8 Top Hidden Microsoft Windows Features Every User Should Know.
According to Statista’s statistical report on the global market share held by computer operating systems from 2012-2021, Microsoft’s Windows is the most widely used computer operating system in the world. This means that a large percentage of computers use Microsoft Windows OS. So, you’d expect that the full potential of Microsoft computers has been unlocked but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Now, of a truth, many people have done great things with their computers, including developing innovative technological products. However, many are still not using their Microsoft computer to its full potential, especially when it comes to using it to achieve day-to-day productivity.
So, in this article, I will be discussing some of those hidden Microsoft Windows features that you probably are not yet familiar with but that would help you maximise the use of your PC. And I will be focusing more on the features of the latest Microsoft Windows 11 – version 21H2, released in October 2021. Therefore, if you are using a more outdated version, you may not have some of these features.
Having said that, let’s go straight to the 8 top hidden Microsoft Windows features I believe every user should know.
8 Hidden Microsoft Windows Features You Should Know
Android App Support
Yes, this is a very appealing feature to me and Android users will agree once they engage this feature. Although it is not an entirely new feature to Windows 11, the difference this time around is how seamless it is. Microsoft makes it work by running a lightweight version of the Android OS in the background which can be accessed with the Phone Link app and you can instantly access the apps installed on your mobile device directly on your PC.
It allows you access to regular mobile phone functions while using your PC’s larger screen. And to interact with your apps, you can use your mouse, touch screen and/or keyboard. You can also multitask as the feature allows you to open more than one mobile app at a time. As mentioned earlier, all you need to make all these happen is to connect your Android phone to your PC via the Phone Link app which can be located with the search icon on your taskbar. You don’t have to install any of the apps on your PC; as far as they are installed on your mobile phone, you can access them.
Teams Chat Integration
This is one of the hidden Microsoft Windows features that is quite necessary in the business world today after the pandemic. With the devastating impact of the pandemic, more organizations have had to embrace the benefits of working remotely. This is where Microsoft Teams come in. The major function of Microsoft Teams is to aid team collaboration. It helps teams stay informed, organized and connected, all in one location. It helps to virtually gather people together to work in focused spaces.
Microsoft Teams includes a chat feature that helps you directly message others to talk about and stay updated on projects. And you can use the chat feature in channels as well. Also, the chat feature has a simplified navigating process that allows you to search for specific people or information by inputting names or keywords and filtering messages to locate preferred options. You can save messages and when you would rather have a chat out of your way, hide or mute them. Besides that, you can also share files and documents via this feature.
There are times you absolutely require serenity to complete a task. You could be avoiding pressure-driven activities from work, bugging requests from colleagues or even messages from family and friends. A combination of these distractions can impact your productivity or even result in errors. To avoid this situation, Microsoft users can harness the power of Focus Assist. This feature, when enabled, simply stops notifications from popping up on your screen. It can be enabled or disabled by locating and activating it via the search option on your PC.
Focus Assist is flexible enough to allow you to choose if you prefer to receive notification pop-ups from certain apps when the feature is enabled. It has options of priority-only or alarm-only mode that allow configured notifications to pop up even when Focus Assist is enabled on your PC. And when you are done with your task, you can view all missed notifications via the Action bar.
Microsoft has also incorporated the voice typing feature into its software. The feature uses speech recognition techniques to convert dictated or spoken words into text. Rather than engaging your keyboard when you need to type, it allows you to talk your way into completing that document or even email and you only require an internet connection to make this happen.
The feature which recognises over 7 languages also includes voice command functions that assist in punctuation, paragraphing, highlighting, text selection, spell-check, deleting and even including special characters in your writing. The voice typing feature does not store your voice in a database, however, it seamlessly transcribes your utterances, and communicates them to Microsoft where it is interpreted accordingly in seconds. The voice typing feature can also be used to transcribe a pre-recorded audio file.
If you need to multitask, work simultaneously on multiple windows or even create an illusion of multiple screens, the Windows Snap is one of the top hidden Microsoft Windows features you should consider making a part of your process. The Windows Snap assist users with separating different windows from the taskbar. For example, if you open a BFD blog post on one page or window and open another BFD blog post on a separate window, they both go on the taskbar which allows access to one window or page at a time. However, if you would prefer to access these pages side by side on the same screen, the Windows Snap feature comes in handy.
It allows you separate pages, giving you the opportunity to view each page simultaneously, meanwhile, the snap layout feature gives you a preview of where the pages will be placed when you ‘Snap’ them. To access the Snap Layout (or snap) feature with the mouse, click the Title bar of the window or page you want to snap and drag it to the edge of your screen. An outline will appear to show you where the window or page will be placed once you drop it. This outline is the Snap Layout and you can drag the window to your preferred position within the layout.
To use the keyboard, select the window you want to snap and press Windows Key + Left Arrow or Windows Key + Right Arrow to snap that window to the left or right side of your screen and Windows Key + Up Arrow or Windows Key + Down Arrow Key if you prefer the Window up or down. If you get a blank screen on the opposite side after Snapping, the Windows snap assist feature handles this automatically by transforming the remaining open windows to thumbnails. Click on these thumbnails to access the windows or pages.
Open Pinned Taskbar via Keyboard
Microsoft is very popular when it comes to having shortcuts for several of its functions. From Ctrl + P for print and Ctrl + Z to undo a command down to Alt + F4 to close an app. All these shortcuts absolutely increase productivity and even make processes less cumbersome. As a continuation of this, Microsoft has also introduced a shortcut that allows you to access your pinned taskbar via your keyboard.
With the Windows and numeral keys on your keyboard, you are now able to access pinned apps on your taskbar by simply hitting Windows + Corresponding Number of the app on your taskbar (i.e – Windows + 2 to open the second pinned app on your taskbar). This is separate from the Windows + T shortcut which allows you to navigate each app by highlighting one app and then using the arrow keys to run through the apps till you arrive at your required one.
Access to Folders from the Start Menu
As I mentioned in the previous point, Microsoft really loves to incorporate shortcuts into their software and this is reflected in this point. I introduce you to yet another of the hidden Microsoft Windows feature and yes, it is a shortcut. However, unlike other shortcuts, this one helps users reach and create folders (for apps) quite easily via the Start menu. To reach folders, simply click on or open the Start menu and look by the furthest left side. Locate and identify the document icon then click on the icon and voila! You have access to your folders.
To create a folder for apps in the Start menu, simply drag one app on top of another and drop it there. To access the folder, click on it and it’ll expand above the Start menu. You can also rearrange apps within the folder by dragging and dropping them to their new location within the folder. Delete apps by dragging them out of the folder and delete the folder by dragging all apps out of the folder.
Xbox Tech to Support Gaming
To a lot of gaming fans, Xbox is a necessity and Microsoft is indulging Xbox fans by improving the performance. Xbox, which is a Microsoft-owned gaming platform, has been improved to enhance your gaming experience. Especially on Windows 11, you get to experience the latest in graphic innovations, powerful GPUs, high refresh rate screens, 4K1, and now DirectX Raytracing2. A combination of these features presents you with better graphics, lighting, shadows, and reflections. This helps your game better and delivers a more realistic gaming experience.
And that’s it; 8 hidden Microsoft Windows features I think every user should know. Do you know other hidden features that you’d like to share with us? Let us know in the comment section.