9 Windows 10 Features You Can Safely Disable

Ben Stegner 26-07-2016

Windows 10 has been around for a year, and while there are definitely good and bad parts of the operating system 7 Best & Worst Windows 10 Features Was Windows XP your favorite operating system, too? Windows 8 made me switch to OS X. Windows 10 has been my homecoming and while some features are convincing, others still need work. Find out where... Read More (OS), overall we’ve been pretty happy with the upgrade. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t still plenty of annoying features that Windows users don’t need Here Are 5 Annoying Windows Features Nobody Needs Windows is great at its core, but some features are over the top. We'd be happy to see them removed. Which Windows features would you like to get rid of? Read More included in the OS. Since Windows 10 may be the last version of Windows ever The Latest Windows 10 Version Won't Be the Last One What is the latest Windows 10 version? How long is it supported? And why did Microsoft switch to a service model? Answers within! Read More , it’s worth taking some time to prune off these annoyances.


Whether you want to get rid of every non-essential feature you possibly can in order to streamline Windows or just want to make your system a little more customized for you, let’s take a look at some features that you can disable in Windows 10 for peace of mind.

Features Everyone Should Disable

First, let’s go over the items you can turn off that most people will want to disable. Perhaps there’s a feature or two here that you like — that’s no problem! However, a fresh install should include these steps 7 Default Windows 10 Settings You Should Check Immediately Microsoft made some questionable decisions with Windows 10. Some of its default settings should not be left alone. We show you how to improve privacy, conserve bandwidth, reduce distraction, and lots more. Read More right away.

1. Junk Apps

Windows 10 does a way better job of separating new Modern (Universal Windows Platform; UWP) apps and traditional desktop software than Windows 8 did, but there’s still a lot of crap included with a default Windows 10 install. Some stock UWP apps, like Weather and Xbox (which makes gaming on Windows 10 Here's How Gaming Will Work With Windows 10 With Windows 10, Microsoft is bringing PC gaming and the Xbox One together in a big way. Find out what to expect once Windows 10 arrives. Read More awesome), are worth keeping around, but garbage like Candy Crush Saga just clutters up your Start Menu.

Luckily, it’s easy to remove bloatware apps Tired of Bloatware? How to Purge Windows 10 Store Apps For Microsoft, Windows 10 is a cash machine. With future updates, more apps will be pre-installed and promoted on the Start Menu. Let us show you how to easily remove pre-installed Windows Store apps. Read More , either one-by-one or all at once with a script How to Easily Remove Bloatware From Windows 10 Windows 10 comes with its own set of pre-installed apps. Let's look at the methods you can use to remove the bloatware on your PC and debloat Windows 10. Read More . This is especially important to do with the arrival of the Anniversary Update Windows 10 Anniversary Update Due in July & These Are Its Best Features You will love the Windows 10 Anniversary Update! The second big upgrade to Windows 10 since its launch in July 2015 is expected this summer. Here we highlight the most exciting features. Read More , which doubles the “promoted” (read: junk) app count Windows 10 Gets Infested With Ads, Google Launches Spaces... [Tech News Digest] Windows 10 doubles the number of promoted apps, Google launches a new messaging app, Twitter makes room for more words, the BBC has one eye on Netflix, and a short film made entirely of stock... Read More in your Start Menu.

As part of this, be sure to visit Settings > Personalization > Start and turn off Occasionally show suggestions in Start so that Microsoft doesn’t slap more apps and ads you don’t want How to Ban Windows 10 Ads & NSFW Content from Your Desktop Windows 10 may be crossing a line with desktop ads and NSFW content. Microsoft and third-party developers can push promotional material directly onto your desktop. We show you how you can defend yourself. Read More in the Start Menu.


2. Peer-to-Peer Styled Updates

Windows Update has been streamlined in Windows 10, but we also kind of hate it This Is Why We Hate Windows Update The way Windows Update currently forces Windows 10 upgrades and updates on you is bad. Gavin examines what makes all of us hate Windows Update and what you can do against it. Read More . Part of this is because Microsoft decided it would be a good idea to have every Windows 10 machine seed updates for other machines — saving stress on their servers. It’s not a bad idea in theory (it’s modeled after peer-to-peer connections How P2P (Peer to Peer) File Sharing Works Wondering what peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing is and how it got started? We explain what you should know. Read More ), but it also means that your computer is wasting bandwidth by sending updates to other people.

You can shut this off and still continue to receive Windows Updates without issues How to Resolve Windows Update Problems in 5 Easy Steps Has Windows Update failed you? Maybe the download got stuck or the update refused to install. We'll show you how to fix the most common issues with Windows Update in Windows 10. Read More . Open the Start Menu and type Windows Update to open Windows Update Settings. Click Advanced Options and then Choose How Updates are Delivered. Uncheck the switch here, or change it just to share updates with PCs on your home network so it won’t share updates with the whole world.

3. Excessive Tracking

Right from the beginning, Windows 10 has received a lot of flak for its user tracking and privacy issues Everything You Need to Know About Windows 10's Privacy Issues While Windows 10 has some issues that users need to be aware of, many claims have been blown out of proportion. Here's our guide to everything you need to know about Windows 10's privacy issues. Read More . While these reactions may be slightly overblown (the anonymized usage data is used to make Windows 10 better — and it’s not like all sorts of programs on your computer, like your antivirus, aren’t already tracking you Is Your Antivirus Tracking You? Here's What You Need to Know Free antivirus software comes with a price: your privacy. It's time to switch to antivirus software that doesn't track you. Read More ), there are a lot of superfluous telemetry settings that you can disable without issue.

We’ve shown you how to disable the tracking in Windows 10 Windows 10 Is Watching: Should You Be Worried? Since its release, Windows 10 has been dogged by rumors concerning user privacy. Some of these are accurate, whereas others are myths. But where does Windows 10 stand on privacy, really? Read More , using tools like ShutUp10 to easily see what’s enabled, what you should disable, and what might cause issues with other features on your computer. Give one of these tools a download and you can remove the spying features you don’t want in just a few minutes.


4. Change Default Apps

Windows 10 allows you to choose which apps are used to open certain types of files; these are of course all set to Microsoft’s “recommended” apps when you first start. This means that Microsoft Edge (which isn’t quite worth using yet 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Switch to Microsoft Edge Yet Is Microsoft Edge worth using while Chrome, Firefox, and Opera are still around? Is Edge good enough to be your primary browser? Read More ) is the default browser, Groove Music is the default music player, and Movies & TV is the default video player.

While there’s nothing wrong with these apps, you might want to use, say, VLC Media Player to open videos 6 More VLC Media Player Features You Must Try VLC is a media player more powerful than you might realize. Are you using it to its full potential? Here are some pointers. Read More and Media Monkey or another media player 5 Lightweight Music Players That Don’t Sacrifice Features For some time, I have been searching for the best free music players out there. Time and time again, I find myself coming back to my tried and trusty Foobar2000, but every once in a... Read More to open music by default. It’s worth a trip to Settings > System Default Apps to change these.

Another default you should change in this menu (click Choose default apps by file type at the bottom of the Defaults page) is to use a real PDF viewer — instead of the default Microsoft Edge — to view PDFs Use a Real PDF Reader Instead of Edge in Windows 10 Looking for a more powerful PDF reader in Windows 10 than Microsoft Edge? Here's how to change the default PDF reader to anything you choose. Read More .

5. Background Apps

If you didn’t disable or remove apps in the steps above, chances are that they’re still running in the background. Just like on mobile platforms How to Prevent Any App From Using Mobile Data on Android If your apps use too much mobile data, try restricting background data on Android. Here's how to turn off data and save money. Read More , Windows 10 apps are able to continue working even when you don’t have them explicitly open in front of you. This can lead to decreased performance if many apps are running, as well as extra battery usage on a laptop.


To turn off their ability to do this, open Settings > Privacy and select the Background apps tab. Disable the slider for apps that you don’t want to run in the background. Of course, if you’re never going to use them, it’s better to completely remove them!

For more control, you can also turn off automatic app updates How to Turn Off Automatic App Updates in Windows 10 how to stop the auto-update function for apps in Windows 10, if you don't want the latest versions of apps for any reason. Read More so they aren’t wasting bandwidth and battery updating without your permission. However, note that if your apps aren’t updating, you’ll miss out on new features and security fixes.

6. Swap Out Windows Defender

Windows Defender is the evolution of Microsoft Security Essentials — once a free antivirus from Microsoft, it’s now become the built-in antivirus solution for Windows 10 How to Use Windows Defender Malware Protection on Windows 10 Like any Windows operating system, Windows 10 is open to abuse and vulnerable to online threats. Security software is mandatory. Windows Defender is a good place to start and we guide you through the setup. Read More . However, we found that Security Essentials wasn’t a particularly good antivirus Why You Should Replace Microsoft Security Essentials With A Proper Antivirus Read More to begin with, so you should probably disable Windows Defender and secure your system with a proper antivirus.

We’ve reviewed the antivirus options for securing your computer with Windows 10 The Best Antivirus Software for Windows 10 Want to tighten security on your PC? Here are the best antivirus software options for Windows 10. Read More ; you really can’t go wrong with any of the best free antivirus suites The 5 Best Free Internet Security Software for Windows Need antivirus, anti-malware, and real-time security? Here are the best free internet security software for Windows. Read More , like Avira or Panda Free. Simply download and install one of these tools, and Windows Defender will disable itself.


Features You May Want to Disable

These items are pretty useful for most people, so consider if you’re actually using them before disabling them. However, if you decide you don’t need them, they’re perfectly safe to disable.

7. Cortana

Cortana lets you do all kinds of cool tricks 6 Coolest Things You Can Control with Cortana in Windows 10 Cortana can help you go hands-free on Windows 10. You can let her search your files and the web, make calculations, or pull up the weather forecast. Here we cover some of her cooler skills. Read More on your desktop. From changing system settings to looking up information online to managing your calendar, Cortana is your personal assistant How to Make Cortana Organize Your Life Your life is so complex, you deserve a personal assistant. Meet Cortana, your virtual assistant ready to serve at the tip of your tongue. We'll show you how to effectively delegate tasks to Cortana. Read More in Windows 10.

If you decide that you don’t want Cortana despite these features, you can remove her How to Set Up Cortana & Remove Her in Windows 10 Cortana is Microsoft's greatest productivity tool since Office. We'll show you how to get started with Windows 10's digital assistant or how to turn Cortana off for improved privacy. Read More and replace her functionality with the standard Windows 10 search 7 Search Tips to Find What You're Looking for in Windows 10 Are you using Windows 10 search to its full extent? We will show you how to customize where Windows searches, handy search parameters, and other shortcuts. Our search tips will turn you into a search... Read More .

To unplug Cortana, type Cortana into the Start menu to find Cortana & Search Settings. Turn off the first slider (Cortana can give you alerts…) and she’ll be gone.

8. The Action Center

The Action Center is the place where all your Windows 10 notifications gather, but the constant alerts can get pretty irritating 5 Distracting Desktop Notifications & How To Turn Them Off [Windows] When you are working on a computer, it takes a fair bit of will power to resist the attempt to multitask. But even if you manage to restrain yourself, many programs manage to throw in... Read More . If you want to quiet it down, we’ve shown you how to tweak Action Center notifications, or even turn it off completely How to Customize & Disable the Windows 10 Action Center The Windows 10 Action Center is a tool for power users. It collects all your important notifications and key system shortcuts in the Taskbar. We'll show you how to configure your Action Center to perfection. Read More .

For extra fun, you can use a Registry tweak 5 Windows 10 Registry Tweaks to Improve & Unlock Features The registry editor is the only way to enable some of Windows 10's hidden features. Here we'll show you easy tweaks like enabling the dark theme or hiding folders. Read More to bring back the old Windows 7-style balloon notifications instead of the Windows 10 tiles.

9. OneDrive

OneDrive, like Windows Defender, went from being an extra tool to a built-in feature of the operating system. Saving your documents to the cloud by default is a great step in making sure you’re backing up your data 5 Basic Backup Facts Every Windows User Should Know We never tire to remind you to make backups and keep your data safe. If you're wondering what, how often, and where you should back up your files, we have straight forward answers. Read More , but maybe you don’t want to use OneDrive because you’re mad at Microsoft for cutting the free space How to Move OneDrive to Google Drive After Storage Cut The Internet is angry at Microsoft. After promising unlimited storage with the Office 365 subscription, and 15 GB of storage for free users, the company has reneged on its promise. All because some users abused... Read More or you prefer another cloud solution.

If that’s the case, you can disable or replace OneDrive in Windows 10 How to Disable & Replace OneDrive in Windows 10 OneDrive is deeply integrated in Windows 10 and Microsoft might tell you that removing it is not possible. Well, not unless you're willing to dig deep. We show you how to extract OneDrive from Windows... Read More in just a few minutes. If you really hate OneDrive and don’t want a single trace of it on your system, you can use the OneDrive-Uninstaller tool to obliterate it from your machine.

However, make sure to read the fine print for this tool on the download page — the script will delete local files saved in OneDrive and could break settings on your system if you use a Microsoft account to sign into your PC The Pros and Cons of Using a Microsoft Account with Windows A single Microsoft Account allows you to log into a wide range of Microsoft services and apps. We show you the pros and cons of using a Microsoft Account with Windows. Read More . Only use this tool if you’re sure that you don’t want OneDrive back, as you’ll probably have to refresh your PC How to Factory Reset Windows 10 or Use System Restore Learn how System Restore and Factory Reset can help you survive any Windows 10 disasters and recover your system. Read More if you change your mind later.

What Do You Turn Off?

As you see, there are plenty of Windows 10 features that you can kick out without causing problems on your system. While everything will work fine right out of the box, it’s worth taking the time to remove features that you won’t use or don’t care about.

You might have noticed one big feature missing here — Windows Update. While there are ways to temporarily disable Windows Updates 7 Ways to Temporarily Turn Off Windows Update in Windows 10 Windows Update keeps your system patched and safe. In Windows 10 you're at the mercy of Microsoft's schedule unless you know hidden settings and tweaks. So, keep Windows Update under control. Read More , it’s not safe to completely disable the feature. These updates keep your system secure and bring new features when they’re released, so while you can tweak Windows Update and make sure it doesn’t screw up your drivers Take Back Control Over Driver Updates in Windows 10 A bad Windows driver can ruin your day. In Windows 10, Windows Update automatically updates hardware drivers. If you suffer the consequences, let us show you how to roll back your driver and block future... Read More , you shouldn’t completely disable it.

Now that you’re done disabling features, find out how you can resurrect old features in Windows 10 5 Lost Features You Can Resurrect in Windows 10 Windows 10 is quite different and chances are you're missing a few familiar features. Did you lose Windows Media Center, DVD support, or classic games during the upgrade? We may have a solution for you! Read More .

What other Windows 10 features have you disabled — or wish you could disable? Add to the list with your thoughts in the comments!

Related topics: Microsoft Cortana, Microsoft OneDrive, Windows 10, Windows Action Center, Windows Defender, Windows Update.

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  1. Scott
    November 28, 2017 at 2:44 pm

    I have disabled Superfetch in the last 4 Windows preview builds. I watcg a lot of videos online and Superfetch would "freeze" my pc consistantly. This happened most often when using Firefox. The lockup would be so severe I couldn't even bring up Task Manager to close programs. When I could bring up Task Manager, Superfetch would using 100% of the CPU. Oddly, the only thing noticably slower is bootup time.

    Using this article, I have disabled "run in background" for several apps that are useless for me. Thanks for the great article.

  2. Jouni "rautamiekka" Järvinen
    March 3, 2017 at 11:45 am

    The Cortana vid is dead cuz whatever acc had it is dead.

    • Ben Stegner
      March 3, 2017 at 4:33 pm

      Thanks, I've changed the video!

  3. Ron
    October 15, 2016 at 7:37 am

    #7 Cortana. Your instructions to stop Cortana are incomplete. Yes, you can turn off the slider, but if you go into task manager Processes Tab or App History Tab you will see Cortana lurking there. I turned cortana off a while back, but in history over 2.5 weeks it had run 4minutes of CPU and roughly 40MB of network use. On something that had been turned off?

    There is a better, more final way to nuke it.

    In an Admin windows userid:
    - start Windows Explorer
    - Find the location of SearchUI.EXE, that is the name of Cortana! It will be in a Windows system folder with name ... like c:\windows\systemapps\ Apparently the last extension on the name changes over time as it is updated
    - open task manager on Procesess tab
    - in explorer, to change the name, add some text to the end of the folder name. Leave the name change open
    - swap to task manager
    - right click on cortana process
    - select end task
    - quickly swap to explorer and try to save the folder name change
    - it probably wont work first time so keep killing the process and "try again" on the save name change until it works.

    Unfortunately, those nasty so-in-so's at MS tied cortana, the "search UI" into the Win 10 start menu search. A feature I use frequently. Just like they tried to make IE uninstallable many years ago. I hope someone out there will find a hack to get around this last stumbling point. In the mean time I reluctantly have to turn that part of cortana back on

  4. Charly
    August 17, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    As i did with W7 i disabled completely W10 Updates after installing. Period.

  5. Sclane
    July 28, 2016 at 10:41 pm

    Apps & Featues automatic update ? i mean i dont want my programs to be compatible if they already just work fine.

  6. Anonymous
    July 26, 2016 at 11:07 pm

    On both of my Windows 10 machines (one W10 pro and 1 W10 Home), I shut down P2P updates and uninstall the junk apps, The uninstallable ones can be removed with Powershell. I have a script that gets rid of all of them in one shot.

    Then I remove Cortana. I don't use the fake slider in the settings that only hides her. I take ownership of searchui.exe in the Cortana folder and remove all "Execute" privileges. She can't run at all like that, not even in the background. Search functionality is restored by using Classic Shell.

    The most important thing for me, since I have a satellite ISP, is to retake command of Windows Update. Both machines are set to metered connections. I take additional steps however since I don't trust MS to always honor settings. On the Pro machine, I use Group Policy to stop automatic updates just like in 7 and 8.1. I personally use "Don't check for Updates" and perform the checks and updates manually. On the Home machine, I just shut down the Windows Update Service completely. It can be turned back on when I want to check for and allow an update.