Windows 11 deep dive: Checking out the new Settings app
After over six years of Windows 10, we’re getting a major Windows update with Windows 11. There is a lot that’s new with the new operating system and as it begins rolling out, we’re here to show you the ropes. This time, we’re taking a look at the new Settings app, one of the most significantly redesigned parts of Windows 11.
The app has a completely new look, and it becomes apparent as soon as you open it. There’s no more plain black or white background, making way for the new translucent Mica material. You’re no longer presented with a full-screen menu, and instead the app opens directly into the System section, with a sidebar for accessing other sections. Plus, there are colorful icons used all around, not just flat icons following your system theme. Let’s take a closer look at the app and each of its sections.
Navigate this article:
- Bluetooth & devices
- Network & internet
- Time & language
- Privacy & security
- Windows Update
The System section is the landing page whenever you open the Settings app in Windows 11, and as the name indicates, it’s where you access settings for core system features. This includes display, audio, and notification settings, plus much more.
The header of the app window will usually show you a few major shortcuts and controls, which change for each section. In this case, you can see your laptop’s name, the status of your Microsoft 365 subscription, a shortcut to your OneDrive folder, and your Windows Update status. On the side, all the different sections are available, and the core area of the app window shows the pages in your current section. Let’s take a look at them.
This page lets you manage all sorts of settings related to the display on your Windows 11 computer. At the top, you can adjust the layout of your multi-monitor setup by setting the positions of each monitor relative to each other, or choose whether whether your display is duplicated across monitors or extended to give you more space. By expanding the Multiple displays option, you can also choose whether apps should minimize if the monitor they’re on is disconnected, as well as whether window position should be remembered based on the monitor connection. You can also connect to a wireless display from here.
Scrolling further down, you can adjust the brightness of your display and adjust Night light settings. This feature makes the screen have a yellow (or red-ish, at more extreme levels) tint, making it easier on your eyes at night or in dark environments in general. You can schedule night light to turn on at specific times or to follow the current sunset and sunrise times based on your location, or you can have it on or off permanently. You can also change HDR settings if your monitor supports it.
Even further down, you can change Windows 11 settings such as scale of text and icons on your screen, making them smaller or bigger. The options available depend on your screen size and resolution. This can be used to give you more screen real estate or to make items more visible if things are too small. You can also adjust the display resolution and orientation.
The final portion contains advanced display settings, which is where you can see more detailed information about the display, like resolution, refresh rate, bit depth, and whether it supports HDR. You can also change the refresh rate here, an important feature if you have a high-refresh rate display. And lastly, the Graphics page is where you can set specific apps to run on specific GPUs if your PC has more than one.
Next, there are sound settings in Windows 11, and these are a little more straight forward. The first portion refers to output devices, so you can adjust settings for your speakers. You can change your default output device, adjust volume, or disable stereo sound. You can also head into advanced settings for your speakers to adjust the left/right audio balance, audio quality, and enable spatial audio features like Dolby Atmos.
The next division is for your input devices, such as microphones. Just like with outputs, you can change your default input device, adjust the volume, and pair a new device if you have a wireless microphone. You can also test your microphone – the volume bar will show an animation whenever the microphone picks up sound.
The final portion contains troubleshooter for audio problems, and access to a list of all your audio devices. Most notably, you can also access the volume mixer from here, so you can change the volume for individual apps.
The next page contains your Windows 11 notification settings. You can turn notifications on or off altogether, disable notifications sounds, or change whether notifications should be visible on the lock screen. You can also access Focus assist settings, Windows 11’s equivalent of Do Not Disturb, which we’ll get to in a bit.
Below these general settings that apply across all of Windows 11, you can change settings per app. You can disable notifications for specific apps, or change how notifications behave – such as whether they should use sound, show banners, or be prioritized in the notification center. Only apps that have previously sent notifications will show up here, so don’t be surprised if you don’t see all your apps right away.
As we just mentioned, Focus assist is Windows 11’s equivalent of Do Not Disturb. Essentially, it mutes incoming notifications as long as it’s enabled. In this page, you can set to to “Priority only” mode, which lets notifications from specific apps come through, or “Alarms only”, which only allows alarms to ring. You can also enable or disable Focus assist from the control center on the Windows 11 taskbar. You can also enable a summary of the notifications you missed while focus assist was on, so you can catch up more easily.
Perhaps the more notable part of this page, though, are the automatic rules for Focus assist. You can set Focus assist to turn on at specific times, when you’re duplicating your screen (such as during a presentation), playing a game, or running an app in full screen (like watching a movie). You can also choose what mode of Focus assist is enabled for each of these automatic rules.
Power & battery
This section lets you take a look at your current and past battery levels, so you get an idea of how long your laptop typically lasts on a charge. Here, you can also change various power settings for Windows 11, such as when your computer should turn off the screen after being idle for a while, and when it should go to sleep. You can also change the power mode to increase performance or optimize battery life.
You can also enable battery saver here, which disables background tasks and some notifications to help your battery last longer. It’s possible to set when it should be turned on automatically (by default, it will be enabled when you have 20% battery left), and whether the screen brightness should also be lowered when battery saver is on.
In this section, you can see the current state of your storage, including how much free space you still have and how much is being taken by what. There are categories for apps, temporary files, and then folders like documents, videos, and OneDrive files. There are shortcuts to each of your folders, as well as your apps list, so you can manage what’s taking up space more specifically.
If you open the Temporary files page, you can also use clean certain files you may not need anymore. This includes old Windows Update files, emptying the recycle bin, cached thumbnails, and so on. Your Downlaods folder is also included here, so you’ll need to be careful to not delete anything accidentally.
Below the storage usage indicators, there are a few additional settings. First, there’s Storage Sense, which automatically cleans up certain types of data on a regular basis. You can set it to delete content in your Recycle Bin after a certain period, as well as Downloads or downloaded OneDrive files if you haven’t used them in a while. There’s a page for cleanup recommendations, which shows you files you can delete to save some space.
Finally, there are advanced storage settings. These include the ability to see information about other hard drives (the main page will show only your Windows drive), set where new content is saved if you have multiple drives, create and manage Storage Spaces, manage your disks and volumes (partitions), drive optimization (defragmenter for HDDs), and data backup options.
Nearby sharing is a feature introduced in Windows 11, and it allows you to share files over a local wireless connection with PCs close to you. In this page, you can set whether you want any device in your vicinity ti be able to discover your PC for sharing, if only your own devices can discover it, or disable nearby sharing altogether. You can also set where you want files to be saved when you receive them with nearby sharing.
This section includes settings related to how you manage multiple apps open at the same time in Windows 11, including for new features like Snap Layouts. You can enable or disable a lot of features, such as whether Windows 11 should show you other apps to snap next to your current one, whether snapped windows should be resized at the same time, and so on. There are also settings related to virtual desktops, specifically whether you want apps from other desktops to be visible on other desktops’ taskbars and when using Alt + Tab to switch apps.
If you use Microsoft Edge, you can also choose whether individual tabs should show up in the Alt + Tab interface. Finally, you can enable or disable the title bar window shake gesture, where shaking a window around on the screen minimizes all other windows.
This page is where you can check the activation status of your Windows 11 license, as well as what edition you’re running. You can also enter a product key for a different edition, or buy the upgrade from the Microsoft Store.
This page lets you find troubleshooting steps for problems you may be having, as well as changing settings for recommended troubleshooter. Windows 11 can sometimes recommend that you run a troubleshooter if it detects that something isn’t working as intended, and here you can choose whether troubleshooter should run automatically and or ask for user permission first. You can also see the history of recommended troubleshooters on your PC.
The most notable part of this section, though, is the Other troubleshooters page, where you can look for all the troubleshooters included in Windows 11 to see if any of them might help with a specific problem you’re having. There are troubleshooters for internet connections, audio, printers, and much more.
This is where you’ll go if you want to recover from problems that can’t be fixed with a troubleshooter. If your operating system just isn’t working as intended, this page gives you a few options. You can reset your PC to remove all your personal files and apps, which can also be useful if you’re planning to sell the PC to someone else. We have a guide on how to reset Windows 11 if you’re interested in that.
You also have the option to go back to a previous version of Windows, but this option is generally only available for 10 days after a major Windows update (such as going from Windows 10 to Windows 11). Finally, Advanced startup allows you to restart your PC to access advanced options like choosing a different boot device. This can be useful for performing a clean install of Windows 11.
Projecting to this PC
Windows 11 allows you to project content from other devices, including other Windows PCs and phones with Miracast support. This page lets you set if other devices need to wait for permission every time they want to project to your PC, or if a PIN is required for projecting.
This page allows you to manage your Remote Desktop settings, which means you can use another PC to remotely connect to it using Microsoft Remote Desktop. Only Pro editions or higher can be accessed with Remote Desktop, so this page won’t show you much if you have Windows 11 Home.
The clipboard in Windows 11 has quite a few features you might not know about. In this page, you can enable or disable clipboard history, which saves text and images you copy so you can more easily paste it later, even if you’ve copied other items in the meantime. You can also sync your clipboard across devices, and choose whether syncing is automatic for all items or if you want to manually sync specific clipboard items. This also supports Android phones with SwiftKey Keyboard installed.
Finally, the About page shows you pretty much all the information you need about your PC. This includes the name processor, amount of RAM, device and product IDS, and so on. It also includes information about Windows, including the current version, edition, build number, and the installed version of the Windows Feature Experience Pack. There are also links to other Windows 11 settings on this page, including activation, Remote Desktop, BitLocker, and the Device Manager.
Bluetooth & devices
Moving on to the Bluetooth & Devices section, which naturally refers to peripherals and devices connected to your Windows 11 PC. The header in this section includes a list of devices already paired or connected to your PC, like headsets or wireless controllers. The Add device button allows you to connect Bluetooth devices, Xbox Wireless controllers, wireless displays, and so on. You can also turn Bluetooth on or off from this page.
The Devices page is accessed by clicking View more devices in the header of this section, or Devices further down in the page. Here, you can see all the peripherals connected to your PC, including monitors, mice, keyboards, and so on. Thos page also allows you to disable or enable Swift Pair notifications, which are meant to make the connection process more seamless with supported wireless devices.
Printers & scanners
This page allows you to manage your connected printers and printing services. You can see the printing queue for each of the, print a test page, run troubleshooters, and more. You can also choose whether Windows should manage your default printer, and whether printer drivers should be downloaded over metered connections.
This is essentially a shortcut to the Your Phone app in Windows 11. This app lets you connect your Android phone to your PC to sync notifications, messages, and make calls from your PC. Some phones may also allow you to open apps from your PC. Otherwise, this page lets you disable suggestions related to using your Android phone with Windows 11.
Here, you can manage cameras connected to your PC, including built-in webcams. You can search for network-connected cameras, and also change settings for each camera, such as brightness and contrast, to improve the image quality for video calls.
The Mouse page lets you configure settings for mice. You can set whether the left or right button is your primary one, change the mouse pointer speed, scrolling speed, and whether scrolling should work on inactive windows when hovering over them.
You can also access advanced settings to change the mouse pointer icon, increase its size, or change its color, features that are important for accessibility.
In this page, you can customize settings particularly related to touchpads, with a lot more being available if you have a Precision touchpad, which you probably do since Windows laptops have been required to include them for a few years now. You can change a ton of settings here, starting with disabling the trackpad when an external mouse is connected. You can also change the cursor speed.
The rest of the settings are for more interesting. You can adjust the sensitivity of the trackpad to taps, choose what type of mouse click should be tied to specific taps – such as tapping with two fingers acting as a right-click – and so on. Scrolling gestures can also be enabled or disabled, you can invert the scrolling direction relative to your gestures, or disable pinch to zoom.
The most interesting gestures are the ones with three or four fingers, though. You can chose what happens when you swipe the touchpad with three or four fingers, or when you just tap it. The main page gives you a handful of presets that make sense for most users, but you can head into the Advanced gestures page to customize every individual gesture, too. available actions include switching apps, adjusting volume, switching desktops, and more.
Pen & Windows Ink
Here, you can find settings related to active digital pens, assuming your device supports them. You can choose what hand you write with to improve recognition, change what the shortcut buttons do, or find your pen, if the pen supports that feature. You can also customize the handwriting panel for entering text using a pen, such as what font the text uses when you write with a pen.
AutoPlay is the Windows feature that allows your PC to act in specific ways when you plug in a flash drive or memory card. In this page, you can choose what happens by default when you plug in a device.
This page allows you to turn off notifications when a USB device isn’t connected properly, and also choose whether USB devices should be turned off when the screen turns off to save battery.
Network & internet
This section of the Settings in Windows 11 app includes all the connections related to internet connections. The header of this section will show what network you’re currently connected to, what type of network it is, and your data usage history on that network over the last 30 days. These also double as shortcuts to more in-depth network properties and your detailed data usage.
Below that, we have the following options:
This allows you to enable or disable Wi-Fi connectivity, see properties for your current connection, look for other Wi-Fi networks, and manage the networks you’ve already added to your PC. You can also see detailed properties of your Wi-Fi adapter, and here you can also set IP and DNS configurations if you don’t want to use the default settings. Finally, you can enable random hardware addresses, which makes it harder for websites and other people to track your device’s exact location.
In this page, you can set up a VPN profile for accessing corporate resources securely or make it harder to be tracked online.
Just like on a phone, this feature allows you to share your current internet connection to other users. You can share Wi-Fi or wired connections over either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. In this page, you can also set up the Wi-Fi network’s name and password.
This page allows you to disable all wireless communications, or choose to disable only Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.
Here you can set up a proxy server, manually or automatically. Setting up a proxy server can be useful for masking your identity online.
This page allows you to set up a dial-up internet connection if you still use one.
Advanced network settings
Here, you can view advanced information about your connections, such as how long a connection has been running, how much data has been sent over the network, and its link speed. You can also check your data usage, manage your hardware and connection properties, and reset your network settings to the factory defaults, meaning all known networks will be forgotten. Finally, this page includes shortcuts for the classic network adapter settings and Windows Firewall, which are found in other parts of Windows 11.
This section is where you can customize the look and feel of your PC. The main page of this section shows a preview of your current theme, along with a handful of themes you can quickly switch to. Below that, you get a few more customization options.
This is where you can choose the background image shown on your desktop. You can choose a single image, a solid color, or a slideshow. If you choose a single image, you can also set a different image for each monitor or for each virtual desktop. A few preset images are included in Windows 11, but you can use custom photos, and you can also adjust how images should be formatted to fit your screen if the aspect ratio doesn’t match.
Here you can change the “mode” you want Windows 11 to be in – light or dark. You can also choose a custom mode, where Windows itself follows one mode, but apps follow another. You can also enable or disable transparency effects across the OS.
Additionally, you can choose an accent color, which is used for some highlights, icons, and text with links in some apps. In addition to a few default colors, you can use set any custom color you want using a color pciker, RGB or HSV values, or Hex codes. If you want, the accent color can also be used for the taskbar and Start menu, as well as title bars and window borders.
You can also access contrast themes from here, though these are considered an accessbility feature and you can find them elsewhere in the Windows 11 Settings app.
This page allows you to choose an overall theme for your PC. Windows 11 Themes can include background images, color settings, sounds, and mouse cursors, all of which are changed when you change themes. A few default themes are included by default, but you can find more on the Microsoft Store, too. You can also save your own custom settings as a theme so you can easily apply it later.
This page also includes a shortcut for desktop icon settings, so you can add or remove icons for folders like This PC, Recycle Bin, and so on.
On this page, you can change the background for the lock screen of your PC, what shows up before you sign into an account. You can choose a single image, slideshow, or Windows spotlight, a collection of images that are often updated over the internet so you always see something new. The latter of those is the default setting. You can also choose one app to show detailed notifications on the lock screen.
One of the big new features in Windows 11 is the ability to change the look of your touch keyboard, and this is where you can do it. There are 16 themes included by default, and you can also create a custom theme using a background image of your choosing. You can customize the size of the keyboard, set whether each key should have a translucent background (or none at all), and change the size of the key text.
Here, you can customize the behavior of your Start menu. For starters, you can choose whether recently installed apps should show up in the Recommended section of the Start menu, or whether your most used apps should be at the top of the All apps list. You can also choose whether recently-opened items should show up in Start, Jump Lists, and the Quick Access page in File Explorer.
Finally, you can also customize which folders appear at the bottom of the Start menu, next to the power button. These include the Documents, Downloads, Music, and other folders, plus links to the File Explorer and Stteings app.
The Taskbar page lets you choose which icons should show up on the taskbar, including Search, Task View, Widgets, and Chat with Microsoft Teams. You can also choose whether you want to see icons for the pen menu, touch keyboard, or a virtual touchpad in the corner of the taskbar, as well as which icons appear in the overflow menu – the flout that opens when you click the arrow near the taskbar corner. This is where many apps, such as Skype, Slack, and Teams reside when they’re running in the background.
Finally, there are some settings for the Windows 11 taskbar itself. You can choose to align the taskbar icons at the center (the default on Windows 11) or back on the left side as with previous versions of Windows. It’s also possible to set the taskbar to hide automatically after a few seconds, choose whether you want the taskbar visible on all displays, and what apps should appear on the taskbar on each display. Finally, you can disable (or enable) the shortcut to view your desktop by clicking the far right corner of the taskbar.
Here you can manage the fonts installed on your system. You can install new fonts by dragging the font file into the area at the top of this page, or delete existing fonts. Some fonts are also available on the Microsoft Store.
This page allows you to set what you use your PC for most often. This can result in personalized tips and ads based on your usage.
This section of the Windows 11 Settings app allows you to manage the apps and features installed on your PC. There’s no header menu here, so we’ll dive straight into the individual pages.
Apps & features
This page includes all the apps installed on your PC, and you can see how much space they’re taking up, when they were first installed, and what version you have. At the top of the page, you can change where you want to be able to get apps, whether app experiences can be continued on nearby devices or only your own, archive apps, or change app execution aliases to use in Command Prompt.
In the app list, you can click the three-dot icon to access advanced app settings for modern apps. This allows yout to enable or disable camera, microphone, location, and storage permissions, terminate the app, repair or reset apps, or uninstall them altogether. You can also move apps to a different drive from the three-dot menu.
This page allows you to set default apps for opening specific types of files and links. Unlike in previous versions of Windows, you can’t set a default web browser or music player in general. Every default association has to be done on a per-file type basis. You can click an app to see which file types and links it can open, then choose the defaults you want to set.
This section is where you can manage the offline maps used by the Maps in Windows 11. You can check which maps you have downloaded and download new ones, change the storage location for offline maps, and choose whether maps should be downloaded over metered connections. You can also check for map information updates and manage automatic updates.
Apps for websites
When apps are capable of handling web addresses – such as a Teams meeting opening in the Teams app – you’ll find that app here. You can disable links from opening in their respective apps, which will allow them to open in the browser instead.
You can change settings for apps that play video on this page. This includes settings for automatically enhancing videos, lowering video resolution when streaming to save on network bandwidth, and choosing whether you want to optimize video playback for battery life by lowering video resolution.
This section is where you can manage accounts you’ve added to your PC. This includes your Microsoft account, which is used in many places across the OS, but also other email apps you may have added in your Mail app, for example. You can also manage other users on your PC through here. The header at the top includes your account information and shortcuts to OneDrive and Microsoft Rewards if you’re using a Microsoft account.
This page allows you to view your Microsoft or local Windows account information and profile picture, as well change that profile picture. You can also switch to a local or Microsoft account depending on what you’re currently using.
Email & accounts
Here, you can find all the email accounts you’ve added to your Mail app, regardless of what email provider they’re based on. You can also see your Microsoft accounts you might be using in apps across Windows 11. You can add or remove existing accounts from here, too.
This page allows you to set up different login methods for Windows, including Windows Hello. Depending on your hardware support, you can set up facial recognition, fingerprint recognition, a PIN, or physical security keys as sign-in methods. You can also choose to require Windows Hello authentication for Microsoft accounts, so your Microsoft account password isn’t enough to sign you in.
You can also customize settings such as whether you want your email to be displayed on the sign-in screen, whether you want your sign-in information to be saved so your PC can finish updating without asking for authentication, and choose whether certain apps can automatically restart when you sign in.
Family & other users
This is where you can add extra accounts to your PC if you want to keep your information separate from other people who use the same computer. You can add other users as family members, which allows you to manage their usage using Family Safety, or other users independent from your family group. In certain editions of Windows 11, you can also set up Kiosk mode on this page.
This section allows you to manage backups for your files and Windows 11 settings. You can choose whether you want to sync your apps so you can easily get them on another PC, sync passwords, language preferences, and other Windows settings. This page also includes a shortcut to your OneDrive sync settings, which allows you to choose if you want to backup your Documents, Pictures, and Desktop folders to OneDrive to access their files anywhere.
Access work or school
Here, you can manage corporate or school accounts you have that rely on Microsoft 365. You can add a new account export management log files, and access other management features that may be required for your business or school.
Time & language
This section is where you can manage regional format and language settings in Windows 11, as well as date and time. There’s now fancy header for this one, so we’ll dive right into the individual pages.
Date & time
Here you can see all your date and time settings. This information is usually synced with the Windows time server by default, though you can disable it if you need it, You an also choose your time zone or have Windows set it automatically based on your location (this setting is off by default). You can also manually sync the current time if you need to and choose whether you want to see additional calendars (specifically Chinese lunar calendars) on your taskbar.
Language & region
This page has a couple of groups. First, there are the language settings, where you can manage the languages installed on your PC (for grammar checks, text-to-speech features, speech recognition, and handwriting), as well as change the display language. This will change the text throughout Windows and apps that follow the system settings.
The second group of settings is for your region. Choosing a different region may change the content you see on the Microsoft Store, and some features may only be available in some regions. You can also change the regional format, as in, the way dates and times are displayed.
On this page, you can adjust how Windows behaves while you type text on your PC. The first setting you’ll see allows you to turn text suggestions on while typing with a physical keyboard. Text suggestions are common on touch keyboards, but if you think you’d find them useful while typing with a physical keyboard, you can enable it.
The remainder of the settings are related to text suggestions and grammar checks. You can enable multilingual text suggestions if you have more than one language installed, enable or disable autocorrect, and choose whether you want misspelled words to be highlighted. You can also see your typing insights, which show you how many times you’ve used autocomplete words, suggested words, and so on, giving you an idea of how Windows has helped you type faster.
This page has settings like to speech recognition and speech-to-text features. You can choose the language you want to use for speech recognition and set up your microphone for it here. You can also choose which voice to use for text-to-speech features in Windows 11, as well as change the voice speed. Finally, you can manage your voice packages and add new voice languages to your PC from this page.
This section contains a handful of settings for gaming-related features in WIndows 11, such as the Xbox Game Bar, game captures, and more. This once also has no interesting header, so we’ll jump right into the individual pages.
Xbox Game Bar
Here you can enable or disable the ability to open the Xbox Game Bar using the Xbox button on an Xbox Wireless Controller. All other Xbox Game Bar settings are accessed through the Game Bar itself.
This page contains settings for the recording and capture features available in the Xbox Game Bar, starting with where you want those captures to be saved on your drive. The Record what happened feature automatically records your gameplay while you’re playing, so you can just hit a specific key combination to save a video file of something that just happened. If you enable this feature, you can also set how long you want automatic recordings to be (up to 10 minutes).
Otherwise, you can choose the maximum recording length of recordings you start manually, you can choose whether to include game and microphone audio during these recordings, choose a frame rate, and video quality. You can also choose whether you want the mouse cursor to be visible in game captures.
This page contains a single toggle for Game Mode, which restricts background activity during games to help games run more smoothly. This feature is on by default.
This section, previously called Ease of Access, contains a wide range of features that help make your PC easier to use, specifically if you have vision or hearing impairments, or limited mobility. These include a lot of settings, so we’ll cover them a bit more broadly.
The accessibility features available for vision impairments include:
- Text size – change the size of text on the screen
- Visual effects – Enable or disable visual effects that may cause visibility problems, such as transparency and animations. You can also set scrollbars to be always visible or change how long it takes for a notification banner to disappear from your screen.
- Mouse pointer and touch – You can change the color and size of your mouse pointer to make it easier to find on the screen. For touchscreens, you can also touch to see a touch indicator whenever you touch the screen, and choose to make that indicator larger and darker.
- Text cursor – You can enable a large text cursor indicator if you have trouble finding it while typing. You can change the size of the cursor indicator and its color. You can also increase the thickness of the text cursor to make it more visible.
- Magnifier – Enable or disable the magnifier to zoom in on your screen, and adjust the zoom level you want to see by default. You can also change how much you want the zoom level to change when zoom in or out using the Magnifier. Other settings including inverting the colors on the screen and smoothing the edges of text and images.
- Color filters – Windows includes filters to account for various types of color blindness. You can choose the filter than fits your personal needs in this page.
- Contrast themes – Windows also includes a handful of themes designed to improve visibility and comfort for the visually impaired. Windows 11 includes brand new themes that should be easier on the eyes.
- Narrator – The Narrator feature allows you to have UI elements and text read aloud to you. You can enable or disable this feature here, change the Narrator’s voice settings, verbosity, cursor, and more.
For users with hearing impairments, the following settings are available
- Audio – Enable a mono audio channel (useful if only one ear has an impairment, affecting stereo sound), and choose whether the screen should flash when receiving an audio notification.
- Captions – Change how captions should look in videos, with a handful of preset themes and the ability to create fully custom ones.
For users with limited mobility, Windows has a few features that improve interaction in ways that require less movement. These are the settings available:
- Speech – Enable speech recognition for controlling your PC with your voice as well as voice typing.
- Keyboard – Enable features like Sticky Keys, filter repeated keystrokes with customizable sensitivity, or enable sound for pressing toggle keys like Caps Lock or Num Lock. It’s also possible to turn on the on-screen keyboard here.
- Mouse – Enable Mouse keys, making it possible to move the mouse using the number pad on yout keyboard, along with a handful of settings for movement speed and acceleration.
- Eye control – For devices with supported eye trackers such as the ones from Tobii, you can control Windows using only eye movements. This page allows you to enable and manage this feature.
Privacy & security
This section contains settings related to your device’s security as well as privacy settings, such as what apps can access certain types of data or physical devices. Once again, there’s no big header for this one, so we’ll jump straight into the individual sections here. Again, there are a ton of them, so we’ll keep these options relatively brief.
The first group of settings is focused on security, and it includes:
- Windows Security – Shows you an overview of your current security status, such as whether any viruses have been detected or any setting may leave you at risk. These settings can be changed in the WIndows Security app.
- Find my device – Enable the ability to locate your PC on a map. You can then locate it by going to your Microsoft account settings in a web browser.
- Device encryption – Encrypt your device data so other users can’t access your files unless they know your credentials.
- For developers – Enable developer mode and other app development features tha tmay be required for testing.
The first batch of privacy-related settings has to do with the information Windows knows about you. It includes the following:
- General – Enable or disable your advertising ID to make it easier for apps to show you personalized ads, allow Windows to recommend content based on your language list, let Windows improve its recommendations in Search and Start by tracking your app launches, and see suggested content in the Settings app.
- Speech – Enable or disable online speech recognition, which is used by features like Cortana and voice typing by connecting to the internet to accurately recognize what you say. Disabling this will disable those features.
- Inking & typing personalization – Choose whether you want to create a personal dictionary based on the words you type or write with ink. This improves typing suggestions by remembering custom words you may use often.
- Diagnostics & feedback – Choose how detailed the diagnostic data you send to Microsoft is. Some data is required to use Windows, but you can choose to send more detailed data, such as information about the websites you visit and apps you use, to help Microsoft identify and fix potential problems more easily. You can also choose how this diagnosed data is used – such as improving inking and typing.
- Acitivty history – Save data about how the apps and files you’re using. This was required by the Timeline feature in Windows 10, but serves no clear purpose now, so you may want to disable it.
- Search permissions – Change search settings for the Windows Search feature, such as adjusting SafeSearch levels for web results, or allowing access from your Microsoft, work, or school account to see files and other results from those accounts in Windows Search. You can also disable or clear the local search history, which is used to improve search suggestions.
- Search indexing – Choose how deep the search indexing should be, allowing it to find files your entire drive or only select folders. You can exclude specific folders from search results, too.
Finally, we have app permissions, meaning the information that each app may require access to to enable certain features. Many of these settings can be disabled altogether, or disabled only for specific apps. This includes access to your physical location, webcam, microphone, and more. Because many of these settings are self-explanatory and the list is massive, we won’t list them all.
Called Update & Security in Windows 10, this section is now exclusively focused on Windows Update and the Windows Insider Program. The header in this section shows if you’re currently up to date or if any updates are pending, and it includes a button to check for updates. You can also pause updates for a set period of time (up to five weeks on Home editions of Windows 11). The other options here are:
See a history of updates installed on your PC, divided into feature updates, quality updates, driver updates, and definition updates for the Microsoft Defender Antivirus. There’s also a section for “other” updates, which includes the Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool that Microsoft rolls out every month.
Here, you can change a number of settings for how Windows Update behaves. First, you can choose to receive updates for other Microsoft products, such as Office, alongside Windows updates. The “Get me up to date” option makes it so that your PC restarts as soon as possible after an update is installed, but you can also choose whether you want to be notified when a restart is required to finish installing an update. You can also set active hours – when you’re actively using your PC – to avoid unexpected restarts during those times. Finally, you can set whether you want updates to be downloaded over metered connections.
A few additional options here include optional updates, which can include driver updates or update previews for Windows. There are also delivery optimization settings, which essentially allows you to choose if you want to receive updates using peer-to-peer connections to other PCs. This can improve download speeds but increase bandwidth usage since you’ll also be sending updates to others. By default, your PC will be set to download updates from other PCs on the same network as you, but not from the internet. You can change that setting or disable it completely.
In the Delivery optimization page, you can also head into Advanced options to set up how much bandwidth Windows Update can use to download and upload Windows updates. You can set absolute bandwidth values or choose a percentage of the bandwidth you want to use.
Windows Insider Program
Finally, this section lets you manage your participation in the Windows Insider Program. You can join the program to receive development builds of Windows 11, which may be unstable. You can choose what channel you want to join, or opt out of Insider builds entirely. To opt out immediately, you have to perform a clean install of Windows 11, but you can also choose to opt out once the next public update releases if you’re in the Beta or Release Preview channels. This means you’ll keep getting preview updates until the next major update is finalized, but then you’ll be running a stable version of the OS without losing your data.
That’s all you need to know about the Settings app in Windows 11. There’s quite a bit to explore in here, but that just means you can tweak a lot of options to your liking to make sure everything fits your preferences (unless you want to move the taskbar to a different side of the screen, you still can’t do that).
Want to learn more about Windows 11? Check out our list of all the Windows 11 features available in preview. We have also done deep dives into other major Windows 11 apps, and you can check them out below:
- Windows 11 Photos
- Windows 11 Snipping Tool
- Windows 11 Chat with Microsoft Teams
- Windows 11 Widgets
- Windows 11 Snap Layout and Snap Groups
- Windows 11 Virtual Desktops
- Windows 11 Clock with Focus sessions
- Windows 11 Microsoft Store