You are taking a picture with your phone and now you want to see it on a bigger screen. You get a text message but don’t want to dig out your phone to reply to it while you’re working on your PC. With Windows 11, you can see this photo and reply to this message right from your keyboard. All you have to do is connect your Android device to Windows 11. Most impressively, you can use a few Android phone models at the same time several Mobile apps right on your computer.
For years, Apple has put Windows at the forefront of mobile desktop integration with macOS’s ability to let users text and call from their desktop. Apple Silicon-based Macs go even further with the ability to run mobile apps. Windows users can finally claim at least parity with the mobile-to-desktop functionality described here, which Microsoft updated in March.
If you have an iPhone, you can also connect it to a computer running Windows 11, but you won’t have the same experience as Android users. Microsoft has stated that it would like to bring the same functionality for iPhones to Windows, but Apple has long been uninterested in freeing users from attachment to its products. However, you can connect an iPhone to a Windows PC for some basic file transfer functions. However, here we will show you how to connect an Android phone and a Windows 11 PC for a more complete integrated setup for mobile and desktop.
What you need to get started
Windows 11 will prompt you to connect your smartphone during the initial setup process. Assuming you haven’t done so at this point, we’ll walk you through the process and list a few things you should know before you begin.
An important requirement is that you need to install an app called Link to Windows on your phone(Opens in a new window) from the Google Play Store and sign in to the app with the same Microsoft account you used to sign in on your PC. The app is preinstalled on certain phones. No worries on the PC side of the connection as the Phone Link app comes preinstalled on all Windows 11 PCs.
Another requirement is that the mobile phone is within range of the PC with Bluetooth and WLAN, because the display and control takes place on the PC, but the apps still run on the mobile phone.
Also, to get the Android-to-Windows 11 functionality, you must be running Android 7 or later. Any Windows 11 PC will work. To test the setup, we used a Surface Laptop 3 and a Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. The phone model matters more than the PC model in terms of the features you get.
With the latest update, Microsoft has simplified its phone linking strategy. There is an app called Phone Link on your PC and another app called Link to Windows that you install on your mobile device. Previously, Link to Windows only worked with select Samsung models and Surface Duo phones(Opens in a new window) (Some Honor models have recently been added for users in China). These models get even more features like mirroring Android apps to PC. Note that this differs from Windows 11’s much-vaunted ability to run Android apps, where the apps actually run on the PC hardware.
One last preliminary note on the Link to Windows system: you can install it on multiple PCs for the same phone. So if you’re switching between a desktop and a home and a laptop on the go, it’ll work on both.
Step by step: how to connect your Android and PC
Open the Phone Link app on your Windows 11 PC. Here’s the first page of a four-step setup process.
Sign in to your Microsoft account. If you’ve already signed into an account during PC setup, simply accept the account in the wizard.
Install the Link to Windows Mobile app. You can get it either by searching Google Play or by typing www.aka.ms/yourpc(Opens in a new window) in your mobile browser. Alternatively, on newer Samsung and Surface Duo phones, you can just pull down the quick settings shadow and select Link to Windows. Long press it to go to the sync settings.
Pair your phone and PC. Here you have the choice of pairing with a QR code or entering a text code displayed in the PC’s Phone Link app into the phone’s Companion app. Note that you need to scan the QR code in the Link to Windows app on the phone – be sure to use the in-app camera. Once you’ve performed one of the pairing methods, that’s it. You are done!
You will get a congratulations page indicating the connection was successful.
Next is a quick visual tutorial on what you can do with the app once your phone is connected.
What can you do with a connected phone?
As mentioned, the fancier features only work on certain phone models, but if you connect to any Android phone you’ve set up, you’ll be able to see and reply to text messages, see and manage notifications, make and answer calls, and get photos instantly on the computer .
Microsoft recently redesigned the app’s UI to show the main options (Messages, Calls, Apps, Photos) at the top. You will now see recent apps and a See all apps link when you click the system tray icon. Notifications are hidden in a left side panel.
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You can drag and drop photos from phone to desktop applications.
The Phone Link taskbar entry shows a badge with the number of notifications waiting for you. You can choose which apps you get notifications from and whether you want to reply on PC or phone. And not everything happens in the app. You can reply to messages directly in the Windows notification toast at the bottom right of the screen.
You can reply to a text message directly from the Windows notification.
Unless you have one of the more powerful phone models, you won’t see the Apps section in the top menu.
Windows 11’s Phone Link app lets you use Android apps on your desktop even though they’re actually running on the nearby phone.
The most useful features are the ones that work with any Android device and that is accessing text messages and photos from your phone on your PC. Even on the less advanced models, you’ll see photos on your PC right after you take them with your phone, and you can drag them into a document or another app that works with photos, such as Notepad. B. Photoshop.
Navigating apps can be a bit tricky as you can’t use the mouse wheel to move up and down a screen. Instead, you have to click and drag. But if you have a PC with a touchscreen or trackpad, it’s pretty damn close to the real McCoy. A nice attribute is that apps you run via Phone Link get their own system tray icons as if they were standard PC apps. This way you can minimize, resize and close the apps as if they were desktop apps.
For more tips and news on Microsoft’s latest desktop operating system, visit our Windows 11 page.
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