Windows 11 ads experience

How to disable unwanted ads on Windows 11

Here's the complete guide on how to take control of Windows 11 and remove (most) ads from the experience.

Windows 11 boasts a sleek design and improved functionality, but there are a few big problems, one of which is the abundance of ads. (The other is the UI design inconsistency.) These promotional elements are now everywhere, including, in the Start menu, Windows Search, Settings app, Lock screen, Widgets, File Explorer, Microsoft Edge, and the list could go on.

Some of these advertisements are from Microsoft to promote its services, such as OneDrive, Copilot Pro, PC Game Pass, and Microsoft 365, and others are from third-party vendors and partners.

Although you can always overlook them, they can clutter the experience and break your workflow. Some users may even describe them as annoying, even more so for those already paying for the license to install the operating system or are using one or more services from the company.

If you are at the top of frustration with the number of ads across the desktop and apps, Windows 11 includes settings to disable and remove most advertisements. You only need to know where to find the settings and how to get around those features that can’t be removed easily.

In this guide, I will explain how I usually deal with the ads inside of Windows 11.

Disable ads from Windows 11

You must follow different instructions to remove the most annoying ads from the operating system.

Disable ads from Settings app

The “Home” page in the Settings app can surface setting recommendations that you may want to adjust, but it’s mainly a place to promote services, such as OneDrive, Microsoft 365, Copilot Pro, and PC Game Pass. If you don’t want to come across these types of advertisements and you typically know where to find the settings, you can disable the Settings’ Home page on Windows 11.

Warning: Modifying the Registry can cause serious problems if not used properly. It is assumed you know what you are doing and have created a system backup before proceeding.

To remove the Settings Home page to disable ads through the Registry, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.

  2. Search for regedit and click the top result to open the Registry Editor.

  3. Browse the following path:

  4. Right-click the Explorer key, select New, and choose the String Value option.

    Registry SettingsPageVisibility string

  5. Confirm the SettingsPageVisibility for the string and press Enter.

  6. Double-click the newly created string and change its value to hide:home.

    Settings hide Home page from Registry

  7. Click the OK button.

  8. Restart the computer.

After you complete the steps, the Settings app will start on the “System” page, and the “Home” page with the interactive cards promoting services and settings will no longer be available.

It’s possible to enable the Home page back in the Settings using the same instructions, but on step 4, right-click the SettingsPageVisibility string, choose the “Delete” option, and restart the computer.

Remove ads from the Start menu

At least two types of ads, including third-party app promotions and account notifications promoting Microsoft services, currently appear in the Start menu, and you can remove both of them.

Disable account notifications

To disable account-related notifications from the Start menu, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.

  2. Click on Personalization.

  3. Click the Start page.

  4. Turn off the “Show account related notifications occasionally in Start” toggle switch.

    Start menu disable account manager promotions

Once you complete the steps, the account manager menu in Start will no longer show notifications about backing files to OneDrive, which also involves getting a Microsoft 365 subscription. Also, you won’t be reminded to add missing information to your account.

Remove first and third-party app promotions

To remove promoted apps from the Start menu, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.

  2. Right-click a promoted app from the “Pinned” section and choose the Uninstall option.

    Start menu remove pinned promotions

  3. Repeat the previous step to remove other apps.

The number of apps Microsoft promotes in this section will vary per installation. However, I usually see apps like Twitter, Photoshop Express, PicsArt, Instagram, Grammarly, LinkedIn, etc.

Windows 11 includes many other ways to uninstall apps, which you can use to free up space, speed up performance, or simply remove applications you no longer use.

Disable ads from the Recommended section

Starting with the May 2024 update (KB5036980), the Start menu now promotes apps from the Microsoft Store in the “Recommended” section. You can turn off this feature if you don’t want to have the Start menu promoting apps.

To disable Start menu app recommendations, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.

  2. Click on Personalization.

  3. Click the Start page.

  4. Turn off the “Show recommendations for tips, shortcuts, new apps, ads, and more” toggle switch.

    Start menu disable ads on Recommended section

After you complete the steps, the system will stop suggesting apps from the Microsoft Store.

Disable ads in the Windows Search

The Windows Search interface includes search highlights from Bing, which many can consider advertisements since it is a gateway to lure you into using the search engine when you probably only want to find a document, picture, or setting. If you want an ad-free search experience, you can disable the search highlights through the Settings app.

To disable the search highlights in the Taskbar, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.

  2. Click on Privacy & security.

  3. Click the “Search permissions” setting under the “Windows permissions” section.

  4. Turn off the “Show Search highlights” toggle switch to disable Bing search suggestions under the “More settings” section.

    Disable search highlights

Once you complete the steps, Bing search highlights will no longer appear in the search box. The next time you open the Windows Search interface, you will have a different view with recent searches, quick search suggestions, and a list of your most frequently used apps.

Disable the news feed from the Widgets dashboard

The Widgets dashboard includes more news content than useful widgets. If this experience isn’t for you, it’s possible to remove the news feed to access only your widgets.

To disable and remove the news feed from Widgets, use these steps:

  1. Open Widgets (Windows key + W).

  2. Click the Settings button in the top-right corner.

  3. Click the “Show or hide feeds” setting.

    Show or hide feeds settings

  4. Turn off the My Feed toggle switch to disable news.

    Widgets disable news feed

Once you complete the steps, the news feed will turn off on the Widgets board, and you will have access to the interface with the available widgets.

Remove ads from File Explorer

File Explorer is almost an ad-free experience if it wasn’t for the OneDrive banner that sometimes will try to lure you into using the service to backup your files to the cloud, which requires a Microsoft 365 subscription if you want to upload more than 5GB of data. If you don’t want to receive sync provider notifications, it’s possible to turn off this feature.

To prevent File Explorer from showing advertisements, use these steps:

  1. Open File Explorer.

  2. Click on the three dots button in the command bar and click on Options.

    File Explorer open folder options

  3. Click the View tab.

  4. Clear the “Show sync provider notifications” option.

    Disable sync provider notifications

  5. Click the Apply button.

  6. Click the OK button.

After you complete the steps, File Explorer will stop promoting OneDrive to backup your files to the cloud.

Remove ads from Microsoft Edge

Microsoft Edge is perhaps one of the most cluttered web browsers I have ever used, and many of its features are considered advertisements.

To turn off the advertisements on Microsoft Edge, use these steps:

  1. Open Microsoft Edge.

  2. Click the three dots button on the top-right and choose the Settings option.

  3. Click on Sidebar.

  4. Turn off the “Show sidebar button” toggle switch.

    Microsoft Edge disable sidebar

  5. Turn off the “Always show sidebar” toggle switch.

  6. Turn off the “Allow sidebar apps to show notifications” toggle switch.

  7. Open a New Tab page (Ctrl + T).

  8. Click the Page Settings (gear) button in the top-right corner of the page.

    Microsoft Edge New Tab remove ads

  9. Choose the Off option for the “Quick links” setting.

  10. Choose the Off option for the “Content” setting.

Once you complete the steps, the default web browser should no longer show ads as part of the experience.

It’s important to note that I’m focusing these steps on removing advertisements, not many other distracting features.

Disable ads from the Lock screen

The Lock screen can show various elements that may be considered advertisements, depending on who you ask. These include the weather widget accompanied by other widgets, such as markets, traffic, and sports. Also, if you use the “Picture” option, the experience can show some additional information.

To disable ads from the Lock screen, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.

  2. Click on Personalization.

  3. Click the Lock screen page.

  4. Clear the “Get fun facts, tips, tricks, and more on your lock screen” option when using the “Picture” option.

    Lock screen disable picture with advertisements

  5. Choose the None option for the Lock screen status setting to remove the weather and other widgets from the experience.

    Lock screen disable weather and other promotions

  6. Turn off the “Show the lock screen background picture on the sign-in screen” toggle switch (if available).

After you complete the steps, the Lock screen should no longer show advertisements.

Disable ad personalization on Windows 11

To prevent Windows 11 from tracking and personalizing ads, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.

  2. Click on Privacy & security.

  3. Click the General page.

  4. Turn off the “Let apps show me personalized ads using my advertising ID” toggle switch.

    Windows 11 disable ads personalization

  5. (Optional) Turn off the “Let websites show me locally relevant content by accessing my language list” toggle switch.

  6. (Optional) Turn off the “Let Windows improve start and search results by tracking app launches” toggle switch.

  7. (Optional) Turn off the “Show me suggested content in the Settings app” toggle switch.

  8. Click on Personalization.

  9. Click the Device usage page.

  10. Turn off all the available options (if applicable).

    Windows 11 disable ads tailored to PC usage

Once you complete the steps, the system should no longer personalize ads based on your activities. This applies to apps, Microsoft services, and desktop experience ads, but it doesn’t apply to advertisements you may see on websites.

Disable ad notifications from the system and apps

The operating system and apps can also show advertisements through toast notifications. You can always turn off these features or disable notifications globally.

To manage notifications to reduce the number of ads from apps and system through toast notifications, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.

  2. Click on System.

  3. Click on Notifications.

  4. Click on Additional settings.

  5. Clear the “Show the Windows welcome experience after updates and when signed in to show what’s new and suggested” option.

    Disable advanced notifications

  6. Clear the “Suggest ways to get the most out of Windows and finish setting up the device” option.

  7. Clear the “Get tips and suggestions when using Windows” option.

  8. Turn off the notifications for specific apps (if applicable).

    Disable notifications specific apps

  9. (Optional) Turn off the Notifications toggle switch.

Once you complete the steps, you should no longer receive suggestions about features and better ways to use the operating system. If you also disabled notifications for certain apps, those apps will no longer show any type of popups.

What other suggestions do you recommend? Or do you have a question? Share them in the comments.

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 14 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 20 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and Email him at [email protected].