Microsoft introduced SmartScreen with the release of Internet Explorer 8 in 2010. By 2011, they boasted their built-in phishing and malware protection had protected users from hundreds of millions of threats.

While users were still skeptical, Microsoft released its SmartScreen filter into Hotmail next, and with Windows 8, at the desktop level offering protection from unauthorized programs and executables.

Let’s look at how SmartScreen works in Windows 10, along with how to turn it off.

Using SmartScreen in Windows 10

SmartScreen utilizes a blacklist, similar to anti-virus and malware programs, allowing it to block harmful programs from running on your system. It can also flag relevant programs from running, causing many users to turn it off in Windows 8 and now in Windows 10.

In general, SmartScreen protects your PC the same way in Windows 10 that it did in Windows 8.

If you run a program that is on Microsoft’s blacklist, a pop-up will appear to alert you it could be a bad idea to run the program. From there, you can either run it anyway or do some more research to make sure it’s a valid program or installer.

If you don’t want to deal with SmartScreen at all, it’s easy to turn it off in Windows 10.

Open the Control Panel or use Cortana to search for “SmartScreen settings.”


Click on “Change settings.”

(3) smartscreen settings

As you can see, SmartScreen settings are insanely easy to handle.


By default, SmartScreen requires administrator permission to run programs on the blacklist. In order to turn off SmartScreen completely, click “Don’t do anything (turn off Windows SmartScreen)” and click “OK” to save the changes.

You can go the middle road and choose to use SmartScreen but without administrator permission that way anybody using your PC can make a choice when Windows warns them otherwise.


When you turn off Windows SmartScreen, you’ll be alerted with a notification you can dismiss. You can turn off further notifications in the Action Center.

Now, once again, search for “SmartScreen” in Cortana or the Settings app.

Click on “Turn SmartScreen filter on or off for apps.”

From here, you can toggle on and off how SmartScreen works for apps in Windows 10, too.


Note: If you turn off Windows SmartScreen, it doesn’t mean you should just run any program, installer, or executable you find online. Make sure to scan these programs with an anti-virus program before running, especially if you’re not sure about the source. Always be vigilant when downloading from the web, even from trusted sources.


Whenever you use your computer, you have to put steps in place to protect yourself from threats online. Whether you use SmartScreen, Windows Defender, or third-party software to make sure you’re protected, just make sure you’re protected. While Microsoft gets a bad rap for their

While Microsoft gets a bad rap for its built-in protection, you can never have too much protection when surfing the web. Consider trying Microsoft’s tools, try your own, and see what works best for your setup.