Windows 11 could get a shiny new feature to share files and links with QR codes, because apparently copy and paste is so last year

Windows 11’s Share menu is getting a new feature – the ability to share links as QR codes that a smartphone or other suitable device can scan (you can check out our guides on how to scan QR codes with an iPhone or with an Android).

The Share menu isn’t the most widely used, especially outside of Microsoft’s own apps and services, but Microsoft looks like it’s hoping to boost its popularity by making the sharing of web pages more seamless, especially across different devices. 

This feature is part of a new preview version, Windows 11 build 26212, available to Windows Insiders through the Canary Channel. The build saw the introduction of a button that generates a QR code within the Share menu dialog box, which will apply to Microsoft Edge and other supported apps. People can generate QR codes for URL addresses and cloud files in the Windows 11 Share menu, which is opened in most apps by clicking the share button in the app’s toolbar.

Once you have the preview build installed and you follow the process to generate a QR code, you can then open the Camera app or dedicated QR scanner on your device, and hold it up to the screen. 

A man holding a smartphone and pointing his finger

(Image credit: Shutterstock/pongsuk sapukdee)

More about the new Share window

Writing in a blog post publicizing the development, Microsoft explains that the Share menu will not close if you accidentally (or deliberately) click outside of it. To close it, you’ll have to click the close button in the top right corner.

There’s also an added provision if you use your Gmail address for your Microsoft Account: you can send yourself an email from the share window and receive it in your Gmail inbox (instead of just Outlook/Hotmail accounts).

A similar process already exists in Windows 11 for people who have Phone Link set up on multiple devices. These users can send a link via the Share menu, but this development makes it even easier to share things across devices as you don’t have to log in or set up anything after installing the preview build. 

We’ll have to see if this makes the Share menu more popular with users, as most people are used to the clipboard functions in Windows for moving information from one place to another, or they just save the data to the device they’re currently using to retrieve when they need it.

This development isn’t a dramatically big change, which means it can be easy to adopt, but also easy to miss. It’s also still in the testing stage, so we’ll have to wait and see if and when Microsoft chooses to fully adopt it in a future Windows 11 update.

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WhatsApp now lets you use secret codes to lock your private chats

WhatsApp is making its Chat Lock tool even more secure by introducing Secret Codes that will hide private chat rooms.

The way it currently works, Chat Lock takes conversations and places them into a separate folder that can only be opened with either your phone’s password or biometric login. This can be helpful if you share the device with others. However, it doesn’t stop other people who know the password from taking a peek at any time. Secret Codes addresses this by allowing users to implement a second password separate “from what you use to unlock your phone”. Creating one, according to WhatsApp’s announcement, will cause your locked folder to disappear from your inbox as an extra layer of privacy.

To make hidden chats reappear, the company states you’ll have to type your recently created code directly into the search bar on the main page. If you don't wanted the locked folder to be totally, you have the option to keep them there. 

WhatsApp is also making it easier to lock up chats. Now all you have to do is long press a conversation, tap the three dots in the upper right-hand corner, then select Lock Chat in the drop-down menu.

How to add a secret code

Let’s say you have a couple of locked chats you want to keep hidden. 

To start, tap the three dots in the top right corner, then select Chat Lock Settings. Activate Secret Code and come up with a password. What’s interesting is you can use emojis in the code alongside numbers, letters, and punctuation marks and get pretty creative. Do note the password you create must either be four characters long or be a single emoji.

We have a couple of examples in the image below.

WhatsApp Secret Code examples

(Image credit: WhatsApp)

Now, if you go to the main page, the locked folder is gone (although you can disable the disappearing folder by turning off Hide Locked Chats in the settings). Type in the code you just made into the search bar to make the conversations reappear.

Finding locked chat on WhatsApp

(Image credit: WhatsApp)

Be aware this update is for WhatsApp on mobile only as the locked chats aren't present anywhere else. No word if any of these features will make their way to desktop. Secret Codes is rolling out and will be available globally “in the coming months”. Keep an eye out for the patch when it arrives. 

Jam-packed week

This past week has been a busy one for WhatsApp as the platform recently made two other updates. We first saw the desktop app gain the ability to send “self-destructing photos and videos” which will automatically delete themselves after being opened once. A little bit before that, WhatsApp released a beta giving select users access to AI assistants with most of them sporting a unique “personality” like the anime nerd as well as the dungeon master that’ll tell you a choose-your-own-adventure story.

Big things are happening on WhatsApp with no signs of slowing down anytime soon. While we have you, we recommend following TechRadar’s official WhatsApp channel to get our latest reviews right on your phone.

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