Windows Recall lets you rewind actions on a PC


Microsoft is bringing a new AI-powered search function to Windows 11 that lets users find and retrieve information across any app they’ve accessed. 

The new feature, Windows Recall, essentially records all user actions on a PC, taking snapshots of the screen at 5 second intervals. This allows Recall to generate a searchable timeline of everything they’ve interacted with, whether that’s an application, website, document, image, or anything else. It could mean searching for anything from references to a work-related topic across different documents, or a conversation with a friend on a chat app, whether on a desktop app or via a web browser. 

“We set out to solve one of the most frustrating problems we encounter daily — finding something we know we have seen before on our PC,” Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft’s executive vice president and consumer chief marketing officer, said Monday in a blog post. “Today, we must remember what file folder it was stored in, what website it was on, or scroll through hundreds of emails trying to find it.  

“Now with Recall, you can access virtually what you have seen or done on your PC in a way that feels like having photographic memory.”

“If Recall works as well as planned, it will be a major productivity booster and probably one of the most useful productivity tools we’ve seen in years,” said Jack Gold, principal analyst with business consultancy J. Gold Associates.

“Being able to instantly find data you know you have ,but have no idea where you put it, or instantly recall that website that was so useful — but you can’t remember what it was — will be a game changer.” 


The Recall feature will have uses in the workplace, too, he said. 

“Business users are inundated with data these days,” he said. “Having an assistant monitor you in the background and being able to recall what you did/where you put it will be huge.”

That said, the feature needs to function as planned: if it’s buggy or doesn’t live up to Microsoft’s promises, business users might be put off relying on Microsoft’s AI for productivity tasks. 

Snapshot data recorded by the Recall feature is stored and processed on a user’s device, said Microsoft. Users have control over what’s recorded and stored. It’s possible, for example, to delete individual snapshots, adjust and delete ranges of time, or pause the recording entirely. Users can also choose to filter certain apps and websites that they don’t want recorded, Microsoft said.

Gold doesn’t see privacy and security concerns being a hindrance to adoption. “As long as it all stays on my device and Recall isn’t sending anything to Microsoft, I and most users would be fine with that,” he said. 

“Microsoft needs to insure that the Recall data stored locally is safe and not ‘hackable,’ which is a tall ask,but absolutely critical if it’s to be trusted,” said Gold. “Imagine a hacker being able to access Recall data and knowing everything you’ve done or been to forever! How Microsoft assures of this data safety is important to whether its acceptable for our use.”

Recall is one of several AI features for Windows 11 announced Monday, including Live Captions and a Cocreator image generation tool. All the features will be available on the new range of Copilot+ PCs unveiled by Microsoft and other vendors, including Acer, Asus, Dell, Lenovo, and Samsung.  

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