The Windows 11 Preview Settings Window

Upon launching the Settings app in Windows 11, it’s obvious that Microsoft has put a big effort into streamlining: It’s sleeker and easier to use than its Windows 10 counterpart. Here’s a quick tour of Settings’ new features in Windows 11.

Meet Windows 11 Settings

The System menu in Windows 11 Settings.

When you launch Settings in Windows 11 (from the Quick Settings menu or Start menu, or by pressing Windows+i), you’re greeted with the System panel first. Its sleek, uncomplicated design makes finding a particular setting fairly easy. Unlike Windows 10’s Settings, there’s no overview screen that shows all of the sections as a large menu of icons. Instead, a new sidebar has taken its place.

A New Sidebar

The sidebar in Windows 11 Settings.

As we just mentioned, Windows 11 Settings presents the main configuration sections within the app as a new sidebar on the left side of the Settings window. As soon as you click one of the options in the sidebar, a new panel of options will open in the right portion of the window.

If you keep the Settings window large enough, the sidebar stays on the screen at all times. If you make the windows too small, though, the sidebar disappears to save space. It can be called back with a special three-lined menu button at the top of the window.

Sub-Menu Buttons

Submenu buttons in Windows 11 Settings.

After clicking a sidebar option in Settings, you’re presented with sub-options in the form of buttons. They’re well-organized, easy to see, and thoughtfully laid out. Clicking these lead you to changing options in detail.

Breadcrumbs for Navigation

The breadcrumb in Windows 11 Settings.

As you navigate through Settings, the app keeps track of where you are at all times with breadcrumbs at the top of the Window. For example, we’re in System > Display > HDR. If you want to go back one level, you can click the back arrow in the upper-left corner of the window or click “Display” in the breadcrumbs.

Search

Searching in Windows 11 Settings.

As long as the sidebar is visible, you’ll always have access to a search bar in Windows 11 Settings. Upon typing in a term, you’ll see a small pop-up menu below it with top suggestions. If there are too many results to fit in the small pop-up, you can see the complete list in the right portion of the window by clicking “Show all results.”

Account Page

Accounts in Windows 11 Settings.

In Windows 11, there’s one section, Accounts, that’s not accessed through the regular sidebar list of sections. Instead, to change your account settings or manage accounts on the PC, you click your account name in the upper-left corner of the window. This option stays in the sidebar at all times.

Windows Update

Windows Update in Windows 11 Settings.

And for no particular reason, here’s a look at the Windows Update section, which sports a clean and sleek interface. Overall, the way that Microsoft has organized the elements into the Settings window makes good visual sense, and it feels much less confusing and jumbled than Settings in Windows 10.

And Yes, Control Panel Is Still a Thing

Control Panel in Windows 11.

Despite rumors of its eventual demise, Control Panel is still present in the Windows 11 Preview release. It includes a nearly identical layout to the Windows 10 Control Panel (with a few options changed here and there), but it uses new icons.

In the grand Microsoft tradition, there’s plenty of legacy verve still left in Windows 11, but it’s clear that times are changing, and likely for the better.

RELATED: Don't Worry: Windows 10's Control Panel Is Safe (For Now)

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Benj Edwards is an Associate Editor for How-To Geek. For over 15 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
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