Windows 10 Tip: Turn Off Lock Screen, Start and Action Center Advertising

Windows 10 Tip: Turn Off Lock Screen, Start and Action Center Advertising

While Windows 10 is excellent overall, its rampant use of in-box advertising is annoying. Let’s turn it all off.

Note: This tip is derived from the Windows 10 Field Guide, which is now being updated for the Windows 10 Creators Update. This tip applies to the Anniversary Update as well, though some UIs may be different from what is shown here.

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I previously discussed turning off disabling File Explorer advertising. But that is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, of course. And only the latest in a bizarre series of obnoxious distractions in this OS.

Here is how you can disable advertising that Microsoft sneaks into Windows 10.

Lock screen

By default, the Windows 10 utilizes a fun “Windows Spotlight” background that provides a great new wallpaper image from Bing every day. But it can also display advertising, in particular for Microsoft Edge, the browser no one wants to use.

To stop this behavior, open Settings (WINKEY + I) and navigate to Personalization > Lock Screen. For the Background option, choose “Picture” or “Slideshow,” and not Windows Spotlight. (And then choose a favorite personal photo, or photos.)


The Windows 10 Start experience is much improved over that in Windows 8.x, but it also displays ads in a variety of ways.

First, Microsoft (and PC makers) preconfigure ad tiles on the right side, which are tiles for apps and games that aren’t actually installed (yet) on the PC. Fortunately, you can simply remove these one-by-one by selecting each and choosing Unpin from Start (or, in some cases, More > Unpin from Start) from the pop-up menu that appears.

Second, Windows 10 Start displays an unnecessary “Suggested” section below the Most Used list on the left; this is an advertisement for a Windows Store app or game.

To remove this silliness, open Settings (WINKEY + I) and navigate to Personalization > Start. Then, change the option titled “Occasionally show suggestions in Start” to Off. (This is a pet peeve, but there is nothing occasional about these suggestions in my experience.)

Action Center

Windows 10 will occasionally display suggestion and other distracting and unnecessary notifications and then store them in Action Center just in case you missed the pop-ups.

Fortunately, you can prevent this from happening. There are two areas to look at.

First, open Settings (WINKEY + I) and navigate to System > Notifications & Actions. If you scroll down to the Notifications section, you will see two options to disable: “Get tips, tricks, and suggestions as you use Windows” and “Show me the Windows welcome experience after updates and occasionally when I sign in to highlight what’s new and suggested.”

Next, scroll down to the Notifications & Actions section and turn off notifications for “Suggested” as well.

But wait, there’s more

There are other, less-frequently-seen ads in Windows 10, too. If you’re a pen user, for example, you might find the Suggested area in the Windows Ink Workspace to be objectionable. (You may also find this useful, of course.)

To disable this, open Settings (WINKEY + I) and navigate to Devices > Pen & Windows Ink. Then, change the setting “Show recommended app suggestions” to Off.

I don’t recommend this, but you may also wish to turn off Cortana pop-ups and reminders. You can’t easily just turn off Cortana entirely anymore, but if you’d like to be nagged less, open Cortana and disable the option “Taskbar tidbits”.

You should also examine the other options here and turn off Cortana notifications in Settings. (System > Notifications & Actions, under Notifications & Actions.)

I think that’s all the big items, but let me know if I’m missing anything important.


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Conversation 39 comments

  • wbhite

    Premium Member
    10 March, 2017 - 11:34 am

    <p>I haven't personally experienced this, but I've heard others complain that these get reset to default when a new build is released and installed (Insider or normal). Can you confirm this?</p>

    • MarkH

      Premium Member
      10 March, 2017 - 11:44 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#89710">In reply to wbhite:</a></em></blockquote><p>I've personally experienced some (not all) of these being reset. To be fair, though, I am on the Insider track…so who knows what's going on there.</p>

    • Waethorn

      10 March, 2017 - 12:08 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#89710">In reply to wbhite:</a></em></blockquote><p>AU turned these back on.</p>

    • Dan

      10 March, 2017 - 7:13 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#89710">In reply to wbhite:</a></em></blockquote><p>If you use powershell to remove all the inbox Microsoft UWP apps they will be added back on the next spring or fall full build release.</p>

    • navarac

      11 March, 2017 - 4:00 am

      <p>New builds have generally respected my settings thru the 150xx series builds<em>.</em></p>

  • harmjr

    Premium Member
    10 March, 2017 - 12:00 pm

    <p>I don't mind some of the advertising but the ones not mentioned here are the ones that make me the most upset.</p><p><br></p><ol><li>When using Chrome, Edge keeps telling me how much better it is. Once or Twice is enough.</li><li>The OneDrive advertising does it really need that much screen space.</li></ol>

    • Narg

      10 March, 2017 - 3:18 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#89718"><em>In reply to harmjr:</em></a></blockquote><p>Use another browser other than Chrome, and Chrome and Google will also insist you use Chrome non-stop.&nbsp; So why is Edge different here?</p>

      • DixonLeung

        10 March, 2017 - 4:05 pm

        <blockquote><em><a href="#89754">In reply to Narg:</a></em></blockquote><p>When Google does it, it is because you are going to Google, i.e., you already made a choice. If the OS is monitoring your browser habit, and telling you your choice is bad (it doesn't say Firefox or Opera), that is creepy, and anti competitive. Raises the browser monopoly issue that came and went with Windows 7. </p>

  • SherlockHolmes

    Premium Member
    10 March, 2017 - 12:07 pm

    <p>That doesnt turn off the lockscreen. Because you cant turn it off on Windows 10 Anniversary Update anymore. </p>

    • hrlngrv

      Premium Member
      11 March, 2017 - 3:51 pm

      <p><a href="#89720"><em>In reply to SherlockHolmes:</em></a></p><p>Tangent: still the one-size-fits-all mentality. Why do I need a lock screen for an immobile PC in my home office? Some PCs really aren't used like phones, so forcing useless phone features on those PCs is more than just irritating.</p>

  • lvthunder

    Premium Member
    10 March, 2017 - 12:17 pm

    <p>Most of those aren't what I would call an ad. Telling you about features in the OS (like Edge) isn't an ad. It's not like the Windows 10 Field Guide is bundled in the Windows 10 box for everyone to find out about all the features. Now you might find them annoying, but calling them ads is a bit of a stretch.</p>

    • Dan

      10 March, 2017 - 1:29 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#89724">In reply to lvthunder:</a></em></blockquote><p>They are ads to upsell you for Microsoft services. Just because MS offers it doesn't make it any more objectionable or offensive to the consumer or business user.</p><p><br></p>

      • lvthunder

        Premium Member
        10 March, 2017 - 2:52 pm

        <blockquote><a href="#89734"><em>In reply to Dan:</em></a></blockquote><p>What service are they trying to upsell you when they ask you to use Edge or things you can ask Cortana?</p>

        • karlinhigh

          Premium Member
          10 March, 2017 - 6:59 pm

          <blockquote><em><a href="#89751">In reply to lvthunder:</a></em></blockquote><p>The "notification" for OneDrive includes a dollar amount, doesn't it?</p>

        • Dan

          10 March, 2017 - 7:12 pm

          <blockquote><em><a href="#89751">In reply to lvthunder:</a></em></blockquote><p>The Edge browser – its preconfigured to use Microsoft services and web sites which is a revenue generator for the company.</p>

    • karlinhigh

      Premium Member
      10 March, 2017 - 6:59 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#89724">In reply to lvthunder:</a></em></blockquote><p>Okay, so what WOULD qualify as an ad?</p>

    • navarac

      12 March, 2017 - 8:34 am

      <blockquote>Just putting an Edge icon on my desktop is close to being intrusive criminal damage</blockquote><p><br></p>

  • SherlockHolmes

    Premium Member
    10 March, 2017 - 12:24 pm

    <p>Btw. Paul, you just mentioned all the reasons why one shouldnt use Windows 10. </p>

    • Dan

      10 March, 2017 - 1:27 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#89726">In reply to SherlockHolmes:</a></em></blockquote><p>Not all the reasons but a few of them.</p>

  • Narg

    10 March, 2017 - 3:17 pm

    <p>People love to bitch about Windows and what it does.&nbsp; Even more today than ever.&nbsp; Yet, as always, it's still Windows at heart.&nbsp; If there is something you want, usually there is a way to do it.&nbsp; So why all the bitching when it's fixable?&nbsp; People a funny.</p>

    • karlinhigh

      Premium Member
      10 March, 2017 - 6:55 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#89753">In reply to Narg:</a></em></blockquote><p>Used to be, Windows was a system people could use to get their work done.</p><p>Now it seems more a tool Microsoft uses to make people do what they want.</p><p>To be fair, other software makers do this, too. I don't like it any better when, say, Intuit's Quickbooks tries to upsell me every single thing they have going on.</p>

    • SherlockHolmes

      Premium Member
      10 March, 2017 - 11:33 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#89753"><em>In reply to Narg:</em></a></blockquote><p>I simply have a problem with the fact that I need to setup and configure more things then usual to get Windows to work the way I want it to work. Non-technical people have a big problem with the way MSFT is heading with Windows 10.</p>

  • Darmok N Jalad

    10 March, 2017 - 8:57 pm

    <p>So Windows 10 is "excellent overall," then advises to not use Edge, and then lists a multi-pronged attack to remove advertising buried all through an OS that you have to pay good money for, with license restrictions no less. Sorry, but this is why I'm not using Windows 10 and am losing faith in MS. Android, iOS, MacOS, and even ChromeOS don't go this far. And no, I don't care that it can be disabled. Why does a non-free OS do this to its users? How much does W10 really bring to the table? It tries to be all things to all people, but it comes off as aimless. </p>

  • FTWMikeC

    10 March, 2017 - 10:00 pm

    <p>Thanks Paul, being an insider I've found the "welcome experience" one regularly annoying and hadn't thought to look for a way to turn it off, now it is.</p>

  • johnbaxter

    10 March, 2017 - 11:59 pm

    <p>Remember that these settings are per user account. And naturally you have two: your seldom-used (except for Insiders) admin account and your normal account.</p><p><br></p><p>I keep a second never-used admin account, which has twice bailed me out during Insider usage when the "real" admin account has destroyed itself (become useless). This is a habit left over from Mac OS X 1.0, in which accounts destroyed themselves routinely…I didn't need it in Windows until Insiders (and I haven't needed it on my Macs for a long time).</p>

  • jimchamplin

    Premium Member
    11 March, 2017 - 8:46 am

    <p>For everyone who has the "Don't use Chrome!" notification show up… is Edge on your Taskbar? My roomie uses Chrome and has never seen the popup, but I don't believe she has Edge on the Taskbar.</p>

    • StevenLayton

      13 March, 2017 - 5:12 am

      <blockquote><a href="#89819"><em>In reply to jimchamplin:</em></a><em>Yeah, Edge is pinned to my Taskbar and I've seen the notification.</em></blockquote><p><br></p>

  • Tony Barrett

    11 March, 2017 - 1:38 pm

    <p>'Silliness' is a lighthearted and non-serious term being used to describe a deeply rooted, underhand and somewhat devious method MS are using to try and 'sell' their own and 3rd party services. Windows was never about this, never part of it's origins. Sure, we're all used to seeing ads in web sites – that's somewhat expected, but at the core of the O/S, that's just not right, and the consensus is it's going to get a lot worse. Ads in Edge, ads in the start menu, ad tiles, ads in the system tray, ads on the lock screen, ads in File Explorer, pop-up ads. Next we'll get ads in Action Center, in the Settings menu. If this is the future of Windows, they can shove it. For people who've actually paid for Win10 (and I include new PC purchases in that), they should have no ads at all. None. They've paid their Windows tax. Leave 'em alone.</p>

    • hrlngrv

      Premium Member
      11 March, 2017 - 3:44 pm

      <p><a href="#89838"><em>In reply to Tony Barrett:</em></a></p><blockquote>. . . Windows was never about this, . . .</blockquote><p>Welcome to the brave new world in which Windows is no longer the exclusive dominant OS.</p><p>MSFT sees that Windows license revenues have peaked, so they need new revenue channels from devices running Windows. MSFT has chosen to follow others by using advertising as one of those new revenue channels.</p><p>At the moment MSFT and Windows may do better respecting privacy than Android or iOS, but as ad revenues grow, how long is that likely to last? At what point would MSFT discover that collecting personal info from users could boost ad revenues substantially? How persuasive would claims that <em>MSFT would never do that</em> be when juxtaposed against claims that MSFT would never put ads in Windows?</p><p>The world has changed. Software, even OSes, are no longer the product. Users are the product.</p>

  • Falex

    11 March, 2017 - 4:23 pm

    <p>Paul, why not provide .reg file to disable all?</p>

  • derekaw

    11 March, 2017 - 5:57 pm

    <p>Oh dear, this is so wrong on so many levels! 1. Paul felt the need to write an entire post about how to turn off all the advertising in W10. 2. So many places to turn off and remove all the advertising. 3. No normal person is going to bother doing all of this so they will be forever forced to see adverts on their screen. 4. MS made it very hard to find and eliminate all advertising in their OS. 5. No advertising place in settings where it can all be turned off with one click. 6. Much more….</p><p><br></p><p>Advertising in Windows 10 will get worse and more pervasive, you can bet on that!</p>

  • Lewk

    Premium Member
    12 March, 2017 - 12:12 am

    <p>There's one more that you're missing. The "Microsoft Tips" app (Also known as "Tips &amp; Tricks" or "Getting Started"), also runs in the background and displays Notifications and Ads randomly throughout the OS. It's the cause for some Edge and Mail app tips as well as others. If you uninstall that app, those pesky notifications disappear as well.</p>

  • StevenLayton

    12 March, 2017 - 2:37 pm

    <p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">The fact that the article needs to be so long, speaks volumes! Paul should have been just able to write "Click on the button that says 'Turn off all the advert crap.' and you're all done,"</span></p>

  • DrDrTed

    13 March, 2017 - 2:05 am

    <p>Same post I put after PT's article on turning off adverts in File Explorer:</p><p>I hope someone will post the registry settings that control advertising displays.</p><p>It's no guarantee, but frequently when Microsoft eliminates settings in the standard UI, they leave some way to change these settings in the registry (or even via gpedit at times).</p><p>For the most part this beats the OS X world where it can be very difficult to change settings via command line when controls are removed from the GUI.</p>

  • rejohnson

    Premium Member
    13 March, 2017 - 12:28 pm

    <p>Can we get guidance on doing all this with group policy? Thanks!</p>

  • billreilly

    13 March, 2017 - 3:17 pm

    <p>While&nbsp; is excellent overall, its rampant use of advertising is annoying. Let’s turn it all off.</p>

    • chaad_losan

      13 March, 2017 - 8:05 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#90158"><em>In reply to billreilly:</em></a></blockquote><p>Then buy a premium subscription.</p>

  • lubertazzi

    Premium Member
    25 April, 2017 - 8:26 am

    <p>Paul,</p><p><br></p><p>Trying this:</p><p class="ql-indent-1">To stop this behavior, open Settings (WINKEY + I) and navigate to Personalization &gt; Lock Screen. For the Background option, choose “Picture” or “Slideshow,” and not Windows Spotlight. (And then choose a favorite personal photo, or photos.)</p><p>to change it to slideshow. . . it won't let me set a folder I want to serve up a slideshow. Nothing strange about the folder. It is 5 directories deep on the C drive. When I try it tells me "The xxx folder isn't supported because of its location. Please choose another folder." Yet it does let me use one of these photos if I just choose picture instead of slideshow.</p><p><br></p><p>Any thoughts about where there one can put a folder to have a functional slideshow for the lock screen?</p><p><br></p>

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