11 Settings in Windows 11 You Probably Didn’t Know You Could Change

11 Settings in Windows 11 You Probably Didn’t Know You Could Change
Image: Gizmodo Australia

If you’ve joined the world of Windows 11 users, you probably haven’t had time to explore every single menu and dialog in Microsoft’s latest operating system — and that means there might be some tweaks you can make that you’re not aware of. We’re here to put that right, and we’ve fittingly picked 11 settings that are available to make the OS your own.

1) Put the Start menu back on the left

Screenshot: Windows 11Screenshot: Windows 11

One of the first changes you’ll notice after switching from Windows 10 is that the Start menu button and taskbar icons are centered rather than on the left — but you can go back to the old way of working if you prefer it. From Settings, choose Personalisation and Taskbar, then Taskbar behaviours, and you’ll be able to adjust Taskbar alignment.

2) Turn on the Windows 11 night light

Screenshot: Windows 11Screenshot: Windows 11

Alongside the usual brightness option, Windows 11 also gives you a night light setting, reducing the amount of blue light emitted by your screen so as not to strain your eyes late into the evening. You can find it from Settings by choosing System, Display, and Night light — the feature can be enabled manually, or you can set it to run on a timed schedule.

3) Choose permissions for individual apps

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Desktop operating systems have now caught up to their mobile equivalents by letting you set exactly what apps can and can’t do on your system. To configure these options, open Settings and then pick Privacy & security: If you scroll down to App permissions, you can see which apps are able to do what in categories such as Location and Microphone.

4) Sync your clipboard across devices

Screenshot: Windows 11Screenshot: Windows 11

If you’re working with multiple Windows 11 devices, then you have the option to sync your copying and pasting history across them all: Go to Settings and choose System, Clipboard, and Sync across your devices. On the same screen, you’re able to set up a handy clipboard history feature that means you can store more than one item at a time.

5) Block out distractions

Screenshot: Windows 11Screenshot: Windows 11

Windows 11 comes with a variation on the classic do not disturb mode that you might find really useful. To find it, open up Settings and then go to System and Focus assist: You’ll see that you can set which times the mode is active for, which notifications are allowed through (if any), and tweak the options for times when you’re gaming or presenting.

6) Control your computer with your voice

Screenshot: Windows 11Screenshot: Windows 11

You can do just about anything on Windows 11 with your voice, from dictating documents to launching apps to opening up menus. To get these features set up, you need to visit Settings and then choose Accessibility and Speech: Select the Windows Speech Recognition option and you’ll be taken through the process of getting it up and running.

7) Do more with gestures

Screenshot: Windows 11Screenshot: Windows 11

Windows 11 gives you more control over touchpad gestures than you might have realised, though in some cases you might be limited by your hardware. To set up and customise the gestures you can use, from taps to three-finger swipes, head to the Settings menu and pick Bluetooth & devices and Touchpad, with more options listed under Advanced gestures.

8) Pin folders to the Start menu

Screenshot: Windows 11Screenshot: Windows 11

It’s your Start menu, so get it set up the way you want it to be: One of the most useful Start menu customisations is the ability to pin folders to it that you know you’re going to be using a lot. Head to Settings and then pick Personalisation, Start, and Folders to choose which File Explorer shortcuts show up on the Start menu next to the power button.

9) Change the way you sign into Windows 11

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There are now more ways than ever to sign into the Windows operating system, and you can check out all of the options for your particular device by opening up Settings and then choosing Accounts and Sign-in options. You can configure whether or not you need to sign in again every time that your device is locked, and various other related settings.

10) Optimise video playback to preserve battery life

Screenshot: Windows 11Screenshot: Windows 11

If you use Windows 11 on a laptop or 2-in-1, then you’ll want to maximise your battery life between charges. Windows 11 can help by reducing the power load from video playback when you’re on battery power, at the expense of some quality: From Settings, choose Apps, Video playback, and make your choice from the Battery options drop-down.

11) Choose what appears on the taskbar

Screenshot: Windows 11Screenshot: Windows 11

By default, Windows 11 puts shortcuts for search, the task view, widgets and Microsoft Teams on the taskbar, but you can do some decluttering if you want to. Open Settings, then pick Personalisation and Taskbar: Under the Taskbar items heading, you can toggle these shortcuts on or off, leaving only the buttons that you’re actually going to use.

This article has been updated since it was first published.