Windows 11 22H2 best features

Best features coming to Windows 11 22H2

Here are the best features that will arrive on Windows 11 22H2.

22H2 is the version number of the Windows 11 2022 Update that represents the first significant update of the operating system since its original release. Also codenamed “Sun Valley 2,” Windows 11 22H2 will introduce new features, improvements, fixes, and visual elements. Although you will find many changes, most are tweaks to improve the existing experience.

This guide will highlight the best new features and changes expected to arrive when Windows 11 22H2 releases sometime on September 20, 2022.

Windows 11 22H2 best features

Here is a roundup of the best features and changes coming to version 22H2:

1. Start menu folders

On Windows 11 22H2, Microsoft plans to update the Start menu with folders and the ability to change the layouts of the “Recommended” section.

In the “Pinned” section, you can drag an app on top of another to create a folder. You can add more apps to a folder, rearrange apps within a folder, remove apps from a folder, and you will also be able to choose a name for the folder.

Windows 11 22H2 Start menu folders
Windows 11 22H2 Start menu folders
As part of the “Recommended” section changes, it’s still impossible to disable and remove the feature. However, you can now choose from three different options on the Start settings page to show fewer recommended items and more pins, including “More pins,” “Default,” and “More recommendations.”
 
Start menu recommended options
Start menu recommended options (Source: Microsoft)
 
The “More pins” only shows a single row of items and allows you to show more pins. The “Default” option shows three rows of recommended items and three rows of pin items, and the “More Recommendations” option offers more recommended items and two rows of pins.
 
Recommended layouts
Recommended layouts

2. Taskbar drag and drop

Windows 11 is bringing back some highly requested improvements to the Taskbar. Perhaps the most significant one is the ability to drag and drop files between app windows by hovering over apps in the Taskbar to bring their windows to the foreground.

Taskbar file drop feature
Taskbar file drop feature

Also, you can now customize the Taskbar with your favorite apps from Start’s “All apps” list by dragging and dropping over the Taskbar to pin them.

Taskbar app drop to pin
Taskbar app drop to pin

4. Snap layouts top edge flyout

Another best feature on the Windows 11 2022 Update is a new way to snap windows into snap layouts for touch and mouse. You can try it by dragging a window to the top of the screen to reveal the snap layouts, dropping the window on top of a zone to snap it, and using the assistant to finish snapping the windows on the screen.

Snap layouts top screen
Snap layouts top screen

As part of the desktop experience, Windows 11 makes it easier to snap Microsoft Edge tabs. When a window is snapped, you will see three of the most recent Edge tabs shown (by default) as suggestions.

Snap groups with wallpaper
Snap groups with wallpaper

One subtle but interesting change is the update for snap groups that now includes the desktop wallpaper to make it easier to differentiate your groups from normal windows. This will appear when using “ALT + TAB,” Task View, and the Taskbar previews.

Also, when using the keyboard to open the Snap layouts menu (Windows key + Z), the layouts will appear numbered to make it easier to snap windows using the number keys.

5. File Explorer tabs and redesigned navigation

Microsoft is finally bringing tabs to File Explorer. In addition, the company is also introducing a redesigned navigation pane.

In File Explorer, tabs work like the experience in the web browser. Instead of having multiple instances of the app, you can now use one instance to navigate multiple folders and drive locations.

File Explorer tabs (preview)
File Explorer tabs (preview)

In the new experience, you will find a plus (+) button to create a new tab in the title bar. Or you can right-click a folder and select the option to open in a new tab.

You can now right-click a tab to access a context menu with the options to close the current, close all others, or close tabs on the right. And you can also rearrange as needed using the mouse.

File Explorer even includes some keyboard shortcuts to work with tabs. You can use the “Ctrl + T” keyboard shortcut to create a new tab, the “Ctrl + W” keyboard shortcut to close a tab, and you can use the middle button of the mouse to close a tab.

As part of the visual improvements, the file manager also comes with redesigned navigation pane. The new changes provide easy access to pinned and frequently used folders and OneDrive cloud profiles, which now reflect the user’s name associated with the account.

File Explorer new navigation (preview)
File Explorer new navigation (preview)

Furthermore, the known folders (Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures, etc.) are no longer displayed under “This PC” to keep that view focused on the drives.

This PC page with drivers only (preview)
This PC page with drives only (preview)
Important: Although the changes for File Explorer are part of version 22H2, they’re expected to roll out in a “Moment” update after the feature update becomes available for Windows 11.

6. Uninstall updates experience in Settings

In previous versions, you had to use Control Panel to remove updates. However, starting on Windows 11 22H2, the Settings app gets a new page to uninstall cumulative and feature updates.

Setting new uninstall updates UI
Setting new uninstall updates UI

Since the Control Panel no longer includes the “Programs and Features” page, using the Settings app is the only way to remove updates using a graphical interface moving forward.

7. Task Manager overhauled

Windows 11 22H2 also comes with a redesigned Task Manager. The new app gets a new overhaul design treatment that matches the design style available on Windows 11 with rounded corners, mica material that shines the desktop background through the app’s frame, and new iconography.

New Task Manager
New Task Manager

However, the app retains the familiar experience as the legacy version but with modern improvements. For example, the new Task Manager includes a left pane to navigate the different sections. You will find controls at the top of the page to take different actions.

The app includes support for dark mode, which you can control from the settings page. You can also set the default startup page in the settings and choose to always open on top.

8. Legacy interface updates

As part of the biggest improvements on version 22H2, you will also notice that the system includes various updates to bring legacy visual elements to the new design language.

For example, in this new version, Windows 11 finally brings an updated flyout design for the system hardware indicators, including volume, brightness, camera, and airplane mode, to align with the new system style design language. Furthermore, these new elements also support the light and dark color modes.

New volume control
New volume control (source: Microsoft)

Also, title bars for legacy components like the “Run” dialog now use the Mica transparent material to add more consistency between the modern and legacy elements.

Legacy title bar with Mica
Legacy title bar with Mica

Furthermore, Windows 11 2022 Update will come with a redesigned version of the Print Queue app that matches the design language with rounded corners, mica material, and more. The new application also makes it easy to identify your desired print job (with thumbnail previews), see the status, and manage it.

Print Queue new UI
Print Queue new UI (Source: Microsoft)

Alongside the Print Queue, you will also find a redesigned Print dialog that matches the design of Windows 11. Also, the updated experience now discovers local network printers automatically. If you choose a new printer, it will be installed without going into Settings.

Print new UI
Print new UI

9. Live Captions

Live Captions is a new accessibility feature on Windows 11 22H2, allowing anyone to better understand audio by viewing captions of spoken content. Captions are automatically generated on-device from any content with audio. The live captions can appear at the top or bottom of the screen or in a floating window.

Live Captions
Live Captions

In addition, you can resize the caption window and personalize the appearance by applying or customizing a caption style. Microphone audio can be included for in-person conversations.

You can use the “Windows key + Ctrl + L” keyboard shortcut or from the Accessibility flyout under Quick Settings to use Live Captions.

10. Voice Access

One of the best new features on Windows 11 22H2 is Voice Access. The new feature enables anyone to control their laptop or desktop computer using their voice.

Voice Access
Voice Access (Source: Microsoft)

When using Voice Access, you can use your voice to open and switch apps, browse the web, dictate emails, etc. According to the company, the feature “leverages modern, on-device speech recognition to recognize speech accurately and is supported without an internet connection.”

The feature only supports the English-U.S. language, meaning the “Windows display language has to be English-U.S. Otherwise, voice access may not work as expected.”

Voice Access is available on the “Speech” settings page from the “Accessibility” settings. When you enable the feature for the first time, you will need to download a speech model for the on-device speech recognition. Once the package has been downloaded, you can choose a microphone to use your voice to control Windows 11.

You can choose to auto-start Voice Access the next time you sign in via the Settings app. You can also use voice commands or keyboard shortcuts (Alt + Shift + C and Alt + Shift + B) to control whether voice access is listening or not.

11. Redesigned Focus feature

Focus isn’t exactly a new feature. It was previously available as “Focus assist,” but Microsoft is introducing many changes with the new name.

Focus settings
Focus settings

As part of the “Focus” changes, to help you stay on track, the feature now integrates with the Clock app for other focus tools, such as a focus timer and calming music.

Start Focus
Start Focus

Also, the new “do not disturb” feature makes it easy to silence notification banners. In the Notifications settings, you can set up rules to automatically turn on do not disturb.

12. Touch gestures

Windows 11 22H2 also includes new touch gestures to make it easier to navigate the desktop and apps with touch:

  • Swipe with your finger from the middle of the Taskbar to invoke the Start menu and swipe back down to dismiss it.
  • Swipe right to left from Pinned to get to All apps and left to right to get back to Pinned. The same gesture works for Recommended/More.
  • Swipe with your finger from the bottom right of the Taskbar to invoke Quick Settings and swipe back down to dismiss it.

Microsoft updated the animation when swiping to invoke and dismiss Notification Center from the right edge of your screen to be more responsive and follow your finger.

In full-screen touch-oriented apps and games, you will notice a gripper that appears if you swipe from the edges of the screen.

These are some of the best features and improvements for Windows 11 22H2. Do you know other hidden gems in this update that weren’t mentioned? Let us know in the comments.