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

Posted on March 10, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 38 Comments

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.

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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