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The different ways to navigate Windows 11

If you have used Windows before, you are well versed with the Start menu. But did you know that there are other ways to get around inside Windows 11? Let's take a look at the different ways to navigate Windows 11.

The different ways to navigate Windows 11

In the early versions of Windows, you only had the Program Manager to make your way around Windows. But in 1995, Microsoft released Windows 95 with a new way of navigating Windows, the Start menu.

Over the years, the look of the Start menu has changed. It has had several different Windows logos, flat/rounded/beveled edges, but it always worked the same way.

Then came Windows 8, and Microsoft changed the Start menu. The Start menu was replaced with the Start screen, and navigating Windows would never be the same.

When Windows users complained about the Windows 8 Start screen, Microsoft introduced the Power User menu in Windows 8.1. That made finding the more popular features easier, like Settings, System, and Computer Management.

So when Windows 10 was released, the Start menu came back along with the Power User menu. A few other cool features were added to the Start menu, including the ability to change the accent color of the Start menu.

With Windows 11, Microsoft changed the look and feel of the Start menu, but all of the essential functions are still there. The Start menu layout changed, but the learning curve is really mild.

Windows 11 Start menu

The Start menu is the traditional way of getting around Windows 11. As with every version of Windows, Microsoft has made some changes to its appearance.

With Windows 11, you can change the location of the Start menu to either the center or the left side of the Taskbar. Sadly, you can not change the Taskbar's position to the left, right, or top of the screen.

You can change the same Start menu features in Windows 11 that you could in Windows 10. The only thing I found you cannot do is to change the Start menu's color. You can only change the color mode, light or dark.

All Start menu customizations can be found by going to Settings > Personalization. Here is a list of the features and areas on the Windows 11 Start menu.

The different features and areas of the Windows 11 Start menu

  • Search box - Type in the name of the app or file you are looking for.
  • Pinned apps - This is a collection of shortcuts to your favorite programs.
  • All apps - Here, you will find all of the shortcuts to all of the installed programs.
  • Recommended - This is a list of the most recently used files.
  • Folders - These are the shortcuts that you select to appear next to the Power button. You can choose which folders appear by going to Settings > Personalization > Start > Folders.

Here is a list of the folders you can have to appear next to the Power button.

  • Settings
  • File Explorer
  • Document
  • Music
  • Pictures
  • Videos
  • Network
  • Personal folder

Windows 11 Power User Menu

The Power User menu appeared in Windows 8.1 to appease users that were upset with the replacement of the Start menu with the Start screen. Windows 8 was a nightmare to navigate using the Start screen, and the Power User menu made it a little easier.

The Power User menu has shortcuts to the most used features inside of Windows, including System, Settings, and Computer Management. And the cool thing is that you can bring up the Power User menu in two (2) different ways.

  • Right-click on the Start button Windows logo

or

  • Press the Windows logo key Windows logo + X at the same time.

Windows 11 Power User menu

If you use your keyboard to bring up the Power User menu, the different programs and features will have a letter underlined in their name. If you press the corresponding letter, that program or feature opens.

Windows 11 Windows Logo keyboard shortcuts

Back when the Start menu was introduced, Microsoft also added a feature to help navigate Windows using the keyboard. That Windows logo key on your keyboard can do a whole lot more than just bring up the Start menu.

Windows 11 Windows logo keyboard shortcuts

The Windows logo key can open more than fifty (50) Windows 11 programs and features when used with other keys. Some of my personal favorites are:

  • Windows logo key Windows logo + E opens File Explorer
  • Windows logo key Windows logo + R opens the Run dialog box
  • Windows logo key Windows logo + X opens the Power User menu

What makes these Windows logo keyboard shortcuts special to me is that you can use only your left hand to use them. That way, I can keep my right hand on my mouse. Follow the link below for a complete list of the Windows logo key shortcuts for Windows 11 (it opens in a new window).

Windows logo key shortcuts for Windows 11

My first look at Windows 11

Microsoft recently announced that they are releasing a successor to Windows 10, aptly named Windows 11. So join me as I take a look at Windows 11.

My first look at Windows 11

When Microsoft announced the next version of Windows, I went looking for a beta or technical preview of Windows 11. I soon found out that the only way to get a version of Windows 11 is through their Insider Program.

Well, it just so happens that I had created a Virtual Machine (VM) a couple of years ago for the Windows 10 Insider Program. I started it, and sure enough, Windows informed me that I need to download a new build of Windows.

I went through the upgrade process, and when all was said and done, I had Windows 11 Insider Preview running inside a VM. So let's take a look at Windows 11.

Note: This build of Windows 11 that I am using for this article is just a beta, so the look and the way it operates may and probably will change before the final release of Windows 11.

Login Screen

The Windows 11 Logon Screen

Not much different here from Windows 10. The default font has changed, but other than that, it looks and feels like Windows 10.

Taskbar

The Windows 11 Taskbar

The first thing you will notice when the Desktop appears is that the Start button and pinned programs are centered in the Taskbar. Is this by default, and can it be easily changed back to left-justified.

Start Menu

The Windows 11 Start Menu

The Start Menu has gotten a makeover, with a new cleaner looking layout. All the same features are available, but they are arranged completely different.

Power User menu

The Windows 11 Power Users menu

It is still there, The only component of Windows 8.1 to still be inside of Windows. Don't remember Windows 8.1? That is one version of Windows I would love to forget.

Settings

The Windows 11 Settings app

As with the Start Menu, the Settings app has also received a makeover, getting broken into two (2) columns. The categories are now listed in the left-side column, and sub-categories are listed in the right-hand column.

Control Panel

The Windows 11 Control Panel

Microsoft has been trying to eliminate the Control Panel for a while now, but it still exists in the preview build I am running. Who knows if it will make it to the final build of Windows 11.

File Explorer

The Windows 11 File Explorer

File Explorer has gotten a small makeover too. The Ribbon appears to be gone, and a simple toolbar with the most commons functions has taken its place. We will have to wait until the final build to see if the Ribbon is truly gone.

The overall look and feel of Windows 11 is smoother than Windows 10. With rounded corners on dialog boxes and newer icons, Windows 11 looks like an excellent successor to Windows 10.

But of course, we will have to wait and see how the final build of Windows 11 looks and feels. For a more in-depth look at this version of Windows 11, check out the video below.

Navigating Windows 10

Updated June 4, 2020

It seems nowadays everyone is looking for ways to get things done quicker. The same holds for your computer. The faster you can open a program or document, the better. So here are my favorite tips for navigating Windows 10.

Navigating Windows 10

Since I do computer repair for a living, I've had to find ways to navigate Windows' different versions. With Windows 10, Microsoft keeps some of the cooler features while adding some new ones. And they even brought back one feature from previous versions. Let's take a look at my favorite ways to get around inside of Windows 10.

Power User menu

This little pop-up menu is a fast way to find some of the core features inside of Windows 10. It first appeared in Windows 8 to supplement the loss of the Start Menu. It never got the publicity it deserved, and only real geeks knew it existed. My customers are still amazed the first time I use it in front of them.

Lucky for us, Microsoft decided to keep the Power Users menu in Windows 10. It is still the fastest way to get to features like the Apps and Features, Network Connections, and Computer Management. Here's how to display the Power User menu in Windows 10.

Windows 10 Power User menu

There are two (2) ways of displaying the Power User menu in Windows 10: Mouse or Keyboard.

Using your mouse to display the Power User menu in Windows 10

Right-click on the Windows logo Windows logo key on the Start Menu

Using your keyboard to display the Power User menu in Windows 10

Press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + X

If you use the keyboard to bring up the Power User menu, you'll find that the programs/features listed have a single letter in their name underlined. These are also keyboard shortcuts to that particular program/feature. Here's a link to the complete list of the Power User menu keyboard shortcuts for Windows 10.

Power User menu keyboard shortcuts

Windows logo key shortcuts for Windows 10

Here's is another handy feature that nobody knows about, the Windows logo key. I have customers ask me, "What does that key with the Windows logo do?". Well, its primary use is to bring up the Start Menu, but it does more. Allot more.

The Windows logo key was introduced over twenty-five (25) years ago alongside Windows 95 and the new Start Menu. There were only a handful of Windows logo key shortcuts at that time, and you had to purchase a Windows 95 compatible keyboard to use them. Now you can't find a Windows-compatible keyboard without it.

There are now close to forty (40) Windows logo key shortcuts in Windows 10. Once you try them out, you'll wonder how you lived without for so long. Here's a link to the complete list of Windows logo key shortcuts.

Windows logo key shortcuts for Windows 10

Shortcut keys in Windows 10

Here is one of those 'old school' features that I love to use. Did you know that you can open almost any shortcut with just your keyboard? By simply editing a shortcut, you open it with a combination of three (3) keys.

Now, if you have used Windows for a while, you know what a shortcut is. And if not, no biggie. Here's how to create a shortcut in Windows 10.

Allot of people don't know that they can edit a shortcut and change how it works, including adding a keyboard shortcut to it. The keyboard shortcut for your shortcut needs to be a combination of three (3) keys, and the first two (2) keys have to be CTRL and ALT. The third key is your choice, but I try to use either the first letter of the program/file or a letter close to CTRL and ALT keys.

The shortcut key field inside of the properties a shortcut
The shortcut key field inside of the properties of a shortcut

How to add a keyboard shortcut to an existing shortcut

  1. Right-click on the shortcut you want to modify and from the context menu that appears select Properties.
  2. When the properties dialog box appears, make sure the Shortcut tab is selected.
  3. Go down to the Shortcut key field and left-click inside the area (the cursor will blink).
  4. Press the CTRL key and the key you want to be assigned to the shortcut simultaneously (Windows will automatically add the ALT).
  5. Left-click on Apply and you are done.

Start Menu

And last but not least is the Start Menu. After a brief disappearance in Windows 8, Microsoft decided to bring it back. It's now got a slightly different look and feel, but it still does what it is supposed to do: Navigate.

How to find Windows 10 features and programs

Updated July 11, 2020

Since Windows 10 is the most popular operating system right now, getting to all settings and controls is essential. But locating some of the components can be kind of tricky. So here are some of my favorite ways to find Windows 10 features and applications.

Power User menu

Did you know that you can get to Settings, Computer Management, or an Admin Command Prompt / Admin PowerShell in Windows 10 with just a couple of keystrokes or mouse clicks? That's just what you can do and more when you use the Power User menu.

The two different versions of the Power User menu in Windows 10

The Power User menu first appeared in Windows 8 to kind of supplement users need to find essential programs and features quickly. Without a Start Menu, it was tough for regular users to find anything inside of Windows 8. The Power User menu made up for no Start Menu, well not really, but it was better than nothing at all.

The Power User menu contains shortcuts to the most used programs and features inside Windows 10 (see list below). In the Taskbar settings,
Windows 10 Power User menu with either Command Prompt or PowerShell option
you can choose to have either the Command Prompt or Windows PowerShell shortcuts. There are two different ways of bringing up the Power User menu; by mouse or keyboard.

How to display the Power User menu using your mouse

Right-click on the Windows logo Windows logo key on the Start Menu

How to display the Power User menu using your keyboard

Press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + X

Using the keyboard method, you also get keyboard shortcuts added to all of the menu selections.

Power User menu keyboard shortcuts

Press To
Windows logo key + X Open the Power User menu
Then press To open
F Apps and Features
O Power Options
V Event Viewer
Y System
M Device Manager
W Network Connections
K Disk Management
G Computer Management
You can select to have either the Command Prompt or PowerShell on the Power User menu in the Taskbar settings
C Command Prompt
I Windows PowerShell
A Admin Command Prompt / Admin PowerShell
T Task Manager
N Settings
E File Explorer
S Search
R Run dialog box
U Shut down or sign out
U then I Sign out
U then U Shut down
U then R Restart
D Desktop

Keyboard shortcuts for Windows

It just so happens that the keyboard shortcut for the Power User menu is only one of almost fifty Windows logo key shortcuts for Windows 10. The Windows logo key was introduced in '95 to coincide with the release of Windows 95 and the new, at that time, Start Menu. Microsoft has added and modified the Windows logo key shortcuts with every version of Windows since then. Some of my favorites are listed below, and most of them only require one hand.

Press To
Windows logo key Open the Start menu
Windows logo key + A Open Action Center
Windows logo key + D Show desktop
Windows logo key + R Run dialog box
Windows logo key + S Search
Windows logo key + X Open the Power User menu

Click here for the complete list of Windows logo key shortcuts for Windows 10

If you like using keyboard shortcuts, I also personally love and use the general keyboard shortcuts and the dialog box keyboard shortcuts. And since I am right-handed and prefer to keep my hand on the mouse, I use many left-handed keyboard shortcuts.

For more information on any of the keyboard shortcuts in this article, please check the links below.

Windows logo key shortcuts for Windows 10

Dialog box keyboard shortcuts

General keyboard shortcuts

My favorite left hand Windows keyboard shortcuts

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