5 Windows 10 Privacy Settings You Should Change Right Away
If you’ve never bothered with the privacy settings on your system, this post is for you. We’ll explore five essential Windows 10 privacy settings that you should change to limit the data Microsoft collects.
1. Limit Cortana
Let’s start with Cortana, the virtual assistant from Microsoft. After setting up my system nearly two years ago, I haven’t used Cortana. I’m sure many of you can relate. However, despite not using it, Cortana continues to collect data in the background to send back to Microsoft.
But you can easily put an end to this. Go to Windows settings, select Cortana, and disable most of the settings. Turn off microphone access, the Hey Cortana prompt, the keyboard shortcut, and lock screen access.
Switch over to the Permissions & History tab and disable Cloud Search, activity history, and activity recommendations. Also, click on the ‘Manage the information Cortana can access from this device’ option and carefully review all settings.
Switch to the Cortana across my devices menu and disable the ‘Get phone notifications on this PC’ option. You don’t want Cortana handling anything for you. Unfortunately, you can’t disable it officially on Windows 10 anymore. Turn off all the settings associated with the service.
Next, turn off location access to prevent Microsoft from tracking your whereabouts. To do this, go to Location Privacy Settings in the Start menu and click on the Change button under ‘Allow access to location on this device’. Then, disable location access.
In the menu, you can control if Windows apps have access to your location data. Disable it by clicking on the toggle under the ‘Allow apps to access your location’ option.
Click on the Location option in the App permissions toolbar to give apps like Maps access to your location data. Then, on the following page, enable or disable location access for individual apps by toggling the switch next to each app.
3. Turn off Ad Tracking
Microsoft siphons data from your app store activities to serve better ads. If you don’t find targeted ads useful, you should turn off this setting. To do so, click on General under Windows permissions in the left toolbar. In General privacy settings, toggle off ‘Let apps use advertising ID to make ads more interesting based on your app activity.’ However, note that turning off this toggle will reset your advertising ID. You won’t be able to restore it to its previous state when you switch it on again. Your advertising ID will start recording data from scratch, and you’ll receive ads based on your activity after that.
In the menu, you can turn off website access to your language data, track your app launches, and show suggested content in the Settings app.
4. Change App Permissions
While Windows apps aren’t great and most people don’t use them, chances are you still have some installed on your system. And if that’s the case, these apps are running in the background and collecting data.
To stop that, go to App permissions within Privacy settings and carefully review options. Here, you can prevent apps from running in the background, accessing your email, tasks, and messaging data, and using hardware components like radios and camera.
While you’re at it, limit Windows apps from accessing your Microsoft account details. You can do that within the Account info privacy settings. If you find any Windows settings difficult to locate, you can always search for them within the Start menu.
Microsoft periodically collects diagnostics and feedback data from your system to “Keep Windows secure and up to date.” Unfortunately, you can’t disable this setting.
You have the option to limit the diagnostic data collected by heading over to the Diagnostics & feedback settings and selecting the Basic settings. This ensures that Microsoft collects the least amount of info from your device. From the same menu, you can also view the collected diagnostic data and delete it if you choose. The Feedback frequency setting is also available in this menu, allowing you to change how frequently you give Windows feedback. Here’s a quick tip:
Take Back Control of Your Privacy
After changing the mentioned settings, Microsoft won’t collect your sensitive data. If you don’t want to deal with Windows settings, you can install ShutUp10 – a program that simplifies the process.
Next, check out the next article for Instagram privacy tips to keep your private information safe.
As Fred Humiston, the author behind Twothirds.us, I focus on providing practical and easy-to-follow guides and solutions for a variety of technical issues that people commonly face.
My articles cover a wide range of topics, from troubleshooting out-of-sync audio on TikTok and managing Firestick devices, to understanding the impact of Capcut on video quality and resolving sound issues on Hisense Roku TVs.
I also delve into more general tech tips, like how to block numbers on landlines or use VPNs without Wi-Fi. My goal is to make technology more accessible and less intimidating for everyone, whether you’re a tech novice or a seasoned user. I strive to offer clear, concise, and helpful advice to make your digital experience smoother and more enjoyable.