Windows 11 has been building towards its first feature update for a while now, but you don’t have to wait until the final version arrives.
Microsoft has made the 22H2 update available within the Release Preview channels of the Windows Insider Program, meaning anyone with a Windows 11 device can install it right now. It’s still an early build, but Release Preview is much more stable than Beta or Dev channels. It’s a risk worth taking, even if there’s no guarantee you’ll avoid bugs or other issues.
That’s because the 22H2 update adds lots of new features to the Windows 11 experience. These aren’t minor tweaks you’ll never use – there are some serious quality-of-life improvements.
Without further ado, here’s how to try five of the biggest new features in the 22H2 update.
Folders within the Start menu is a simple addition, but it could have a big impact. It means ‘Pinned’ apps can now be sorted by category, leaving space for more apps to be displayed on the screen.
To use it, click and hold the first app you’d like in the group and drag it on top of another one. Release, and your group will be created.
Give the group a name of your choosing, otherwise it’ll simply be called ‘Folder’.
Live Captions are a game-changer for accessibility, but they can be useful for anyone. When using any app, it creates automatic captions of the audio that’s playing. Here’s how to get started:
- In the search bar next to the Start menu, type ‘live captions’ and click the relevant app to open it
- You’ll be presented with a screen like below. Click ‘Download’ to begin setting it up
- This will take a while to complete. Once it’s done, you’ll see a message saying ‘Ready to caption’
- Navigate to any video or audio you’d like to be captioned and start playing it. Captions will be generated automatically as you go
To exit Live Captions at any time, just click the X in the top-right corner. You can also change its position and other options via the Settings cog next to it. The captions it records aren’t perfect, but you’ll at least get the gist of what is being said.
Do Not Disturb
An extension of Windows 11’s Focus tools, Do Not Disturb offers an easy way to silence all but the most important notifications.
At its simplest, just click the date and time in the bottom-right of the screen and click the icon in the top-right of the notification pane. This will turn on Do Not Disturb – just click the same icon to turn it off.
This can also be customised via Settings > System > Notifications. Here, you can set a schedule for Do Not Disturb to turn on automatically, as well as choose ‘priority notifications’ which are still delivered.
If you can’t decide what to choose as your desktop background, Windows Spotlight is the perfect solution. It automatically cycles between images in Microsoft’s extensive gallery, ensuring you never get bored of the same thing when you log in.
To turn it on, head to Settings > Personalisation > Background. In the drop-down next to ‘Personalise your background’, choose ‘Windows Spotlight’.
Task Manager redesign
The Task Manager has been redesigned to be more in keeping with the rest of Windows 11, and it’s a big step forward. The app is now broken down into seven different sections, while a new ‘Efficiency mode’ claims to help improve battery life.
To start using it, just open Task Manager in the same way you would any other app. Unless it’s already on your desktop or in the taskbar, the easiest way is clicking the search bar next to the Start menu, typing ‘task’ and clicking the first option.
File Explorer tabs
Multitasking using File Explorer has felt clunky for a while, with a new window needed if you want to do more than one thing at the same time. Tabs solves that problem, delivering a browser-like experience that’s easy to navigate.
Despite technically not being available in this early build, there’s still a potential way to try out File Explorer tabs if you have the 22H2 update installed. However, it doesn’t seem to work on all devices.
- Head to the ViveTool download page on GitHub
- Click ‘ViVeTool-v0.2.1.zip’ and it will automatically download
- Find the zipped file within File Explorer, then right-click and choose ‘Extract All…’
- Choose where the file will be located (the default is usually fine) and click ‘Extract’
- The unzipped file will open automatically. Click the down arrow next to the file path, then copy the highlighted text
- Click the search bar next to the Start menu, type ‘command’ and click ‘Run as administrator’
- Click ‘Yes’ to allow the app to make changes
- In the window that appears, type ‘cd’ followed by a space, then paste the file path you previously copied
- Hit enter, then paste the following commands one by one:
vivetool addconfig 39145991 2
vivetool addconfig 37634385 2
vivetool addconfig 36354489 2
- Restart your device to apply changes. ]
If that doesn’t work and you don’t want to wait, there’s some suggestion that switching to the Dev Channel makes it more likely this method is successful. However, the build you download will be much less stable and prone to bugs.
Still to come: Drag-and-drop on the taskbar
Drag-and-drop was removed with the introduction of Windows 11, but Microsoft has listened to user feedback and brought it back.
It’ll work in the same way as on Windows 10, although it isn’t included with the current early build.
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