Discover the Hidden Features of Windows 11: 17 Must-Know Features
Since the official release of Windows 11 last year, Microsoft has been continuously enhancing the PC experience by introducing new features and improvements. While we’ve previously highlighted some of the standout features, such as the centered taskbar, redesigned Start menu, and smoother animations, we’re here to delve into the lesser-known treasures of Windows 11. In this guide, we unveil the 18 best-hidden features that can elevate your experience with Microsoft’s latest desktop operating system. From obscure functionalities to concealed settings, we’ve covered it all in this article, so let’s dive right in.
In this article, we’ve curated a list of 17 hidden Windows 11 features that may not be in the spotlight but can significantly enhance your PC experience. We’ve thoroughly tested these features on the latest Windows 11 Pro Stable build (22000.527) after the February update. Feel free to explore the table below for a closer look at these hidden gems.
1. Weather Widget in the Taskbar
In addition to the expansive flyout widgets panel, Microsoft has introduced a convenient weather widget within the Windows 11 taskbar. Positioned at the bottom-left corner, it provides real-time weather information based on your location. You can simply click on the weather display to quickly access the Widget panel.
Please note that if you’ve relocated the taskbar to the left, the weather widget won’t be visible. To enable it, head to Taskbar settings and activate the “Widgets” option. If you ever decide to disable widgets altogether on Windows 11, you can follow our linked tutorial.
2. Mute/Un-mute Mic Directly from the Taskbar
A valuable hidden feature in Windows 11 allows you to mute and unmute your microphone directly from the taskbar, eliminating the need to navigate through specific applications. Currently, this feature is compatible with Microsoft Teams and applies to users with work or school accounts.
Microsoft has also made the API available for developers, promising expanded compatibility in the future. As more applications adopt this feature, you’ll have the convenience of muting/unmuting your microphone right from the taskbar. Additionally, a universal keyboard shortcut, “Windows + Alt + K,” offers a quick way to control your microphone during video calls. This feature also provides insights into which apps have microphone permissions, allowing you to manage them effectively.
3. Share Any Window from the Taskbar
In conjunction with the microphone switch, Microsoft has streamlined the process of screen sharing during video calls. If you’re using Microsoft Teams, you can hover over an app or an active window in the Taskbar and select “Share this window.” This seamless approach simplifies screen sharing, provided you have a work or school account linked to Microsoft Teams.
4. Voice Typing with Punctuation Support
Voice typing stands out as a hidden gem within Windows 11, yet it remains underutilized by many users. This feature enables you to type in any text field or window using a simple hotkey. By pressing “Windows + H,” you can activate the voice typing pop-up, allowing you to dictate your text accurately, complete with correct punctuation. Detailed instructions on utilizing voice typing in Windows 11 can be found in our comprehensive guide.
5. Android App Support
Following extensive testing in Insider channels, Microsoft has introduced Android app support for stable Windows 11 users. If you’re in the US, you can easily install Android apps and games on your Windows 11 PC.
Microsoft has collaborated with Amazon to bring this feature to Windows 11, allowing you to access a limited selection of Android apps and games (approximately 1000). For those who prefer alternative app sources, we’ve also provided instructions on sideloading Android APKs on your Windows 11 computer in our guide. Furthermore, if you prefer the Google Play Store experience on Windows 11, you can install it as well.
6. Access Folders in the Start Menu
A little-known feature in Windows 11 lets you add folders to the Start menu, providing quick access to your media files, downloads, and essential documents. While Windows 11 currently lacks the ability to add custom folders, you can include the user directory, Downloads folder, File Explorer, and more. Navigate to Settings -> Personalization -> Start page -> Folders to configure this option. For a more personalized Windows 11 Start menu experience, explore our tutorial on customization.
7. Redesigned Emoji Picker
Although Windows 11 hasn’t introduced 3D emojis (they’re on the way and already available in Teams), Microsoft has revamped the emoji picker, introducing new elements. When you utilize the “Windows + .” keyboard shortcut in Windows 11, the Emoji picker now enables you to insert GIFs (powered by Tenor), Kaomoji, and Symbols alongside the redesigned emojis, aligning them with Windows 11’s aesthetics. This feature enhances your messaging experience on platforms like WhatsApp Web and other messaging services.
8. Shake to Minimize (Aero Shake)
Formerly known as Aero Shake, Windows 11 incorporates the “Shake to Minimize” feature. By shaking the title bar of the active window, you can instantly minimize all open windows except for the one you’re working on, facilitating enhanced productivity. This feature, while disabled by default, can be activated in Settings -> System -> Multitasking by enabling the “Title bar windows shake” toggle.
9. Manage Volume for Individual Apps
Windows 11 introduces a hidden Volume Mixer feature that simplifies the task of controlling the volume for individual apps. Navigate to the Settings app and proceed to System -> Sound to access this functionality. With this feature, you can effortlessly adjust the volume of different apps to suit your preferences, eliminating the need for third-party solutions like EarTrumpet.
10. Advanced Gesture Controls
Advanced gestures in Windows 11 offer a rich experience for users with precision touchpads. You have the flexibility to customize 3-finger and 4-finger gestures according to your preferences, streamlining various tasks. For instance, you can configure a 4-finger tap to quickly access the Action Center or a 3-finger tap to minimize all windows. Customization options for both 3-finger and 4-finger gestures, including swipe actions, can be found in “Settings -> Bluetooth & devices -> Touchpad -> Advanced gestures.”
11. Dynamic Refresh Rate
Dynamic Refresh Rate enhances Windows 11’s smoothness when navigating the user interface and interacting with various OS elements, particularly on high-refresh-rate displays. If you own a high-refresh-rate monitor, this feature optimizes transitions and frame rates, providing an exceptional experience. To customize the dynamic refresh rate, access Settings -> System -> Display -> Advanced display, and select your desired refresh rate. For a comprehensive understanding of dynamic refresh rate in Windows 11, refer to our detailed guide.
12. Focus Session
Focus Session, an often-overlooked feature in Windows 11, is designed to enhance productivity. Integrated within the native Alarms and Clock app, Focus Session allows you to sync tasks from Microsoft To-Do, customize timers and notifications, and even integrate your Spotify account for background music. The app provides a productive dashboard to track progress and reminds you to take breaks periodically. Discover how to make the most of Focus Sessions on Windows 11 in our detailed guide.
13. Clipboard Sync
Windows 11 offers a powerful clipboard syncing feature that extends across Windows and Android devices. Though tucked away in the System Settings page, this feature allows you to seamlessly copy text from your Windows 11 computer and instantly paste it on your Android device, and vice versa. Learn how to sync the clipboard between Windows and Android devices by following our tutorial.
14. Screen Time
Similar to smartphones, Windows 11 introduces a screen time dashboard, enabling you to monitor your laptop’s usage. You can track screen on time, screen off time, sleep duration for 24 hours, and over a week. This feature helps you gauge your laptop’s battery performance and identify apps consuming excessive power. Furthermore, you can sort apps based on background and overall usage. Explore our guide on checking screen on time in Windows 11 for further insights.
15. DNS Over HTTPS
DNS Over HTTPS, a crucial yet hidden setting in Windows 11, enhances your privacy by encrypting all DNS queries made by your PC, including those from browsers, apps, and services. Traditionally, this communication remained unencrypted, leaving room for potential security vulnerabilities. With DNS over HTTPS, even DNS queries are encrypted using the HTTPS protocol, ensuring all communication on your Windows 11 PC remains secure and private. Learn how to enable DNS over HTTPS on Windows 11 in our linked article.
16. Spatial Sound
Spatial Sound, also known as Windows Sonic, is a valuable feature in Windows 11 that simulates a 3D sound experience on your PC. While it won’t replace dedicated 3D audio setups, it offers an immersive audio impression with your existing audio equipment. Unfortunately, this feature is disabled by default on Windows 11, but you can easily activate it. For detailed instructions on enabling Spatial Sound and enhancing audio quality in Windows 11, refer to our comprehensive article.
17. Windows Backup
Windows 11 introduces a comprehensive backup solution similar to smartphone backups. To utilize this feature, sign in with your Microsoft account on your PC. This backup automatically uploads your user profile’s files and folders, including Desktop, Documents, and Pictures, to OneDrive. Additionally, it stores your app list, on-device Settings preferences, Microsoft Store preferences, and more. When you sign in on a different PC, your preferences and files are synchronized and restored from OneDrive, offering a convenient cloud-based backup solution. To activate this feature, access Settings and proceed to “Accounts -> Windows backup.”
Unlock the Potential of Windows 11’s Hidden Features for an Enhanced User Experience
These lesser-known features of Windows 11 hold the key to unlocking a more enriching experience with Microsoft’s latest desktop operating system. While we’ve covered features available on the stable channel in this article, stay tuned for an upcoming comprehensive guide on all the new and upcoming features in Windows 11. If you’re eager to optimize your productivity with Windows 11 settings, don’t miss our in-depth article. If you have any questions or require further assistance, please feel free to reach out in the comments section below.”