10+ best Windows 11 tips and tricks to streamline your OS

by Matthew Adams
Matthew Adams
Matthew Adams
Windows & Software Expert
Matthew is a freelancer who has produced a variety of articles on various topics related to technology. His main focus is the Windows OS and all the things... read more
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  • This guide tells you about some of the best Windows 11 tips and tricks for Microsoft's new desktop platform.
  • You can customize the touch keyboard in various ways with some of the new settings in Windows 11.
  • If you're not a fan of File Explorer's new design in the latest platform, you can restore the old tabbed Explorer.
  • Snap Layouts is a good new feature in Windows 11 with which you can neatly arrange open apps on the desktop.

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Windows 11 is now upon us. Millions of users have embraced Microsoft’s latest desktop OS since October 2021. Now we’re better acquainted with Windows 11, it’s time to discover all the latest features this new platform has to offer.

Whether Windows 11 is a truly new desktop operating system under the hood is debatable. It is more of a subtle upgrade to its predecessor than the great leap forward Windows 10 was to 8.

Some users might say it’s a rebranded Windows 10, but that’s not a bad thing even so.

Windows 10 was, after all, a most welcome addition to its OS series after the flop of its predecessor. If Microsoft’s previous desktop platform wasn’t broken, why fix it?

The latest platform delivers much the same performance as its predecessor, albeit with a revamped UI design and some cool new features.

What’s new in Windows 11?

Discovering a recently released platform’s new features is always the most exciting thing when you first unwrap it.

Windows 11 is no exception in that respect. The first different thing most users probably notice is Windows 11’s centralized taskbar icons, which is a notable departure from its predecessors.

The second thing users won’t fail to notice is the redesigned Start menu. Gone are the tile shortcuts from Windows 10. It’s certainly a very different Start menu with the pinned app and recommended file sections on it.

That menu also includes a search box, like it used to in Windows 7.

Added to that, the widgets panel is probably the biggest new thing in Windows 11. That panel provides eight different widgets which users can add to and customize. It’s a bit like the gadget sidebar in Vista, albeit in a more limited form.

Most users will probably notice File Explorer is different in Windows 11 as well. It’s very much a new style file manager utility with a command bar that replaces the former ribbon tab interface. File Explorer also has a new icon set and redesigned context menu in the latest platform.

The Action Center has also undergone significant changes in Windows 11. The new Action Center has separate settings and notifications panels. Users can access its options by clicking a new Quick Settings button on the system tray.

Those are perhaps the most notable new features in Windows 11. Yet, there’s plenty more to discover in the big M’s latest desktop OS.

Here are some handy Windows 11 tips and tricks you can try out in the new platform.

What are the best tips and tricks for Windows 11?

1. Resize the taskbar

  1. First, press the Windows key + S hotkey for the search box.
  2. Type Registry Editor in the search text box.
  3. Next, click Registry Editor in the search utility to open it.
  4. Browse to this registry key location: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced\
  5. Right-click the Advanced key and select New.
  6. Then select the DWORD (32-bit) Value option.
    DWORD (32-bit) Value option best windows 11 tips and tricks
  7. Enter TaskbarSi for the new DWORD’s name.
  8. Double-click TaskbarSi to open the window in the screenshot directly below.
    Edit DWORD (32-bit) Value window best windows 11 tips and tricks
  9. Then enter 0 or 2 within the Value data box. Enter 2 to expand the taskbar or 0 to reduce its size.
  10. Click OK on the Edit DWORD window to exit.
  11. Thereafter, close the Registry Editor.
  12. Press the Start button, and select its Power option.
  13. Then click Restart. Thereafter, Windows 11 will have a larger or smaller taskbar depending on the value you entered.
Note icon
NOTE
You can restore the original medium taskbar by entering 1 in TaskbarSi’s Edit DWORD window. Alternatively, right-click TaskbarSi and select Delete.

2. Try out the new keyboard shortcuts

Windows 11 has a new set of keyboard shortcuts for some of its features. You can press those hotkeys to bring up the widgets panel, Notification Center, Quick Settings, Teams Chats, and Snap Layouts. Press these hotkeys to open their features:

  • Windows key + W: Widgets panel
  • Windows key + N: Notifications Center
  • Windows key + A: Quick Settings
  • Windows key + C: Teams Chat
  • Windows key + Z: Snap Layouts
  • Shift + F10: Legacy context menus (items need to be selected)

3. Change your default browser

  1. First and foremost you need to install a competent browser that is fully compatible with your new OS. Opera makes a lovely choice.
  2. Then, use the in-browser settings to declare Opera as the default browser, as shown here.
  3. Once you declared it as such, you will need to strengthen this setup in the Windows configuration.
  4. To do that, simply open the Settings and click on the Apps section.
  5. Next, choose Default apps. From the list, choose the specific file types that you would like to associate with your preferred browser, and change them accordingly.

As you surely know, Edge is the default browser in Windows 11 and Microsoft has spared no effort to promote it. That’s one of the reasons for which it’s a bit trickier to get it out of your way.

In fact, Windows 11 will still use Edge to open numerous file formats despite the fact that you tweaked the in-browser settings. And that is precisely why you need to adjust the settings in Windows as well.

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While we cannot help acknowledging Edge’s worth, it’s safe to say that there are great alternatives that you might not want to miss.

With a sleek design and impressive integrations, performance-driven Opera makes the perfect match for your brand new OS.

4. Restore the classic File Explorer

  1. Open the Registry Editor as outlined in steps one to three of the first tip.
  2. Then open the following registry key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Shell Extensions
  3. Right-click the Shell Extensions key on the left of the Registry Editor to select New.
  4. Select the Key option.
    The key option best windows 11 tips and tricks
  5. Input Blocked for the new registry key’s name.
  6. Right-click the Blocked key you just added and select the New > String Value options for it.
    String Value option best windows 11 tips and tricks
  7. Enter {e2bf9676-5f8f-435c-97eb-11607a5bedf7} for the string value’s name.
  8. Then exit the Registry Editor.
  9. Reboot your PC by selecting the Power > Restart Start menu options.
Note icon
NOTE
This registry editing restores the tabbed File Explorer from Windows 10 in the new platform. You can also temporarily remove the command bar from File Explorer by pressing its F11 hotkey.

5. Organize the open app windows

Windows 11 has a new Snap Layouts feature that helps users organize windows better. To activate Snap Layouts, simply hover your cursor over the Maximize button at the top right of a window.

Then you’ll see the Snap Layout options shown directly below.

Group Layout options best windows 11 tips and tricks

Then you can choose one of the four window layout options. With those options, you can neatly arrange multiple software windows on the desktop side-by-side without them overlapping.

Snap Layouts also groups the windows on the taskbar. When you’ve arranged a few windows with that feature, you’ll see a Group thumbnail preview for the layout on the taskbar.

Selecting that thumbnail preview will open all the grouped windows as you’ve arranged them.

A Group thumbnail preview best windows 11 tips and tricks

6. Check out the Command Terminal

  1. The Command Terminal is a new command-line app you can utilize in Windows 11. The quick way to open it is to right-click the desktop and select Open in Windows Terminal.
    Open in Windows Terminal option best windows 11 tips and tricks
  2. When you’ve opened Command Terminal, you can open multiple tabs. To do so, click the + Open a new tab button shown directly below.
    + Open new tab button best windows 11 tips and tricks
  3. To select a different command-line shell for a tab, press the small arrow button and choose one on the menu.
    Command-line shell options best windows 11 tips and tricks
  4. You can further configure the Command Terminal by selecting the Settings menu option.
  5. In the Settings tab that opens, you can click the Default profile drop-down menu to choose an alternative default command shell.
    Settings tab best windows 11 tips and tricks
  6. You can also customize the app’s colors by clicking Color schemes on the left of the Settings tab. Choose a different color scheme on the drop-down menu, and select the Save option.
    The color scheme settings best windows 11 tips and tricks

7. Add different backgrounds to virtual desktops

  1. You can select a new Choose background option to change wallpapers for alternative virtual desktops in Windows 11. To add different wallpapers to them, hover your cursor over the taskbar button shown directly below.
    The Task View button best windows 11 tips and tricks
  2. Click + New desktop option to add one.
  3. Right-click the new desktop and select its Choose background option.
    Choose background option best windows 11 tips and tricks
  4. Select a new background for the desktop in the Personalization tab that opens.
  5. Then you’ll have two virtual desktops with different wallpapers as shown in the snapshot directly below.
    Different virtual desktop backgrounds best windows 11 tips and tricks

8. Move the taskbar’s icons to the left

  1. Click Start on the taskbar, and select Settings on its menu.
    Settings app best windows 11 tips and tricks
  2. Select the Taskbar navigation option on the Personalization tab.
    The Taskbar navigation option best windows 11 tips and tricks
  3. Double-click Taskbar behaviors to expand its settings.
    Taskbar behaviours best windows 11 tips and tricks
  4. Select Left on the Taskbar alignment drop-down menu. Your taskbar’s icons will now be left-aligned.
    The alignment drop-down menu  best windows 11 tips and tricks

9. Select a touch keyboard theme with new customization settings

  1. Press the Windows key to I hotkey to launch Settings.
  2. Select the Personalization tab.
  3. Double-click Touch keyboard on the Personalization tab.
    Touch keyboard navigation option best windows 11 tips and tricks
  4. Select a new touch keyboard color theme.
    Keyboard themes best windows 11 tips and tricks
  5. Alternatively, click the Customized theme radio button and Edit. Then you can set up a touch keyboard theme with your own color choices.
    The Edit option best windows 11 tips and tricks
  6. Press the Save button when you’ve set up your custom touch keyboard theme.
Note icon
NOTE
To enable the touch keyboard, right-click the taskbar and select Taskbar settings. Click the Touch keyboard option there to turn it on. Then you can click the Touch keyboard system tray icon. Note that you’ll also need a touchscreen PC to utilize the touch keyboard.

10. Remove distractions and unnecessary notifications

  1. In order to eliminate potential intrusion factors, simply open the Settings app.
  2. Next, click on Privacy & Security and make sure you disable the following option: Show me suggested content in the Settings app.
  3. You can go ever more granular and disable advertising-focused notifications.
  4. To do that, return to the Settings window and head over to the System section.
  5. Here, click on Notifications and disable these 2 options: Offer suggestions on how I can set up my device and Get tips and suggestions when I use Windows.

Ads are usually seen as disruptive and Windows 11 has a bit of a reputation for showing unrequested information under numerous forms from tips, to software suggestions and other types of notifications.

We recommend you customize the manner in which you interact with notifications in order to avoid being flooded with suggestions, tips, and other unnecessary messages that are likely to break your focus.

Thus, you can choose to only eliminate ads, disable notifications for individual apps or set specific rules for their display, or even disable notifications altogether.

11. Try the Dark mode for enhanced comfort

  1. Open the Settings and click on Personalization (Or simply right-click anywhere on the desktop, in order to open the contextual menu, and select the last option available, which is Personalize).
  2. Now, click on the Colors tab.
  3. Next to the Choose your mode section, you will see a dropdown menu containing the 3 available themes: Light, Dark, and Custom.
  4. Select Dark mode and apply the changes.

By doing so, the Windows environment (including all the apps that support this mode) will turn dark.

As you know, this lighting is also beneficial for your eyes, especially if you spend a lot of time in front of the PC, so it’s not just a matter of looks.

You can find out more useful tips about the Dark mode on Windows 11 and enjoy your PC on your own terms.

Can I find more tips within Windows 11?

Windows 11 includes a Tips app, which you can access via the widgets panel. Press the Widgets taskbar button. Click the Add widgets button on the panel, and select Tips from there.

Then you can read more Windows 11 hints within the Tips widget. Or you can click the Tips link at the top of the widget to open its app. That app includes 18 Windows 11 tip topics for you to look through.

The Tips app best windows 11 tips and tricks

Windows 11 might not be radically different from its predecessor, but there are still a lot of new things to discover in the new desktop OS. So, it’s worth upgrading to Windows 11; and all the more so given the fact it’s currently a freely available upgrade.

Microsoft is currently rolling out the new platform to Windows 10 PCs that meet its system requirements. Users who haven’t installed Windows 11 can do so via the Settings’ Windows Update tab. That tab will include a Windows 11 Download and Install option for users who can upgrade to it.

You can explore the platform’s new features and customize it with the Windows 11 tips and tricks above. Our Windows 11 vs. Windows 10 guide also provides further details about the new features in Microsoft’s latest desktop OS and how you can upgrade to it.

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