Advertising Windows 10 has a lot of built-in advertising. This isn’t just about the free upgrade offer: Even if you purchase a new PC that comes with a Windows 10 license or spends $200 for a copy of Windows 10 Professional, you’ll see ads in your operating system. You can, however, disable a lot of it.
Disable Lock Screen Ads
Windows 10 now displays ads on the lock screen via Windows Spotlight. Sometimes, Windows Spotlight will just show off cool wallpapers, but it’ll also sneak in advertisements for games like Rise of the Tomb Raider and Quantum Break in the Windows Store.
To get rid of these lock screen ads, head to Settings > Personalization > Lock Screen and set the background to “Picture” or “Slideshow” instead of Windows Spotlight.
You’ll probably also want to disable the “Get fun facts, tips, and more from Windows and Cortana on your lock screen” option here, too.
Stop Suggested Apps From Appearing in the Start Menu
Windows 10 will occasionally show “suggested apps” in your Start menu. Suggested apps aren’t necessarily free, and we’ve seen Microsoft use this feature to advertise $60 PC games from the Windows Store (which, by the way, you shouldn’t buy). But mainly, they just take up valuable space in your Start menu.
To stop suggested apps from appearing in the Start menu, head to Settings > Personalization > Start and set the “Occasionally show suggestions in Start” setting to “Off”.
Get Rid of Nagging Taskbar Pop-ups
Windows 10 displays taskbar pop-up ads, which Microsoft calls “tips, tricks, and suggestions”. These tips have included recommendations to use Microsoft Edge for better battery life, and an encouragement to use Microsoft Edge so you can earn Microsoft Rewards points.
If you’d like to just use your own preferred applications without Microsoft nagging you, you’ll need to disable these tips. To do so, head to Settings > System > Notifications & Actions and disable the “Get tips, tricks, and suggestions as you use Windows” option.
Prevent Notification Ads From Appearing
In the Creators Update, Microsoft added new “suggestions” that appear as notifications. These ads inform you about various Windows features and appear as normal desktop notifications. For example, you might see a notification telling you to set up Cortana. Like other notifications, they’re also stored in the Action Center so you can see them later.
To disable these “suggestions” that appear as notifications, head to Settings > System > Notifications and set “Show me the Windows welcome experience after updates and occasionally when I sign in to highlight what’s new and suggested” to “Off”.
Stop Cortana From Bouncing on the Taskbar
Cortana doesn’t just sit on your taskbar and wait for you to start talking to it. Cortana will regularly bounce in place, encouraging you to try using it.
If you don’t want Cortana nagging you, click the Cortana search bar, click the Settings icon, scroll down, and disable the “Taskbar Tidbits” option under “Let Cortana pipe up from time to time with thoughts, greetings, and notifications in the Search box”. From then on, Cortana will sit quietly until you want to use it.
If you don’t want Cortana running at all, you can choose to disable Cortana with a registry or group policy setting. Microsoft removed the old, easy toggle that lets you disable Cortana with the Anniversary Update, but the registry and group policy tricks still work.
Remove Advertisements From File Explorer
As of the Creators Update, Microsoft is now displaying ads pushing OneDrive and Office 365 with a banner at the top of the File Explorer window. These banners can be disabled in File Explorer’s options window.
To disable these options, open File Explorer’s options window by clicking the “View” tab at the top of a File Explorer window and clicking the “Options” button on the ribbon. Click the “View” tab at the top of the Folder Options window that appears, scroll down in the list of advanced settings, and uncheck the “Show sync provider notifications” option.
Disable Live Tiles and Unpin Windows Apps
While you can remove the apps that are installed as part of the Microsoft Consumer Experience program, Windows 10 also includes quite a few apps you can’t uninstall that advertise to you. For example, the Store and Xbox tiles often make use of the “live tile” feature to advertise apps and games Microsoft wants you to download.
To disable live tiles that advertise to you, right-click a tile and select More > Turn live tile off. You can also just right-click a tile and select “Unpin from Start” to get rid of the tile entirely. You can even choose to unpin all the tiles and only use the All Apps list to launch apps, if you like.
Avoid the Built-in Solitaire Game
Stay away from the “Microsoft Solitaire Collection” game preinstalled on Windows 10. This app doesn’t just have advertising–it has video ads that are 30 seconds long. You can avoid advertising by paying $10 a year. Microsoft’s Minesweeper game isn’t installed by default, but it too has its own $10 a year subscription fee. Those are steep prices for games that used to be free.
Play another free Solitaire game instead. Google now offers a solitaire game–just search for “solitaire” and you can play ad-free solitaire in Google’s search results.
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Remove Ads From the Windows Ink Workspace
The Windows Ink Workspace includes its own “Suggested apps” section which advertises pen-enabled apps available in the Windows Store. You can disable these and just visit the Windows Store if you ever want to find more pen-enabled apps.
Head to Settings > Devices > Pen & Windows Ink and set the “Show recommended app suggestions” option to “Off” option to get rid of these suggested apps ads.
You’ll only see the “Pen & Windows Ink” section in the Settings app if your PC supports pen input.