How to check and change your privacy settings on Windows 10 or Windows 11

Shaant Minhas

privacy feature image

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Privacy is the hot topic of the times. In the golden age of ransomware and security attacks, we wouldn’t say the concern is uncalled-for. It’s no surprise, then, that companies have upped the cybersecurity spending as a response. Microsoft is no stranger to this, with going as far as to announce strict hardware limitations for their Windows 11—all to beef up their security game.

But, more than often, it’s not a single huge disaster that makes things go wrong. It’s always the small things that make a difference. For instance, one of those important but often neglected aspect of Windows security are its privacy settings. Microsoft has introduced a host of things you can tweak to raise your up privacy, and as a byproduct, improve your cybersecurity. Let’s learn how.

How to check and change your privacy settings on Windows 10 or Windows 11

To check your Windows privacy settings, you’ll have to access the Windows Settings menu. Here’s how:

  1. Go to the Start menu search bar, type in ‘settings,’ and select the best match.
  2. From there, select Privacy & security.

privacy and security

Once there, you’ll see a host of things you can tweak around. Generally, all the settings are arranged in three separate categories: Security, Windows permissions, and App permissions. Let’s look them one by one.

In the Security section, you’ve with you Windows Security, Find my device, Data encryption, and For developers settings.

If you go into Windows Security, you’ll find that it provides you with the ability to monitor and tweak important settings like the Virus & threat protectionAccount protectionFirewall & network protectionDevice Security and Family Options.

windows security

The Find My Device option, on the other hand, is there to help you find your lost devices. Moreover, it can also help you see all your linked documents at a single place.

find my device

With Device encryption, you can try to encrypt all the data on your PC.

device encryption

Finally, we’ve the For developers section, a separate feature specifically for developers. Basically, it lets you fiddle on the Windows settings at lower level.

Windows permissions

The Windows permission section, as the name suggests, lets you set a limit on what the apps running on your PC can do. In the General section, you get options to manipulate advertising, accessing local content, enabling (or disabling) app launches, seeing suggested content in Settings.

general settings

From the Speech section, you can enable the online speech recognition feature. This lets you navigate Windows apps using Microsoft’s online speech recognition technology.

windows permissions

To enable speech recognition, simply toggle on the button for Online speech recognition. You can also improve the speech-recognition software for yourself. Just click on Start contributing my voice clips and start with the contributions.

Similarly, we’ve the Search permission section. This is important as it lets your Windows search and look up the web, your PC, settings, and so on, so that it can give you the relevant details.

In your online searches, for instance, a lot of adult content gets filtered out automatically. You can customize the privacy settings from choosing the SafeSearch options like Strict, Moderate, or Off.

search permissions in settings

There’s also an option to tweak your settings with Cloud content search, which improves your search results by showing you added results from OneDrive, Outlook, Bing, and other online services.

In fact, there’s another peculiar way to improve your search results. You’ll have to rely on Windows search history for this. Simply toggle on the button for History, and you’re done.

App permissions

Many apps running on Windows requires permissions to access your location, camera, contacts, or other similar information.  From the App permissions section, you can change your privacy settings by tweaking what has permission and what doesn’t.

app permissions

For example, if you click on Location, you’ll be able to decide if you want to Windows and other apps to receive your location at all. As you can presently, I’ve set it to Off.

You can toggle it on by turning on the Locations services. On the next menu, you can choose the specific apps that will be given the access to your PC’s location.

Checking and changing your privacy settings on Windows 10 or Windows 11

It’s time companies and individuals start taking their online security seriously. And that is not limited to getting a high-end antivirus. What it also includes is the ability to keep your data and privacy protected—a commodity worth a lot of money in today’s data economy. If you’re a Windows user, your first line of defense will be your privacy settings themselves. Hopefully, this piece helped you tighten it up.