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A couple of weeks before Microsoft released the Windows 10 Anniversary Update in July 2016, we looked at some of the operating system’s features you could safely disable.
With the release of the Creators Update in Spring 2017, it’s time to revisit the topic. Microsoft has introduced a raft of new features, settings, and apps, and sifting through them all is one of the first things you should do when the update lands on your machine.
Whether you want to turn off the annoying Windows App Store security alerts, prevent ads from popping up across your system, or just improve your computer’s speed, we’ve got you covered. Keep reading to find out more.
1. Microsoft Experiments
An increasing number of tech companies want to do live testing on your system while you’re using it. Microsoft is one of them.
Of course, sometimes the live tests bring benefits; you get early access to cool features that later become part of the wider public release. Other times, you might not even know they’re taking place, and they might even have a detrimental effect on your system’s performance. Luckily, the experiments are easy to disable.
You can either use ShutUp10, a third-party app with a convenient setting called Disable Conducting Experiments With This Machine By Microsoft.
Alternatively, you can edit the Windows registry yourself. Open the Start Menu and type Regedit. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\PolicyManager\current\device\System and set the Allow Experimentation key to 0 to turn off all experiments.
2. Hide the Settings App
Why would you want to hide the Settings app? Well, if a lot of people use your computer – especially kids – it can be an excellent way to make sure they don’t mess anything up and cause your machine to malfunction.
The instructions look complicated, but it’s actually quite straightforward. To begin, press the Windows key and type gpedit.msc. Once the Local Group Policy editor loads, head to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Control Panel > Settings Page Visibility and double click.
On the next window, select Enabled in the top left-hand corner and type hide:display below Settings Page Visibility. Lastly, click Apply.
To turn it on again, head back to the Settings Page Visibility window and choose Not Configured.
Note: Because this tweak relies on the Group Policy editor, you can only do it if you’re running Windows Professional. Alternatively, you can manually install the Group Policy editor.
3. Windows Defender Security Center Notifications
As part of the Creators Update, Microsoft announced a new feature called Windows Defender Security Center.
The app aims to simplify the processes for monitoring your device’s health, performance, and security. There are five sub-sections: Virus and Threat Protection, Device Performance and Health, Firewall and Network Protection, App and Browser Control, and Family Options.
As part of the app, you’ll see a notification icon in your system tray. For people who are familiar with safety and security, it’s annoying. It’s always pestering you to take action on seemingly trivial issues.
To turn it off, press CTRL + ALT + Delete and go to Task Manager > Start-Up. Lastly, set the Windows Defender Notification Icon to Disabled.
4. Allow Non-Verified Apps
Have you ever been unable to install an app because it isn’t a “verified app from the Store”? If you’ve ever seen the screen below, you’ll know what I mean.
Again, it’s easy to prevent this screen from intruding on your workflow. Go to Start > Settings > Apps > Apps and Features. The first option in the list of settings is Installing Apps. In the drop-down menu, choose Allow Apps From Anywhere.
Warning: Disabling this feature potentially opens you up to malicious content. If you’re not confident in your ability to spot a fake app from a legitimate app, it’s probably best to choose Warn Me Before Installing Apps from Outside the Store instead of Allow Apps From Anywhere.
5. File Explorer Ads
As you use the Creators Update, you will come across several places where Microsoft has injected ads. Some of them have been around for a while, some of them are a new part of the operating system.
I’m going to run through three of the most visible, and explain how to turn them off. First up, File Explorer ads.
The ads are arguably the Creators Update “feature” that’s received the most criticism from the Windows community. Microsoft clearly doesn’t want you to be able to remove them easily; you’ll need to dig deep into some file settings to turn them off.
Press the Windows key, type File Explorer Options, and select the View tab. Now scroll down to Show Sync Provider Notifications and make sure you’ve unmarked the checkbox. Click on Apply when you’ve finished.
6. Windows Spotlight Ads
Next, Windows Spotlight ads. They’re the full-screen adverts you see on the lock screen.
They’re not a new feature in the Creators Update. Typically, they’ve advertised games and other Windows Store content, though some users are reporting their scope has broadened in the latest version of the operating system.
To get rid of them, fire up the Settings app and follow Personalization > Lock Screen. In the drop-down menu below the preview window, make sure Windows Spotlight is not selected. Choose either Picture or Slideshow instead.
7. Suggested Apps
The final type of ad you should disable are the “Suggested Apps”. You will see them pop up in both the Start Menu and on the Share dialog. The Share dialog ads are new to the Creators Update.
Unfortunately, the settings to disable the two versions of the ads are in two separate places. As I said, Microsoft really doesn’t want you to turn these off!
To get rid of the Start Menu suggestions, go to Start > Settings > Personalization > Start and scroll down. Find the setting called Occasionally Show Suggestions in Start and slide the toggle to the Off position.
To remove suggestions from the Share menu, you need to click the Share button anywhere within the operating system. When you’re looking at the Share window, right-click on one of the existing apps and untick Show App Suggestions. At the time of writing, there is no way to disable the apps from within the Settings app.
I’ve previously explained why turning off HomeGroup is a good idea. It can speed up your system and your network, and remove unnecessary clutter from your menus and context menus.
The step-by-step instructions are beyond the scope of this piece, but if you want to disable to feature, check out the full-length guide (see link above) explaining the process.
9. Turn Off Your Internal Microphone
Microphones and webcams are a security weak point – I’ve covered some of their vulnerabilities in an article elsewhere on the site.
If you want to take steps to protect yourself, you can turn off your internal microphone. As long as you’ve got an external device you can use when you use Skype or get called into a video conference, it shouldn’t affect your day-to-day productivity.
To turn it off, press the Windows key and type Device Manager. Expand the options below Audio Inputs and Output, then right-click on your microphone and select Disable Device.
10. Game DVR
Windows 10 is a massive upgrade on Windows 8 from a gamer’s perspective. One of the best features it’s introduced is a DVR function. It lets you record your gameplay so you can share your accomplishments with other users.
But there’s a problem – the DVR can significantly impact your FPS rate, even if you’re not using it.
You can turn it off in the Xbox app. Open the app and go to Settings > Game DVR. Slide the toggle under Record Game Clips and Screenshots Using Game DVR to Off.
If you want a more permanent solution, you can also disable the DVR using a registry tweak.
What Settings and Features Have You Disabled?
I’ve shown you 10 features and settings you can disable on the Windows 10 Creators Update. When combined, they’ll lead to a faster and more enjoyable user experience.
I’d love to know what you would add to this list. Which settings do you disable as a matter of course?
You can leave all your tips and suggestions in the comments below. And if you’ve found this article helpful, please share it with your friends.
Image Credits: Marcus_Hofmann/Shutterstock