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6 ways to make Windows 11 more familiar and easier to use
© Dmitrii Melnikov |
Tech tips

6 ways to simplify using Windows 11

Windows 11 launched last October as a free upgrade for eligible users with rollouts continuing into this year. People with newer machines had priority but there were ways to skip ahead in the line. The transition from Windows 10 to 11 hasn’t exactly been seamless, from hardware requirements to various bugs.

Recently, laptop users who upgraded their operating system to Windows 11 have been encountering a driver problem that causes a certain process to use much more memory than it needs to. Tap or click here to check out our report and some possible fixes.

Previous Windows users may also find problems with features they were accustomed to. Some things work differently with the new OS. We’re here to help you make the adjustment.

1. Where did all my right-click options go? 


Right-clicking in most apps and files in previous versions of Windows gives you contextual options depending on where you click. You can get options for cut, copy, paste, pin to Start, create a shortcut, undo, emoji, send to and more.

Things can get a bit cluttered with this style of menu. Windows 11 swapped in an abbreviated context menu. While it may be easier to navigate, you may miss on some options you’d normally see, especially with third-party apps.

To get the full list of options, click Show more options at the bottom of the menu or press Shift + F10.

RELATED: 7 new tips and tricks to make Windows 11 more useful

2. Bring back Action Center (sort of) 


In Windows 10, the Action Center can be found by clicking the Action Center icon in the taskbar, which looks like a dialogue box. This is where you can view notifications and take any needed actions if something goes wrong with your hardware or software. You’ll get security and maintenance messages here as well.

Windows 11 has moved the Action Center to a Quick Settings panel. This gives you easy access to commonly used settings and apps. You can add or remove quick settings to your liking.

To Access Quick Settings, select the battery, network, or volume icon to open the Quick Settings panel. You can also press the Windows logo key + R. Select the Edit quick settings icon, which looks like a pencil, to add or remove a quick setting.

3. Changing default apps used to be so much easier

In Windows 10, you can easily change default apps by going to Start > Settings > Apps > Default apps. You can then click to change the default apps used for email, maps, music, videos and photos browser, among other options.

It’s a bit more complicated in Windows 11. Here’s how:

  • Go to Settings > Apps > Default apps.
  • To set a default for a file type or link type, type it in the search bar, then select it from the list of results. You can choose which app can open that file or link type.
  • To set a default for an application, select the app to see what file types or link types it can open. If you want to change something, select the file or link type, then choose your preferred app.

RELATED: How to change the default browser and search engine on Mac

4. I didn’t need widgets then …


Widgets let you check updates and information from your apps, websites and devices at a glance, so you don’t have to keep opening and switching between them. You can add or subtract widgets to your liking and even change their size. Though useful, the widgets panel can be intrusive.

If you’re not a fan of Windows 11 widgets and want to remove the widgets button from your taskbar, simply right-click the widgets button and select Hide from taskbar.

Want to disable widgets? You can do that as well:

  • Go to Settings and choose Personalization or right-click on the taskbar and select Taskbar settings.
  • Under Taskbar items, toggle Widgets to Off. Note: Widgets will still run in the background.

RELATED: Can’t find the Start menu after the latest Windows update? You’re not alone

5. The Start button isn’t where I left it


We’re used to having the Start menu on the lower-left of the screen for some time. Windows 11 centers the Start button and taskbar icons. This can take some getting used to, but you can move it back to the familiar spot in just a few steps:

  • Go to Settings and choose Personalization or right-click on the taskbar and select Taskbar settings.
  • Click Taskbar behaviors to expand the menu.
  • Select Left from the Taskbar alignment dropdown menu.

6. These icons can go away

As with widgets, you can get rid of icons you don’t want to keep in the taskbar. The steps are the same:

  • Go to Settings and choose Personalization or right-click on the taskbar and select Taskbar settings.
  • Under Taskbar items, toggle SearchTask viewWidgets and Chat to Off as desired.
  • You can also switch off the icons that appear in the right side of your taskbar: Pen menu, Touch keyboard and Virtual touchpad.

You may also like: 5 best Windows 11 utilities to get more out of your PC

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