Windows 11 All-in-One For Dummies
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Adjusting to a new operating system, whether you're upgrading from an old version of Windows to Windows 11 or you've purchased a new machine running Windows 11, isn't an easy thing to do. In this cheat sheet, you find out what has changed in Windows 11, what you should and shouldn’t do when you start using Windows 11. It also includes how to navigate Windows 11 using keyboard shortcuts, and how to perform touchscreen gestures and commands.

What has changed in Windows 11?

Windows 11 is mostly a visual upgrade to Windows 10, with new user interface elements that make it easier to use on devices with touchscreens and without.

There are also negatives, like stricter hardware requirements that make Windows 11 usable only on recent computers and devices. Here’s a summary of the biggest changes introduced by Windows 11:

  • Taskbar: The new taskbar is inspired by macOS, with app icons displayed at the center of the bottom of the desktop. The taskbar is easy to use not only with the mouse but also with a touchscreen. However, the new taskbar can’t be moved around and resized. Windows 10 power users might have some trouble adapting to it.
  • Start menu: The Start menu is centered on the taskbar, and organized differently than in Windows 10. There are no more tiles, and the old shortcuts are making a comeback.
  • Settings: The Settings app is continuing its journey of replacing the Control Panel. Compared to Settings in Windows 10, the new app looks better, has more options, and has an improved organization.
  • TPM and Secure Boot: Windows 11 is very strict about the hardware it’s running on. You must have a TPM 2.0 chip, Secure Boot enabled, and an Intel Core processor from at least 2017 or an AMD processor from 2019 onward.
  • Widgets: Remember the desktop gadgets from Windows 7? They’re making a comeback in Windows 11. Microsoft has designed a new Widgets app that includes a strip of tiles to show live data, such as the latest news, the weather forecast in your area, and traffic updates, and.
  • Snipping Tool app: The Snipping Tool and Snip & Sketch apps from Windows 10 have been combined into one screenshot-taking app called Snipping Tool. The new app is better and simpler to use than its predecessors. It’s about time Microsoft simplified the screenshot-taking experience.
  • Teams Chat: The pandemic has increased the popularity of video-conferencing tools like Zoom to an unprecedented level. Because of that, Microsoft has integrated its Teams platform into Windows 11 through a new Chat feature, accessible from the taskbar. It’s free, and you can use it to organize quick video calls and exchange chat messages.
  • Microsoft Store: The Microsoft Store been redesigned and improved to include more apps as well as more types of apps. Automatic app updates are handled better, and it has more content. Android apps are coming soon too.

If your Windows PC is new enough to run Windows 11 and set correctly, it will probably upgrade automatically through Windows Update by the end of 2022. If it’s not new or powerful enough, Windows 10 will keep running until October 2025. After that date, Windows 10 will stop receiving patches, and Microsoft will recommend that you buy a new PC with Windows 11.

Some dos-and-don'ts advice for Windows 11

Windows 11 is different from previous Windows versions, in both good and bad ways. Here are some dos and don’ts to lower your frustration when using this operating system:

  • Don’t assume that the built-in apps will work best for you. Some Windows 11 adopters rush to the new Mail, Calendar, People, Photos, Groove Music, Movies & TV, and other apps, assuming that they’re shiny and new and must therefore be good. Some aren’t. Search online for alternatives or try the apps recommended in the book. You’ll see that there are greener pastures elsewhere.
  • Do remove apps you don’t need. The Start menu is filled with shortcuts to recommended apps you won’t want or need. Uninstall or at least unpin apps such as TikTok, Clipchamp, Disney+, and others you don’t plan to use.
  • Do pause updates regularly. Microsoft has a history of delivering buggy feature updates that can cause issues to many users in the first weeks after their deployment. When you hear that Microsoft is about to deliver a major Windows 11 update (or feature update), click or tap the Pause Updates button in the Settings app.
  • Don’t lose the battle for your privacy before it starts. Windows 11 has plenty of privacy-robbing capabilities — some of which are necessary if you want to use certain features. Browse the Privacy & Security section of the Settings app and tweak all the permissions given to Windows in general and apps in particular.
  • Don’t pay for stuff you don’t need. Registry cleaners, disk defraggers, and even extra-cost antivirus programs may not work as well as what you get for free.

Useful keyboard shortcuts for Windows 11

Keyboard shortcuts help people be more productive in the way they use Windows 11. Most people know about Ctrl+C for copy, and Ctrl+P for paste, but true geeks know many more keyboard shortcuts:

  • Windows: Opens and then closes the Start menu.
  • Windows+A: Opens the quick settings in Windows 11.
  • Windows+I : Opens the Settings app.
  • Windows+X: Opens the WinX menu, with shortcuts to many useful Windows apps such as Task Manager, Windows Terminal, and Device Manager.
  • Windows+D: Displays the desktop. Press it again to restore the windows you just minimized.
  • Windows+E: Opens File Explorer.
  • Windows+G: Displays the Xbox game bar at the top side of the screen.
  • Windows+L: Locks your Windows 11 computer or devices and displays the lock screen. Anyone who wants to use your computer must enter the password.
  • Windows+P: Opens the Project pane, from where you can extend or duplicate the image to a second display or a projector.
  • Windows+R : Displays the Run dialog, in which you can type commands to be executed.
  • Windows+Print Screen: Takes a picture of the screen and saves it in your Screenshots folder.
  • Windows+Tab: Displays task view, from which you can switch between open windows or virtual desktops.
  • Alt+Tab: Displays all open windows. To cycle through the open windows, repeatedly press the Tab key while holding down Alt. Release the keys when you get to the window you want to open.
  • Windows+Ctrl+D: Creates a virtual desktop.
  • Windows+Ctrl+left arrow: Switches to the previous virtual desktop.
  • Windows+Ctrl+right arrow: Switches to the next virtual desktop.
  • Windows+left arrow: Snaps the active window to the left half of the screen.
  • Windows+right arrow: Snaps the active window to the right half of the screen.
  • Windows+; (semicolon): Displays the emoji pop-up, which you can use to insert emojis into your text.

Navigating Windows 11 on a touchscreen

Windows 11 no longer has a tablet mode, but it works well on touchscreen devices and is Microsoft’s most touch-friendly Windows version to date. When using a touchscreen, these gestures and commands will help you navigate Windows 11 with ease:

  • Tap: The touch equivalent of a click. For example, tapping a link opens it, and tapping a file selects it.
  • Double-tap: The touch equivalent of a double-click. For example, double-tap a file to open it.
  • Press and hold down on: The touch equivalent of a right-click. If you want to access the right-click menu on a touchscreen, simply press and hold on an item.
  • Pinch or stretch: The touch equivalent of using the scroll wheel on your mouse. If you’ve opened an image in Photos and want to zoom in or out, place two fingers on the touchscreen and then move them as if you were pinching or stretching a sheet of paper. The image expands or shrinks accordingly.
  • Slide: The touch equivalent of a drag. Slide a finger inward from the left edge of the screen towards the right, and you open the Widgets panel in Windows 11. Slide from the right edge of the screen towards the left, and you see the calendar and your notifications.
    Slide three fingers down the screen, and you minimize all open apps to the taskbar. Slide three fingers up to restore all your minimized apps.
    Slide four fingers to the left, and you switch to the next open virtual desktop. Slide four fingers to the right, and you switch to the previous open virtual desktop.

About This Article

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About the book author:

Ciprian Adrian Rusen is a Microsoft MVP and Windows expert. He blogs about technology in general and Windows in particular at digitalcitizen.life.

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