• Windows Privacy Settings – what are the best settings?

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    Hi all. I am looking for guidance on the Windows Privacy Settings.  I don’t understand what they all do and I don’t trust MS (or any corporation for that matter!)

    Under General:

    • Let apps use advertising id to make ads more interesting to you…. OFF
    • Let websites provide locally relevant content by accessing lang list OFF
    • Let Windows track app launches to improve Start and search results OFF – I was thinking maybe turn this one on? Or bad idea?
    • Show me suggested content in Settings app ON is this ok?

    Under Speech  OFF

    Inking & Typing Personalization OFF what about this option? I did have it on but decided maybe best to turn it off?

    Under Diagnostics and feedback all OFF except required data. I was going to click delete diagnostic data – but I don’t know what the impact is of that – good or bad or indifferent? See screenshot.

    Under Activity History – I unchecked “Store my activity history on this device”  Should I leave it unchecked?  And also under there “Clear activity history”  Good or bad idea?

    I generally like to clear history and definitely do not send it, but I don’t know the impacts of clearing my Diagnostic or activity history on these settings.

    I turned off contacts, calendar, phone calls, tasks, messaging, radios, other devices, document, pictures, video library access,

    Any help/suggestions would be appreciated!



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    • #2360263

      I personally have absolutely everything turned off Settings -> Privacy, with the exception of allowing certain apps to run in the background and allowing certain apps access to Documents/Pictures/Videos/File system as required, and have never had any problem with this. I clear all of the histories every time I update Windows (as updates have a tendency to reset settings) and have never noticed any difference to how my computer works when I do.

      If you want to go further with privacy settings, then making sure you’re using a Local Account and disabling Cortana are the main things that you can do to further this goal. There are changes to Search that can be made both via Settings and via Group Policy Editor that can further enhance your privacy too.

      • #2360481

        Thanks how do I disable cortana? I don’t ever use it anyway.

        • #2360677

          If you have Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise you can go into the Group Policy Editor (as admin) and set Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Search > Allow Cortana. to Disabled. That’s the easiest way to do it.

          While you’re there, you might want to set Allow search and Cortana to use location. to Disabled and Set what information is shared in Search to Enabled/Anonymous info (by default, Microsoft sends itself all of your search history, not even anonymised).

          If you have Windows 10 Home, you need to use the Registry Editor (as admin). Go to Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Windows Search and set AllowCortana to 0 by double clicking it. If AllowCortana doesn’t exist, create it by right clicking on Windows Search in the left hand menu and clicking New > DWORD (32-bit) Value with the Name AllowCortana, the set it to 0 by double clicking it.

          Restart to apply the change.

          • #2360703

            Set what information is shared in Search

            Group Policy Editor says;
            “Requirements: Windows 8.1. Not supported on Windows 10 or later”.

            Windows 11 Pro version 22H2 build 22621.2361 + Microsoft 365 + Edge

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            • #2360784

              Well spotted! My eyes totally glazed over that box. Still, it can’t hurt in case they enable in for Windows 10 in the future. Okay, Microsoft isn’t going to add back a privacy setting that they removed, are they…

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            • #2360922

              I am on Win10 Pro. So I can’t disable Cortana? I am not logged in.

            • #2360938

              Having Windows 10 Pro only makes it easier to disable Cortana. Just use the Group Policy Editor as I mentioned in the first paragraph of my post here. It’s only one of my other suggestions that doesn’t apply to Windows 10; disabling Cortana will work on your system and only requires the first policy change that I mentioned to do.

              If you’re having trouble finding the Group Policy Editor, just type gpedit in the search box, and right click and Run as administator to open it.

            • #2360941

              ok thanks. I have set all GP Edit settings as noted. I misunderstood this, what is not supported on Windows 10 or later?

              Set what information is shared in Search

              Group Policy Editor says;
              “Requirements: Windows 8.1. Not supported on Windows 10 or later”.


            • #2360946

              The Set what information is shared in Search setting isn’t supported in Windows 10, but it’s irrelevent to disabling Cortana, I just mentioned it as an aside since it’s search-related.

              The setting that does disable Cortana (Allow Cortana) very much works on Windows 10, as does the Allow search and Cortana to use location. setting.

              I hope that you have been able to successfully disable Cortana now.

            • #2360952

              Yes I was able to disable Cortana, thanks.  I was also able to Set what information is shared in Search.

              See screenshot. Does the “Requirements” statement mean it’s ignored, i.e. “not supported?”

              “Requirements: Windows 8.1. Not supported on Windows 10 or later”.



            • #2360955

              Yes, that is correct, unfortunately. That is what I missed and what b pointed out. Sadly Microsoft has decided that we shall no long have that privacy option! The other settings both work fine on Windows 10, however.

    • #2360315

      21 Settings To Change In Windows 10 To Reclaim Your Privacy

      I have uninstalled all(but Store) Microsoft Store apps using free portable Windows 10 Apps Manager

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      • #2360796

        Since we’re sharing links, a shout out to a slightly older but still mostly relevant (I used this guide when I installed Windows 10 last year) article on Computerworld by an author with whom we’re all familiar.

        Just search for “The definitive guide to privacy settings in Windows 10 Creators Update“.

        I would add the link myself, but it’s blocking the link for being spam, which is rather ironic considering the website and author!

        Moderator note: Added link

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    • #2360968

      Something worth mentioning perhaps is that if the “Allow Windows to track app launches to improve start and search results” is unchecked, the ability for the Run Command to store/remember commands is removed and won’t remember them as long as it is unchecked.
      I have had several folks ask me in the past why their Run Command is empty and this is often the reason.

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      • #2362137

        I have done this to myself a couple (few?) times. They may be restored from a back up via reg file. `Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

        “e”=”perfmon /rel\\1”
        “f”=”perfmon /report\\1”
        “g”=”cmd.exe /c Cleanmgr /sagerun:655\\1”
        “n”=”control userpasswords2\\1”
        “p”=”cmd.exe /c Cleanmgr /sageset:6553\\1”
        Just an example. You only have 26 lines to use a-z. Sorry forgot just where I learned this and do not see it in my bookmarks


        Just because you don't know where you are going doesn't mean any road will get you there.
    • #2360983

      I use an app called destroy windows spying it’s on github to get rid of metro apps and telemetry seems to work well.  It’s open source I don’t know how to tell if it’s clean but don’t seem to have any ill effects from it.

    • #2360986

      A very effective way to prevent unnecessary snooping is to block the snoopers with your firewall.  If you have a decent one that allows you to set it to notify you (you should only have to do this once) when anything wants internet access, choose that setting and then restart your computer.  As it boots up,you’ll be bombarded with screen prompts asking you to either allow it once, allow it always, block it once or block always, etc.  When those pop-ups hit your screen, look at each one carefully.  Look at the paths.  Look at the program name. Look at what really wants internet access.

      You’d want to allow the Malicious Software Tool, but you may not want to allow Windows Telemetry, PC Doctor, Support Assist, and other programs that have no business wanting full-time access to your machine.  If your firewall allows you to choose ‘block always’ on a program or snooper, then you won’t have to block it again when you restart your computer, nor will you get hammered with firewall alerts. Otherwise, if you choose to block it once, you will get a screen prompt asking you to decide again when you either restart or launch the program.

      Works for me.  If anything, you’ll be shocked at what wants a piece of that internet pie.

      "War is the remedy our enemies have chosen. And I say let us give them all they want" ----- William T. Sherman

    • #2361422

      You can control all privacy aspects with the free portable WPD (Windows Privacy Dashboard)

    • #2381728

      I have only just discovered “Activity History” due to having a new keyboard that has a key dedicated to that function. I was disturbed to see that it showed my last use of my Password Manager and that I (or anyone else with access to my desktop) could directly open the last window I had used. This would let anyone into my PM. Not too much of a problem in my house, but I have turned all the choices on the Activity History page off.



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