Have you ever felt like being a PC user meant certain…compromises? You see ads for seemingly magical features from the likes of Apple or Google — things like pulling text straight out of images, or searching for objects in pictures — and feel left out in the cold?
We’ve got good news: Microsoft keeps improving Windows 11, and the company’s latest updates to the operating system are worth catching up on.
Admittedly, most of these new features are already available on flagship smartphones. But gaining access to them on work PCs and personal laptops is a pretty big deal.
Snipping Tool Gets a Whole Lot Smarter
First up is the Snipping Tool. With this tool, which has been a part of the last few generations of Windows, you can easily take a screenshot of your entire screen, or just select a smaller portion of the screen and “snip” it into a static image.
Microsoft has implemented some AI-powered and machine learning tech to make those static images a little less static. Now you can select text in a screenshot and then copy and paste that text into a document, where it shows up as normal text content — not a photo.
The name for this new feature is Text Actions — not the most obvious name, but it does the job. Make sure to look for it the next time you use the Snipping Tool.
Another addition to the Snipping Tool is something called Quick Redact. How many times have you taken a screenshot or a snip but then needed to hide some bit of sensitive information (like an email address or an account number)? It’s not terribly hard to click that pencil tool and then use your mouse to scribble over the offending info, but it’s not all that professional, either.
Now, with Quick Redact, Windows will recognize that sensitive information (or any text, for that matter), giving you the ability to obscure or redact it in just a couple of clicks.
New Improvements to the Windows Photos App
Do you use the Windows Photos app? We can’t blame you if you don’t (or if you aren’t really sure what you’re using). Many people just organize their photos into folders and open them with whatever their device defaults to.
If you haven’t installed any other photo software, that default app is probably still Photos — and you probably don’t think of it as software that does much of anything other than display your photos.
If that’s you, you might want to take a fresh look at Photos. Microsoft is adding some smart new features. Background Blur is one of the biggest: you can use it to create a Bokeh effect, kind of like Portrait Mode on iPhone. In Microsoft Photos, you can adjust the intensity of the blur, or even blur out only portions of the background (such as for privacy reasons).
This is stuff you can already do on flagship smartphones. But it’s great to have the option to do it on your desktop now, too — and the level of control in Photos is better than what most phones can do.
Intelligent Content Search
Microsoft added one more important photo-related feature, one they call Content Search. For photos stored in OneDrive, on your local machine, or even in Apple iCloud, Microsoft can now detect and label objects and people in photos. You can search your images based on what’s in them, finding every photo with a specific person, pet, or object in just seconds. You can also search based on image location and a few other attributes.
These updates are rolling out to Windows 11 users over the coming weeks. If you don’t see them yet, you’ll probably see them soon.
Need help with your Windows 11 deployments, or anything else IT? We can help — just give us a call.