Windows 11 is coming: Everything to know about your PC’s next major update, including how to get the beta

Microsoft Windows 11 laptop on red background 2x1
Windows 11 features new apps, new tools, and a new look.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Windows 11 is the newest version of the Windows operating system, and it’s likely launching in October.
  • You can download the “Insider” beta version of Windows 11 right now and give feedback directly to the developers.
  • From a new Start menu to enhanced graphics, here’s everything you need to know before Windows 11 drops.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

In June 2021, Microsoft officially announced the upcoming release of Windows 11, the latest major edition of their Windows operating system.

New editions of Windows are a big event. It’s been six years since the release of Windows 10, and the computer world has changed a lot since then.

But what will Windows 11 mean for you? What’s the difference between it and the operating system you’ve got now? And is your computer ready for the update?

Let’s take a deep dive into Windows 11.

Windows 11: What to expect

As a successor to Windows 10, Windows 11 marks the first major update to the Windows platform since 2015.

Each version of Windows comes with its own changes and new features. That said, the majority of Windows 11’s new features are aesthetic. Windows 11 looks more different than any Windows version before it, which might frustrate some longtime users.

Here are five big features coming to Windows 11:

  • New Start menu and taskbar design: The Start menu is moving to the bottom-center of the screen instead of the bottom-left corner. You also can’t move the taskbar to the sides or top of the screen anymore.
The Windows 11 Start menu.
Your taskbar icons are huddled in the center of the screen now.

  • Improved virtual desktop support: Virtual desktops let you have more than one desktop on the same screen. Windows 11 will let you rename these desktops, give them custom backgrounds, and switch between them more quickly.
  • Revamped Microsoft Store with Android support: has been completely redesigned, and now includes Android apps. This means that if you have a favorite app on your Android phone – TikTok, for example – you’ll be able to load it on your PC.
The Windows 11 app store, advertising Android apps.
A variety of Android apps are ready to be downloaded and open in Windows 11.

  • “Snap Layout” multitasking tools: A new menu lets you quickly and more freely arrange all your apps on the screen at once. You can let each app take a quarter of the screen, let one app take half, and more.
A Windows 11 menu with a pop-up that lets you arrange it in different places on the screen.
You’ll have a few different options for how to arrange most apps.

  • Better visuals: Under the hood, automatic HDR tech gives games and apps more vibrant graphics, and DirectStorage shortens load times.

How to install the Windows 11 beta

In the lead up to Windows 11’s public release, Microsoft is letting users download the Windows 11 Insider Build. This is a work-in-progress version of the OS that includes most of the final version’s main features.

The Windows 11 beta is being distributed through the Windows Insider Program. To sign up, head to this page and click the Register option. You’ll need to log in with your existing Microsoft account.

Once you’ve signed up, head to this page and click Flight now. Follow the instructions you’re given, and you’ll be running Windows 11 in no time.

A page inviting Windows users to "flight" their computer, installing beta software.
“Flighting” is the term Microsoft uses to describe installing beta versions of their software.

As you use the Windows 11 beta, you might be asked to share feedback with Microsoft. There’s no requirement to do this, but it’s a great place to suggest new features.

Windows 11 public release date

There’s no official public release date for Windows 11. But all signs are pointing to October 2021.

This October, retailers will likely start selling computers with Windows 11 installed. Current Windows 10 users will be able to upgrade for free in early 2022.

At some point after that, Microsoft will start selling Windows 11 by itself, probably for about $100 to $200. But Microsoft hasn’t given any information about that yet.

If you’re impatient, you can download the “Insider” build of Windows 11 right now. This is a beta version that doesn’t have all the features you’ll see in the final version. For more information on how to get this, check out our section above.

Windows 11 system requirements

If you’ve bought or built your computer in the last five years, there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to update to Windows 11.

Here are the exact specs you’ll need:

Computer Component What you need for Windows 11
Processor (CPU) A compatible 64-bit processor with two or more cores, and a speed of at least 1Ghz; or a System on a Chip (SoC)
Memory (RAM) At least 4GB
Storage space At least 64GB – more will be needed for future updates
Graphics Compatible with DirectX 12 or later, with a WDDM 2.0 driver
Motherboard UEFI, Secure Boot compatible
Other requirements TPM 2.0 module, HD monitor larger than 9” diagonally

You can find your computer’s individual stats in a few different ways. If you bought a prebuilt PC, check out the manual or contact the manufacturer. If you built your PC or don’t know which model you bought, you’ll need to go through the Device Manager and look up your computer’s components.

The TPM 2.0 module will be a sticking point for some users. The Trusted Platform Module is a device that’s meant to keep your data secure and make sure your version of Windows is “authentic.” Microsoft is including it to crack down on users running pirated versions of Windows, and encourage them to use more official Microsoft apps.

To check if you have a TPM 2.0, log into an Administrator account, press the Windows key + R, and search for tpm.msc. In the window that appears, if you see The TPM is ready for use, you’ve got a TPM module. If it also says Specification Version: 2.0, you’ve got a working TPM 2.0 module.

A computer menu explaining what type of TPM this computer has. The phrases "The TPM is ready for use" and "Specification Version: 2.0" are highlighted.
Check these two sections to see if your computer has a TPM.20 module.

If it tells you that you don’t have a TPM module installed, also be sure to check your computer’s BIOS. Your TPM might just be disabled.

Alternatively, you can use an app that will scan your PC and tell you if it can upgrade. Microsoft had released their own tool for this, but after users reported inaccurate results, they took it down. In the meantime, check out the open-source “WhyNotWin11” app – just scroll down to Download and click Download latest stable release.

What if my computer can’t run Windows 11?

If you don’t have the right setup for Windows 11, don’t panic. Windows 10 is still a good operating system – there’s a reason it’s been the industry standard for six years.

Microsoft has promised to keep supporting Windows 10 users with updates and tech support until at least October 14, 2025. So don’t feel pressured to buy a new rig just for Windows 11.

10 ways to take a screenshot on any Windows 10 deviceHow to set up dual monitors on your Windows PC or Mac computerHow to pin applications and files to your Windows taskbar to make them easily accessibleAlt + F4: The Windows keyboard shortcut for closing applications, explained

Read the original article on Business Insider

Windows 11 is coming: Here’s everything you need to know about your PC’s next major update

Microsoft Windows 11 laptop on red background 2x1
Windows 11 features new apps, new tools, and a new look.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Windows 11 is the newest version of the Windows operating system, and it’s likely launching in October.
  • Most users will be able to upgrade to Windows 11 for free, but it won’t work on all computers.
  • From a new Start menu to enhanced graphics, here’s everything you need to know before Windows 11 drops.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

In June 2021, Microsoft officially announced the upcoming release of Windows 11, the latest major edition of their Windows operating system.

New editions of Windows are a big event. It’s been six years since the release of Windows 10, and the computer world has changed a lot since then.

But what will Windows 11 mean for you? What’s the difference between it and the operating system you’ve got now? And is your computer ready for the update?

Let’s take a deep dive into Windows 11.

Windows 11: What to expect

As a successor to Windows 10, Windows 11 marks the first major update to the Windows platform since 2015.

Each version of Windows comes with its own changes and new features. That said, the majority of Windows 11’s new features are aesthetic. Windows 11 looks more different than any Windows version before it, which might frustrate some longtime users.

Here are five big features coming to Windows 11:

  • New Start menu and taskbar design: The Start menu is moving to the bottom-center of the screen instead of the bottom-left corner. You also can’t move the taskbar to the sides or top of the screen anymore.
The Windows 11 Start menu.
Your taskbar icons are huddled in the center of the screen now.

  • Improved virtual desktop support: Virtual desktops let you have more than one desktop on the same screen. Windows 11 will let you rename these desktops, give them custom backgrounds, and switch between them more quickly.
  • Revamped Microsoft Store with Android support: has been completely redesigned, and now includes Android apps. This means that if you have a favorite app on your Android phone – TikTok, for example – you’ll be able to load it on your PC.
The Windows 11 app store, advertising Android apps.
A variety of Android apps are ready to be downloaded and open in Windows 11.

  • “Snap Layout” multitasking tools: A new menu lets you quickly and more freely arrange all your apps on the screen at once. You can let each app take a quarter of the screen, let one app take half, and more.
A Windows 11 menu with a pop-up that lets you arrange it in different places on the screen.
You’ll have a few different options for how to arrange most apps.

  • Better visuals: Under the hood, automatic HDR tech gives games and apps more vibrant graphics, and DirectStorage shortens load times.

Windows 11 release date

There’s no official release date for Windows 11. But all signs are pointing to October 2021.

This October, retailers will start selling computers with Windows 11 installed. Current Windows 10 users will be able to upgrade for free in early 2022.

At some point after that, Microsoft will start selling Windows 11 by itself, likely for about $100 to $200. But Microsoft hasn’t given any information about that yet.

If you’re impatient, you can download the “Insider” build of Windows 11 right now. This is a beta version that doesn’t have all the features you’ll see in the final version. For more information on how to get this, check out our section below.

Windows 11 system requirements

If you’ve bought or built your computer in the last five years, there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to update to Windows 11.

Here are the exact specs you’ll need:

Computer Component What you need for Windows 11
Processor (CPU) A compatible 64-bit processor with two or more cores, and a speed of at least 1Ghz; or a System on a Chip (SoC)
Memory (RAM) At least 4GB
Storage space At least 64GB – more will be needed for future updates
Graphics Compatible with DirectX 12 or later, with a WDDM 2.0 driver
Motherboard UEFI, Secure Boot compatible
Other requirements TPM 2.0 module, HD monitor larger than 9” diagonally

You can find your computer’s individual stats in a few different ways. If you bought a prebuilt PC, check out the manual or contact the manufacturer. If you built your PC or don’t know which model you bought, you’ll need to go through the Device Manager and look up your computer’s components.

The TPM 2.0 module will be a sticking point for some users. The Trusted Platform Module is a device that’s meant to keep your data secure and make sure your version of Windows is “authentic.” Microsoft is including it to crack down on users running pirated versions of Windows, and encourage them to use more official Microsoft apps.

To check if you have a TPM 2.0, log into an Administrator account, press the Windows key + R, and search for tpm.msc. In the window that appears, if you see The TPM is ready for use, you’ve got a TPM module. If it also says Specification Version: 2.0, you’ve got a working TPM 2.0 module.

A computer menu explaining what type of TPM this computer has. The phrases "The TPM is ready for use" and "Specification Version: 2.0" are highlighted.
Check these two sections to see if your computer has a TPM.20 module.

If it tells you that you don’t have a TPM module installed, also be sure to check your computer’s BIOS. Your TPM might just be disabled.

Alternatively, you can use an app that will scan your PC and tell you if it can upgrade. Microsoft had released their own tool for this, but after users reported inaccurate results, they took it down. In the meantime, check out the open-source “WhyNotWin11” app – just scroll down to Download and click Download latest stable release.

What if my computer can’t run Windows 11?

If you don’t have the right setup for Windows 11, don’t panic. Windows 10 is still a good operating system – there’s a reason it’s been the industry standard for six years.

Microsoft has promised to keep supporting Windows 10 users with updates and tech support until at least October 14, 2025. So don’t feel pressured to buy a new rig just for Windows 11.

How to install the Windows 11 beta

In the lead up to Windows 11’s public release, Microsoft is letting users download the Windows 11 Insider Build. This is a work-in-progress version of the OS that includes most of the final version’s main features.

The Windows 11 beta is being distributed through the Windows Insider Program. To sign up, head to this page and click the Register option. You’ll need to log in with your existing Microsoft account.

Once you’ve signed up, head to this page and click Flight now. Follow the instructions you’re given, and you’ll be running Windows 11 in no time.

A page inviting Windows users to "flight" their computer, installing beta software.
“Flighting” is the term Microsoft uses to describe installing beta versions of their software.

As you use the Windows 11 beta, you might be asked to share feedback with Microsoft. There’s no requirement to do this, but it’s a great place to suggest new features.

10 ways to take a screenshot on any Windows 10 deviceHow to set up dual monitors on your Windows PC or Mac computerHow to pin applications and files to your Windows taskbar to make them easily accessibleAlt + F4: The Windows keyboard shortcut for closing applications, explained

Read the original article on Business Insider

How to start Windows 10 in Safe Mode and then exit later

woman with headphones using PC desktop computer
There are several ways to enable Safe Mode in Windows 10.

  • Safe Mode is a Windows 10 feature that starts your computer with most of its nonessential features disabled.
  • You should boot in Safe Mode when you’re troubleshooting an issue, or if Windows 10 won’t start normally.
  • To exit Safe Mode, go into the “Boot options” menu, or just restart your computer.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Nearly every version of Windows has a Safe Mode feature. This lets you start your computer with just the basic files and drivers it needs to run – most extra features will be disabled, and programs will run more slowly. By default, you won’t even have internet access.

But Safe Mode isn’t meant to be used every day. You’ll use Safe Mode when your computer isn’t working correctly, or when it won’t start up at all. By only loading the essentials, it’ll help you narrow down what’s causing the problem: The system itself, or something else you installed.

Here’s how to boot in Safe Mode, and exit it when you’re done.

How to boot in Safe Mode in Windows 10

There are many ways to enter Safe Mode, but here are the three easiest.

Using the Power icon

If you’re signed in:

1. Click the Windows icon in the bottom-left corner.

2. Holding down the Shift key, click the Power icon and then Restart.

A Windows 10 desktop with the Start menu opened and the "Restart" option highlighted.
Hold down the Shift button as you click “Restart.”

3. Your computer will restart, and then open onto a blue screen titled Choose an option. Select Troubleshoot, and then Advanced options.

safe 3
Choose “Troubleshoot” on the Choose an option screen.

4. Click Startup Settings, and then Restart. Your computer will turn off and on again.

safe 4
Choose “Startup Settings” and then click Restart to get to the final selection menu for Safe Mode.

5. Once the screen comes back, you’ll be given a few options. Press 4 to start your computer in Safe Mode, or 5 to start Safe Mode with internet access.

A PC screen asking how the user would like to start the computer. Two "Enable Safe Mode" options are highlighted.
Enable Safe Mode with or without internet access.

If you’re not signed in, do the same thing, but click the Power icon on the sign-in page.

Using the Settings app

1. Open the Settings app by pressing the Windows key + I.

2. Click Update & Security, and then Recovery.

3. On this page, underneath Advanced startup, click Restart now.

safe 2
Click “Restart now” to get to Safe Mode.

4. Your computer will restart onto the Choose an option screen. Here, click Troubleshoot, and then Advanced options.

5. Select Startup Settings and then Restart.

6. When your computer boots back up, you’ll be given some startup options. Here, press 4 to start your computer in Safe Mode, or 5 to start Safe Mode with internet access.

Holding down the power button

This is the method to use if you can’t boot into Windows normally.

1. Press your PC’s power button to turn it on.

2. As soon as you see something appear on the screen – probably the manufacturer’s logo – hold down the power button until the PC turns off again.

3. Do this two more times, and then turn on your PC again. As it’s starting, the words Preparing Automatic Repair will appear at the bottom of the screen. Let your PC go through this process – it should eventually boot onto the Choose an option screen.

A black screen with a Windows logo and the words "Preparing Automatic Repair."
Force-restarting your computer three times will put you into automatic repair mode.

4. On this screen, select Troubleshoot, then Advanced options, and then Startup Settings. When prompted, click Restart.

5. When the computer turns back on, press 4 to start your computer in Safe Mode, or 5 to start Safe Mode with internet access.

How to exit Safe Mode

There are two ways to exit Safe Mode.

The first – and easiest – is to just restart your computer. You can do this by holding down the power button, or by going through the Start menu.

If you’ve restarted your computer but it’s still in Safe Mode, you should:

1. Press the Windows key + R to open the Run menu.

2. In the text box, type msconfig and press Enter.

Screenshot_01
Run should still be a usable tool in Safe Mode.

3. At the top of the System Configuration menu, click Boot.

4. Underneath Boot options, make sure that Safe boot is unchecked. Once it is, click OK and restart your computer again.

Screenshot_02
The menu you’re looking for should look like this. The button you’re looking to uncheck is in the bottom left.

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Read the original article on Business Insider

How to update or fix your drivers in Windows 10

dell xps 13 thumb
You should update your drivers regularly.

  • To update drivers in Windows 10, open the Device Manager and right-click the device you need to update.
  • The most important drivers on your computer will likely be updated automatically along with other Windows updates.
  • Drivers are essential software that keep the various devices and components in your computer working properly.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Drivers are software that various devices on your Windows computer, such as the sound and graphics cards, rely on to work properly. Without these drivers, most of your computer would break down.

And like other pieces of software, they occasionally need to be updated. However, it’s not always easy to figure out how to update them.

Many drivers on your computer are updated automatically whenever Windows updates. But if you need to manually install or update a driver, you can do that using the Device Manager.

How to update a driver in Windows 10

1. Right-click the Windows icon in the bottom-left corner of the screen and select Device Manager from the list that appears.

2. Use the menu to locate the device you want to update. To update an audio device, for example, click the > arrow beside Audio inputs and outputs and locate the device in that list.

3. Right-click the device you need to update and in the pop-up, choose Update driver.

How to update drivers in Windows 10 1
You can update drivers using the Windows Device Manager.

4. You’ll be asked whether you want Windows to search the internet and your computer for a new driver to install automatically, or if you have a file on your computer that you specifically want to pick and use. In nearly all cases, you’ll want to select the automatic option.

How to update drivers in Windows 10 11
You’ll almost always want to pick the “Automatic” option.

5. Windows will try to find an updated driver and install it. If it can’t find any, it’ll tell you that your driver is up-to-date.

If Windows tells you that you have a fully updated driver, but you’re sure you don’t, find out who the manufacturer of that specific computer part is – you can usually just Google its name – and look at their website. They might have drivers you can download and install manually. This is common for graphics cards made by Nvidia and AMD.

How to reinstall a driver in Windows 10

If a device is behaving erratically, you might need to remove and reinstall the driver. The process is similar to updating the driver.

1. Open the Device Manager again by right-clicking the Windows icon and selecting Device Manager.

2. Use the menu to locate the device you want to reinstall. To update an audio device, for example, click the > arrow beside Audio inputs and outputs and locate the device in that list.

3. Right-click the device you need to reinstall and in the menu, choose Uninstall device. Don’t worry, your computer will be fine.

How to update drivers in Windows 10 2
To reinstall a driver, first uninstall the existing driver and then restart your computer.

4. Restart your PC. When the computer restarts, Windows will find the device and reinstall the latest driver.

What to do if your drivers aren’t updating automatically

If Windows isn’t automatically updating a driver that you believe it should, Windows updates might be temporarily paused. You can check this and unpause it if needed.

1. In the Start button search box, type Windows update and click Windows Update settings when it appears in the search results.

2. Click Advanced options.

3. In the Pause updates section, check the date under Pause until.

How to update drivers in Windows 10 3
If Windows updates are paused, device drivers won’t install automatically.

4. If you see a date in the future, click the drop-down menu and choose the soonest date (which should be tomorrow) to unpause updates.

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The 30 most useful Command Prompt commands for editing files and managing your PC

typing on computer with spreadsheets
If you’re going to use the Command Prompt, you need to know its commands.

  • Command Prompt commands let you manage your computer just by typing.
  • Some Command Prompt commands let you move files, while others let you change your internet settings.
  • Here are some of the most useful Command Prompt commands, and what they do.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

The Command Prompt isn’t pretty, but it’s one of the most powerful apps on your PC. With it, you can move or delete files, change your Wi-Fi settings, lock your hard drive, and even shut down the computer.

But to use Command Prompt, you’ll need to know the commands for it. Here are some of the most useful commands, along with explanations of what they’ll do.

The essential Command Prompt commands

We’ll sort these commands into a few different groups, based on what they’re used for.

hands typing on laptop keyboard PC
Basic commands include closing apps and moving files.

Managing your apps

Command What it does
At Lets you schedule apps or other commands to run at a specific date and time
Msiexec Starts Windows Installer, an app that helps you properly install software
Taskkill Ends a program or process that you specify
Tasklist Shows you every app, service, and process currently running on your computer

Editing files

Command What it does
Assoc Lets you change which programs are used to open different types of files
Comp Compares two or more files, or sets of files
Del Deletes a specified file
Makecab Creates a CAB file, which can compress and store data just like a ZIP file
Move Lets you move files from one folder to another
Print Sends a specified text file to a specified printer
Recover Scans a specified disk and retrieves all the readable data on it – great for recovering files from corrupted hard drives
Robocopy Lets you copy files, folders, and more from one location to another
Tree Shows you the folder structure for a specified drive or location

businesswoman using desktop PC computer at office
Some Command Prompt commands let you troubleshoot computer or internet issues.

Managing Windows

Command What it does
Chdir Tells you the name of the directory you’re currently working from, and lets you change it
Chkdsk Scans your hard drive for errors and tries to fix them
Cmdkey Lets you view, create, or delete stored usernames and passwords
Defrag Defragments the hard drive, reorganizing the files to make data retrieval faster and more efficient
Driverquery Gives you a list of all the drivers installed on your computer
Format Formats a specified drive, erasing all the data on it
Ipconfig Shows details about your internet connections, and lets you refresh your IP addresses
Net Lets you view and edit network settings
Reg Lets you manage the Windows Registry by adding keys, exporting data, and more
Sfc Scans, verifies, and replaces important Windows system files
Shutdown Lets you shut down or restart your computer
Ver Shows the current Windows version number
Vol Tells you the volume label and serial number of a specified hard drive

Miscellaneous

Command What it does
Clip Automatically copies the output of any command to the clipboard
Cls Resets the Command Prompt and clears all the text
Color Lets you change the Command Prompt’s text and background colors
Help Generates a list of example commands, just like this one

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How to zip and unzip files in Windows 10

laptops
It only takes a few clicks to zip or unzip files in Windows 10.

Zipping is one of the oldest and most commonly used methods for compressing files. It’s used to save space and share big files quickly.

In the past, you needed third-party programs like WinZip to unzip files in Windows. But Windows 10 lets you zip and unzip any file you want just by right-clicking.

How to zip files in Windows 10

1. Put all the files you want to zip in the same location, like the same folder.

2. Select all the files. An easy way to do this is to drag a selection box around them with the mouse pointer, or hold down Ctrl as you click each one.

3. Right-click one of the selected files.

4. In the drop-down menu, choose Send to and then click Compressed (zipped) folder.

A Windows 10 desktop, with the option to send files to a zipped folder highlighted.
The option to zip files can be found in the “Send to” menu.

5. A new zip file will appear in the same folder. You can identify a zip file visually because the icon has a zipper on it.

How to unzip files in Windows 10

There are two ways to unzip files, depending on whether you want to extract all the ZIP file’s contents, or just a specific file.

Unzipping the entire file with ‘Extract all’

1. Right-click the ZIP file. In the drop-down menu, click “Extract All…” The zip wizard will appear.

A Windows 10 desktop. A ZIP file has been right-clicked, and in the menu that opened, "Extract all" is highlighted.
Select the “Extract All” option.

2. If you want to unzip the files to a different folder, click “Browse…” and choose a location.

3. Click “Extract” and the files will be unzipped and copied to the folder you chose.

The Windows 10 Zip Wizard, with the Browse and Extract options higlighted.
Pick where you want the files to go, and then extract them.

Unzipping specific files with drag-and-drop

1. Double-click the ZIP file you want to unzip. It’ll open a folder, showing you the individual files inside.

2. Select all the files, or just the ones you want to use, and drag them out of the folder to another location on your computer. You can drag them into another folder, for example, or place them on the desktop.

Files being dragged out of a folder onto a desktop in Windows 10.
You can just drag the files you want out of the folder.

The files can now be used normally. You can delete the ZIP file, if there’s nothing left in there that you want.

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Read the original article on Business Insider

How to set up dual monitors on your Windows PC or Mac computer

A man using two computer monitors while surrounded by plants and cats.
Setting up dual monitors can boost your productivity and free space.

  • To set up dual monitors on your computer, you’ll need to connect all your monitors with HDMI or VGA cables.
  • Once you’ve connected the dual monitors to your computer, open your PC or Mac’s “Displays” menu.
  • You can set up your dual monitors to display the same image, or work separately.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

In an office, it’s common to see people using multiple monitors at the same computer. It’s a great way to expand your workspace and use lots of different apps at once.

Luckily, dual monitors aren’t just for professionals. You can set up dual monitors on your PC and Mac easily. You just need the monitors and cables to connect them.

How to set up dual monitors on a Windows 10 computer

1. Connect both monitors to the computer tower or laptop you’re using, and make sure they’re both turned on. Depending on the monitor and your computer, you’ll need a VGA, HDMI, or USB cable. In some cases, you might need a combination of different cables.

Your computer should recognize the new monitor right away. Both screens will go black and might flicker a bit.

Two pictures on top of each other. The top picture shows a Windows laptop next to a black screened monitor. The bottom image shows the same Windows laptop, but its screen has now been extended onto the monitor.
A Windows laptop before it’s been connected to the second monitor, and after.

2. Once the screen comes back, right-click on an empty part of your PC’s desktop and a drop-down menu will appear. Click on Display settings.

A Windows 10 desktop, with the "Display settings" option highlighted.
Open your PC’s “Display settings” menu.

3. Scroll down to the Multiple Displays option, open the drop-down menu, and choose how you want the dual monitors to work. Here are your options:

  • Extend these displays: You can set your screens up so that they display different things and your mouse cursor can move between them.
  • Duplicate these displays: This option will show the same image on both screens, which can be useful for PowerPoint presentations and lectures.
  • Show only on 1: Select this if you only want to use the primary monitor.
  • Show only on 2: Select this if you only want to use the secondary monitor.

4. Once you’ve picked an option, click Keep changes.

A Windows 10 Display Settings menu, with the various multiple monitor display styles highlighted.
Choose how you want your monitors to operate.

5. If you chose the Extend these displays option, scroll back up to the Rearrange your displays section. Your main monitor will be listed as “1,” and your new monitor will be listed as “2.” Click and drag them around to match their arrangement in real life, then click Apply.

A Windows 10 Display Settings menu, with the options for rearranging your screens highlighted.
You’ll need to click “Apply” to save your changes.

How to set up dual monitors on a Mac

1. Connect your second monitor to your MacBook, iMac, or Mac Mini using an HDMI cable. If your Mac device doesn’t have an HDMI port, you’ll need to connect the HDMI cable to a USB cable or hub, and then connect that to the Mac.

Your computer should recognize the new monitor right away. Both screens will go black and might flicker a bit.

Two pictures on top of each other. The top picture shows a Mac laptop next to a black screened monitor. The bottom image shows the same Mac laptop, but its screen has now been extended onto the monitor.
A Mac laptop before it’s been connected to an external monitor, and afterwards.

2. Once the display comes back, open the System Preferences app – you can click the Apple logo in the top-right corner of your screen and open it from there – and select Displays.

A Mac's System Preferences menu, with the "Displays" option highlighted.
Open your Mac’s “Displays” menu.

3. Two windows will open, one on each display. The window on your main display will have more options – use this window and click Arrangement at the top.

4. If you want both monitors to show the same image, check off Mirror Displays. If you want them to work separately, uncheck it.

5. Click and drag the blue boxes to match the arrangement of your monitors in real life. You can also click and drag just the white bar to pick which monitor has the Dock – this will be your main monitor.

A Mac "Displays" menu, with various options highlighted.
You can change your display settings in various ways.

Ross James contributed to a previous version of this article.

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Alt + F4: The Windows keyboard shortcut for closing applications, explained

hands typing on laptop keyboard PC
Keyboard shortcuts, like Alt + F4, are a fast way to accomplish tasks quickly on Windows.

  • Alt + F4 is a Windows keyboard shortcut that completely closes the application you’re using.
  • It differs slightly from Ctrl + F4, which closes the current window of the application you’re viewing.
  • Laptop users may need to press the Fn key in addition to Alt + F4 to use this shortcut.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Alt + F4 is a handy keyboard shortcut for Windows that closes the current application on your computer.

In this guide, we’ll go over what Alt + F4 is, how it differs from Ctrl + F4 (a similar shortcut with a slight difference), and what to do when Alt + F4 doesn’t work.

What is Alt + F4?

Alt + F4 is a keyboard shortcut that completely closes the application you’re currently using on your computer.

Alt + F4 differs slightly from Ctrl + F4, which closes the current tab or window of the program you’re currently using. For example, if you were on a web browser and had multiple tabs open, Alt + F4 would close the browser entirely while Ctrl + F4 would only close the open tab you were viewing.

Alt + F4 works on Windows 10 and all other Windows editions.

To use this command, press the Alt key and the F4 key at the same time. Alternatively, press and hold the Alt key, then, while still holding down the Alt key, press the F4 key.

What to do when Alt + F4 doesn’t work

If Alt + F4 doesn’t work, you can close an active application using Task Manager. To do this, press Ctrl + Alt + Delete, then click Task Manager. Alternatively, press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open Task Manager or right-click on the program you’re trying to close and click “End task.”

It’s common for this command to not work on laptops or multifunction keyboards. This is because on these types of keyboards, the function keys have additional functions like adjusting the brightness of your screen or playback volume. To use the Alt + F4 shortcut on these types of keyboards, press the Fn key at the same time (Alt + Fn + F4).

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Microsoft’s first attempt at making laptops more like tablets was a disaster. Now it’s making up for that nearly a decade later with Windows 11.

Microsoft's Windows 11 software being shown on the screens of various laptops.
Microsoft’s Windows 11 update will better bridge the gap between laptops and tablets, an ambition it’s pursued for almost a decade.

  • Windows 11 is designed to make PCs work more consistently in both laptop and tablet mode.
  • It feels like what Microsoft tried and failed to achieve with Windows 8 in 2012.
  • Windows 11 was announced on Thursday and launches at the end of 2021.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Microsoft unveiled its vision to bridge the gap between laptops and tablets when it previewed Windows 8 back in 2011. But Windows 11, which the company revealed on Thursday and will launch this holiday season, is its most promising attempt at this ambition yet.

Based on Microsoft’s presentation, Windows 11 has the potential to make PCs work much better as tablets without sacrificing their functionality as laptops, finally bringing Microsoft’s decade-old vision to fruition.

To understand why this matters, it’s important to remember where Windows 8 went wrong. The update, which launched in 2012, was meant to make Windows feel more modern at a time when many believed tablets threatened to make laptops irrelevant.

It replaced the traditional desktop operating system – including the beloved Start button and menu – with touch-friendly tiles, a new Start screen, and support for new swiping gestures. The problem, however, was that the learning curve was too steep. Rather than introducing gradual changes to make Windows more mobile-friendly over time, it forced users to completely re-learn how to use a Windows computer all at once.

As a result, Windows 8 wasn’t very widely embraced, with adoption numbers that were even lower than Windows Vista. Some have even called it the worst Windows version of all time.

Microsoft remedied this in 2015 with Windows 10, which walked back its aggressive mobile-first strategy by bringing back the Start menu and making other changes that improved the desktop experience.

Windows 10 devices with touchscreens and flexible designs can already be used as tablets, but doing so doesn’t always feel as consistent or smooth as it should.

Microsoft is addressing these aspects and more with Windows 11, feels like it could finally strike the right balance between mobile and desktop that the company has been aiming for all along. It’s striving to achieve the opposite effect of Windows 8; rather than requiring you to get used to the software, the operating system should effortlessly adapt to your needs.

With Windows 11, the interface for laptop and tablet modes is essentially the same, unlike Windows 10. Bigger on-screen buttons should also make managing windows in tablet mode easier in Windows 11. The new touch keyboard is much smaller and has moved to the corner of the display so that it’s easier to type with one hand as we do on our phones.

Windows 11 will also have a new and more refined feed of widgets surfacing news and the weather that feels much more like the ones on our smartphones, similar to Apple’s Today view for the iPhone. The swipe gestures also match the ones you would use to navigate Windows 11 on a touchpad, bringing even more consistency between laptop and tablet mode.

If these changes aren’t enough to convince you that Microsoft is serious about making PCs more mobile-friendly, the company also announced that Android apps will work on Windows 11. Doing so will keep Microsoft competitive with Apple and Google, both of which have already brought mobile apps to their respective macOS and Chrome OS operating systems.

But above all else, Windows 11 feels like it’s coming at the right moment. Windows 8 was in some ways ahead of its time since it launched long before most people cared about having a laptop that could double as a tablet. People simply weren’t using computers in that way yet, so how could Microsoft possibly understand what people wanted from a hybrid operating system? That question has finally been answered in 2021, and it shows in Microsoft’s plans for Windows 11.

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Microsoft just took a direct shot at Apple’s controversial App Store policy with Windows 11

Apple CEO Tim Cook
Apple CEO Tim Cook.

  • Microsoft unveiled the next version of its major operating system, Windows 11, on Thursday morning.
  • Part of that event was a not-so-thinly veiled shot at Apple.
  • Going forward, app and game makers with their own payment systems can skip using Microsoft’s system.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Microsoft just took a shot at Apple with a feature in its next major operating system, Windows 11.

Going forward, the Microsoft Store will allow software makers to use their own payment systems – something Apple refuses to allow on its App Store. Rather than paying Microsoft a cut of each transaction, software makers can charge users directly with their own systems.

“If you do bring your own commerce engine, you keep 100% of your revenue,” Microsoft chief product officer Panos Panay said during a Microsoft livestream featuring Windows 11. “We keep zero.”

It’s a major point of contention between Apple and a variety of software makers, and it’s at the heart of ongoing litigation between “Fortnite” maker Epic Games and Apple.

Epic Games filed suit against Apple last summer after its hit game was pulled from Apple’s App Store.

Apple says it pulled the game because Epic violated the terms of its developer agreement when Epic implemented a payment system in the game that enabled players to circumvent Apple’s App Store. Epic says the App Store is a monopoly, and argues that iPhones and iPads are no different from computers.

Microsoft previously issued a letter to the court on behalf of Epic Games, and a Microsoft employee appeared as an expert witness during the trial. Arguments have ended for both sides in the ongoing case, and it’s unknown when the judge will issue a ruling.

Windows 11 is a free upgrade for Windows users, and is scheduled to launch “this holiday,” according to Microsoft.

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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