Microsoft is finally giving users what they want with Windows 11’s Photos app

A middle-aged couple using a laptop on the verandah of their farm in rural Australia
(Image credit: davidf / Getty Images)

One of the core Windows 11 apps just got some attention from Microsoft, with the Photos application receiving an update that applies a nifty new feature and a number of other bits and pieces.

The update is coming to Windows 11 testers in the Canary and Dev channels (the two earliest test platforms) and is rolling out now.

The main change is the introduction of a new slideshow mode, which as you’d expect provides a slideshow of your photo collection (or selected pics). Those images can be viewed with transitions and animations turned on, or you can switch those off.

There’s also a choice of background music, with 25 soundtracks to pick from across various themes such as ‘energetic’ or ‘chilled’, with a range to suit any mood.

As Microsoft notes, the slideshow functionality was a “top feature request we received from the community” since the new Photos app was launched in Windows 11 in September 2022, no less.

Windows 11 Photos App Slideshow

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft also observes that it has reintroduced the timeline scrollbar to the Photos app, meaning the vertical bar on the right that lets you scroll through images by year and month.

This scrollbar is now present for the All Photos, OneDrive, and iCloud Photos gallery views. This is another top feature request that has been implemented, the software giant reminds us.

The final major change is that Microsoft has bought in a ‘Spot Fix’ feature. The idea is that you can highlight a small blemish in an image and the Photos app will automatically smooth it over, so the mark disappears.

There’s a raft of other small tweaks applied here, including that if you copy an image from the Photos app and paste it into Outlook or Teams, the picture is now inserted inline (in the actual body of the message) rather than added as an attachment by default.

For the full details of what Microsoft has done, including all that more minor tinkering under the hood, check out the announcement blog post.

Testers (in the Canary or Dev builds) who want to try the new Photos experience need to update and ensure they are running version 2023.11050.2013.0 of the app (or better).

Analysis: Listening to feedback – a welcome trend

It’s good to see evidence of Microsoft listening more carefully to user feedback again. This became a theme with Windows 10 a while after the OS was launched, and then Microsoft’s will to pick up on user requests seemed to ebb – but now is returning with Windows 11 (finally).

We’re talking about the change of heart around the taskbar, mainly, including the rumored return of the ‘never combine’ feature which is something we’re waiting for before making the leap to Windows 11. (A leap that Microsoft is now prodding people to take even more than before, remembering that Windows 10 is now officially in stasis, with no more new features coming).

At any rate, these changes to the Photos app bowing to popular demand are another positive sign that Microsoft seems to be doing the right thing with Windows 11 more and more. Namely: listening. So, let’s hope the company might hear the loud and clear feedback coming through about pushing veiled ads into the OS.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).