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HP PCs - Understanding and using Windows 11

Windows 11 offers a dynamic environment in which you can easily configure the desktop to fit your preferences. Use this information to learn and discover more about the features of Windows 11.

For more information about Windows 11, see HP PCs – Support for Windows 11.

Upgrade to Windows 11

You need to perform certain actions before and after upgrading to Windows 11, such as backing up your important files or updating your hardware drivers.

The following documents provide instructions for performing the upgrade:

Start menu and taskbar

The Windows 11 Start menu has a new layout. The taskbar is now centered at the bottom of the screen.

A search bar at the top of the Start menu lets you quickly search for apps or documents. A customizable pinned apps area is located under the search bar. There is no limit to the number of apps you can pin, but a maximum of 18 are displayed. The All apps list shows all installed apps, pinned or not pinned.

To pin an app, right-click the app and select Pin to Start. To unpin an app, right-click the app and select Unpin from Start. Click and drag to rearrange apps, or right-click an app and select Move to top to pin an app as the first item in the list.

Below the pinned apps is a new Recommended area that displays your most recently opened Office documents and installed apps. This area makes it easy to jump back into a document you were recently working on or pin a newly installed app to the top of the Start menu. The new Recommended area replaces the Windows Timeline feature. The Recommended area can display up to six items. A More button that will take you to a list of additional recent items.

The bottom of the Start menu shows your profile picture, name, and power controls. You can customize this bottom area with several File Explorer folder shortcuts, such as downloads, pictures, videos, and so on.

To configure the Start menu, select Settings, select Personalization, and then select Start menu.

To configure the taskbar, select Settings, select Personalization, and then select Taskbar.

To move the taskbar to the left-side of the bottom of the screen, select Taskbar behaviors, select Taskbar alignment, and then select Left.

To add additional shortcuts to the taskbar, use Taskbar corner overflow.

Taskbar corner icons

Windows 11 offers new taskbar corner icons on the right side of the taskbar.

To show or hide icons, go to the Settings menu, select Personalization, and then toggle the available icons.

The available icons include the following:

  • Pen menu (Ink workspace)

    You can pin up to four apps to the Ink Workspace toolbar.

    Select the pen icon pen icon to open the pen menu.

    To add more apps to the pen menu, select Settings, and then select Edit pen menu.

    To configure pen and Windows Ink settings, go to the Settings menu, select Bluetooth & Devices, and then select Pen & Windows Ink.

  • Touch keyboard

    Select the keyboard icon to open the touch keyboard. There are 13 new themes for the touch keyboard. A theme engine allows you to create a fully customized theme, including background images. You can also resize the touch keyboard.

  • Virtual touchpad

    On-screen touch gestures, similar to touchpad gestures, let you switch among apps and desktops.

    Three-finger gestures include:

    • Swipe left/right: Switch to the last used app window.

    • Swipe down: Go back to the desktop. Follow with a swipe up to restore the app window.

    • Swipe up: Open Task View to browse all app windows and desktops.

    Four-finger gestures include:

    • Swipe left/right: Switch to the previous/next desktop.

    • Swipe down: Go back to the desktop. Follow with a swipe up to restore the app window.

    • Swipe up: Open Task View to browse all app windows and desktops.

Notifications and Quick Settings

Notifications are located above the calendar. The Quick Settings menu houses all Action Center Quick Actions.

To access notifications and the calendar, click the date and time in the taskbar. You can act on, clear, and manage notifications. You cannot customize notifications.

To customize the Action Center Quick Actions, click the Edit Quick Settings icon pen icon. You can assign up to 12 actions in the Quick Actions menu.


Widgets are a feed that displays personalized content, such as news, weather, or notifications.

You can access the Widget panel either using the dedicated Widget icon on the taskbar, swiping left from the edge of the display, or pressing the Windows key + w. The panel opens on the left side of the screen and cannot be rearranged or resized. Along the top of the panel is the current time and a menu for customizing the topics and interests that display inside the panel.

To show or hide widgets, go to the Settings menu, select Personalization, and then toggle the Widgets option.

To customize your widgets, click Add Widgets in the widgets panel.

Multi-monitor controls

When you connect second monitor, by default, Windows 11 mirrors the main display. You can change this setting to use the second monitor for different purposes.

Windows 11 offers four options when you connect multiple monitors to a computer. Press Windows key + p to display monitor settings.

  • PC screen: View the screen image on the computer only.

  • Duplicate: View the screen image simultaneously on both the computer and the external device.

  • Extend: View the screen image extended across both the computer and the external device.

  • Second screen only: View the screen image on the external device only.

To display the taskbar on multiple monitors, go to the Settings menu, select Personalization, select Taskbar, and then select Show my taskbar on all displays.

To use a second monitor, press the Windows key + p.

To change the resolution setting for a second monitor, go to the Settings menu, select System, select Display, and then update the setting under Display resolution.

Task View and virtual desktops

Windows 11 virtual desktops are separate desktops that can be created by a user for organizing different types of applications.

To create a new virtual desktop, hover the cursor over the Task View icon Task View icon in the taskbar, and then select New Desktop. The currently active desktop is listed as Desktop 1. Hover the cursor over the Task View icon to display all active virtual desktops. Press the Windows key + ctrl + right arrow to switch to the virtual desktop to the right. Press the Windows key + ctrl + left arrow to switch to the virtual desktop to the left.

Alternately, select the Task View icon or press the Windows key + tab to display all active windows at the top and the virtual desktops at the bottom of the list.

To rename a virtual desktop, right-click the thumbnail in the Task View menu, and then select Rename.

To change the background for a virtual desktop, right-click the thumbnail in the Task View menu, and then select Choose background.

Display settings

Windows 11 offers automatic High Dynamic Range (HDR) and Dynamic Refresh Rate (DRR) display settings.

Windows 11 supports automatic HDR. In Settings, turn on Auto HDR to be sure that supported games are automatically upscaled and the games that do not support higher resolution use SDR. Turn on Use HDR to be sure that the HDR is on when you launch a game.

Windows 11 supports Dynamic Refresh Rate (DRR), which allows your computer to automatically boost the refresh rate when you are inking or scrolling for a smoother experience and lower the refresh rate when you do not need it so that your computer can save power.

Dynamic Refresh Rate (DRR) availability might vary. It is being offered on select laptops with displays that support Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) and a refresh rate of at least 120 Hz. DRR also requires a WDDM 3.0 graphics driver, which is available through Windows Update.

Under Settings > System > Display > Advanced display, you can choose a refresh rate.


The new snapping experience allows you to run apps side-by-side on your primary or secondary monitor. You can run up to four apps on each monitor.

Windows is capable is automatically sizing the windows when you drag the windows to different areas of the screen.

In Windows 11, you can hover the cursor over the maximize icon of an app window to access Snap.

Snap offers six layouts (depending on the screen resolution).

Microsoft has also improved the memory of snapped apps. If you have a snapped layout in horizontal mode and you rotate your display, Windows rotates those app windows and keep them in their snapped positions. Windows also remembers snapped window positions when you dock and undock from external monitors.


The search feature is included in Windows 11, but there is no longer a search bar on the taskbar.

Click Start, begin typing, and Windows automatically switches you to the improved search user interface.

Microsoft Store

The new Microsoft Store helps you discover and install apps, games, movies, and special offers.

With the new pop-up store, you can install apps from the browser. When you click a Microsoft Store download badge on a web page, the Microsoft Store opens a window to manage the installation without closing your web page.

Within the redesigned app store, you have access to a catalog of Android apps, which are powered by Amazon's Appstore. Amazon has already confirmed that its Appstore will support Android App Bundles (AAB), the next-generation Android app standard format that will eventually replace the current APK format.

To help users run their favorite Android apps on Windows 11, Microsoft uses Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA), which is similar to Linux Subsystem for Linux (WSL).

Windows 11 also includes a new virtual machine technology to address compatibility issues with Android Open Source Project (AOSP), which is an open-source software stack.

With Android Open Source Project (AOSP), Windows 11 does not require Google Play Services support and most apps work on the desktop operating system.

You are also allowed to sideload apps on Windows 11. Sideloading is the process of installing Android apps on your device that have not gone through the Microsoft Store or Amazon Appstore certification. You can download APKs from sites like APKMirror and double-click the file to install the app on a Windows device.

Cortana and voice activation

Cortana is included, but is not activated by default.

To activate Cortana, search for and open Cortana. Alternatively, you can select Start > All Apps > Cortana.

After you sign in, Cortana is displayed in a small pop-up window above the center of the Windows taskbar. It might also open other apps, like the Microsoft Edge web browser or Microsoft Office apps, if necessary.

However, Cortana no longer integrates with the Windows search experience, even after you sign in to the Cortana app. Cortana will not respond to anything you type into Windows Search. You instead must launch the Cortana app and type your query into the app chat window.

Under Privacy and settings, you can adjust your voice activation settings for Cortana.

The new voice typing launcher is a quick and easy way for you to start voice typing in a selected text field. The launcher is off by default, but you can turn it on by pressing the Windows key + h, and then placing the voice-typing window anywhere you would like on your screen.

Teams Chat

With Windows 11, Chat from Microsoft Teams is integrated in the taskbar.

You can connect through text, chat, voice, or video with all of your personal contacts, anywhere, across Windows, Android, or iOS. If the person you are connecting to on the other end hasn’t downloaded the Teams app, you can still connect with them via two-way SMS.

Teams Chat is not a full-fledged Microsoft Teams client. It only allows you to manage chat and video calls (known as "Meet"). To launch Teams Chat within Windows 11, click the chat icon chat icon on the taskbar, or press the Windows key + c.

Teams 2.0 includes the following features:

  • New Chat taskbar icon

  • Windows key + c shortcut to launch Chat

  • Notifications with inline replies

  • Add contacts via an email address or phone number

  • Send email or SMS to contacts without Teams from Teams

  • SMS Support allows mobile/cell users to actually join and interact with chat on SMS (US, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, India, and Great Britain only)

  • Sync previous Skype consumer or personal contacts into Teams (optional)

  • Taskbar icon supports both light and dark Windows System modes/themes

File Explorer

There are several changes to File Explorer in Windows 11, including a new toolbar and new icons for files and apps.

The toolbar has been simplified. Simple icons help you to perform basic tasks, such as create new folders, copy, paste, rename, delete, sort icons, or change the view.

Open the More menu More icon for additional items, such as mapping a network drive, selecting all items in the window, and opening options.

In Windows 11, all File Explorer windows have rounded corners.

System settings

The System settings menu includes changes to the sound, power & battery, storage, and clipboard options.

You can now select one of the following options to determine how preinstalled apps run in the background: Always, Power optimized, Never.

Windows 11 offers nearly 100 new sounds.

To add or pair new output or input devices, such as Bluetooth audio devices, select Settings > System > Sound, and then select Add device.

To configure settings for or rename an audio device, select the device in Settings > System > Sound.

To update drivers for an audio device, from sound settings, select Check for driver updates.

The Volume mixer window is now available in sound settings.

Windows 11 lets you control sound on an app-by-app basis.

To adjust battery performance, select Settings > System > Power & battery, and then select one of the following options under Power mode: Best power efficiency, Balanced, Best performance.

To back up your files to an external storage device or perform a full backup, go to System > Storage > Advanced storage settings > Back-up options. Back up options are also located in Control Panel.

The Clipboard History function remembers up to 25 images, text, scripts, links, documents, and videos that are less than 4 MB. After you reach the limit, the very last copied item is removed from the clipboard whenever you copy a new item. Unless an item is pinned to the Clipboard, the Clipboard history list resets every time you restart the computer.

The Clipboard History function is disabled by default.

Network and internet

Wi-Fi 6E is available in Windows 11. Windows 11 also lets you enable or disable individual Wi-Fi or Ethernet adapters with the click of a button and access an overview of the current status of each adapter.

Wi-Fi 6E enables faster speeds, greater capacity, reduced latency, and better security.


Wi-Fi 6E requires a computer that is equipped with a Wi-Fi 6E device and a capable driver.


The Windows 11 Apps settings allow you to select or change which apps open which types of files.

To open Windows Settings, press the Windows key + i, or right-click the Start button and select Settings.

To change a default app, search by file type. Select Settings > Apps > Default Apps, select Set a default for a file type or link type, and then type the name of the file extension to associate with an app. For example, type txt for text files or jpg for jpeg images.

If you type an extension that is not registered, select Choose a Default to set the default app for that extension.


The version of Windows 11 determines installation requirements. Windows 11 Home requires an internet connection and a Microsoft account for installation. Windows 11 Home lets you use a local account after installation. You can install other editions of Windows 11 without an internet connection or a Microsoft account.

You can sign into Windows using Windows Hello, a security key, or a password.

Windows Hello lets you sign in using your face, fingerprint, or a PIN. You can use Windows Hello to sign in to your device on the lock screen and sign in to your account on the web.

A security key is a physical device, such as a USB key, smart phone, or access card, that you can use instead of your user name and password to sign in. Security keys are used in addition to a fingerprint or PIN.


The Windows 11 Settings app includes a dedicated Gaming tab, from where you can enable Game Mode. The tab also includes a shortcut to configure settings for the GPU for each app on the device.

To boost gaming performance, if your computer has a dedicated graphics card, you can set it to use the card while playing games.

To configure your computer for gaming:

  1. Select Settings > Gaming > Game Mode > Graphics.

  2. Search for the game that you want to configure.

  3. Select Options, and then select High Performance.


Windows 11 offers assistive technologies like Narrator, Magnifier, closed captions, Windows Speech Recognition, screen readers, magnification programs, CART services, speech commands, and other experiences.

Windows Update

Windows Update in Windows 11 provides the estimated time an update might take. This information is available on the Windows Update page and on the system tray when an update is pending.


You must activate Windows to personalize it and use all features.