Windows 11 is about to get a drastically-improved Snipping Tool and revised Photos app. The most exciting new features include the Snipping Tool allowing users to copy text straight from screenshots, and the Photos app getting features like the ability to blur the background of photos.
This news has come from Windows Insider users (members of the official Microsoft community, the Windows Insider Program, for people who want to test out the latest developments to the operating system and help Microsoft improve it).
The Verge writes that Windows Insiders have been allowed access to updates of both the Snipping Tool and Photos app in the Canary and Dev Channels in the Windows Insider Program (two out of four of the channels through which Microsoft distributes previews). As a Windows Snipping Tool enthusiast, Microsoft certainly has my attention.
Microsoft has written in more detail about these new arrivals in two new update posts on the Windows Insider Blog (an official update blog by Microsoft).
A sharper Windows 11 Snipping Tool
The blog post presenting the nifty new text capture and recognition capability of the Snipping Tool (version 11.2308.33.0) introduces the new feature as 'Text Actions'. This will make it much easier to copy and paste or share text with others straight from a screen capture. You’ll have to select Text Actions in the Snipping Tools toolbar and then you’ll be shown all the text you can highlight, select and copy.
You can also manipulate text within the screenshot, like being able to redact sensitive information right in the screenshot using the 'Quick Redact' function.
Aside from the exciting new text capture capabilities of Snipping Tool, there will be integration with Windows 11’s Phone Link feature. It will show a notification prompt to open the Snipping Tool for markup of a screenshot, and allow users to instantly access and edit recent photos from Android devices with the Snipping Tool on a PC.
A renewed Photos app
The Photos app is also being revised based on community feedback, Microsoft writes in the blog post about the Photos app update. The main part of the update is the new Background Blur option, which does what it says on the tin - instantly detects and blurs the background of a photo. It has further options with the Blur Intensity parameter and Brush Tool to select what areas you’d like to blur.
Another cool feature being previewed is a ‘Content Search’ capability for photos that you backup on OneDrive. This will allow you to search by content of a photo, I assume using some intelligent image detection software that can scan and label the photo with searchable tags based on what it detects in the image - much like Google Photos, which has a similar feature.
As well as this search feature, you can also search for photos based on the location they were taken. You’ll be able to do this in multiple places - your local files, OneDrive and iCloud. Yep, you read that right - iPhone owners can search their iCloud storage on their Windows 11 device with the updated Photos app.
Microsoft details how to use these features in the announcement blog post, along with some other fixes and changes to do with the Photos app.
What about a video editor?
I’m looking forward to these features hopefully coming to Windows 11 soon, and can already see myself using them. There has been some controversy recently about Microsoft’s changes to the Windows 10 Photos app, which saw the removal of the Video Editor feature in a bid to push users to its newer video editor, Clipchamp. There’s a single bullet point under “Other fixes and improvements” that says:
“Edit and Create Video options are now easily accessible at the top of the gallery view.”
I don’t know what this means exactly with regard to the video editing functions in Windows 11’s Photos app, so I guess we’ll have to see what it looks like as testers try out the previews of these features.
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Kristina is a UK-based Computing Writer, and is interested in all things computing, software, tech, mathematics and science. Previously, she has written articles about popular culture, economics, and miscellaneous other topics.
She has a personal interest in the history of mathematics, science, and technology; in particular, she closely follows AI and philosophically-motivated discussions.