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Windows 10 Privacy Settings

Windows 10 has been criticised for sending too much information about you and your computer back to Microsoft. You can prevent most of this by tweaking your privacy settings.

The first thing to do is to bring up the settings screen. You can either click the Start menu and click on the settings icon on the left:

Icon to launch settings screen

Or press the Windows key then the letter i on your keyboard.

When you see the Settings screen, scroll down and click on the Privacy item:

Settings screen - Privacy icon

The privacy screen will then look like this (these are the defaults):

Privacy Options screen in Windows 10

The idea is, you click on item from the list on the left to see the settings available on the right. The first one on the left is General, and you can see the General Settings on the right, in the image above. Let's go through these and see what they mean. You can then decide whether to switch them on or off.

Let apps use my advertising ID for experience across apps.

Suppose Microsoft displays an advertisement in Internet Explorer, and you click this ad. If you then go to another Microsoft app, say Outlook.com, you will see a similar advert to the one you clicked on. In other words, Microsoft will be tracking you across apps. Turn this setting off if you don't want to be tracked. Leave it on if you don't mind being tracked, or you want to see ads for products that are suited to you, rather than random ads.

Turn on SmartScreen Filter to check web content …

Microsoft will check if a web address is safe or not. It's a good idea to leave this on.

Send Microsoft info about how I write …

Might be helpful if you're spelling is terrible, otherwise switch it off. Microsoft insist that they are not collecting any information that would identify you - it's just to help you with your spelling, punctuation, grammar, etc. For example, suppose you consistently type the word "the" as "teh". This could be autocorrected for you when you press the spacebar.

Let websites provide locally relevant content by accessing my language list.

An example of this one is, suppose French is not your first language, but English. This fact would be sent to the website so they could server you up the English version of the site, rather than the French version.

Let apps on my other devices open apps and continue experiences on this device.

Suppose you were working on a Word Document on your PC. You could then open up this same Word Doc on your tablet, and pick up where you left off.

Let apps on my other devices use Bluetooth …

Bluetooth is like a short-range version of wireless. It's used more on phones and tablets than it is on PCs. If you don't use Bluetooth at all, then switch this off.

Manage my Microsoft advertising and other personalisation info

Clicking this link brings up your internet browser. On the right, you should see three items: Personalised ads in this browser, Personalised ads wherever I use my Microsoft account and Personalised ads in Windows. You can switch these first two on and off, depending on your preferences. For the third one, it's tied to the settings we saw previously, "Let apps use my advertising ID for experience across apps." So if you have this setting switched off, you won't get the personalised ads.

Location Settings

Another privacy setting worth exploring is Location:

The Location settings in Windows 10

The location setting is more relevant to mobile and tablet users than it is to Desktop users. As you can see from the top of the image above, the Location for this device is on. Click the Change button to bring up a toggle switch where you can switch Location off. If you use maps on your PC then switching Location to on will give you a better service.

Scroll down, though, and check which apps are using Location. There's a toggle switch next to each one, so that you can switch off the apps that don't really need to know where you are.

We'll continue this lesson on Privacy Settings in the next tutorial.

Other Privacy Settings ->

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