How To Personalise Windows 11

Windows 11
Windows 11 has been out for a while and it’s a great update (in our opinion) to Windows 10. But as with any operating system, getting the most out of it requires a little bit of effort to make it work for you. This could be as simple as changing the colour scheme to make it more pleasing on your eyes, or going further by customising the start menu or Explorer to put the things you use most within a few clicks.

This post is by no means exhaustive, but it should give you a few pointers on how to make it a bit more useful. If you use your computer a lot, a few simple customisations might make all the difference to your user experience, and may even improve your productivity!

Task Bar

The task bar is the bit at the bottom of your screen and is possibly the first thing you will notice is different. Personally, I like to keep the taskbar free of unnecessary icons. You can pin often used icons to the task bar with a right click too.

The first thing I do is right click and go to Taskbar Settings

Right click the taskbar and choose Taskbar settings
Right click the taskbar and choose Taskbar settings

Turn off the things that you don’t need to use, such as the search bar, taskview, widgets and chat (the Chat is for Teams Personal so if you use Teams via Microsoft 365 that’s the one to pin).

Turn off the things you don't need
Turn off the things you dont need

You can also move the icons to the right hand side if you prefer them there as in Windows 10 and earlier versions under Taskbar Behaviours.

You can align the icons at the center or to the left hand side
You can align the icons at the center or to the left hand side

System Tray

The system tray is often overlooked as a useful place to see other running applications. There’s not a lot to do here, but I like to keep my security icons and OneDrive visible (the latter is really useful to keep an eye on to check for sync errors – see What Do The OneDrive Sync Icons Mean? for more info)

See move things into view in the System Tray
See move things into view in the System Tray

Start Menu

Not a huge amount you can do here, but it’s worth getting rid of the some of the default icons and replacing them with ones that you use most often.

  1. Right click to see Start Settings, where you can change how many icons vs recommendations you can see
  2. Right icons to remove them. Similarly, search for an app and right click the result to pin that to the Start Menu or Taskbar for quick access
  3. Drag icons over each other to put them into folders of similar things, like Office apps.
Choose what icons you want to see on the Start Menu
Choose what icons you want to see on the Start Menu

Colour Scheme

Under Settings > Personalisation you can customise the general appearance of Windows. You get 2 main choices of Light and Dark. I like to have a mix, so choose ‘custom’ and you can then choose to have a dark theme on the start menu and taskbar, while keeping the apps background light.

You can also set other options such as whether transparency is used or change the accent colour of buttons.

Set your light or dark scheme and choose other colours and effects
Set your light or dark scheme and choose other colours and effects

Background and Lock Screen

Microsoft love their own artwork, and it can be pretty good, but personally I prefer to set my own backgrounds. Simply find the picture you want, right click, and choose desktop background.

You can also do this under Settings > Personalisation, and there’s the option to also set the lock screen image there too.

Right click on an image to set it as your desktop background
Right click on an image to set it as your desktop background

Startup Apps

Windows tends to add a few things to startup which open when you log in. These are designed to make opening certain apps more quickly, or just open them for you when you log in. You can turn off a few that don’t need.

Right click on the Windows icon in the taskbar and choose Task Manager. You can’t disable everything, like certain security services or drivers for audio, but can you can disable applications or features, such as Cortana. Having lots of applications run on startup can slow down the login process, so by removing things you don’t need to start straight away, you can speed that up to get working faster.

Disable things you dont need from starting at logon in Task Manager


Windows Explorer is the file browser. You may have noticed that the left hand side often displays folders you have accessed recently. You can pin folders you access frequently here too, just select it, right click, and choose Pin to Quick access to keep it there. You can see which folders are pinned by the little icon next to them.

Right click on a folder to pin it to Quick access
Right click on a folder to pin it to Quick access


If you need a bit of quiet time away from notifications from Outlook and Teams to focus on some project or admin work, there’s a great feature for that. Click in the bottom right of the System Tray to display the calendar, and you’ll see a button called ‘Focus’.

Open Focus from the system tray calendar
Open Focus from the system tray calendar

That opens up the Timer App and you can suspend notifications for a period to allow you to concentrate on the task in hand.

Set the amount of time you want to stop notifications
Set the amount of time you want to stop notifications

Other Useful Tips

Hopefully this has given you a few useful ideas on how to improve your Windows 11 experience, and also helped you find some of the other useful changes you can make too.

Keep your disk space free of clutter using Storage Sense: Free Up Space On Your PC using Storage Sense

Lots of useful tips for using OneDrive

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