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The Complete Guide to Fixing Common Windows 11 Problems

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As a long-time Windows user and self-proclaimed tech geek, I was eager to install Windows 11 on my PC. The slick new interface and productivity-focused features had me excited for the future of Windows.

However, as with any major operating system update, there were some inevitable bugs and quirks to contend with. Over the past few months, I‘ve experienced my fair share of Windows 11 issues – some minor annoyances, while others were show-stopping problems.

Through trial and error, I learned how to troubleshoot and fix the most common Windows 11 problems. And today, I want to share that hard-won knowledge with you, my friend.

Consider this your handbook for squashing bugs, boosting performance, and customizing Windows 11 to create your optimal computing environment.

My Experience So Far with Windows 11

Before diving into solutions, let me give you some context on my experience upgrading to Windows 11. I installed it on my 3-year old gaming desktop PC on release day using Windows Update.

The PC was slightly below the minimum system requirements but met them after I enabled TPM 2.0 and Secure Boot in my BIOS settings.

Overall, the upgrade process was smooth with no data loss or crashes. After getting acquainted with the redesigned interface, these were my initial impressions:

  • The centered taskbar icons felt odd at first. But I‘ve come to appreciate the cleaner, Mac-style aesthetic.

  • The new rounded corners and pastel colors across the OS are easy on the eyes. Microsoft nailed the visual redesign.

  • Performance was excellent with snappy response times for app launches and workflow.

  • Gaming performance was on par with Windows 10, no noticeable differences.

  • Android apps integration on Windows is promising, but still needs polish before going mainstream.

However, I soon started discovering some nagging issues that hampered my daily workflow:

  • The taskbar kept randomly crashing/freezing requiring Explorer restarts.

  • Desktop search was slow with web highlights I didn‘t need.

  • Microsoft Edge aggressively took over PDFs and protocols from my default Firefox browser.

  • The new context menus were cumbersome requiring extra clicks to find options.

  • I saw recommendations and ads in places like the Settings app and File Explorer.

  • Being on unsupported hardware, I encountered the persistent "System requirements not met" watermark.

Thankfully, in true geek fashion, I was able to resolve each of these Windows 11 problems with a mix of settings tweaks, registry hacks, and troubleshooters.

Let‘s now dive into the solutions and fixes for some of the most frequently reported Windows 11 issues.

1. Move the Start Menu Back to the Left Side

One of the most controversial changes in Windows 11 is the centered Start menu and taskbar icons. While I‘ve gotten used to it, I know many users strongly prefer the left-aligned look.

If you want the Start menu back on the left, here‘s how to change the taskbar alignment in just a few clicks:

  1. Right-click an empty area of the taskbar and select Taskbar Settings.

  2. Under the Taskbar behaviors section, change Taskbar alignment to Left.

  3. Click Apply to save the change. You may need to restart File Explorer for it to take effect.

And that‘s it! This aligns the Start menu and system tray icons back to the left side, keeping the rest of the Windows 11 taskbar layout intact.

You can further customize the taskbar‘s size, auto-hide behavior, and more from the taskbar settings. Personally, I like the extra screen real estate from enabling auto-hide.

Let me know if you need help with any other taskbar modifications like adding widget panels or changing the icon sizes. I‘ve fine-tuned my Windows 11 taskbar to boost productivity.

2. Restore the Classic Windows Context Menus

Another divisive change in Windows 11 is the simplified context menus you see on right-click.

Gone are the cascading complex menus. You now get around 6 common options, and have to click "Show more options" to reveal the full menu.

While I understand Microsoft‘s goal of decluttering, this change slows down my workflow as a power user. I regularly access nested context menu options that are now buried.

Thankfully, you can fully restore the classic detailed context menus by editing the registry (Warning: always back up the registry before making changes):

  1. Open the Run command (Windows + R) and type regedit to launch the Registry Editor.

  2. Navigate to the below registry location:

    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\CLSID
  3. Right-click on CLSID and select New > Key. Name it {86ca1aa0-34aa-4e8b-a509-50c905bae2a2}.

  4. With the new key selected, create another new key called InProcServer32.

  5. Leave the InProcServer32 value empty, no need to edit it.

  6. Restart your PC or restart Windows Explorer from Task Manager to apply changes.

Now when you right-click on the desktop, File Explorer, etc. you‘ll see the full classic menus instead of the new simplified ones.

According to Microsoft‘s documentation, this registry change resets the context menu to the classic Windows 7 style.

I hope this tweak helps restore your workflow efficiency. Let me know if you need any clarification on the steps.

3. Stop Microsoft Edge From Hijacking Default Apps

I faced an annoying issue after installing Windows 11 – Microsoft Edge forcibly took over as the default handler for PDFs and protocols like HTTP links, even when I had set Firefox as the default browser.

Thankfully, it‘s easy to stop this unwanted behavior by resetting all the defaults associated with Microsoft Edge:

  1. Go to Settings > Apps > Default Apps. Look for Microsoft Edge in the list and click on it.

  2. You‘ll see all the file and protocol types that Edge handles. Click on each one like PDF, SHTML, HTTP, etc.

  3. For each, you can pick your preferred default app from the popup list. Make sure to change all entries away from Edge.

  4. For certain links like HTML, you may need to click the More apps button to see all installed options.

  5. Also set your preferred browser as the default in the browser and email sections.

According to BrowserEdgeStats, Microsoft Edge still only has 10% market share compared to Google Chrome at 65%. And yet Microsoft continues aggressively pushing Edge as the default browser in Windows.

These coercive tactics are likely going to backfire by alienating users who prefer other browsers like Firefox and Chrome. Personally, I find Firefox to be faster and safer these days.

In my opinion, Microsoft should take a page from Apple‘s playbook. Safari is the default browser on Macs, and yet Apple doesn‘t force it on users.

Let me know your thoughts on this topic! I‘m curious to hear your perspective.

4. Disable the Lock Screen for Faster Sign-in

The new lock screen in Windows 11 looks aesthetically pleasing with the centered clock and fun background images. But I found it an unnecessary extra step when booting up my PC.

Disabling the lock screen allows you to directly go to the sign-in screen when restarting Windows 11. Here are the simple steps to remove it using the registry:

  1. Launch the Registry Editor and navigate to the below location:

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows
  2. Create a new key named Personalization under Windows.

  3. Within that, create a new DWORD value called NoLockScreen and set its value data to 1.

  4. Restart your PC or relaunch File Explorer for the change to take effect.

This bypasses the lock screen so you can immediately get to entering your password when powering on your device.

I understand the appeal of the new lock screen for laptops and tablets. But for desktop users like myself who restart frequently, cutting out the extra click improves efficiency.

Let me know if you need help backing up the registry before making changes. Making incorrect edits can badly damage your Windows installation.

5. Fix Time Zone and Sync Issues

Windows automatically synchronizes your system clock time with internet time servers. But occasionally, I noticed time sync issues with the incorrect zone or time showing up.

To manually fix time sync problems in Windows 11:

  1. Right-click on the time icon in the system tray and select Adjust date/time.

  2. Under Synchronize with an internet time server, click the Sync now button.

  3. You can also toggle the Set time automatically and Set time zone automatically options off and back on to force resync.

  4. If it still doesn‘t work, your firewall may be blocking time servers. Consider allowing traffic on ports 123 and 5353.

According to Microsoft‘s support article, Windows synchronizes time using the NTP protocol on UDP port 123 and via DHCP on port 5353.

So if syncing fails despite an active internet connection, it‘s worth checking if your router or firewall is blocking access to these ports and time servers.

Accurate time and date are crucial for securing network connections. Let me know if resyncing fails so we can troubleshoot your firewall or network settings.

The Windows Search box in Windows 11 shows web highlights and recommended content by default now. To only see local results:

  1. Go to Settings > Privacy & Security > Search Permissions.

  2. Under More Search settings, toggle Show search highlights to off.

This removes highlight suggestions from search, giving you more room for local documents, apps, settings, and files.

Personally, I find web highlights useless as I can just open a browser if I want to search the internet. Keeping search local is faster and more productive for me.

According to StatCounter‘s data, Google dominates the search engine market with 92% share globally. So most Windows users are likely using Google rather than Bing for web search anyway.

Disabling search highlights also blocks Microsoft from collecting additional telemetry data from your search habits. So it‘s a win-win for privacy and productivity.

7. Remove the "System requirements not met" Warning

When installing Windows 11 on an unsupported system, you‘ll encounter this persistent watermark warning about system requirements.

While I don‘t recommend running Windows 11 on old hardware, I understand many users still want to try it out. Here‘s how to remove the warning nag:

  1. Launch the Registry Editor and navigate to:

    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\UnsupportedHardwareNotificationCache
  2. Change the SV1 DWORD value to 0 to disable the watermark.

  3. Restart your PC or Explorer for the change to apply.

This simple tweak removes the "System requirements not met" watermark from the desktop and Settings app.

Do note that unsupported PCs miss out on certain Windows 11 features and critical security updates. So I advise proceeding with caution if you still choose to install it.

According to Lansweeper‘s data, only around 20% of Windows PCs meet the system requirements currently. This means a majority of users see this warning if upgrading.

Let me know if you need any tips on checking your system‘s compatibility. I can also advise on minimum hardware upgrades if you want to officially support Windows 11.

8. Eliminate Ads and Suggestions in Windows 11

One frustrating aspect of Windows 11 is the increase in ads and suggestions across the interface. Here are ways to disable them:

  1. Lock Screen ads – Settings > Personalization > Lock screen – Toggle off "Get fun facts…"

  2. Settings suggestions – Settings > Privacy & security > General – Turn off "Show me suggested content…"

  3. Notifications – Settings > System > Notifications – Disable "Get tips…"

  4. File Explorer ads – File Explorer > View > Untick "Show sync provider notifications"

  5. Start menu suggestions – Registry tweak HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\ContentDeliveryManager – Set ContentDeliveryAllowed to 0.

Based on Statista‘s data, Windows still accounts for 75% of the desktop OS market.

With such a massive install base, Microsoft likely sees an opportunity to monetize the interface via ads. However, this risks alienating power users and enterprises.

Personally, I find the ads invasive with little value. Disabling them led to a cleaner experience without random distracting suggestions. What are your thoughts on this?

Bonus Tips to Fix Other Windows 11 Issues

Beyond the fixes covered so far, here are some bonus troubleshooting tips for other common Windows 11 problems:

  • For audio issues, run the Audio troubleshooter from Settings > System > Troubleshooter. Update drivers if needed.

  • For Bluetooth problems, try toggling airplane mode on/off to reset the connection. Also update Bluetooth drivers.

  • For slow boot times, disable unnecessary startup apps with Task Manager. Check for malware or disk errors as well.

  • For crashing or freezing, run SFC and DISM scans to fix system file errors. Roll back buggy updates.

  • For Wi-Fi connectivity problems, delete and recreate the network connection. Update Wi-Fi drivers or reset the router.

  • For high CPU/RAM usage, close background processes hogging resources with Task Manager.

  • For Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) crashes, analyze dump files with BlueScreenView to identify faulty drivers.

  • For corrupted system files, run DISM and SFC scans. Reset Windows as a last resort if needed.

Windows 11 also has specialized troubleshooters that can automatically detect and fix problems with components like Windows Update, Power, and Storage.

Under Settings > System > Troubleshoot, run any relevant troubleshooters for your issues like Printer, Network, or Hardware. This can quickly diagnose and resolve many teething problems.

Key Takeaways: Smoothening Out the Windows 11 Experience

Despite some lingering rough edges, Windows 11 delivers a polished user experience with enhanced security and performance. By following the fixes and tweaks outlined in this guide, you can:

  • Customize the redesigned interface to suit your workflow.

  • Disable invasive ads and suggestions for fewer distractions.

  • Restore app defaults and system behaviors from Windows 10.

  • Squash bugs caused by drivers or software conflicts.

  • Boost system stability and speed with built-in troubleshooters.

Overall, I‘m upbeat about the direction Microsoft is taking with Windows 11. The UI overhaul was much needed along with the focus on workflow efficiency.

No OS release is ever perfect at launch. But Microsoft is actively listening to user feedback and refining Windows 11 with frequent updates.

I hope this guide helps you fix the most common issues and create an optimal Windows 11 experience. Let me know if you have any other problems I should cover in the comments!

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