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Mastering Windows 11 Shortcuts

Are you tired of hunting for your favorite program, website, or feature in Windows 11? Why not utilize a shortcut to make navigating Windows 11 so much easier? In this article, I will show you how to master shortcuts in Windows 11.

Creating shortcuts in Windows 11 can significantly improve your productivity and efficiency. By allowing you to access your favorite apps and features with just a few keystrokes, whether you are a seasoned Windows user or new to the platform, learning how to create and use shortcuts can streamline your workflow and make navigating Windows 11 a breeze.

In this article, we will explore the various methods for creating and using shortcuts in Windows 11, as well as some valuable tips and tricks to help you get the most out of these powerful features. There are basically four (4) types of shortcuts we are going to look at. They are Desktop, Taskbar, Start menu and Keyboard.

When creating shortcuts, you have to know where the file or app you want to create a shortcut to is located on your computer. You usually will use File Explorer to make most of your shortcuts. You can access the File Explorer by either:

  • Left-clicking on the manilla folder icon (File Explorer) on the Taskbar.
  • Right-click on the Start Windows logo key button and select File Explorer from the Power User menu.
  • Press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + E.

Desktop Shortcuts

Desktop shortcuts are by far the most popular shortcuts. They are easy to create, can link to almost anything, and have the most options. Some of the following procedures require using both left and right mouse buttons and drag-and-drop functions.

Folder and file shortcuts

  1. Open File Explorer and make sure that its window is not maximized and that you can see the Desktop behind it.
  2. Locate any folder or file you would like to create a shortcut on the Desktop.
  3. Click and hold the right mouse button on the folder or file and drag it to the Desktop.
  4. Left-click on Create shortcuts here from
    Create shortcuts here context menu
    the context menu that appears.

By using the right mouse button instead of the left mouse button to create the shortcut, you are guaranteed to get the Create shortcuts here option.

URL shortcuts

Creating a link to a web page is as simple as it is for folders and files. We will use your favorite browser (Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, etc.) to create a Desktop shortcut.

  1. Open your browser, make sure that its window is not maximized, and you can see the Desktop behind it.
  2. Navigate to the web page to which you would like a shortcut.
  3. Click and hold the left mouse button on the
    Web browser address site information
    View site information icon to the left of the web address, then drag it to the Desktop.

Desktop shortcuts also have another cool feature: keyboard shortcuts. These keyboard shortcuts are limited to using the Ctrl + Alt keys along with your choice of a letter (A-Z) or number (0-9). They are handy when you want to open a Desktop shortcut, and your screen is full of open apps.

To set up a keyboard shortcut for a Desktop shortcut:

  1. Right-click on a Desktop shortcut and select Properties.
  2. For shortcuts to folders and files, select the Shortcut tab and scroll down to Shortcut key. For web page shortcuts, select the Web Document tab and scroll down to Shortcut key.
  3. Left-click in the Shortcut key box and press the letter or number you want to use. You will notice that Ctrl + Alt are automatically added.
  4. In the right-hand corner, left-click on Apply. Then click on OK.

To remove a Desktop shortcut, right-click on it and select Delete from the context menu that appears.

Taskbar / Start menu shortcuts

Since the Taskbar and Start menu shortcuts are created similarly, I have grouped them together. There is one difference between them: Taskbar shortcuts can only be to programs, not folders or files. However, creating and deleting them is the same.

  1. Using either Files Explorer or the Start Windows logo key menu, navigate to the program, folder, or file you want a shortcut to.
  2. Right-click on it to bring up the context menu for it.
  3. On the context menu, look for either Pin to Taskbar or Pin to Start. If there is a More options link at the bottom of the context menu, click on it. You should now have all available options shown.
  4. Left-click on the type of shortcut you would like to create.

To remove a Taskbar or Start Windows logo key menu shortcut, right-click on the shortcut and choose Unpin from Taskbar or Unpin from Start.

Keyboard shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts are another powerful way to streamline your workflow in Windows 11. Many built-in shortcuts can help you quickly navigate the operating system and perform everyday tasks. For example, pressing Windows logo key Windows logo key + D will minimize all open windows and show the Desktop, while Windows logo key Windows logo key + E will open File Explorer.

There are several categories of Keyboard shortcuts: Windows logo key, accessibility, dialog box, and general. And since I use my right hand for my mouse, I have keyboard shortcuts I use only with my left hand. Here are links to all of the different categories of keyboard shortcuts you can use with Windows 11.

Windows logo key shortcuts for Windows 11

Accessibility keyboard shortcuts

Dialog box keyboard shortcuts

General keyboard shortcuts

My favorite left hand Windows keyboard shortcuts

In conclusion, creating and using shortcuts in Windows 11 is a simple yet powerful way to enhance your computing experience. By taking advantage of Desktop shortcuts, Taskbar shortcuts, Start menu shortcuts, and Keyboard shortcuts, you can easily customize your workflow to suit your individual needs and navigate Windows 11. With some time and effort, you can create a personalized system of shortcuts that will help you work more efficiently and effectively.

Switching out of Windows S mode

Did you recently purchase a Windows computer only to discover that you could not install desktop programs? If so, it could be that your Windows computer came with S mode enabled. In this article, I will show you how to switch your Windows computer running in S mode to the Windows Home version.

Switching out of Windows S mode

Most people have never heard of Windows running in S mode. That is probably because S mode was meant to compete with Chromebooks in the education industry. Basically, it's a Home version of Windows that has been restricted to only installing apps from the Microsoft Store.

Now, if you're a parent of a young child, S mode is a perfect match. Using Microsoft accounts, you can utilize the Family Safety feature to configure what software can be installed, where they can and cannot go on the Internet, and when they can use their device.

How to setup Family Safety for Windows using Microsoft accounts

The nice thing is that Microsoft allows you to switch Windows out of S mode and into the Home version. And it is free. But it is a one-way conversion. Once your system switches out of S mode, it will never be able to go back into S mode. It's important to note that switching out of S mode does require an Internet connection. If you are using a laptop, make sure that your device is plugged in or has sufficient battery charge to complete the process.

How to switch out of S mode

Before switching out of S mode, it's important to note again that this process is irreversible. Once you switch out of S mode, you cannot go back. With that in mind, here's a step-by-step guide to switching out of S mode:

  1. Begin by opening the Microsoft Store on your Windows computer.
  2. In the Microsoft Store, search for Switch out of S mode in the search bar.
  3. Select the Switch out of S mode option from the search results.
  4. Click the Get button to initiate the process. You may be asked to sign in with your Microsoft account if you haven't already done so.
  5. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the switch out of S mode. This process may take a few minutes, and your computer will need to restart to apply the changes.

After switching out of S mode, your computer will be running the Home version of Windows. You will now be able to install and run desktop apps from sources other than the Microsoft Store, giving you greater flexibility and control over your computing experience.

How to install Windows 11 without a Microsoft account

When it comes to Windows 11, one question always seems to come up: "Can I install Windows 11 with a local account like I have done in previous versions of Windows?" The answer is yes, you can, and I am going to show you how to install Windows 11 without a Microsoft account.

How to install Windows 11 without a Microsoft account

When it comes to installing Windows 11 without a Microsoft account, the process is relatively straightforward. However, there are a couple things you have to due during the installation to be able to create a local user account.

First and foremost, it's important to note that Microsoft strongly encourages users to sign in with a Microsoft account. While this provides access to additional features and seamless integration with Microsoft services, it is not mandatory.

Keep in mind that most Windows 11 systems come with Bitlocker drive encryption enabled and using a Microsoft account to login will place the Bitlocker decryption key inside of your Microsoft account online. If you like, you can always turn off Bitlocker after the installation is complete.

Now, the stage in the installation of Windows 11 that you need to make changes is called the Out-Of-Box-Experience (OOBE). This is when Windows 11 prepares for the first use. So, you can use this procedure on brand-new Windows 11 systems or clean installations of Windows 11.

This process will usually work flawlessly, but I have had issues with new computers that have Windows 11 in S mode. For more information about performing a clean installation of Windows 11, follow the link below.

How to perform a clean installation of Windows 11

As I mentioned before, the stage in the Windows 11 installation we need to modify is the OOBE. The one thing you will need to do is make sure you do not have an ethernet cable plugged into your computer.

Your computer cannot access the Internet until after you create the local user account. If Windows 11 detects Internet access, it will not allow you to bypass the network requirement, which is what you have to do to finish the installation using a local user account.

When you start your new Windows 11 computer for the first time or finalize a clean installation of Windows 11, the first screen that appears in the OOBE is the Is this the right country or region screen.
The Is this the right country or region screen in the Windows 11 setup
This is where we need to modify the OOBE.

Using your keyboard, press Shift + F10. If your laptop has an FN (Function) button, you may have to also hold it down to toggle the F10 key.
An Administrative Command Prompt running on top of the country or region screen
This will bring up an Administrative Command Prompt.

In the Command Prompt type:

OOBE\BYPASSNRO

and then press enter.
An Administrative Command Prompt with OOBE\BYPASSNRO in the prompt
This will restart the OOBE stage again using the BYPASSNRO (BYPASS Network Requirement Option) switch. You will now have the ability to skip using a Microsoft account to logon. Once the OOBE stage restarts, you return to the first screen (country and region).

Proceed through the screens until you reach the Let's connect you to a network screen.
The Let's connect you to a network screen in the Windows 11 setup
Left-click on the I don't have internet link at the bottom of the screen.

The next screen is the Connect now to quickly get started on your device screen.
The Connect now to quickly get started on your device screen in the Windows 11 setup
Left-click on the Continue with limited setup link. The next screen is the Who's going to use this device screen. Enter a name and left-click on the Next button.

Now you come to the Create a super memorable password screen. If you leave the password blank/empty and left-click on the Next button, your computer will automatically log in to your desktop. This is how to create a local user with no password.

In conclusion, installing Windows 11 without a Microsoft account is entirely feasible and allows users to maintain a local account on their system. Following the steps outlined in this article, you can successfully set up Windows 11 without needing a Microsoft account, giving you more control over your operating system.

Enabling TPM for Windows 11 upgrade on 2018-2021 Windows 10 PCs

Was your computer manufactured between 2018 and 2021 and still running Windows 10 because you have yet to be prompted to upgrade to Windows 11? If so, it could be Windows 11 compatible and needs a feature turned on. Here is how to enable the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) in your computer.

Enabling TPM for Windows 11 Upgrade on 2018-2021 Windows 10 PCs

One of the services we offer is to perform a clean installation of Windows. When doing clean installs, I find that most systems manufactured between 2018 and 2021 do not have the TPM enabled. Once I enable the TPM, I usually will do a clean installation of Windows 11 instead of Windows 10.

So, what is the TPM? The TPM is a microchip that provides hardware-based security functions. It is designed to provide a secure foundation for various security-related functions, such as BitLocker drive encryption, Windows Hello, secure boot, and more. By providing a secure environment for sensitive operations, TPM helps protect the system's integrity and the data's confidentiality.

The first version of the TPM, 1.2, started to appear in computers in 2006 and was a dedicated chip. TPM version 2.0 (the version required by Windows 11) began to appear in computers in 2018 and is a firmware extension of the CPU (Central Processing Unit). Between 2018 and 2021, the TPM function of most computers was turned off by default, as no version of Windows required it.

Then, in 2021, Microsoft released Windows 11 and changed the hardware requirements for Windows. Windows 11 now requires a TPM version 2.0 for Windows 11 to be installed. There were registry hacks and other ways to get around it, but Microsoft quickly patched those flaws.

So, the first thing you need to do is find out the status of the TPM inside Windows 10. By bringing up the TPM Management console, you can see if a TPM is enabled and what version it is. To open the TPM Management console, perform either of the following:

  • Open a RUN dialog box by pressing the Windows logo key Windows logo key + R, type tpm.msc in the Open field, and left-click on OK.
    or
  • Open a search box by pressing the Windows logo key Windows logo key + S, type tpm.msc, and choose tpm.msc Microsoft Common Console Document.

Once the TPM Management console appears, it will tell you if a TPM is enabled and what version it is.
TPM status inside of Windows 10
If it states that a compatible TPM could not be found, you will have to either research the system/motherboard specifications online or boot your computer into the BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) / UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface).

Now, before you research online or boot into the BIOS/UEFI, let's talk about what you will be looking for. The CPU manufacturers (Intel and AMD) have different names for implementing the TPM firmware extensions.

  • The TPM extension inside Intel processors is called Platform Trust Technology (PTT).
  • The TPM extension inside AMD processors is called Firmware TPM (fTPM).

The quickest and easiest way to check for a TPM is to boot your computer into the BIOS/UEFI. This may take several tries, as interrupting the booting cycle for your computer can be challenging. If you don't interrupt the boot process the first time, just let the computer boot to the login screen and restart it.

  1. Restart your computer and access the BIOS/UEFI settings. The method to access these settings varies depending on the manufacturer of your computer. Typically, you can access the BIOS/UEFI settings by pressing a specific key (such as F2, F10, or Del) during the boot process. Most of the time, pressing either the F2 or the Del key rapidly when the splash screen (the manufacturer logo) appears will get you into the BIOS/UEFI settings. Consult your computer's manual or the manufacturer's website for specific instructions.
  2. Once in the BIOS/UEFI settings, navigate to the Security or Advanced tab. Look for an option related to TPM or Security. The wording may vary depending on the manufacturer. Remember to look for PTT in systems with Intel processors and fTPM for systems with AMD processors.
  3. Enable the TPM feature and save the changes before exiting the BIOS/UEFI settings. Your computer will restart.
  4. After enabling TPM in the BIOS/UEFI settings, you can verify that it is enabled in Windows 10 by opening the TPM Management console (as previously outlined). It should now show that TPM is enabled.

Once the TPM is enabled, you can wait for Windows Update to offer the Windows 11 upgrade or manually upgrade Windows 10 to Windows 11. Enabling the Trusted Platform Module on computers manufactured between 2018 and 2021 running Windows 10 is an important step towards being able to upgrade to Windows 11. By following the steps outlined in this article, users can verify the presence and version of a TPM and enable it in the BIOS/UEFI.

How to take a screenshot in Windows 11

Screen capturing, or taking a screenshot, is a valuable tool for sharing information, troubleshooting issues, or simply saving an essential moment on your computer screen. But it is not really clear on how you do this inside of Windows 11. So, in this article, we show you how to take a screenshot in Windows 11.

How to take a screenshot in Windows 11

Use a keyboard shortcut to take a screenshot

The most straightforward way to take a screenshot on Windows 11 is to use the keyboard shortcut Windows logo key Windows logo key + Print Screen / PrtScn. This will capture the entire screen and automatically save the screenshot in the Screenshots folder in the Pictures directory.

Use the Snipping Tool to take a screenshot

If you want more control over your screenshot, you can use the Snipping Tool. To open the Snipping Tool, do either of the following:

  1. Left-click on the Start button Windows logo to bring up the Start menu.
  2. In the upper right-hand corner of the Start menu, left-click on All apps.
  3. Scroll down the list of programs and left-click on Snipping Tool.

Or you can open the Snipping Tool ready to start a capture using the keyboard shortcut Windows logo key Windows logo key + Shift + S. Once you open the tool, you can select the area of the screen you want to capture, annotate, and save the screenshot.

Use the Game Bar to take a screenshot

If you are a gamer and want to capture your gameplay, Windows 11 has a built-in Game Bar that allows you to take screenshots and even record your gameplay. To access the Game Bar, use the keyboard shortcut Windows logo key Windows logo key + G. From there, you can take a screenshot or record your gameplay.

The Game Bar has seven (7) Windows logo key Windows logo key shortcuts. For a list of all of the Windows logo key Windows logo key shortcuts, check out our blog, Windows logo key shortcuts for Windows 11.

Use Third-Party Apps to take a screenshot

If you prefer to use a third-party app for your screen-capturing needs, there are many options available for Windows 11. Some popular choices include LightShot, Greenshot, and ShareX. These apps offer more advanced features than the built-in Windows tools, such as capturing scrolling webpages, capturing specific windows, and sharing your screenshots directly to social media.

Now that you know the different ways to take a screenshot on Windows 11, it’s essential to organize your screenshots so that you can easily find them later. By default, Windows 11 will save your captures to a folder named Screenshots inside of either your Pictures or Videos folder. It just depends on what app you use.

In conclusion, taking a screenshot on Windows 11 is simple and can be done using various methods, including Windows logo keyboard shortcuts, built-in tools, and third-party apps. By following the tips and tricks outlined in this article, you can make the most of your screen-capturing experience and easily share important information with others.

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