Fuck All the Ads: How to Get Rid of the Encroaching Ads on Windows 10 Creators Update
Oy vey. When Microsoft first launched Windows 10 in July 2015, it offered free upgrades to Windows 7 and 8/8.1 users for the first year (SECRET: if you use assistive technologies — or just claim that you do, you evil creature — you can still upgrade at no cost). Microsoft is doing its damnedest to get as many people as possible to use Windows 10, and then generate money through services that tie into the OS, such as OneDrive and their very successful Office 365 suite. But, rather than leave things to chance, Microsoft has decided to employ ads — in the Start menu, on the taskbar, in apps, and other places. It’s rather insidious (and I’ve said as much for some time on my tech podcast Sovryn Tech), but they’re doing it anyway, and many of us — whether we like it or not — live in Microsoft’s world digitally. Fortunately, and somewhat to Microsoft’s credit, Windows has historically been a system that can be modified pretty heavily, and such is the case with these incessant ads.
No technical or coding prowess required, folks.
And with Microsoft’s Creators Update starting to roll out today (and previously if you upgraded manually), now is a good time to revisit ways you can disable ads in Windows 10. It’s ridiculous that ads are even in Windows 10, no doubt, but if you gotta use it, you gotta use it. Might as well make the experience as pleasant as possible. But hold onto your butts, because you’ve got a lot of (admittedly easy) steps to go through. Like Def Leppard said: Let’s go.
File Explorer Ads
Yes folks, not even the Windows 10 File Explorer is off limits to ads. in the early going, it seems as though Microsoft has limited these ads to its OneDrive cloud service, and only if you’re not already a subscriber. But who knows what Microsoft will decide to advertise down the road — maybe more of its own products, or perhaps even third-party software and services.
While Microsoft is practicing a bit of restraint for the time being, I wouldn’t be surprised if they start showing ads for all kinds of products, not just their own kit. If you’re wary of the direction they’re taking, too, here’s how you can disable ads from appearing in File Explorer.
Open up File Explorer from the taskbar and click on View > Options > Change folder and search options.
From there, click on the View tab and scroll down until you see the Show sync provider notifications checkbox, which is towards the bottom. Uncheck this option and click Apply/OK.
NOTE: If you want to be particularly saucy about this, you could replace your entire File Explorer and then you’re guaranteed to never see these ads. Freecommander XE has been one that I’ve used for over a decade, and it offers a lot of features that Microsoft’s stock File Explorer has never provided before or since like dual-pane features and much, much more. You can find Freecommander XE here: http://freecommander.com/
Lock Screen Ads
Ads can appear on the Lock Screen too. Even though you might not view the Lock Screen all that often (though being in the habit of locking your computer regularly is a good one), do you really want to see ads when you do? I didn’t think so.
In the Start menu type Lock Screen Settings. You can also get there by opening up Windows Settings and going to Personalization > Lock Screen. In the pull-down menu under Background, select either Picture or Slideshow. You will now see a toggle labeled “Get fun facts, tips, and more from Windows and Cortana on your lock screen.” Flip this toggle to Off.
Start Menu Ads
While you might not view the Lock Screen all that often, visiting the Start Menu is a different story. Depending on how you use Windows 10, you might fire up the Start Menu several times per day.
To disable ads from the Start Menu, type Start Settings in search or go to Windows Settings > Personalization > Start. Five toggles down is a switch labeled “Occasionally show suggestions in Start.” Turn this Off.
Admittedly, I don’t use the stock Windows 10 Start Menu because I think it’s a jumble of noise, ads or no ads. I heartily recommend Classic Shell as a Start Menu replacement, which is free, and allows your Start Menu go back to looking like Windows 8, Windows 7, XP, or even Windows 2000 (my favorite)! It even lets you put in custom Start buttons on your taskbar. Just follow the link to start using it: http://www.classicshell.net/
Share Dialog Ads
With the Creators Update, Microsoft added a new Share pane to File Explorer. By default, you are not just shown your own list of installed apps, but also suggested apps that Microsoft thinks you might be interested in grabbing from the Windows Store.
To stop Windows from doing this, open up File Explorer and click on the Share tab. This part gets a little tricky. You want to click a file — any file — to highlight a file, which should make available that circular Share button in the upper left corner (before it was greyed out). Click on that, then right-click one of the apps and uncheck “Show apps suggestions.” A couple of apps might still be available there (such as the pre-installed, and handy, Microsoft OneNote), but you won’t be getting unnecessary notifications anymore.
Action Center Ads
We’re headed towards the homestretch now, but we’re not quite finished disabling ads. Another place you’ll find them in Windows 10 is in the Action Center.
Search for Notifications & actions settings from Start. The top toggle is labeled “Get notifications from apps and other senders” — turn this Off. Also flip the switch on the bottom toggled labeled “Show me the Windows welcome experience after updates and occasionally when I sign in to highlight what’s new and suggested. And while you’re in there, you can also disable the toggle labeled “Get tips, tricks, and suggestions as you use Windows” if you want.
Windows Ink Ads
If you’re using a 2-in-1 device or a Windows 10 tablet, the Windows Ink workspace can come in handy. It also contains its own suggested apps. More ads, in other words.
To disable the ads in Windows Ink, go to Windows Settings > Devices > Pen & Windows Ink (this also may just show up as Pen Settings). There you will find a toggle labeled “Show recommended app suggestions.” Turn this Off. This setting can be turned off even if you don’t use a 2-in-1 or touchscreen computer however, so do it anyway.
Office and Other App Ads
If you don’t have an Office 365 subscription (and frankly if you’re a Windows user, it’s worth every penny of that $9.99 a month considering what you’re getting), Microsoft will get on their knees and beg you to get one from time to time. You can prevent these alerts from popping up, along with notifications from other apps that you have installed.
Head over to Windows Settings > System > Notifications & Actions. Scroll down to the section labeled “Get notifications from these senders.” Turn the “Get Office” toggle to Off, along with other installed apps you want to keep from annoying you.
And that’s it! Phew…are you sweating? I know I am. Personally, I think I’d rather go back to paying outright for my license to use Windows then have to go through turning all of this horseshit off, but this is the world we live in, and if you want to do proper gaming or just get a lot of shit done, Windows 10 is here to stay (and Windows 7 falls out of support in 2019, so don’t count on that for much longer). If you want to find out more great info and keep abreast of the latest happenings in the tech world, check out my podcast Sovryn Tech! I guarantee you’ve never heard anything like it, it is completely uncensored, and it will inform and entertain you!
PS: Spare me the “Switch to Linux” or “Switch to MacOS” jokes. Linux is my primary OS, slapnuts.