This new Windows 11 feature is a game changer for how I work

Windows 11 got its first big post-release update this week that added some much-needed improvements, including an upgraded Start Menu, smarter Snap Layouts and a revamped Task Manager with (at long last) a dark mode.

Windows 11 Update

You can tell if you have the latest Windows 11 update by navigating to Settings > About and checking to see it says you’re running Windows version 22H2. If not, check Windows Update to see if it’s available for you yet. 

But what I’m most excited about are the new accessibility features Microsoft added into Windows 11 with this update. 

Windows 11 owners who have installed the big Windows 11 2022 Update will notice there’s now a Live Captions app and a Voice Access app in Windows. They do exactly what you’d expect: Live Captions provides live captioning of any audio played in Windows (including audio from video calls), while Voice Access is an improved version of Windows’ existing speech recognition tools that lets you control your PC via voice commands.

(Image credit: Future)

Live captioning alone is a great upgrade for Windows that could potentially make a huge difference in the lives of folks who have trouble understanding speech. The app offers a decent level of customization (so you can control how the subtitling looks and where it appears onscreen, for example) and could make video calls and remote learning a whole lot easier for those who are hard of hearing.

But it’s the new voice access tool in Windows 11 that I’m most excited about, with good reason: I’ve been a writer all my life, and a few years ago I developed near-crippling pain and weakness in both hands and wrists. That’s made it tricky and painful to keep earning a living, and I’ve done a fair bit of research and testing to try and find a way to keep up with my daily workload while using my hands as little as possible.

Windows 11 Voice Access is the best voice navigation tool I’ve ever used on a PC. (Image credit: Future)

So far I’ve tried a number of PC voice control applications from Microsoft and other software vendors. The Windows Speech Recognition tool that’s been built into the OS since Vista is pretty good, but it lacks some functionality that’s present in the new voice access tool. 

After a few days using the Windows 11 voice access tool to tell my laptop what to do I feel as if I may never need to type another paragraph again.

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