Right from the time you sign into Windows 10, Microsoft keeps pushing its other services on you, like requiring a Microsoft Live account to log in. Then there is Bing search baked into the operating system (OS), OneDrive cloud storage is chugging in the background, and the new Edge browser is your default gateway to the Internet. It might please you to know you can change all that to services you like more.
Unfortunately, not everything Microsoft-made thing can be completely replaced. For example, Mark has written a detailed guide on how to remove OneDrive completely from Windows 10, but you can’t replace it with Google Drive or Dropbox. You can install those apps, of course, but you won’t get the same kind of tight integration with the operating system.
That said, if you want to change the default settings and grow less dependent on Microsoft, read on.
Sign Into Windows 10 Without a Microsoft Account
You can first choose to use Windows 10 without a Microsoft Account when you set up the operating system for the first time. During setup, whenever you are prompted to sign in with your Microsoft account, scroll to the bottom of the screen to find small options to Skip this step or Sign in without a Microsoft account and choose those every time.
If you’ve already set up Windows with a Microsoft account, you can still undo that. Here’s how:
- Make sure you are signed in as an Administrator.
- Save and back up all your information. Windows will erase some data and personal settings, so backing up critical data is an important step.
- Go to Start > Settings > Accounts > Your account (or use the keyboard shortcut Windows key + I and choose System).
- Click Sign in with a local account instead.
- Follow the steps to set up a local account. Sign out, reboot.
- Log in with your local account, go back to Start > Settings > Accounts > Your accounts.
- Scroll down to find your old Microsoft account in Other accounts you use.
- Click it, and click Remove.
Remember, there are some security tips to consider if you’re using a Microsoft account. Instead of a Microsoft account, you can use a local account which is not connected to Microsoft’s web services in any way. In fact, every time you start core apps like Mail and Edge, you will be asked for a Microsoft account, but you can use the apps without that. As mentioned earlier, scroll down and click an option that says Sign in to each app separately instead.
However, you will need to use your Microsoft Account for two things: Cortana the voice-activated assistant, and the Windows Store to download apps.
How to Replace or Change Your Default Apps
Our big list of the best Windows software will give you a good idea of which programs should be installed on your computer. But just because you installed one doesn’t mean Microsoft will turn it into the default app for a certain type of file. For example, if you would like Firefox to be your default browser or prefer to use IrfanView as your default image viewer and editor, here’s how to do it:
- Go to Start > Settings > System (or use the keyboard shortcut Windows key + I and choose System).
- Click Default apps in the pane on the left.
- You can set defaults for certain types of files right here, like photos, music, videos, documents, and so on.
The app you want to set as Default should ideally already be installed on your computer, but if it isn’t, you can find apps directly in the Windows Store.
Scroll down in that list and you will get advanced controls to set apps as default based on the file type, or check an app’s settings to find which file types it opens by default. Set defaults by app still leads you to the Control Panel, which will eventually be retired. These options offer granular control over every single file type and protocol, so do this only if you know what you’re doing.
How to Change Your AutoPlay Defaults
Does your PC automatically open the folder when you plug in a USB drive? Does it auto-play a DVD as soon as it’s popped in? Well, you can change all that behavior and much more. This is called AutoPlay, and Windows 10 lets you customize it to your heart’s content. Here’s the easy option:
- Go to Start > Settings > Devices (or use the keyboard short Windows key + I and choose Devices).
- Click AutoPlay in the pane on the left.
- Choose the default action when a removable drive is plugged in.
- Choose the default action when a memory card is plugged in.
Note the shortcut to changing Default app settings at the bottom.
However, you can get much more control over your autoplay settings through the Control Panel, if you so desire. Right-click Start button, open Control Panel, and go to Programs > Default Programs > Change AutoPlay Settings.
Here, you can choose default actions for each type of file on a removable drive (like photos, music, video, and such), for each type of DVD, CD, and Blu-Ray disc you insert, as well as other types of devices you connect. Like with default apps, you get much better, specific control over elements here, so make sure you know what you’re doing.
If nothing else, you should definitely change what Windows does for pen drives, since auto-running files from pen drives is one of the easiest ways to get a malware infection.
How to Replace Bing with Google Search
Microsoft has baked the ability to search the Internet directly into your Taskbar in Windows 10. You can click the text space where it says Search the web and Windows or simply hit the Windows key, start typing your search query, and hit Enter to find what you want. But that uses Edge and Bing by default. While Edge is pretty great, if you prefer Chrome and the Google search engine, you’re in luck.
Bing2Google is a new extension that takes any search query from the Windows search bar, meant to search Bing, and redirects it to Google! But you’ll need Chrome to use it.
- Install Google Chrome for Windows.
- Download and install Bing2Google for Chrome.
- Type any search query in the Search the web and Windows box in your Taskbar (or press the Windows key and start typing), then hit Enter.
- If you’re prompted with How do you want to open this?, choose Google Chrome in the other options, check Always use this app, and click OK.
You don’t really need any further explanation on how to use this extension, install it and have fun.
What Other Defaults Do You Want to Change?
I’m sure this isn’t the full list of every default setting Windows 10 has thrown at you. If you have other pain points, shout out in the comments and we will try to help you out.
Are there any Windows 10 default settings that you actually appreciate? We’d love to hear about those, too!