The Windows 10 operating system installed on your notebook, desktop or tablet is the most cloud-connected, user-friendly version of Windows yet. And, depending on who you ask, you may want to use this breakdown to disable every feature that makes this user-friendly operating system work.
Windows 10 isn’t horrible, but it does do a lot of new things. Many of its best features are double-edged swords. In exchange for doing something cool or useful, the operating system needs to collect data about you. That information can be as unimportant as how long it takes to open your apps and games. It can also include things that you don’t realize the operating system knows, like every keystroke you make or every location you’ve visited with your PC.
Read: Is Windows 10 Safe?
And there are plenty of things to disable in Windows 10 even if you are comfortable with it collecting details about you. The operating system has built-in support for tracked ads and many of its most important features encourage you to visit Bing or buy Windows 10 apps from the Microsoft Store. Apps can run in the background and you’d never know. Updates, which take time to install and significantly change how the operating system works, are installed automatically.
If you want to take advantage of everything in Windows 10, leave these features on and keep enjoying it the way you always have. However, if you want a lean, clean Windows 10 operating system that isn’t collecting information about you or showing you advertisements, disable these 13 things in Windows 10.
Disable Windows 10 Getting to Know You Features
Collectively known as Getting to Know You, there are options in Windows 10 that track every word you type and every time you speak to the personal assistant built into Windows. These features analyze your calendar, your contacts and your handwriting too.
To be fair, Windows 10 doesn’t use any of this information for nefarious purposes. It needs to know what you type so that it can improve its dictionary and offer you better auto-correct. The more Windows 10 can analyze your voice, the better Cortana can understand the questions you ask and the orders you give.
To turn this features off, open the Settings app on your computer from the Start area. Just click on the Windows icon in the bottom-left corner of your screen. Now tap or click on the Settings cog.
Click or tap on the Privacy icon at the bottom of your screen.
Click on Speech, Inking and Typing in the menu on the right side of your screen.
Now, click on the Turn Off Speech Services and Typing Suggestions button.
Go to Microsoft’s Online Privacy Dashboard to examine and delete at all the data Windows 10 and Microsoft’s online services have collected about you.
Disable Automatic Updates in Windows 10
Windows has always let users decide which updates they install, but Microsoft took that option away for Windows 10. Chances are if your computer is connected to the internet, Windows 10 is downloading and installing updates on its own.
Use Gotta Be Mobile’s How to Stop Forced Windows 10 Updates breakdown to learn how to stop these upgrades. There are different solutions and workarounds, none of which rely on Microsoft ever adding a switch for Windows 10 updates back to the operating system.
Disable Start Menu Ads in Windows 10
You may not realize this, but your Start Menu – the area you launch all of your apps and games from – shows you ads for apps and services unless you tell it not to.
To stop these ads, open the Settings app.
Click on Personalization in the first row of options.
Click on Start from the menu on the right side of your screen.
Flip the switch labeled Occasionally show suggestions in Start off. Windows 10 will stop showing you apps and services for you to download in Start.
You aren’t done yet. The Microsoft Store, Windows 10’s built-in app for buying books, movies and apps, also advertises on the Start Menu. To end this, go to the Start Menu and right-click on the Microsoft Store app. It’s the Live Tile with a shopping bag icon.
Now move your cursor to More.
Click on Turn Live Tile Off.
Disable Cortana in Windows 10
Every company that makes an operating system has its own personal assistant. Cortana collects a lot of information about you to work correctly. If you find her convenient to use, leave her on. If you prefer another personal assistant or just don’t want your information tracked, turn her off and delete all the information she has already.
Go the Settings app.
Click on Cortana in the bottom row of options.
Click on Permissions & History in the menu on the left.
Now click Manage the information Cortana can access from this device.
Ensure that all these switches are off.
Go back to the previous screen by clicking on the back button in the top-left corner of your screen.
Click on the Manage the information Cortana can access from other services link.
Disable every service in the pop-up window.
Finally, click the Change what Cortana knows about me in the cloud link.
Scroll down to the bottom of the pop-up window and click on Clear All.
Disable Windows 10 Tracked Ads
If you’ve downloaded any free apps from the Windows Store, they probably have ads in them. Strictly speaking, there’s nothing wrong with ads, however, Windows 10 uses tracking to make these ads more interesting to you. Here’s how to turn Windows 10 tracked ads off.
Open the Settings app.
Click on the Privacy icon in the bottom row of settings.
Flip the first switch on your screen in the Change Privacy Options area off. This will change your account’s advertising ID.
Disable Windows 10 Location Tracking and Location History
Windows 10 Location Tracking and Location History isn’t all bad. Apps and services use your PC’s location to offer you the best deals and the right weather. If you don’t plan on using apps that rely on this information from the Windows Store, turn off location tracking.
Go to the Settings app.
Click or tap on Privacy in the bottom row of options.
Click on Location. It’s the second menu item on the left side of your screen.
Use the list of apps at the bottom of your screen to block individual apps from using your location. If you’d rather stop every app from using your location information, flip the Location Service switch at the center of your screen off. While you’re here, also click on the Clear button to delete all your location information from your PC.
Disable These Features for Better Performance and Battery Life
Not everything that you should disable in Windows 10 is a privacy concern. Some features are just annoying. Others can drain battery life and involve activities that you don’t often do. Disable these features to improve your device’s performance and experience.
Disable Game Bar
There’s a built-in recorder in Windows 10 that will take video footage directly from a game and let you post it to Xbox Live. If you’re not going to use it, turn the feature off.
Open the Settings app.
Click on the Gaming option in the second row of settings.
Flip the Record game clips, screenshots and broadcast using Game bar switch off. This disables Game Bar on your entire PC. Click on Game DVR in the menu on the left side of your screen.
Make sure that the Record in the background while I’m playing a game switch is off.
Disable Windows 10 Theme Syncing
If you have more than one PC, disable Windows 10 theme syncing. First, it’s unreliable. Second, because it’s unreliable, it sometimes syncs the wrong theme to every PC you have.
Open the Settings app.
Click on Accounts.
Select Sync Your Settings from the menu on the left side of your screen.
Now, make sure that the Theme switch underneath Individual Sync Settings is off. While you’re here, you can also have Windows 10 stop syncing your passwords, browsing history and other things.
Disable Windows 10 Wi-Fi Services
Almost everyone connects to the internet through Wi-Fi. Microsoft knows that and that’s why Windows 10 will let you buy wireless internet access when there’s no free connection available to you. Problem is, it uses your location information to do this.
To turn this off, open the Settings app.
Click on Network and Internet in the top row of settings.
Click on Wi-Fi in the menu on the right side of your screen.
Now make sure that the switch labeled Find paid plans for suggested open hotspots near me is turned off.
Disable Windows 10 Notifications
Every app you install from the Microsoft Store wants permission to run in the background. This is so they can keep themselves updated without you opening it first. For example, your news app will update you with the latest headlines a few times a day unless you turn it off. These notifications aren’t just annoying. They can also waste your data.
Go the Settings app.
Click on System in the first row of settings.
Select Notifications & Actions.
Now scroll down to get a list of every app or program that works behind the scenes to send you notifications. This list allows you to disable some app notifications and leave others on. If you’d like to disable all notifications. Flip the Get notifications from apps and other senders switch off.
Disable the Windows 10 Lock Screen
The Windows 10 locks screen is redundant and annoying, especially if you only have one user account on your PC and log in with a password. Use Gotta Be Mobile’s How to Turn Off the Windows 10 Lock Screen tutorial to skip this area when you wake your PC from sleep.
Disable Windows 10 Adaptive Brightness
If your PC has an ambient light sensor, Windows 10 will monitor the light of any room you are in, then adjust your display settings to compensate for that light. So, if your room is dark, it darkens your display, for example. How to Turn Off Adaptive Brightness in Windows 10 walks you through disabling this feature.
Disable Background Apps in Windows 10
Finally, the best change you can make to your Windows PC if you aren’t going to use apps from the Microsoft Store is to stop the Microsoft Store apps you can’t uninstall from running in the background.
Open the Settings app.
Click on the Privacy icon.
Look for Background apps in the list of options on the left side of the Settings app. It’s the seventeenth option from the top of the list, so it may take you some time to locate it.
You can use the list along the bottom of your screen to revoke permission of some apps. The switch at the top of this area turns of background access to all Windows Store apps.