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How To Protect Your Privacy In Windows 10
- Jun 03, 2017 -

Among the upgrades in the Windows 10 Creators Update are changes to how you manage and control your privacy.

When you fire up the Creators Update, Windows presents a screen where you can enable or disable various privacy settings, which you can change or manage at any time. Here's how.

First, let's assume you're updating Windows 10 to the Creators Update. At one point during the setup process, you'll see a screen that presents privacy options for the following features: 

Location, Diagnostics, Relevant Ads, Speech Recognition, and Tailored experiences with diagnostic data.

See More:8 Common-sense Tips To Keep Your Smartphone Secure

By default, each setting is enabled, though you can disable any of them. To learn more about each setting and how to configure it, click on the "Learn more" button. 

After you've configured each setting, click on the Accept button to continue and finish the setup of the Creators Update.


After the Creators Update has been installed, you'll find some changes in the Privacy settings screen. Click on the Start button > Settings > Privacy. Make sure the General category is selected.

Here, Microsoft pared down the number of settings, moving some into other areas. The three settings are: 

1) Let apps use advertising ID to make ads more interesting to you based on your app usage; 

2) Let websites provide locally relevant content by accessing my language list; 

3) Let Windows track app launches to improve Start and search results.

Also, make sure you click on the link to "Manage my info that's stored in the cloud" to control the advertising served up by Microsoft websites and apps.


As with most of the privacy settings, enabling or disabling each one is a matter of creating a more personal or customized experience in Windows at the expense of sharing your actions and activities with Microsoft. 

You'll want to strike a balance between personalization and privacy. 

The link for "Privacy Statement" takes you to a webpage that describes how Microsoft handles your privacy and can help you determine how to configure each setting.

Next, click on the category for "Location History." For some reason, Microsoft removed the setting for "General location," 

which offered apps a way to use your city, state, ZIP code, or another general location if they couldn't detect a more precise location. 

Naturally, you had the option to turn this setting on or off.

But one addition here is a link to "Manage my location info that's stored in the cloud." 

That link takes you to your Microsoft Account page, where you can view and clear location details collected by Windows apps, 

like mapping apps that offer driving directions based on your current location.


Click on the category for "Speech, inking & typing." The settings here are virtually the same as before the Creators Update; they're just renamed. 

Clicking on the button to "Turn off speech services and typing suggestions" prevents Windows from analyzing the words you speak and type as part of Microsoft's effort to create a more customized dictionary for you.

You can also click on the link to "Manage my voice data that's stored in the cloud with my Microsoft account." 

That link displays a page at your Microsoft Account where you can manage the voice data stored about you online.


Click on the category for "Background apps." Now you can enable or disable all apps that run in the background in one shot, rather than individually.


And finally, there's a new category called "App diagnostics." Here, you can enable or disable the ability of certain apps to collect diagnostic information about other apps. 

You can learn about this setting by clicking on the link for "Learn more about app diagnostics privacy settings."


Knowing which privacy settings to enable or disable is challenging. 

But reading Microsoft's Privacy Statement and going through each category in the Privacy Settings screen are important and helpful tasks if you want to make sure you're getting the best experience in Windows without sacrificing your personal privacy.

Microsoft Privacy Dashboard

You can also manage some of your other privacy settings via Microsoft's new Privacy dashboard, whether you're running Creators Update or an earlier version of Windows 10. 

Accessible through your Microsoft account page, it's a one-stop shop where you can customize and configure several privacy options.

Here, you can view and clear your browsing and search history in Microsoft Edge, erase your location activity, edit data in Cortana, modify the information collected by Microsoft Health, 

and access privacy settings for other Microsoft apps like Office, Xbox, and Skype.

Open your favorite browser and surf to the Privacy dashboard page. You'll need to sign in with your Microsoft account if you're not already logged in. 

Click on the button for "Our commitment to privacy," which explains how and why Microsoft collects certain data about your actions and behavior in Windows and its other products.


Return to the Privacy dashboard and click on "View and clear browsing history." A page called "Your privacy" displays the web pages you've recently accessed, assuming you use Microsoft Edge. 

To clear the browsing history associated with your Microsoft account, click "Clear browsing history" and Clear. Poof, your browsing history is, well, history.


Go back to the Privacy dashboard. Scroll down and click on "View and clear search history." 

Now you can see the web searches you've run using Microsoft Bing. If you wish to remove this data, click on the "Clear search history" button and then the Clear button.


Again, go back to the Privacy dashboard. Scroll down the page until you see the button to "View and clear location activity." 

A page displays the last known location of your Windows device for a certain period of time. You can delete this information by clicking on the button to "Clear location activity" and then clicking on the Clear button.


Return to the dashboard and click on the button to "Edit Cortana data." The page on "Your privacy" points to the section on Cortana's Notebook. 

Click on each of the categories on the left to see what data Cortana is storing about you. Most of the information is likely benign, however, you may still wish to clear it all. 

To do so, click on the "Clear Cortana data" button and then click on the Clear button.


If you have a Microsoft Health account, return to the dashboard and click "Edit data on Microsoft Health." 

You'll have such an account only if you purchased the Microsoft Band activity tracker. If not, you can ignore this option.

Finally, scroll to the bottom of the dashboard to "Other privacy settings.


Click on the links for Windows, Xbox, Skype, Marketing preferences, Apps and services, Office, and Advertising preferences.

From the linked pages, you can learn what data Microsoft collects for each product or category and how you can manage and limit the data collected.

Finally, you'll want to read all the available information at the Privacy dashboard and the Privacy Statement on what data Microsoft collects and why. 

Much of the data the company gathers helps create a more personalized experience for you in Windows and other products. 

But such data also is geared toward helping Microsoft learn about your behavior. Ultimately, you can control your own privacy, and at least Microsoft offers you the tools to do so.