Microsoft’s Windows 11 Start menu tweak could be a real timesaver

Windows 11 might get a new piece of functionality for the Start menu that could be a very useful addition to this part of the interface.

As highlighted by PhantomOfEarth on Twitter, recent preview builds of Windows 11 (in the Dev channel) have introduced file previews for the Recommended section of the Start menu (the bottom panel).

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This is pretty nifty, as it means that when you hover over any recommended file – one Windows thinks you might want to use – a preview panel pops up showing relevant details.

As Windows Latest, which also spotted this change in testing, reports, in the case of an image file, to take an example, this will produce a small thumbnail of the photo being hovered over. That way, you can see if it’s the image you want before actually going to the trouble of opening it (and getting annoyed if it’s not the one you thought it was, wasting time as it fires up in your image editor).

Other details imparted with a quick hover include the file’s location on your drive, and the last time it was edited (with Microsoft set to add more info, no doubt).

Analysis: Still early days

Remember that this is just a rough version of the feature in Windows 11 right now. Microsoft hasn’t announced it, and these file previews are actually hidden in the OS currently. They’re not fully finished yet, and were only enabled by these leakers using a Windows configuration tool to dig around in the background of the operating system.

In short, it’s still very early days for this functionality, and as ever with features in testing, we may not ever see this in the release version of Windows 11. That said, this seems a likely pick for something Microsoft will push to fruition, given that it’s a pretty neat extra to have for the Start menu (or at least we think so).

Another change to the Start menu recently spotted in testing is Microsoft labeling its default Windows 11 apps, so the user can clearly see which are the applications that come preinstalled with the OS (such as Calculator, the Settings app, and so on).

Again, this is a move we reckon is almost certainly inbound for the final release version of Windows 11, as it’s a further useful addition into the mix for the Start menu (and not a difficult one to implement, of course).

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Windows 11 gets a nifty tweak to kill frozen apps, catching up with macOS

Windows 11 is getting the ability to kill an unresponsive app, known as ‘force closing’ (or force quitting) right from the taskbar in what’ll be a very useful tweak for the OS.

This functionality was previously spotted hidden in test builds of Windows 11, and caused a fair bit of excitement at the time, so it’s good to see Microsoft confirm it is indeed inbound.

The move represents a far more convenient and easy way to deal with a misfiring app than the current scheme of things in Windows 11, where you have to head into the Task Manager and hunt around a bit to accomplish the same feat.

The Verge reports that Microsoft let us know that the ability is coming to Windows 11 at its Build conference for developers.

Quite a bit of stuff has been announced at Build, in fact, and a bunch of minor but important changes along similar lines – like native support for dealing with RAR or 7-Zip files in Windows 11 (instead of having to download and install a third-party utility).

And of course there’s a huge change that has been announced, one we’re viewing with a little trepidation – namely the introduction of AI into Windows 11 in the form of Microsoft’s Copilot.

Analysis: Mirroring the Mac – finally

So, what’s the big deal here? When apps go rogue and freeze up, they can simply hang around, slowing down your system’s performance (perhaps) and generally being annoying.

To force close such an unresponsive app right now in Windows 11, you have to open Task Manager, which is a bit of a faff in itself, unless you know the keyboard shortcut (press Control+Shift+Escape together). Then you must scroll through the list of running processes to find the rogue app, select it, and click the ‘End Task’ button.

With the new option, all you have to do is right-click on the app in the taskbar, and select ‘End Task’ from the context menu – a far easier and quicker way of taming the application that’s gone awry.

As Mac users will realize, this exact ability is something present in macOS, so Windows 11 is catching up to Apple’s desktop operating system in that respect – and it’s about time, to be honest.

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