Windows 10 Tip: Turn Off File Explorer Advertising

Posted on March 8, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 64 Comments

Windows 10 Tip: Turn Off File Explorer Advertising

While the Creators Update will include a number of important improvements to Windows 10, the escalation of File Explorer advertising isn’t one of them. Here’s how to turn it off.

Note: This tip is derived from the Windows 10 Field Guide, which is now being updated for the Windows 10 Creators Update. But this tip applies to the Anniversary Update as well.

I’ve led the charge against Microsoft’s advertising efforts in Windows, noting back in 2012 that the software giant cheapened Windows 8 with ads. Despite my warnings about a slippery slope—Microsoft would only escalate its in-box advertising down the road, I cautioned—Windows 10, sadly, was even worse. And now the Creators Update is coming, bringing with it yet another escalation of in-product advertising. Most notably, and most disturbingly, in File Explorer.

How can you tell this is an ad? The dollar sign is one clue. (Courtesy of Reddit)

(Ad-like notifications for OneDrive do appear in File Explorer in the Anniversary Update, but people running the Creators Update are now seeing actual advertising.)

To be clear, File Explorer is the Windows 10 shell, a core part of the operating system. So like the mobile apps that first bore advertising back in Windows 8, yes, it is very much a “part of” Windows, or “in” Windows. It is Windows.

This is a sad state of affairs. Fortunately, you can turn off this terrible intrusion. Here’s how:

Open File Explorer and then navigate to View > Options > Change folder and search options.

In the Folder Options window that appears, navigate to the View tab.

In the Advanced Settings list, scroll down until you see the option titled “Show sync provider notifications.”

Uncheck that option and then select OK to close the window.

Two additional points.

First, in comparing the Advanced Settings list in the Folder Options window between the Anniversary and Creators Updates, I see that the “Show sync provider notifications” option does appear in Windows 10 today. So you may want to proactively disable it now. (Interesting side-note: There are no new options in this list in the Creators Update; it’s identical to the current release. I assume this wasn’t all the shell team worked on over the past year.)

Second, the name of that option is interesting, isn’t it? It suggests that Microsoft will only show “notifications” here related to “sync providers.” Obviously, Microsoft only makes one such sync provider, OneDrive, though the Office 365 ad is obviously related since it provides 1 TB of additional storage. Would Microsoft ever allow third parties like Box or Dropbox to advertise here too? That’s the slippery slope I worry about. I wouldn’t be surprised to see that in the next major release of Windows 10, but I won’t get outraged about that unless it happens.


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