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How to remove the most annoying ads in Windows 10


(Image: Shutterstock)

We think highly of Windows 10, but it didn’t always run smoothly. From privacy concerns to buggy updates, Microsoft’s operating system has seen some controversy. So it’s surprising that the company continues to duplicate its most annoying feature by keeping ads in Windows 10.

Fortunately, most of these ads have simple toggles to turn them off in the settings menu. The steps below might not remove everything, but they should make things a little bit less. Microsoft has a history of taking ads to new places and restoring “suggested” apps that were already removed with Windows updates.

Note that while there are many third-party tools that claim to do all of the below (and more) with one click, I generally don’t recommend using them. Windows 10’s “privacy” tools may seem quick and convenient, but many of its options may depend on other settings. Using these universal tools – many of which tamper with the registry – can make it harder to troubleshoot why other settings are not working as intended. You’d better do it yourself so you know what to change and tweak later if something goes wrong.

The Start menu went through a lot of changes in Windows 10, but if preloaded games and other live tile clutter weren’t enough to annoy you, Microsoft has now begun to include “suggestions” to lure you into its own apps. For example, if you’re using Chrome, your Start menu can trick you into switching to the new Edge.

You can deactivate this by opening Settings> Personalization> Start and disable the Occasionally show suggestions in Start Opportunity.

If you’re having a problem with one of the live tiles that Windows has stuck to your Start screen – some of which are pre-installed junk or trials – you can right-click the tile that bothers you, hover over the option Move more and choose Deactivate live tile. That way, it just acts as a shortcut to the app. Or, if you want to remove the app entirely, you can right click on it to select Uninstall. Get well soon, Candy Crush.

Block tips and suggestions from the lock screen

Tips for locking the screen

The lock screen isn’t much better, unfortunately. Microsoft has a knack for choosing great photos to scroll through on Bing.com and the Windows 10 lock screen, but by default they are cluttered with text. Sometimes these are “fun facts” about the position in the picture, and sometimes they are “tips” for using your device, e.g. local account).

To remove these suggestions and only view one photo, go to Settings> Personalization> Lock screen and turn off Get fun facts, tips, and more. If you don’t see this setting, the first thing to do is to change your lock screen background to a custom one instead of Windows Spotlight. You can also prevent notifications from appearing on the lock screen on this page, and if the overall lock screen is bothering you, a quicker way to bypass it is to use a fingerprint or facial recognition.

Banish ads from the system tray and action center

Taskbar displays

Occasionally, you might even see pop-ups on your system tray trying to convince you to switch to Edge or join the Microsoft Rewards program. You can get rid of these by going on Settings> System> Notifications & Actions and deactivate Get tips, tricks, and suggestions on using Windows.

You can also remove the check mark next to Show me the Windows welcome experience Option here that shows those annoying tours after updating Windows, as well as the Suggest how I can finish setting up my device.

Finally, remember that some of the “indicators” you see as notifications may not be from Microsoft, but from the manufacturer of your computer (such as Dell or HP). If you’re bombarded with ads from your laptop manufacturer, go to Settings> System> Notifications & Actions and disable any manufacturer-installed apps that they might send. (You can also uninstall them completely; just make sure they don’t have some useful features that you want, such as updating certain drivers.)

Get Ads from File Explorer

File Explorer Ads

Apparently, nothing is sacred, as even File Explorer has been infected by ads promoting Microsoft products. In an effort to subscribe to OneDrive and Office 365, the company is now pushing those services when you try to search your hard drive.

You can get rid of these space wasting suggestions by clicking view > Options in File Explorer and then click view Tab in the window that appears. Scroll down to View notifications from the sync provider and uncheck this box. This should prevent ads from reappearing in File Explorer.

Disable targeted advertising

Advertising ID

Windows gives you an advertising ID that it uses to track your interests and serve you more relevant ads in apps. While you’re turning off all of Windows’ built-in ads, you may want to turn this setting off too. Go to Settings> Privacy> General and turn off Let apps use your advertising IDif you’d rather have non-targeted ads.

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