This neat feature could fix the worst part of Windows 11's Start menu

Windows 11 Start menu
(Image credit: Future)

What you need to know

  • Users might soon be able to preview files in Windows 11's Start menu Recommended section.
  • The hidden feature was discovered in Builds 23506 and 23493.
  • Aside from letting you preview the content hidden in the file, the feature will also let you know when the file was last edited and its location in your drive.

Windows 11's adoption rate has significantly stagnated, considering it's been available for nearly two years. Several users have pointed out that the OS's set minimum system requirements and system design are among the main reasons why they haven't made the transition.

The Start menu in Windows 11, in particular, isn't a fan favorite for many (even amongst my colleagues). Multiple users have found the feature flawed and redundant, despite Microsoft's efforts to ship new updates and features to enhance the Start menu's experience.

However, Microsoft's latest attempt to enhance the Start menu's user experience might be worth your while. As spotted by Windows enthusiast, PhantomOfEarth on Twitter, Microsoft is currently testing a new feature that lets users preview files in the Recommended section of the Start menu.

The Windows sleuth mentioned that the change was spotted in Builds 23506 and 23493 in the Windows 11 Dev Channel. This is a welcome change as it will help enhance the user's productivity by saving time since they'll no longer need to open a file to see what's inside. 

Windows 11 and Windows 10 users already have the capability to preview files via the thumbnail feature in File Explorer, and it now seems that Microsoft is extending this functionality to the Start menu.

Users can hover their mouse cursor over files such as .txt, .pdf, .jpg, .jpeg, .png  to preview their context without necessarily opening the file itself. It's also worth noting that aside from getting a quick preview of the file, the user will also get a detailed account of the file's location and the last time it was edited. 

Windows Central's take

"The thumbnail feature" is still in the testing phase, and as is often the case, it's still in a very raw state. Microsoft tends to make more enhancements and improvements to these features before shipping them to general availability.

This explains why the feature wasn't included in the original changelog, and users had to leverage the capability of third-party tools to access it. Notably, most of these hidden features aren't stable, so you risk bricking your device or running into other issues by enabling them before Microsoft releases them officially. 

This is a nifty feature that will enhance Windows 11's Start menu's user experience. It's also likely that this feature will roll out as part of Microsoft's Windows 11, version 23H2 update.

Kevin Okemwa

Kevin Okemwa is a seasoned tech journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya with lots of experience covering the latest trends and developments in the industry at Windows Central. With a passion for innovation and a keen eye for detail, he has written for leading publications such as OnMSFT, MakeUseOf, and Windows Report, providing insightful analysis and breaking news on everything revolving around the Microsoft ecosystem. You'll also catch him occasionally contributing at iMore about Apple and AI. While AFK and not busy following the ever-emerging trends in tech, you can find him exploring the world or listening to music.