Windows 11 update adds folders to the Start menu

Windows 11 is getting some big changes to its core interface, including folders for the Start menu (at long last).

Microsoft has announced that folders are going to grace the Start menu as of now, with an update rolling out for Windows 11 happening right off the bat (though as ever, that rollout will reach some PCs before others).

We’ve already seen how this feature works, at least in testing, as Start menu folders debuted in a preview build of Windows 11 back in February.

These app folders pretty much do what you’d expect, and mean that you’ll be able to create folders within the Start menu via an easy process. All that’s required is dragging and dropping one app icon onto another, then a folder will be created, complete with mini app icons displayed in the folder graphic to indicate what’s inside. You can also name these folders to help with organizing and seeing what’s what at a glance.

Start menu showing pinned apps organized into folders

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Other nifty features being introduced for Windows 11 with this incoming update include tabs in File Explorer, which facilitate your desktop folder windows having multiple tabs like a web browser, allowing you to keep many folders open within one window.


Analysis: A bit of a head-scratcher, but welcome nonetheless

It’s great to see folders arrive for the Start menu in Windows 11, as they are a useful tool for obvious organizational reasons, helping to keep the menu streamlined.

Indeed, the absence of this pretty basic feature in the Start menu was one of the head-scratchers about Windows 11’s interface, given that this ability was present in Windows 10 (and versions way before that, for that matter, as a fairly fundamental piece of the UI customization jigsaw). Why wasn’t it brought over with the initial launch of Windows 11, and why has it taken so long for the functionality to arrive in Microsoft’s newest OS? Well, whatever the case, it’s here now.

Indeed, it’s here right now, which is another talking point here. We’d expect these kind of interface changes, ones that are fairly big adjustments, to be bundled up in the big annual update for Windows 11 (due in the second half of the year). Mainly because it gives Microsoft lots of shiny new things to point out, in a ‘look at all this load of fresh stuff that’s arrived for our OS’ kind of way.

Still, Microsoft has been moving towards deploying new features outside of the major Windows updates, and we’ve seen, for example, monthly Windows 11 updates bring forth the likes of Android app support (in testing) plus refreshed Notepad and Media Player apps.

More flexibility in feature delivery is doubtless needed now Microsoft’s cadence has dropped from two upgrades per year to a single annual affair – and we’re certainly not complaining about getting important capabilities and introductions for Windows 11 sooner rather than later. But if big chunks of functionality are arriving before Sun Valley 2, it makes you wonder if the impact that the latter makes in terms of changes will be lessened when it turns up later in 2022.

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Windows 11 update adds folders to the Start menu

Windows 11 is getting some big changes to its core interface, including folders for the Start menu (at long last).

Microsoft has announced that folders are going to grace the Start menu as of now, with an update rolling out for Windows 11 happening right off the bat (though as ever, that rollout will reach some PCs before others).

We’ve already seen how this feature works, at least in testing, as Start menu folders debuted in a preview build of Windows 11 back in February.

These app folders pretty much do what you’d expect, and mean that you’ll be able to create folders within the Start menu via an easy process. All that’s required is dragging and dropping one app icon onto another, then a folder will be created, complete with mini app icons displayed in the folder graphic to indicate what’s inside. You can also name these folders to help with organizing and seeing what’s what at a glance.

Start menu showing pinned apps organized into folders

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Other nifty features being introduced for Windows 11 with this incoming update include tabs in File Explorer, which facilitate your desktop folder windows having multiple tabs like a web browser, allowing you to keep many folders open within one window.


Analysis: A bit of a head-scratcher, but welcome nonetheless

It’s great to see folders arrive for the Start menu in Windows 11, as they are a useful tool for obvious organizational reasons, helping to keep the menu streamlined.

Indeed, the absence of this pretty basic feature in the Start menu was one of the head-scratchers about Windows 11’s interface, given that this ability was present in Windows 10 (and versions way before that, for that matter, as a fairly fundamental piece of the UI customization jigsaw). Why wasn’t it brought over with the initial launch of Windows 11, and why has it taken so long for the functionality to arrive in Microsoft’s newest OS? Well, whatever the case, it’s here now.

Indeed, it’s here right now, which is another talking point here. We’d expect these kind of interface changes, ones that are fairly big adjustments, to be bundled up in the big annual update for Windows 11 (due in the second half of the year). Mainly because it gives Microsoft lots of shiny new things to point out, in a ‘look at all this load of fresh stuff that’s arrived for our OS’ kind of way.

Still, Microsoft has been moving towards deploying new features outside of the major Windows updates, and we’ve seen, for example, monthly Windows 11 updates bring forth the likes of Android app support (in testing) plus refreshed Notepad and Media Player apps.

More flexibility in feature delivery is doubtless needed now Microsoft’s cadence has dropped from two upgrades per year to a single annual affair – and we’re certainly not complaining about getting important capabilities and introductions for Windows 11 sooner rather than later. But if big chunks of functionality are arriving before Sun Valley 2, it makes you wonder if the impact that the latter makes in terms of changes will be lessened when it turns up later in 2022.

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Chrome OS 100 update arrives with a start menu to rival Windows 11

Google's ChromeOS for Chromebooks was also updated to version 100, alongside its web browser, showcasing a new app launcher and other features.

In a blogpost, the company spoke of the app launcher being the headline feature here, with it moving from the center to the left of the screen, similar to Windows 11's start menu.

Searching for a term also looks cleaner here, with results being shown in a list, with the choice to look at images or news on the query. But there's also other features, such as being able to edit words with your voice and using the webcam to create gifs of yourself.

These are promising features as we approach Google IO in May, and make us wonder if we'll see some surprises at the event for Chrome OS.


Analysis: Strength to strength for Chrome OS

Chrome OS 100 gif feature

(Image credit: Google)

Around 2010, 'netbook' was a term that was associated with smaller-sized laptops that had a terrible battery life and slow speeds, with their only advantage being that they were available for a low price. 

Tablets like the iPad would push these out of the way, but Google saw another route in this area with its Chromebooks, which only run on ChromeOS and offered a majority of Android apps.

These Chromebooks have only gotten better in recent years, especially for those who only do work on Google's apps. In certain places of work, employees are given Chromebooks as their sole machine, mainly due to their solid battery life and being able to easily access their work email, spreadsheets and documents through G Suite.

With Chrome OS reaching version 100 and Android 13 fast approaching, we can't help but wonder if there's going to be some announcements made at Google IO in May. Whether that's in gaming or a dedicated Pixel tablet that runs on Chrome OS instead of Android, it looks to be an encouraging time if you're all in on the Google ecosystem.

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Chrome OS 100 update arrives with a start menu to rival Windows 11

Google's ChromeOS for Chromebooks was also updated to version 100, alongside its web browser, showcasing a new app launcher and other features.

In a blogpost, the company spoke of the app launcher being the headline feature here, with it moving from the center to the left of the screen, similar to Windows 11's start menu.

Searching for a term also looks cleaner here, with results being shown in a list, with the choice to look at images or news on the query. But there's also other features, such as being able to edit words with your voice and using the webcam to create gifs of yourself.

These are promising features as we approach Google IO in May, and make us wonder if we'll see some surprises at the event for Chrome OS.


Analysis: Strength to strength for Chrome OS

Chrome OS 100 gif feature

(Image credit: Google)

Around 2010, 'netbook' was a term that was associated with smaller-sized laptops that had a terrible battery life and slow speeds, with their only advantage being that they were available for a low price. 

Tablets like the iPad would push these out of the way, but Google saw another route in this area with its Chromebooks, which only run on ChromeOS and offered a majority of Android apps.

These Chromebooks have only gotten better in recent years, especially for those who only do work on Google's apps. In certain places of work, employees are given Chromebooks as their sole machine, mainly due to their solid battery life and being able to easily access their work email, spreadsheets and documents through G Suite.

With Chrome OS reaching version 100 and Android 13 fast approaching, we can't help but wonder if there's going to be some announcements made at Google IO in May. Whether that's in gaming or a dedicated Pixel tablet that runs on Chrome OS instead of Android, it looks to be an encouraging time if you're all in on the Google ecosystem.

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Windows 11 Start menu is disappearing for some people in new update

Windows 11's February feature update is causing issues for some users, where the Start menu disappears as soon as you hover over to it, thanks to a conflict with widgets trying to appear at the same time.

The update brought a preview option for Android apps on the Microsoft Store, alongside dark mode in Notepad, the return of Windows Media Player, and more.

But there's a growing number of users who are reporting issues with the Start menu, where it looks to be conflicting with the widgets in the Taskbar.

In our tests, we also found the same issue, while pressing the Windows key to keep the menu from disappearing, instead of using the mouse to click on the Start menu icon, seemed to fix the problem.


Analysis: a glaring bug that should have been fixed before release

It's certainly a frustrating bug, and it raises the question of why wasn't this fixed before the February update landed? The Taskbar and the Start menu have both seen polarizing changes since Windows 11 was announced in June 2021.

This bug won't help matters for – to have the Start menu disappear, especially when you want to quickly launch an app or a document, is going to frustrate many people.

But Microsoft is aware of the bug, according to Windows Latest, so we may not have to wait long for the next fix to arrive. But, in a time when a big change to a feature that's been in Windows for almost thirty years is rendered useless because of a bug, it isn't going to be a good advert for Windows 11.

So the company has to act fast here and make sure that something like this doesn't appear in the release update for all users in the future. But if you're also experiencing the same or other issues, let Microsoft know in the Feedback Hub.

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The best macOS Menu Bar apps to use for your Apple Mac in 2022

For many users, the menu bar on their Mac sits there, a little unloved, as a necessary but barely used part of macOS. But Apple wants to make the menu bar a useful part of your productivity workflow. And that’s why developers offer a range of ways that you can use the menu bar as a versatile tool. We’ve looked at one of these options from Apple – shortcuts – before. 

There’s an enormous variety of apps that you can add to your menu bar. Depending on whether they are for work or personal use, you can usually find a tool to meet your needs.

We’ve highlighted a few to get you started, but there are thousands more for you to explore on the App Store. They are a great way to save time and effort and make the most of the customization afforded to you by macOS.

What is a menu bar app?

The menu bar is much more customizable than some may realize. Found at the top of macOS, it’s the equivalent to parts of the taskbar found in Windows 11. Beyond looking at the time and connecting to your Wi-Fi, menu bar apps offer a wealth of different functions that, by placing them on the menu bar, can cut out additional steps that an app currently does for your needs.

Many of these can help with boosting your workflows and productivity. Instead of trawling through the Applications folder to select a single function from one app, you can just click on the app in the menu bar. While it seems incredibly simple, these can transform your workflow on your Mac, while offering you far more control over how you organize your desktop.

Quick View Calendar

Quick View Calendar on macOS menu bar

(Image credit: QuickView Calendar)

Free to download on the Mac App Store, Quick View does what it says on the tin. Instead of having to open your desired Calendar app from the dock to check a date, you can go to your menu bar and be greeted with a calendar, ready to browse.

Not only does Quick View only give you a monthly view, but it also allows you to display the number of the week if you need that shown. There are no other features here – it displays the date and that’s it, but it's the ease of use here that really shines.

You may be browsing in Safari to check for an upcoming event for instance, and with a quick hover over your menubar with your mouse, you can check Quick View for the relevant information, without leaving the web browser.

As it’s free on the Mac App Store, you can try it for a week and see if it fits your workflow.

AirBuddy 2.5

AirBuddy on macOS

(Image credit: AirBuddy)

So far, Apple hasn’t brought out a feature that allows you to view the battery status of your devices on your Mac. Alongside this, it can be a challenge in connecting your AirPods peripheral to your Mac, as there are moments where they’ll connect to your iPhone without realizing it. This is where AirBuddy 2 comes in.

Created by Gui Rambo, the app allows you to easily check the battery status of your AirPods by clicking the AirPods case on your menu bar, which will display the status of your devices. They do need to be connected to your Mac first, but after this one-time requirement, they’ll show.

There are also other helpful features once these are connected to your Mac. You can change the noise cancellation setting through a keyboard shortcut or connect them to a nearby device without you doing anything else. Update 2.5 also adds a number of new features; the most significant being the fact that AirBuddy will now work with non-Apple or Beats devices when they are connected to the Mac.

For a one-time fee of $ 9.99 / £10.99 / AU$ 11.99, AirBuddy expands how you can connect your wireless Apple devices to your Mac without simply connecting and disconnecting them from the Bluetooth menu.

Hand Mirror

Hand Mirror app on menu bar, on macOS Monterey

(Image credit: Hand Mirror)

We live in a world where video calls are everywhere. Whether it’s Zoom, FaceTime, or Skype, video calling happens regularly in our work and social lives. And we’ve probably all been in that situation where we need to join into a video meeting and your hair isn’t done, or the family dog has knocked over a plant in the background.

Free to download on the Mac App Store, This is where Hand Mirror comes in, without the additional steps that are often required in many video-conferencing apps.

It’s a simple app that doesn’t do much else, but it achieves exactly what it sets out to do. With one click, you can make sure that you and your environment are set up exactly as you want before joining that call.

Flow

Flow on macOS Monterey

(Image credit: Flow)

With the numerous distractions of rolling news, social media and other notifications on your Mac, a simple to use timer app is a great productivity tool to give you control of how you use your time more effectively.

Flow is based on the Pomodoro Technique, which is where you focus on a discrete task for a set amount of time, before taking a short break. Flow helps this by providing a simple timer in your menu bar, so you can see at a glance how long you have left before your next break. 

You can set the duration of both your periods of focus and the length of your breaks, to fully customize the balance of work and rest. It also allows you to block apps on your Mac, to further minimize distractions. 

If you pay for the Pro version at $ 1 / £1 / AU$ 1 a month, or a lifetime license for $ 20 / £20 / AU$ 20, you can also block specific websites. As productivity apps for the menu bar go, this is a great option. Clean, simple to use, and even has a Dark Mode theme. 

Cheat Sheet

CheatSSheet showing Adobe Photoshop shortcuts

(Image credit: CheatSheet)

Most of us have been in that situation where you want to use a particular feature on your Mac, only to find yourself having to navigate through menus and submenus while being fairly sure there is a simple keyboard shortcut. This is where CheatSheet comes in to alleviate that frustration.

Free to download, CheatSheet provides you with a list of keyboard shortcuts for whichever app you are using at that particular time. Being able to quickly access a reference sheet can save you enormous amounts of time, especially for repetitive tasks.

Perhaps ironically, the more you use it, the less you will need to use it, as you will start to remember the most frequently used shortcuts. And pretty soon, you’ll stop having to switch from keyboard to mouse and back again.

iStat Menus

iStat menu on macOS

(Image credit: iStat)

Perhaps you’re a power user, or maybe you just love seeing the inner workings of your Mac. Either way, iStat Menus 6 will throw more information than you could ever need at you.

As a system monitoring app, this tells you exactly how your computer is performing: CPU and GPU monitoring, memory stats, memory usage, temperatures, disk usage, and battery levels can all be viewed from the menu bar with just a few icons.

This level of detail doesn’t come for free, however. But for a one-off cost of £8.99 / $ 8.99 / AU$ 8.99 from the Mac App Store, or $ 14.39 / £13.49 / AU$ 14.99 directly from iStat, which also includes 6 months of weather data, you're getting an awful lot of information. It’s also highly customizable, so you can choose exactly what information you want to see, and how it looks. 

Minesweeper

Minesweeper on macOS, on menu bar

(Image credit: Minesweeper)

Everyone needs a little downtime, and when used in conjunction with the Flow timer, what could be better than five minutes playing Minesweeper as a short break?

Minesweeper is a very simple but highly addictive game that involves clearing a grid of mines as quickly as you can. The simplest premise for a game can fit perfectly on your menu bar. 

Free to download from the Mac App Store, it sits on your menu bar, ready to take your attention away for when you're struggling with ideas.

This sits on your menu bar unobtrusively, and with one click, you can start playing. It’s a perfect game when you have a few minutes free for a quick break. 

ColorSlurp

Color Slurp on macOS through menu bar

(Image credit: Color Slurp)

Free to download from the Mac App Store, this tool is particularly useful for designers and developers. ColorSlurp allows you to choose the exact colors you need with accuracy and precision, thanks to a quick overview in the menu bar of what color it’s identified, and you can copy this into your photo editing app of choice thanks to the magnifier tool.

Being able to have complete control over your color palette is ideal for graphic designers, website developers, and others. Most importantly, it’s an enormous time-saver and a more accurate method for selecting your colors compared to having to use screenshots to pick out colors.

Bartender 4

Bartender 4 settings

(Image credit: Bartender 4)

With the previous apps we’ve mentioned, your menu bar may be starting to look a little cluttered if you've decided to install them all. With this in mind, we suggest Bartender 4, an award-winning app that allows you to decide which items on your menu bar are displayed.

Available to download as a free trial and to buy for £13.91 / $ 15.99 / AU$ 16.49, you can customize the spacing between menu bar items, and make use of the bar to access your hidden items, especially if you have a lot of menu bar apps and shortcuts.

It also offers a quick search function to allow you to find menu bar apps via your keyboard. It’s a great way to keep your menu bar tidy and organized.

Control Center

Control Center in macOS

(Image credit: Apple)

It would be remiss of us to compile a list of menu bar apps without mentioning the one that comes pre-installed on macOS. Control Center is the macOS equivalent of the iOS feature of the same name, which first appeared in macOS Big Sur back in 2020. It sits unobtrusively in your menu bar, available for you to control a host of options. 

This tool gives you control over a number of what might be considered ‘essentials’ such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Airdrop. 

Brightness and volume levels can also be adjusted from here, as well as media controls for any content you're playing in the background. Finally, there are options for Focus mode and Screen Mirroring. You can also add Accessibility Shortcuts if you wish. 

This one may be preloaded, but it’s a feature that you’ll find yourself using more often than usual, mainly because it offers many useful functions, all in one location. 

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