How to set up and use Smart App Control to block malicious and untrusted apps on the Windows 11 2022 Update

Dave W. Shanahan

smart app control

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Smart App Control (SAC) is a new feature that is only available on Windows 11 2022 Update. The purpose of SAC is to prevent unwanted or malicious apps which may make your PC run slowly, display unwanted ads, or adds extra software you don’t want installed.

At the current time, Smart App Control is only available on new devices or clean installations of Windows 11 2022. When this feature is enabled, if you run an untrusted app, the feature will check the digital certificate to verify the developer identity and confirm that the app was not otherwise edited by someone else.

Microsoft uses their own cloud technology to predict if the app is safe or not and if the digital certificate and signature is valid. Otherwise, SAC will block that app from being used on your PC.

Microsoft notes that SAC aims to bring a higher level of app security so the only way to ensure that you aren’t running an “untrusted” app, is to install Windows 11 from scratch.

Smart App Control set up

smart app controlIf you want to check if this feature is available on your PC, you can check by using the Windows Security app. If it isn’t available, you will need to clean install Windows 11 or use recovery to reset your PC. Here’s what you need to do.

  1. Click Start.
  2. Search for “smart app control” and click Open next to the top result.
  3. Verify your Smart App Control status from the three options seen below: On, Evaluation, and Off.

smart app control

If you check to see if this feature is available on your PC and get a screen that shows that it is set to Off with the other two options greyed out, you need to reset your PC to factory settings.

Microsoft explains that the reason being with a clean installation of Windows 11, Microsoft can better determine if an untrusted application is running on your system.

Reset your PC to factory settings

Of course, when you reset your PC, it is always a good idea to back up your files in case they get lost. Keep in mind that this process with preserve your files, but it will remove your Windows Settings as well as any apps you installed.

To reinstall Windows 11 to make Smart App Control available, here’s what you need to do.

  1. Open Settings (Windows key + I keyboard shortcut).
  2. Go to System > Recovery.
  3. Under “Recovery options,” click Reset app control
  4. Click the Keep my files option. KEEPMYFILES
  5. Click the Local reinstall option. LOCALREINSTALL
  7. Click Reset to reset your PC. RESET

After you complete these steps, your PC will reinstall Windows 11 2022, keeping your personal files. Once Windows 11 reinstalls, don’t redownload any apps until you enable Smart App Control on your device first.

Enable Smart App Control

Now that you have reset your PC back to default settings, here’s what you need to do to enable Smart App Control on Windows 11 2022.

  1. Click Start.
  2. Search for “smart app control” and click Open next to the top result.
  3. Click the Evaluation option.

smart app controlAfter completing these steps, SAC will monitor and evaluate your PC for untrusted and malicious apps that you attempt to install on your PC.

If you don’t want to run SAC in the Evaluation option, you can enable the feature directly by selecting the On option.

Disable Smart App Control

If you ever want to turn this feature off, here’s what you need to do.

  1. Click Start.
  2. Search for “smart app control” and click Open next to the top result.
  3. Click Off to turn this feature off and click Continue Anyway to disable Smart App Control.

smart app controlAs it is noted, turning this feature off is “permanent and not recommended” by Microsoft, but if it’s causing you problems, it’s better to turn it off.

Even though Smart App Control sounds like it is a convenient feature, it isn’t for everyone and is not a replacement for Microsoft Defender Antivirus. Developers and more advanced Windows users may find this feature less useful. Most developer-level daily workspace activities could be mistakenly considered to be actions by an “untrusted” app. But if you are a general user running apps on a work PC, this feature can add an extra level of security to give you added peace of mind.

If the option is not available on your device, you may not be running the Windows 11 version that supports it or are not using your device in a supported region. At the time of this writing, Smart App Control is currently only available in North American and European regions.

Do you use Smart App Control (SAC) on the Windows 11 2022 Update? Let us know in the comments!