How To Change Windows 10 Privacy Settings

How To Change Windows 10 Privacy Settings

Change Windows 10 Privacy Settings

To this day, Windows 10 remains one of the most popular and most widespread browsers in the entire world. In fact, just recently it surpassed its predecessor (Windows 7) as being the most-used OS for gaming systems.

Released in July 2015, Windows 10 was a marked improvement from Windows 7, which was often reviewed as one of the worst, buggiest, and slowest operating systems ever created. In contrast, Windows 10 is far smoother, more efficient, safer, and has fewer bugs. While it’s not perfect (what software is?), it’s a solid computer operating system that’s used around the world.

One of the really neat features of Windows 10 is that it allows users to micro-manage every last detail of their security settings. While Windows 7 and 8 allowed users a good deal of flexibility, Windows 10 has fully opened the hood for its users.

From the privacy settings, you’ll be able to adjust whether or not sites can track you for advertising (many of our favorite VPN services also offer this feature as a free add-on), control the permissions of individual apps, control webcam access, and more.

If you’ve been wondering how to change your Windows 10 privacy settings, then you’ve come to the right post! Below, we’ll show you some of the top privacy settings you can adjust and how to access your privacy settings to make the necessary adjustments.

How To Change Windows 10 Privacy Settings

So for those of you looking for quick and easy access to your Windows 10 privacy settings, here’s a quick little guide…

  1. Open Your Search Bar: The easiest way to access your privacy settings is to open your search bar in the bottom left-hand corner of your screen. Then, type in “privacy settings.” The top result should navigate you to your list of privacy settings, where you’ll be able to adjust each and every one of your privacy settings (described in greater detail below).
  2. Scroll Through The List Of Settings: Now, that you’ve accessed your privacy settings menu, you can scroll through all of the various permissions (webcam, microphone, location settings, notifications, messaging, etc.) and figure out which privacy settings are most important to you.
  3. Adjust Your Privacy Settings: Now, go through each privacy setting, make your adjustments, and change which apps have access to which desktop permissions.
  4. Restart Your Computer: After you’ve made your adjustments, it’s best practice to restart your computer. This will finalize and apply all of the changes you’ve made to your privacy settings.

Top Privacy Settings You May Want To Change

When it comes to maintaining your privacy, only you can control how much of your information is leaked and shared with the rest of the internet. Most computer/internet users never stop to think about their online privacy, which is why hackers and scammers are making more money today than they ever have in the past.

By making a conscious effort to modify and improve your online privacy and security, you’ll significantly reduce the likelihood of you being victimized by hackers, scammers, and other data thieves. So, here are some of the most popular privacy settings you may want to consider adjusting.

Turn Off Ad Tracking

Ad tracking is a feature that comes standard on most devices, from your smartphone to your laptop. When it’s turned on, your device is allowed to share your personal data and information with advertisers and advertising platforms, so they can customize the ads you see. While it’s not necessarily bad, it’s certainly an invasion of privacy.

Thankfully, you can easily turn it off. Access your Settings > Privacy > General, and change the top result, as follows:
Turn Off Ad Tracking

Turn Off GPS Location Tracking

While your GPS can be helpful in certain ways (i.e., using a GPS), it can also provide your geographic location to third parties that you may not be comfortable with. Thankfully, you can customize your GPS settings and ensure that only certain apps can access your GPS. This allows you to continue using apps that rely on GPS while denying GPS access to questionable apps and/or social networking platforms.

To access GPS tracking, navigate to Settings > Privacy > Location. Here, you’ll be able to micro-manage every single way that your location is used by your device and apps. Here’s how it should look:
Windows Turn Off GPS Location Tracking
Keep in mind that even if you disable your Windows location settings, some apps and websites will still be able to track your location by using your computer’s unique IP address. Your IP address also correlates to your exact geographical location, which can give away almost as much information as your GPS itself!

To prevent yourself from being tracked by your IP and to make yourself completely anonymous online, turn off GPS permissions and download a fast, high-quality virtual private network (VPN) service such as NordVPN or ZenMate. This will route your internet traffic through a remote server, making it appear as if you’re located in an entirely different region than you actually are.

Disable Your Windows Activity Timeline

To make your sessions smoother and faster-loading, Windows 10 often saves your activity. So, if your computer randomly crashes or an application shuts down, it will reboot the app and restore your previous session. This prevents you from having to manually re-open each app you were using prior to the crash.

However, this feature can also be used against you by hackers. They can implement a virus on your device that will cause a crash. Then, they can view and scrape information gleaned from your session activity as it re-opens. You can disable your activity timeline by accessing Settings > Privacy > Activity Timeline as such:
Disable Your Windows Activity Timeline

Stop Your AI From “Going Rogue”

One of Microsoft’s latest advancements is its Cortana assistant (named after the famous Cortana AI from the Halo game franchise). While it’s not a full-fledged AI, by any means, it’s still a useful assistant when it comes to sending messages, opening apps, setting reminders, etc. It can be programmed to do a number of useful tasks on your device or interacting with smart gear.

However, Cortana can also invade your privacy a bit more than some users would like. Thankfully, you can change some of the data that Cortana stores and shares with Microsoft. This allows you to retain a greater degree of anonymity and keep your personal information more safe and secure. To access Cortana’s settings, type “Cortana” into your Windows search bar and open the app. After logging in with your Microsoft account, you’ll be able to open the settings menu and adjust your Cortana privacy settings, like so:
Stop Your AI From Going Rogue

Manage Your App Permissions

Some applications on your desktop could be stealing and/or sharing your information without your knowledge. Even though there was probably a lengthy disclaimer in the app’s terms of service, hardly anybody ever takes the time to read those anymore; they just skip to the bottom and click ‘accept.’

That being said, you can go back under your Windows app settings and manage the various permissions that each app has. To manage your app permissions, navigate to Settings > Privacy, and then scroll down the list of permissions, selecting the ones that are important to you. Once you open the permission settings, you’ll be scroll through your list of apps and adjust which ones have what permissions.

In Conclusion

There you have it – your official guide on how to change Windows 10 privacy settings. If you’re looking to become more anonymous online, then manually adjusting your PC’s privacy settings is the best place to start. Once you’ve done that, consider adjusting your browser security settings and use a high-quality VPN service to mask your IP address and prevent other websites from tracking your activity and location.