Windows 11 Privacy Settings Guide: 9 Tips for Protecting Personal Information

Windows 11 has introduced numerous new features and improvements, and some users have also raised concerns about its default privacy settings. Elon Musk recently complained crazily on X that he had bought a Windows 11 machine and had to log in to his Microsoft account to use it 🥲。

Fortunately, Windows 11 provides rich privacy settings options that can effectively reduce Microsoft’s collection of personal information.

Manage and improve privacy settings for Windows 11

  1. Switch to local account
    Although you need to log in to a Microsoft account when setting up Windows 11 PC for the first time, you can switch to a local account afterwards to enhance privacy protection:
  2. Press the Windows+I shortcut key to open “Settings”, select “Account”>”Your Information”.

Click “Change to local account login”.

Windows 11 Settings: Account Information
Click “Change to local account login”
If BitLocker encryption is enabled on the hard drive, the system will prompt you to back up the encryption key.

  1. Click “Next”, verify your password or PIN, and continue to remove your Microsoft account.

Set a new local account username and password, click “Next”, and finally click “Log out and complete”.

Windows 11 Switching Local Accounts
Windows 11 Switching Local Accounts
After logging out of a Microsoft account, some built-in applications on Windows 11 may still be using the account. Suggest logging out from these applications as well.

Recommended reading: Compare the advantages and disadvantages of local accounts and Microsoft accounts to help you choose the most suitable Windows login method.

  1. Turn off personalized advertising and data collection
    Windows 11 will provide personalized advertising and content recommendations based on your activity data. You can turn off the following settings to reduce the collection of such data:
  2. Use the Windows+I shortcut to open “Settings”, select “Privacy and Security”>”General”.
  3. It is recommended to turn off the following options:

Allow apps to display personalized ads to me using my advertising ID
Allow websites to display local related content by accessing my language list
Allow Windows tracking apps to start to improve “start” and search results
Show me suggested content in the settings application
Windows 11 Settings: Privacy and Security
Turn off personalized advertising and data collection

  1. Turn off “Online Speech Recognition”
    If you don’t want Windows 11 to use your voice and input data to optimize the experience, you can turn off related features:
  2. Use the Windows+I shortcut key to open “Settings”, select “Privacy and Security”>”Voice”.
  3. Turn off “Online Speech Recognition”.

Windows 11 Settings: Privacy and Security
Turn off the “Online Speech Recognition” option
After shutdown, Microsoft will no longer collect your voice data, but it may affect the accuracy of speech recognition.

  1. Restrict personalized input
    Windows 11 can provide personalized suggestions based on your input habits. To reduce data collection, relevant functions can be turned off:
  2. Use the Windows+I shortcut to open “Settings”, select “Time and Language”>”Input”.

Click on “Input Insights” and then close the “Input Insights” option.

Windows 11 Settings: Time and Language
Turn off the “Input Insights” option
After shutdown, Windows 11 will no longer save records of typing and handwriting to reduce the frequency of automatic error correction and intelligent suggestions.

  1. Adjust the “Diagnosis and Feedback” settings
    Windows 11 collects diagnostic and feedback data for improving systems and services. You can turn off the relevant functions:
  2. Use the Windows+I shortcut to open “Settings”, select “Privacy and Security”>”Diagnosis and Feedback”.
  3. Turn off the following options:

Send optional diagnostic data
Improve ink writing and typing
Tailored experience
Windows 11 Settings: Privacy and Security
Adjust the “Diagnosis and Feedback” settings
After turning off these options, Microsoft will collect less data.

  1. Close “Activity History”
    Windows 11 will record your activity history, including websites you have browsed, applications you have opened, and so on. You can turn off the relevant functions:
  2. Use the Windows+I shortcut to open “Settings”, select “Privacy and Security”>”Activity History”.
  3. Turn off the following options:

Store my activity history on this device
Send my activity history to Microsoft (This feature is not available when using a local account.)
Windows 11 Settings: Privacy and Security
Close Activity History
In this way, Windows 11 will no longer record and upload your activity data.

  1. Adjust “search permissions”
    Windows 11 will default to using your search history and location information to provide personalized search results. You can adjust the settings to restrict search permissions and reduce data collection:
  2. Use the Windows+I shortcut to open “Settings”, select “Privacy and Security”>”Search Permissions”.
  3. Turn off the following options:

Cloud Content Search (Reduce Windows 11’s display of content from Microsoft accounts and other cloud services in search results.)
Microsoft account
Work or school account
History (prevents Windows 11 from saving your search history)
Search history on this device
More settings
Display search points (personalized content can be removed from the Windows 11 search panel)
Windows 11 Settings: Privacy and Security
Turn off “Cloud Content Search” and “History”
Windows 11 Settings: Privacy and Security
Turn off “Show Search Points”
This will protect your search habits from being collected and used for personalized features.

  1. Manage application permissions
    Windows 11 allows applications to access your location, microphone, camera, and other devices and information. You can disable the relevant permissions of the application to enhance privacy protection:

Adjusting application permissions

  1. Use the Windows+I shortcut to open “Settings” and click on “Privacy and Security”.

In the “Application Permissions” section, click on “Location”, “Microphone”, “Camera”, etc. to control the permissions of the application.

Windows 11 Settings: Privacy and Security
Adjusting application permissions
Recommended reading: How to manage Windows 11 location services

Deactivate cross device synchronization

  1. Use the Windows+I shortcut to open “Apps” and click on “Advanced App Settings”.
  2. Turn off the “cross device sharing” option and stop sharing your usage data between different devices.

Windows 11 Settings: Apply
Deactivate cross device synchronization
This feature is not available when using a local account.

  1. Turn off the “Windows Backup” function
    If you do not want personal settings and application data to be synchronized to the cloud, you can turn off the “Windows Backup” feature:
  2. Use the Windows+I shortcut to open “Settings”, select “Accounts”>”Windows Backup”.
  3. Turn off the following options:

Turning off “Remember My Apps” can prevent Windows from synchronizing the apps you install.
Turning off “Remember My Preferences” can prevent Windows from synchronizing your personalized settings, such as desktop layout and themes.
Windows 11 Settings: Account
Turn off Windows backup function
This feature is not available when using a local account.

Disabling the Windows Backup feature can reduce the risk of uploading personal data to the cloud and enhance privacy protection.

By following these steps, the amount of data collected by Windows 11 can be significantly reduced, and your privacy will be better protected.

If you are still using a Microsoft account, you can access the Microsoft Privacy Dashboard to manage and delete activity data. In addition, turning off personalized advertising settings can avoid interest based ad push and prevent data from being shared with third parties.

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