Must-try Windows 11 customization features

Windows 11, the newest operating system from Microsoft, is a breath of fresh air for PC users. Designed to provide a personalized experience, it offers many ways to change your PC’s interface, from how windows look to how apps can be accessed. Here are some Windows 11 customization features that will give you more control over your PC settings.

Change your theme

The easiest way to customize Windows 11 is by changing your theme, including your desktop background and lock screen image. Just right-click anywhere on your desktop, then click on Personalize. This will lead you to the Personalization menu, where you can preview and choose different backgrounds and themes. You can even create new themes by using images from your gallery. You can also see more themes in the Microsoft Store by clicking “Browse more”.

Use dark mode

If light or bright colors are not your thing, Windows 11 is here to the rescue. To change your desktop’s colors, right-click on your desktop, choose Personalize, and click Colors. Then, select Dark under “Choose your default Windows mode”. This changes the colors of your taskbar and Start menu. If you want to change the color of your apps from white to black, pick Dark under “Choose your default app mode”. To restore your default settings, follow the same procedure under “Choose your default app mode” but click Light.

Create virtual desktops

Having trouble separating work files from personal files? Try creating a virtual desktop. You can do this by clicking on the Task view icon on the taskbar. This will display all your open windows. Just drag any window to the “New desktop” space on the lower part of the screen to create another desktop. Repeat the process if you want to add more windows to the new desktop. To add more virtual desktops, hover over the Task view icon and click on the + sign. To remove a virtual desktop, hover over the Task view icon and click the X button on the desktop you want to delete.

Try snap layouts

Snapping is not a new feature, but Windows 11 makes it more efficient by letting you snap any app or window wherever you are on your PC. Access snap layouts by hovering over a window’s maximize button or pressing Win + Z. You can then see which layouts are available to you, and pick the one that best suits your needs.

Reorganize your Start Menu

You can also personalize how your apps are arranged on the Start menu. For one, you can rearrange applications by dragging them anywhere around the Start menu. Or, if you won’t be using a particular application, simply right-click the tile and select Unpin from Start. On the other hand, if you want even faster access to your most-used apps, right-click on an app and choose Pin to taskbar

Disable all your notifications

Some people prefer to receive notifications, but some don’t. If you’re one of the latter and wish to never see notifications ever again, click on the gear icon on the taskbar to open Settings. Then, choose System > Notifications. From there, you can switch off whatever app notifications you don’t want popping up on your screen.

Personalize your Windows 11 PC however you like by using some or all of these options. If you want more ways to customize your device or if you need information on anything Windows 11-related, give us a call.

 

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Windows 10 and 11 keyboard shortcuts you need to know

Using keyboard shortcuts activate computer commands faster than dragging a mouse. If you’re using Windows 10 or 11, you may want to try out the following keyboard shortcuts.

Snap

Snap allows you to put two to four windows side by side, making it easier to compare documents or do two things at the same time. You can use Snap with these keyboard shortcuts:

  • Windows Key + Left – snaps the current window to the left side of the screen
  • Windows Key + Right – snaps the current window to the right side of the screen
  • Windows Key + Alt + Up (Windows 11 only) – snaps the current window to the top half of the screen
  • Windows Key + Alt + Down (Windows 11 only) – snaps the current window to the bottom half of the screen

You can also select a snapped window and press Windows Key + Up/Down to move it to your desired corner of the screen.

Taskbar

You can also use keyboard shortcuts to navigate the Windows 10 or 11 taskbar. Here are the ones you need to know:

  • Windows Key + T – cycle through opened and pinned apps on the taskbar
  • Windows Key + (number) – open the app pinned to the taskbar in the position indicated by the number. If the app is already running, pressing this shortcut will switch to that app.
  • Windows Key + Shift + (number) – start a new instance of the app pinned to the taskbar in the position indicated by the number, even if one is already open

Task View

This window management feature allows you to see all of your opened windows and browser tabs so you can quickly return to a specific program, document, or web page. This is particularly useful if you have multiple windows open at once.

You can access Task View by clicking on its button on the taskbar or using these keyboard shortcuts:

  • Windows Key + Tab – opens the Task View interface with windows from your current desktop
  • Alt + Tab – switches between open windows and browser tabs on all desktops
  • Ctrl + Alt + Tab – functions similarly to Alt + Tab but the thumbnails stay on the screen even after you release all the keys

Virtual Desktop

This handy feature enables you to create a new desktop that can display different open windows and apps. You can dedicate virtual desktops for certain functions. For instance, one virtual desktop could be used solely for work and another one for entertainment.

You can quickly manage your virtual desktops using the following keyboard shortcuts:

  • Windows Key + Ctrl + D – opens a new virtual desktop
  • Windows Key + Ctrl + F4 – closes the current virtual desktop
  • Windows Key + Ctrl + Left/Right – switches to the virtual desktop on the left or right

If you’re looking for more time-saving technology tips or have any questions about how Windows 10 or 11 can help streamline your operations, just give us a call. Our IT experts are more than happy to assist you.

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Simplify logging in with Windows Hello

You can now log in faster and more securely to your Windows 10- or 11-powered device with Microsoft’s Windows Hello. This feature allows you to log in to your computer without having to enter a password. All you need is a fingerprint, iris, or facial scan, or a PIN code.

How to set up Windows Hello

To get started with Windows Hello, click the Start menu icon and open Settings. From there, choose Accounts, followed by Sign-in options. You should see options for setting your PIN or scanning your face, iris, or fingerprint. Select which method you want to set up and follow the prompts to create a login profile.

You can even save your biometric data or scan more than once to boost accuracy. The system collects more data every time you scan, so it’s better to complete a few scans before enabling the login feature.

After setting up your account, you can start adding other trusted users who share the same device. Each of them can set up their own PIN or biometric profile in a separate account. Passwords and PIN codes can be used as backup login options in case the camera or fingerprint scanner aren’t working.

Limited availability

As of this writing, Windows Hello is only available on select Windows 10 and 11 laptops and tablets. To see which devices have Windows Hello, go to the Windows website, scroll down to the “Filter by” section, then select the Windows Hello option under the “Features” column. The resulting selection lists devices that have the infrared camera and/or fingerprint scanner required to enable this feature.

Microsoft’s promise of security

Your Windows Hello login info is saved only on your device and never on Microsoft’s servers. Furthermore, Microsoft assures users that third parties cannot access locally saved PIN codes and biometric data. All of this means that you never need to worry about your login info falling into the wrong hands.

In addition to Windows Hello, there are other Windows features that can make your life easier. Our IT experts can help you get more out of your Windows devices. Contact us today!

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Disable these disruptive Windows 11 settings now

The Windows 11 operating system is growing in popularity among businesses. However, just like its predecessor, it can have some intrusive privacy settings enabled by default. Luckily, you can easily turn these settings off to protect your privacy.

Turn off personalized advertising

Windows 11 features targeted ads as suggestions, recommendations, and tips on your device’s user interface. The operating system personalizes the ads a user sees based on computer activity and browser history. While personalized ads may direct users to helpful content, they can also be a hindrance to their productivity. To remove these distracting ads, here’s what you should do:

  • Click Start > Settings > Privacy & security.
  • Go to Diagnostics and feedback.
  • Find the Tailored experiences menu, and toggle it off.
  • Then, go back to Privacy & security and select General.
  • From there, turn off the “Let apps show me personalized ads by using my advertising ID” option.

You can also remove ads in Windows 11 notifications by doing the following:

  • Go to Start > Settings > System.
  • Select Notifications.
  • Scroll to the bottom of the page and disable the “Get tips and suggestions when it uses Windows” and “Offer suggestions on how I can set up my device options”.

Disable Cortana

Cortana is a personal assistant that allows users to set reminders, schedule events, and send emails, among other tasks. Every time you use Cortana, it collects information about your computer activity — “learning” it, so to speak — to improve user experience. But if you find this feature intrusive, you can disable Cortana completely with these steps:

  • Go to Settings > Apps > Apps and Features.
  • Find Cortana and open Advanced options by clicking on the three-dot icon.
  • Turn off the Run at log-in option.

Change Microsoft’s Edge settings

The Microsoft Edge web browser is chock full of features, such as web experience personalization and typing prediction. Such features may make you uncomfortable since they all send back data to Microsoft. Here’s how to turn them off:

  • Open Edge and click on the menu icon (three dots) in the upper-right corner.
  • Next, click on Settings > Privacy and services. Scroll down and switch on the “Send ‘Do Not Track’ requests” option.

There’s also a bunch of Privacy and Services settings that you may want to disable, such as tracking services, navigation error resolution, blocking potentially unwanted apps, and more.

For more tips on how to safeguard your security and privacy, drop us a line today. Our experts will be more than happy to help!

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Read this before upgrading to Windows 11

Windows 11 is out. And with its sleek design and new features, it’s no wonder that so many people are considering upgrading. But should you switch to the newest Microsoft operating system (OS)? Here are some reasons why you may want to wait.

1. Your computer doesn’t meet Windows 11 minimum system requirements

One of the main reasons that can keep you from upgrading to Windows 11 is that your computer might not be able to run it. Windows 11’s system requirements are quite high: your computer needs 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster with two or more cores on a compatible 64-bit processor or system on a chip (SoC). It also needs at least 4 gigabytes (GB) of RAM and 64 GB of available storage.

Although these standards aren’t extraordinary, a considerable number of users have outdated hardware that doesn’t meet Microsoft’s requirements for Windows 11. If you are one of them, you may need to purchase a new PC to get the latest OS.

2. Windows 11 has a lot of bugs

Windows 11 is still fresh out of the oven, and it’s far from being bug-free. Users have reported compatibility issues, missing notifications, and some built-in applications not opening or working as expected. The OS is still missing some features available in Windows 10, and issues are constantly being discovered and fixed, but these are to be expected of any newly released OS. So if you want to stick with a stable and reliable OS, it’s better to wait until Windows 11 is more mature.

3. You can’t access Android apps directly from Windows 11 (yet)

The Your Phone app currently lets Android phone users access mobile apps directly from their Windows 10 PC. This is an especially useful feature for remote and hybrid employees, as the ability to access phone apps on a larger desktop or laptop display and use a mouse, pen, or touchscreen helps with multitasking. If you are one of the people who rely on this feature, you’ll have to wait for the next Windows 11 update to get this functionality.

4. Windows 11 is very similar to Windows 10

Windows 11 wasn’t intended to be a new version of the OS. It was meant to be a substantial update to Windows 10, initially called the Sun Valley Update. That’s why save for a few features, many apps and functions look and work the same in Windows 11 as they do in Windows 10. So unless you’re looking for something radically different from what you have now, it may not be worth upgrading.

5. Microsoft will continue to support Windows 10 until 2025

If you are comfortable with your current setup and don’t have any urgent need to upgrade, you might as well stick with Windows 10. Microsoft has stated that it will continue to support the OS until October 14, 2025. This means that Windows 10 won’t become obsolete in the near future, so you can still enjoy bug fixes, security updates, and new features for this OS version for a few more years.

These are just some of the reasons why you may want to stick with Windows 10. If you decide that upgrading to Windows 11 is right for you, go ahead! But if not, there’s no need to worry — Windows 10 will still be here for a while. Either way, our experts can help you make the most out of your Windows setup. Give us a call today to learn more.

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Windows 11: The basics you need to know

Windows 10 remains the most popular operating system (OS) in the world today. And because it will still be supported until 2025, most users don’t feel the urgency to upgrade to Windows 11. While there’s still plenty of time to upgrade to the latest Microsoft OS, it doesn’t hurt to know what you’re getting into — especially because every Microsoft user will eventually have to use it.

Windows 11 is relatively new to the market, so it’s no surprise that users have plenty of questions about it. From what Windows 11 is to how to install it, here is a list of everything you need to know about the new Microsoft OS.

What makes Windows 11 different from Windows 10?

Microsoft promises to improve its OS with every release, and that’s also the case with Windows 11. It features refined power and security features and redesigned key visual elements that give the OS a more modern look. It is also packed with new tools, apps, and sounds that come together cohesively to give you a refreshing PC experience.

Does Windows 11 take up more PC space than Windows 10?

No. Both versions of Windows require approximately the same amount of disk space. However, you will need extra space in your PC during the upgrade process. After about 10 days upon completing the update, Windows will clean up this extra disk space.

When can I get a PC that comes with pre-installed Windows 11?

Windows 11 is pre-installed on PCs that were available before the end of 2021, as well as on all new 2022 PCs. Older models with Windows 10 will be able to upgrade to Windows 11, given that they meet the minimum hardware specifications necessary to run the latest Microsoft OS.

What are the minimum hardware requirements for Windows 11, and how do I know if my PC meets them?

You can check the complete list of Windows 11 minimum hardware requirements here

To see if your PC meets these specifications, download and run the PC Health Check app. Apart from providing a comprehensive eligibility check for your device and giving information on why your device is or isn’t eligible, it will also tell you what you can do if your device doesn’t meet the minimum specifications. 

Will my current accessories work with Windows 11?

All accessories that work with Windows 10 and meet Windows 11 specifications should have no problems working with Windows 11. To be sure, you can always check with the manufacturers.

If my Windows 10 device meets the minimum requirements, when will I be able to upgrade to Windows 11?

While the Windows 11 rollout is expected to be completed in early 2022, it is already available for most of the devices in use today. But because not all eligible Windows 10 devices will be offered the update at the same time, you should run the PC Health Check app on your device to see if Windows 11 is already available.

What if I want to install Windows 11 on my compatible device but the upgrade isn’t available to me yet?

The good news is that you can install Windows 11 on your eligible PC without waiting for Microsoft to offer the OS to you. From the official Windows 11 download page, simply choose how you’d like to install the update. The best and easiest installation option for most people is via Microsoft installation assistant, but there are also options for installing through a bootable USB, a DVD installer, or a disk image ISO.

What should I do if my PC doesn’t meet the minimum hardware specifications?

If your PC is not eligible for a Windows 11 update, don’t fret. You don’t necessarily have to buy a new PC — at least not yet. You can stay on Windows 10; it remains a great version of Windows and it will be supported until October 14, 2025.

How much is the Windows 11 upgrade?

Upgrading to Windows 11 is free for PCs running the most current version of Windows 10 and have the right hardware specifications. To check if you’re running the latest Windows 10 updates, go to Settings > Windows Update

Note that the free upgrade offer doesn’t have a specific end date, so there’s no saying how long it will last. It is within Microsoft’s right and discretion when to cancel the free offer, but the end date should be no sooner than one year from Windows 11’s general availability.

If I’m eligible for Windows 11 but decline the upgrade, can I upgrade later?

Definitely. You can upgrade anytime by simply going to Settings > Windows Update.

What will happen to my files when I upgrade to Windows 11?

All your data will transfer by default when you install Windows 11. However, it’s recommended that you back up your files first before installation so you can have a copy of these in case anything goes wrong. Learn more about how to back up your data using OneDrive PC folder Backup here.

If I upgrade to Windows 11 but don’t like it, can I go back to Windows 10?

Yes. Within 10 days of installing the Windows 11 upgrade, you can easily return to Windows 10 while keeping your files and data. To do so, go to Start > Settings > System > Recovery, then click on Go Back.

After 10 days, the “Go Back” option will no longer be available, and you will need to back up your data so you can do a clean install of Windows 10.

These are just some of the questions most users ask about Windows 11. If you have any more queries about the latest Microsoft OS, don’t hesitate to give our experts a call.

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Why is Windows 11’s TPM requirement important?

Months before Windows 11’s official release date, conversations were already focused not just on the new operating system’s (OS) new features, but also on how its hardware requirements compared to its predecessor’s. Among the points raised was the compulsory Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 2.0 chip in Windows 11-supported devices — a marked upgrade from Windows 10’s TPM 1.2 requirement. Now, better hardware generally costs more, so it won’t be surprising if you’re looking for ways around this particular requirement in order to save money. In this post, we discuss why you shouldn’t do that.

What is a TPM chip anyway?

A TPM is a security chip embedded in modern systems that provides a hardware-based tamper-resistant environment to generate, store, and protect encryption keys. Commonly found in the latest smartphones and PCs, these chips supply the cryptographic key that unlocks your machine and permits you to access your data. Should a hacker or any unauthorized party gain access to your device and try to tamper with your encrypted drives, then the chip will prevent the device from booting up.

TPMs are also used by some apps and web services. For instance, Outlook uses a TPM for handling encrypted emails. Web browsers, on the other hand, utilize it for maintaining SSL certificates used to authenticate and create encrypted connections with websites.

Why shouldn’t you circumvent Windows 11’s TPM requirement?

Some users felt that requiring TPM 2.0 on devices running Windows 11 was too restrictive. From their point of view, Windows 10 ran with just TPM 1.2 and it has remained fairly secure. As such, some users have been searching for ways to run Microsoft’s newest OS even on devices without the required TPM 2.0 chip. But even if such methods are eventually found, here’s why you’d be wise to avoid them:

TPM 2.0 is more advanced than TPM 1.2
As is the case with most types of tech, iterations with higher numbers aren’t just newer, but they come with better features too. In particular, TPM 2.0 supports more and newer cryptographic algorithms than its predecessors. This means it can generate keys that are harder to break, making devices that use it more difficult for hackers to infiltrate.

Compatibility issues may arise
Like any software manufacturer worth their salt, Microsoft tested Windows 11 extensively prior to the product’s release and they very likely did so on supported devices. Therefore, running the new OS on devices that don’t meet hardware specifications may result in compatibility issues that can lead to various problems, ranging from glitches to outright failure. In any case, addressing these issues may prove to be more expensive than investing in supported hardware from the get-go.

Microsoft won’t release updates for unsupported devices
The software giant temporarily relaxed some of its restrictions and allowed unsupported devices to run Windows 11 for some time. They made it clear, however, that unsupported devices won’t be receiving any future updates.

Updates are extremely crucial. Apart from helping improve user experience through new features and quality-of-life upgrades, updates also bolster your OS’s defenses against the most recent threats. Not receiving future updates will leave your IT systems and your business vulnerable to cyberattacks.

When it comes to bypassing Windows 11’s hardware requirements, especially if these have something to do with security, just remember this adage: “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” If you have any other questions about Windows 11 and how you can make the most out of its features, just give us a call.

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Windows 11: Missing features and capabilities

Microsoft’s updated operating system has plenty to offer in terms of features and design. Users will like its virtual desktop creation capabilities, enhanced Microsoft Teams integration, greatly improved security, a more personalized widgets feed, and other new features. But while Windows 11 has plenty to offer, it would have been even better if it came with these capabilities.

Customizable taskbar

In Windows 10, users can move the taskbar from its default horizontal position to the right or left edge or the top of the screen. In Windows 11, the taskbar stays at the bottom and there’s no option to customize its dimensions. Although the taskbar is commonly kept at the bottom of the screen, some users may want to change its position for different reasons.

Additionally, there’s no longer an option to move the Date and Time on the taskbar. In Windows 10, users can move Date and Time, which is placed in the right-hand corner of the taskbar’s System Tray area, by toggling off Clock in Settings. Some users may be perfectly fine with the default taskbar settings, but others might prefer greater customizability.

Drag and drop

Also absent in Windows 11 is the ability to drag and drop a file on your desktop into a program on the taskbar. In Windows 10 and earlier versions, you can drag, say, an Excel document saved on your desktop onto the Excel icon on the taskbar, and it will open. You can’t do this anymore on Windows 11. Users can also no longer drag and drop/save a file or any program onto the taskbar.

Live Tiles

The Start Menu in Windows 11 comes with new features, mainly a refurbished design, the “Pinned” icons, and a “Recommended” section. But gone are Live Tiles, previously available in earlier Windows versions, beginning with Windows 10. Those who’ve updated to Windows 11 will get the new “Widgets” features in place of the Live Tiles, but the latter serves an entirely different function.

Easier activation

To activate Windows 11 Home, users must have a Microsoft account, a 64-bit processor, and an internet connection. These are part of Microsoft’s minimum system requirements to activate the OS — on top of the need for a device with at least 4 GB of memory and 64 GB of storage.

On one hand, this can be useful. For one, business users signing into Windows with their Microsoft account automatically backs up their files through the company’s OneDrive storage device. However, for many users who don’t have a Microsoft account yet, it would be a lot easier not to have to connect a Microsoft account (or create one) when activating Windows 11.

Cortana integration

Cortana is a much less popular counterpart to the more established voice assistants of Apple (Siri), Amazon (Alexa), and Google (Google Assistant). But people who’ve gotten used to Windows’ very own assistant, which is integrated into Windows 10, might feel let down that Cortana is no longer part of the system setup nor can it be found within the Start Menu. Note, however, that the Cortana application is still available. You can find and enable it in Settings > Apps > Apps & Features > Cortana.

Internet Explorer support

To a lesser extent, some Windows 11 users will be disappointed by the absence of Internet Explorer, which will cease to receive support from June 15, 2022 onwards.

Faster shutdown

The slow shutdown of PCs running on Windows 10 is commonly attributed to Windows system files or corrupted drivers. Users would have liked to see faster shutdowns in Windows 11, but alas, that is not the case. Wake-from-sleep and restart times also remain unenhanced.

Windows 11 is not going to please everyone, but its other new functions will nevertheless please others. If you want to maximize all that the new OS has to offer, give our team a call. Our IT professionals would be more than happy to make your new system work for you.

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