How to disable (or re-enable) Windows 10’s Timeline feature

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How to disable Windows 10 Timeline

To disable Windows Timeline:

  1. Launch the Settings app (Win+I) and click the “Privacy” category.
  2. Click the “Activity history” page from the navigation menu.
  3. Clear the two checkboxes at the top of the page.
  4. Turn each button under “Show activities from these accounts” to the “off” position.
  5. Press the “Clear” button to delete your existing activity data from your Microsoft account.

Windows Timeline is a convenience feature introduced with the Windows 10 April 2018 Update. It keeps a chronological record of the activities you perform on your PC, including websites you visit, Office documents you edit and multimedia files you use. Events appear within the Task View interface, accessed from the taskbar or the Win+Tab keyboard shortcut. Your Timeline is synced across your devices, including to Android phones via Microsoft Launcher.

Windows Timeline is enabled by default with the Windows 10 April 2018 Update and newer. In this guide, we’ll show you how to turn it off, or re-enable it if you want to start using it again. As Timeline now supports a growing roster of apps, including Google Chrome browsing history, it’s a good time to give it a second chance.

Disabling Timeline

You may want to disable Timeline if you’re concerned about the privacy implications or you just don’t use the feature. First, open the Settings app and click on the “Privacy” category from the homepage.

Windows 10 privacy settings category on settings app homepage

In the left navigation bar, head to the “Activity history” page under the “Windows permissions” section. Although no mention is made of the “Timeline” name, this is where all of the feature’s settings live.

The first checkbox on the page, “Store my activity history on this device” (“Let Windows collect my activities from this PC” on the Windows 10 April 2018 Update) controls whether Timeline can log activities from your current device. If it’s turned off, nothing will be recorded – either in the cloud, or offline.

Screenshot of Windows 10 Activity History settings

You can keep using Timeline without having it synchronise your activities across your devices. To achieve this, uncheck the box labelled “Send my activity history to Microsoft.” Note this is labelled as “Let Windows synchronise my activities from this PC to the cloud” in the Windows 10 April 2018 Update, but it has the same effect.

This option prevents Timeline activities on your device from being submitted to your Microsoft account, so they won’t show up on your other devices. However, this is a per-device option – if you keep the other Timeline settings enabled, you’ll still see activity from your other devices on your current one. You’ll need to disable this setting on each one of your devices to avoid using the cloud sharing entirely.

Screenshot of Windows 10 Activity History settings

Finally, even after unticking the two checkboxes, you may still see existing activities in the Timeline UI. The contents of the Timeline interface is determined by the toggle buttons under “Show activities from these accounts.” If you disable accounts here, none of the activities connected to them will appear in Timeline.

Therefore, to disable the Timeline interface completely, you’ll want to untick both the checkboxes on this page. You should also toggle the buttons under “Show activities from accounts” to “off” to hide any existing history which has been collected. This configuration will result in Timeline being completely empty, so your Task View screen will be restored to its pre-April 2018 Update functionality.

Screenshot of Windows 10 Activity History settings

The last thing to note is that disabling Timeline doesn’t delete any existing data synchronised to the cloud. To do this, press the “Clear” button under the “Clear activity history” heading at the bottom of the settings page. This will delete all your activities from your Microsoft account.

Enabling Timeline

If Timeline is turned off or isn’t showing all of your activities, head to the “Activity history” settings page as detailed above. You should make sure your Microsoft account is enabled for Timeline under the “Show activities from these accounts” heading – if it’s turned off, Timeline won’t display any activities.

Chrome tabs syncing to Timeline

You’ll also need to check the two checkboxes at the top of the page. If the first one (“Store my activity history on this device”) isn’t enabled, no activities will be collected from your device, so Timeline might remain empty.

Finally, if Timeline isn’t showing activities from one of your other devices, make sure the second checkbox (“Send my activity history to Microsoft”) is enabled on that device – otherwise, it won’t be able to synchronise its activity data to the cloud.

With the checkboxes ticked and your account enabled for Timeline, you should see your activities start to show up in the interface. Assuming you’ve enabled cloud sync on all of your devices, everything should appear everywhere – on your Windows 10 products, Android phones with Microsoft Launcher and iPhones with Microsoft Edge.

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