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11 things you (probably) didn't know your Xbox Series X could do

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Now that you've finally got your hands on one of Microsoft's next-gen consoles you might be looking for some Xbox Series X tips - or Xbox Series S for that matter - to make the most of your new machine.

When it comes to pitching the Xbox Series X, Microsoft's focus has been on the big, system-selling features that look good on the back of the box, but this next-gen console isn't just a machine of broad strokes. On the contrary, the Xbox Series X includes a number of smaller but no less impressive features that give it the edge over its predecessor, the Xbox One, many of which have been lost amidst the next-gen marketing frenzy.

You might not have heard of these Xbox Series X features until now, then, but you'll be thankful that you did, as all of them are super handy for getting the most out of your new console. From enhancing your social experience to utilising the most customisable dashboard in Xbox history, here are 11 things you (probably) didn't know you can do with your Xbox Series X. 

Choose which parts of games you want to install

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Microsoft has confirmed that Xbox Series X users will be able to "selectively uninstall" parts  of games they don't want, in order to save both their time and storage space. This was a feature on Xbox One for selected games, but Xbox's Jason Ronald has revealed that the feature will be more streamlined and accessible for this next generation. 

“So, let’s say you play a campaign as an example, and then you want to focus exclusively on multiplayer," explained Ronald on a recent episode of Major Nelson's podcast. "If the developers choose to support it you can actually uninstall the campaign itself so that you can be more in control of how you’re actually using your storage."  It's unclear how many games will support this feature, of course, but here's hoping the majority of big budget titles (where storage demands are highest) make use of it, for the sake of our hard drives.  

Stream and record 4K gameplay at 60fps

(Image credit: CD Projekt)

Sharing and streaming footage has become a core part of the user experience on Xbox, and Microsoft has confirmed its continued support for this emerging culture for the Xbox Series X, which is capable of capturing gameplay at a steady 60 frames-per-second in 4K resolution. The Xbox One, in comparison, recorded footage in 1280X720p. 

The Xbox One X could record in 4K, but even then the capture was locked at 30fps, even when the game itself was running at double that framerate, so this marks a significant upgrade for those who like their game capture to look as silky smooth as possible, all made super easy with the new Xbox controller's Share button. 

Enjoy remastered Xbox One and Xbox 360 games with auto-HDR

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Thanks to a clever form of machine learning, the Xbox Series X can, in essence, automatically remaster Xbox One and Xbox 360 titles supported by backwards compatibility, upgrading their resolutions with High Dynamic Range without any extra work needed from the developers. 

HDR diversifies the range of contrast and color on display in a video game, creating a richer, visual picture which often breathes new life into old titles. So long as your TV supports HDR, and you have the option enabled in the console's systems settings, the Series X will implement the tech into the backwards compatible games, perfect for enjoying your favourite titles in quite literally an all new light. 

Pre-load games before you've even paid for them

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Microsoft will now let you download any game from its digital storefront onto your Xbox Series X, even if you don't own it. You won't be able to access it until you pay for it, of course, but it's technically there, sitting in your library, ready to be unlocked as soon as you've hurdled the paywall for entry. 

Why is this a thing? So that Xbox Series X users can pre-install games onto their hard drive ahead of launch, even if they've pre-ordered a physical copy that can then be booted up as soon as the disc is inserted into the drive. It's a pretty nifty workaround for all those frustrating download times that get between you and your next big game on launch day. 

Send capture straight to your phone

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Want to share your latest feat of wonder onto Whatsapp? No problem. The new Xbox smartphone app is seamlessly integrated with the Xbox Series X, meaning that any gameplay capture you record on the console can be instantly accessed from your phone as soon as it's saved onto the hard drive. 

No more faffing about with OneDrive or social media just to get your captures onto your computer. Simply hit the capture button on the Xbox Series X controller, whip out your phone, and you can access your entire library of footage from the comfort of your thumb and forefinger.

Enjoy dynamic dashboard backgrounds

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Profile Themes are a new addition to the next-generation of Xbox's user interface, allowing players to express their identity more easily via a number of dynamic dashboard options that'll bring more personality to your menu navigation. 

Several of these themes are even inspired by titles from Xbox Game Studios, including Sea of Thieves and Gears 5, allowing you to show support for your favourite Xbox exclusives in a whole new way. 

Change the volume of individual party members

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We all have that one friend in our Call of Duty: Warzone squad who just speaks a little louder than is necessary, but with no way to turn them down without reducing your ability to hear the rest of the team, we simply had to grin and bear it. 

With Xbox Series X, that niggling frustration is a thing of the past, as the console now lets you adjust the volume of individual party members, rather than the party as a whole. Finally, our eardrums can rest. 

Lord over your children with Xbox Family app

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Proud parent of a new Xbox Series X owner, but a little nervous about what they might get up to in the big, scary world of online gaming? Check out the Xbox Family app, which gives you easily accessed control over what your children can play on the console, and who they play with. 

The new application performs a number of functions, such as giving users permission to grant friend and party invitations, set time limits for how much time the Xbox Series X can be played for, and much more. If you're one of those kids, then sorry, but your parents are about to have a much healthier degree of oversight on your gaming time. It's for the best, really. 

Customise the Guide Tab

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In an effort to streamline its user interface, Microsoft now lets you customise your Xbox's Guide bar; a.k.a. the selection of tiles at the top of your Tab. This means you can prioritise your most important and frequently used tiles in the order of your choice, ensuring you have better access to them at all times. 

That includes tabs for Parties, Achievements, and more, so be sure to check out the Customise Guide option in your Profile Settings to see which ones are most relevant to the way you use your Xbox.

Use Happening Now to instantly get to the life of the party

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A new option within the Friends tab of the Xbox Guide is called "Happening Now", and is designed to present users with a quick and clear overview of who's playing what within your Xbox community. 

This removes the frustration of finding the right party to join, or figuring out where everyone is (both game-wise and party-wise), and simply jumps you right into action where it's joinable, focusing on the main hubs of activity at that moment. This is also where you'll be able to use Xbox's Looking for Group function, which matchmakers with other players enlisting for the same multiplayer activity. 

Find the hidden Master Chief Easter egg

(Image credit: Austin Evans)

As with the Xbox One, a secret engraving of Halo's Master Chief can be found on the side of the Xbox Series X's internal fan system. 

Now, granted, in order to find this for yourself, you'll need to disassemble the console, or at least remove its outer casing, which we wouldn't recommend unless you know what you're doing, and need to do so anyway, such as to replace the system's hard drive. Either way, it's a cool little nod to Xbox's poster boy, and a nice continuation of a tradition for Microsoft's gaming hardware. 


Xbox Series X in detail

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GamesRadar+ is exploring the Xbox Series X in detail. Click the banner above to read all our hands-on reporting, exclusive interviews, and plenty more, or check out the guides below for more Xbox Series X tips. 

Alex Avard

I'm GamesRadar's Features Writer, which makes me responsible for gracing the internet with as many of my words as possible, including reviews, previews, interviews, and more. Lucky internet!