from Battery Usage, but only if apps have run on battery within the last 7 days.
Step 3: The alternative is to go to Settings > Apps > Apps & features.
Step 4: Click the settings icon next to the app (three dots) and select Advanced options. This won’t be available for all apps, such as system apps.
Step 5: Scroll all the way down to Background App Permissions.
Step 6: Select Never to stop the app from running in the background or Power Optimized to only run if you have enough battery. (This is based on the percentage you choose in the Battery Saver settings)..
9. Clean up old apps
Mobile devices give you suggestions on what to delete to free up storage space. Now, Windows 11 does the same thing. If you tend to download a lot of apps, Windows will suggest apps to remove based on your usage history. You can use Storage Sense to automatically delete temporary files, but Cleanup Recommendations is where the recommendations come from.
Step 1: Go to Start > Settings > System > Storage. You’ll see a breakdown of your memory usage, including documents, apps and features, desktop, and temporary files.
Step 2: Click Show more categories to see a more detailed breakdown.
Step 3: Select Cleanup recommendations to see suggested files and apps for deletion.
Click on any category to see suggested removals.
10. Focus Assist
There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to stay focused while notifications keep popping up. Stay fully focused by muting notifications for set times with Focus Assist. Windows 10 users may remember this feature as Quiet Times.
Step 1: Windows 11 now has this feature as part of the Clock settings. Right-click on the clock in the notification tray and select Notifications settings.
Step 2: Expand Focus Assist to see the options available to mute notifications. Choose only notifications from your most important contacts or apps, an alarm, or set a specific time interval. You can also adjust Focus Assist for specific activities, such as when an app opens in full screen or when you’re playing a game.