How to Block the New Ads Microsoft Added to Windows 11

How to Block the New Ads Microsoft Added to Windows 11

I recently upgraded my “unsupported” PC to Windows 11 and was immediately bombarded with banner alerts, ads, and current affairs news that I’d rather not be force fed by my operating system. Windows 11 doesn’t exactly offer a pleasant experience out of the box, but you can adjust a few settings to fix most of its issues.

You may be tempted to use a third-party tool to disable all of Microsoft’s invasive tracking with one click. While this may sound like the easier method that following this guide, I don’t recommend it—it’s difficult to know what kinds of changes such tools are making under the hood, and if anything goes wrong, it’ll be hard to troubleshoot the problem, as these apps generally tweak dozens of settings in one go. 

Remove start menu ads

If you hate the Windows 11 Start menu, you can replace it entirely. However, if you’re willing to put up with it, you can at least remove ads from the Start menu. To do this, go to Windows 11’s Settings menu. Then navigate to Personalization > Start and disable the following options:

  • Show recommendations for tips, shortcuts, new apps, and more
  • Show recently added apps
  • Show recently opened items in Start, Jump Lists, and File Explorer

These options will give you more control over the Start menu and prevent random files and apps from appearing there. Next, remove the ads masquerading as pinned apps. To do this, open the Start menu and right-click the app icon for apps you’ll never use, such as LinkedIn or Instagram, and select Uninstall or Unpin from Start.

Block junk from appearing on the lock screen

It’s unfortunate that Microsoft doesn’t want you to enjoy a clean, beautiful lock screen. Yes, the company has used the space to show you ads too. You can fix this by going to Settings > Personalization > Lock screen. Click the drop-down menu next to Personalize your lock screen and select Picture or Slideshow. A new option will appear below the photo selector, labeled Get fun facts, tips, tricks, and more on your lock screen. Disable this to stop promotional content from showing up there.

Hide OneDrive ads

Microsoft loves to nag you about signing up for OneDrive. To stop these ads too, go to Settings > System > Notifications and turn off alerts from OneDrive. Next, open File Explorer and click the three dots icon in the toolbar. Select Options, followed by the View tab. Now scroll down and disable Show sync provider notifications.

Block unwanted notifications

Speaking of spammy alerts, you should also take a moment to disable unwanted notifications. Go to Settings > System > Notifications and disable notifications for every app that spams you. Some apps don’t appear in this list; in such cases, you’ll have to open that app and disable alerts from its notification settings.

Stop Microsoft from collecting your data to show ads

By default, Microsoft collects your data to show you ads. Put a stop to this by going to Settings > Privacy & security > General and disabling everything on the page. 

Disable ads based on your device usage

Windows 11 tracks your device usage as another way to serve you ads. Go to Settings > Personalization > Device Usage and disable each setting on this page to stop them.

Fix taskbar annoyances

If you don’t want to use Microsoft’s Copilot AI or see the news widgets in the taskbar, then you can hide them. Go to Settings > Personalization > Taskbar and turn off the following options:

  • Copilot
  • Task view
  • Widgets

This will give you a cleaner taskbar with just the Start button and the apps you’ve pinned. If you prefer to have weather on the taskbar, you can enable Task view from the settings mentioned above. Its icon will appear in the bottom-left corner of the screen. Click it and hide widgets manually until only the weather widget (and any others you actually want) remain.

Prevent diagnostics data collection for ads

Finally, you can stop Microsoft from collecting diagnostics data for ads. To do so, go to Settings > Privacy & security > Diagnostics and feedback and disable Tailored experiences. For good measure, you should also disable Send optional diagnostics data.

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