Tip: Customize Your Windows 11 Privacy Settings

Posted on September 7, 2022 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 11 with 13 Comments

Like its predecessor, Windows 11 gives you numerous privacy-related options to configure. You are prompted to examine several high-level privacy options during the Out of Box Experience (OOBE) when you first set up Windows 11, but there are many more privacy settings than what is presented then. And you can configure any of these settings at any time.

Note: This is an excerpt from the Windows 11 Field Guide, which will be published soon. –Paul

That said, examining these options is tedious and it will be unclear, to most, which if any of these options is most important to consider changing. That is by design: though Microsoft provides an incredible list of privacy-related options to consider, the most obvious option—for disabling the telemetry data that Windows 11 sends back to Microsoft automatically—is not among them. Instead, Microsoft relies on this data to help make Windows 11 more reliable for everyone.

You can find Windows 11’s privacy settings by opening Settings (WINKEY + I) and navigating to Privacy & security. Here, you will find the privacy options organized under the sections Windows permissions and App permissions, below the Security section.

There’s no reason to cover every option found here, as most are innocuous. Instead, we highlight the several privacy-related options that we feel you should absolutely consider. These are all found under Windows permissions:

General

Let apps show me personalized ads by using my advertising ID. This advertising ID is used to track your app and website usage and to uniquely identify you to advertisers. Change this to Off: non-targeted ads are just as effective as those that track you online, and there’s no reason to allow this behavior.

Show me suggested content in the Settings app. Microsoft peppers Windows 11 with so-called suggestions, which are really just advertisements for other Microsoft apps, services, or features. If you’re bothered by these intrusions, change this setting to Off.

Diagnostics & feedback

Diagnostic data. As noted above, there is no way to prevent Windows 11 from sending telemetry data to Microsoft. But you can at least minimize how much data it sends. You do so here: change the “Send optional diagnostic data” setting to Off.

Tailored experiences. Though there is no evidence that Microsoft is using the data it collects about your usage to provide you with personalized tips, ads, and recommendations—indeed, these things seem blissfully unaware of that information—you should still change this setting to Off since their effectiveness can only improve.

Note: You may wish to occasionally delete the diagnostic data that Microsoft has collected on this PC too. You do so using the “Delete diagnostic data” item. If only there was a way to automate this.

Feedback frequency. Set this option to “Never.” Microsoft appears to mostly ignore feedback about Windows 11, so there is no reason for you to be bothered with prompts to provide it.

Search permissions

Cloud content search. By default, Windows Search will personalize its results using your content in Bing, OneDrive, Outlook, and other Microsoft services. But you can disable this integration so that Windows Search only delivers results from your PC. To do so, set the Microsoft account option to Off.

Note: Am I missing anything? Let me know!

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