Live commands, 2FA copying, and content-aware brightness settings: Microsoft may be releasing these features for a Windows 11 test build, but they should soon arrive on your PC.
Microsoft released Windows 11 Build 22621.1776 (KB5026446) to the Windows Insider Release Channel on Thursday. That’s a signal that, unlike many of Microsoft’s test features, the changes that the new build brings about will actually land on your PC before long. Microsoft has said that it will release bundles of new features in “moments” in between official major feature releases, and this looks like it could be the next one.
We’ve seen many of these new features crop up in earlier test builds, but they’re worth recapping here. And there are a ton! Here are some of the highlights of the new build, as listed by Microsoft. (If you have a PC running a Release Preview build, you can ensure you’ll get the new features by opening Settings > Windows Update and turning on the toggle “Get the latest updates as soon as they’re available.”
Content-Adaptive Brightness Control: This is an optional feature that Microsoft is adding to Windows laptops and two-in-ones. (The original plan was to add it to desktops, but that didn’t work out.) Essentially, it’s like a poor man’s HDR: If you’re watching a video with a dark scene, then a brighter scene, Windows may dynamically change your screen’s brightness and contrast to emphasize the video.
Not everyone will love this, however, especially if you’re involved in editing photography or just don’t want your laptop display settings to change. To turn this feature on or off, you’ll need to go to Settings > System > Display and then to the Brightness control to adjust it.
A new Widgets picker: If you’re confused by what adding a widget to Widgets actually does, Microsoft will show you a preview of what to expect.
OneDrive storage: You’ll see the full amount of storage space allocated to all of your OneDrive subscriptions now appear in the Accounts page within the Settings app.
Tab limits for Alt+Tab: When you press Alt+Tab Windows can pull from your most recent tabs as selection choices. Windows will now allow you to limit them to the 20 most recent tabs within the Settings > Multitasking section.
New Print Screen shortcut: We documented how the PrtScn key will now open the Snipping Tool app. That feature is now stepping through to Release Preview.
USB4 Hubs and Settings: This is a slightly odd choice, since USB4 hubs pale in comparison to the more common Thunderbolt docks. USB4 is almost functionally the same as a Thunderbolt dock, but it tends to be a feature associated with AMD Ryzen-powered notebooks, not Intel Core devices. Regardless, this new Windows Settings page provides information about the system’s USB4 capabilities and the attached peripherals on a system that supports USB4.
Touch keyboard options: Disconnect the Surface keyboard from a Surface Pro tablet, and you may see a touch keyboard pop up instead. The new Settings > Time & language > Typing > Touch keyboard setting allows you to show the touch keyboard always, never, or only when you disconnect the hardware keyboard.
2FA copying: Most phones allow for two-factor authentication (2FA), which can send an authorization code via text. If you have a phone connected to your PC via Phone Link, you can now automatically copy any 2FA codes that are sent. (Some services, like Google, are moving to passkeys instead.)
Sensor settings: Some laptops have presence sensors, both as security settings as well as automatically dimming your screen when you walk away, preserving battery. A new setting in Settings > Privacy & security > Presence sensing will allow you to manage this.
VPN signal: You’ll see a small “shield” icon in the Taskbar if you’re connected to a VPN.
Microsoft also tweaked some of its existing features, too:
- Voice commands now support different English accents (UK, India, New Zealand, Canada, and Australia) and new commands have been added.
- Key shortcuts have been added to File Explorer.
- If you’d like, you can add seconds to the Taskbar clock via the Taskbar settings menu.
- Live captions, a rather nifty feature that applies AI captions to pre-recorded video, now supports Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), French (France, Canada), German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese (Brazil, Portugal), Spanish, Danish, English (Ireland, other English dialects), and Korean.