Hidden features in your Windows PC or Mac can improve your tech life.

I often get asked if the latest Mac or Windows update is ready for prime time. Unfortunately, most of us have dealt with enough buggy software that we’re hesitant to hit “install” during a major upgrade.

If you haven’t upgraded to macOS Monterey or Windows 11, now I can safely say it’s time. Before updating, take an important step and make sure you have enough space for it. Tap or click here to see how much storage is available on your computer.

Updates don’t just bring new features. They also protect your machine against known exploits and security issues. Tap or click here for five more smart ways to get your digital life in order.

Once your machine is up to date, let’s move on to some new tricks to try.

Windows: realign the Start button to the left

With Windows 11, the Start button is centered in the taskbar, which can be overwhelming if you’ve been using Windows for years. Moving it to the left is easy:

• Press the Windows key + I to open the Settings app.

• To choose Customization and taskbar.

• Select Taskbar behaviorsthen click Left under taskbar alignment.

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Mac: Copy and paste photo text

This feature is really cool. Let’s say there is an image with an email address. You can add it to your contact list, send an email, or even start a FaceTime call. This trick also works for website addresses in images. You can open a link in your browser or use Quick Look to view site information.

To try it out, open an image with text in the Preview app on your Mac.

• Hover your pointer over the text. Then drag to select it. From here you can copy, translate, search for meaning, search the web or share the text.

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Windows: Customize Quick Settings

Windows 11 Notification Center contains quick settings that give you easy access to your commonly used settings and apps. You can add or remove quick settings as you wish:

• Hurry Win+A to open quick settings.

• Select the Edit quick settings icon.

• Select the To add to add a quick setting or tap the pin icon on the quick setting you want to remove.

• Confirm your changes by pressing Do.

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Mac: focus on the essentials

Notifications can seriously disrupt your flow when trying to get things done. With Mac’s new Focus feature, you can choose which notifications are important and which can wait for later.

• To activate it, click on the Control center icon in the menu bar. It looks like two small parallel bars.

• Click on Focus and choose Do not disturb for the period you prefer.

• You can also customize your options by clicking on Focus Preferences. Here you can automatically enable Focus Mode at certain times and allow notifications from apps and people you choose.

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Windows: snap it into place

Do you usually have multiple windows open while you work? Instant Layouts are a great way to stay organized and improve productivity. Move your open apps to different positions on the screen until you find a layout that works for you.

To use an instant layout, hover your mouse over a window’s maximize button or press Win + Zthen choose a snap layout.

These aren’t the only new shortcuts in Windows 11. Here are some additional useful options:

• Win + A opens quick settings

• Win + N opens the notification center

• Win + Z opens the Widget panel

• Win + C opens Microsoft Teams

Mac: Try Quick Notes

If you’re using iPadOS 15, you’re probably familiar with Quick Notes. It lets you take notes no matter what you’re doing. All you have to do is bring your cursor to the lower right corner of your display screen. This brings up a box; click it to start working.

There you can write an idea, insert a link or save a photo. You can even add tags to find them more easily later.

All of your quick notes are saved in a designated section within the larger Notes app, which you can access on all of your Apple devices. You can also add mentions and view past activities.

The Notes app is more powerful than it gets credit for. Tap or click for 5 useful things you didn’t know Apple Notes could do.

Do you have your hands full?  With Voice Typing, you can enter text on your Windows PC by speaking.

Windows: an easy way to start voice typing

With voice typing, you can enter text on your PC by speaking. It’s such a time saver if you have thoughts you need to get to a page.

• Press the Windows key + H on your keyboard to start voice typing.

• To say “stop listening” or press the microphone button in the voice input menu to stop voice input.

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Discover all the latest technologies on the Kim Komando show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For his daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit his website at Komando.com.

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.

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