Making Effective Use of Windows Action Center

You probably have seen it running, but you are not sure what is it and where is it located. The Windows Action Center is the place that monitor your system and keep it running smoothly. If you have seen a white flag showing up in the system tray, that is when the Windows Action Center is working in the background.

Most people will leave just the Windows Action Center alone and let it do its jobs. However, with some simple configuration, you can get it to work more efficiently (and less annoyingly). This article show you how to make effective use of the Windows Action Center.

In Windows 7 and Windows 8, Action Center works quietly in the background. It keeps on running as a service (WSCSVC Windows Security Center) and alerts the users from the system tray. It will show a white flag in the system tray when there is an alert available.

Windows Action Center Alert in System Tray

If you are using Windows 8, you can simply search for “Action Center”.

Search for Windows Action Center

Alternatively, you can open the Windows Action Center from the Control Panel under “System and Security”.

Open Windows Action Center under System and security

You can also open Action Center using the shell command. Just run the following command through run dialog:

shell:::{BB64F8A7-BEE7-4E1A-AB8D-7D8273F7FDB6}

This can be useful for software developers who want to open the Action Center right from their programs.

The Action Center doesn’t work well all the times. Sometimes, it can display the wrong information. For example, if you have installed an antivirus which is not detected by Action Center, it will display an alert (saying that you are not protected) even though you have the latest updated protection installed in your computer. In this case, you can configure the Action Center so that it does not alert you for that specific item.

To turn off or disable Windows Action Center completely:

1. Open Action Center.

2. In the pane on the left, click “Change Action Center settings”.

3. Uncheck all the items, or specific items that you want disabled.

Windows Action Center messages

4. Click Ok.

One thing to note is that this doesn’t prevent the icon from showing up in the system tray. To remove the icon:

1. Open Group Policy Editor (Run -> gpedit.msc)

2. Go to “User Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Start Menu and Taskbar”.

3. In the right hand pane, find and enable “Remove the Action Center icon”.

remove Windows Action Center icon

This will prevent the Action Center system tray icon from appearing again.

Finally, you will need to disable the Security Center service from Windows Services in order to make sure that Action Center is not taking any resources if it’s not running.

Unless you are connected to a corporate network, it is not recommended to turn off the Windows Action Center. However, there are some settings that you can tweak to make sure your computer is running smoothly.

Automatic maintenance

Automatic maintenance includes tasks like software updates, security scanning and system diagnostics. By default, automatic maintenance runs at 3 AM daily. If your computer is not running all the time, you should set the automatic maintenance to run when your system is running. This will make sure that all the maintenance tasks are run properly, and the Action Center will notify you of any problems in a timely manner. To change the automatic maintenance schedule, do the following:

Go to Action Center and click on Maintenance tab. This will open the maintenance tasks. Click on “Automatic Maintenance” to change the settings.

Windows Action Center - automatic_maintenance

Adjust User Account Control

User Account Control notifies the users of any programs that are making changes to important parts of the computer.

By default, User Account Control is set to notifying only when apps try to make changes to the computer. It will dim the Desktop and display a warning dialog. This can be annoying, but can be adjusted accordingly.

Windows Action Center - configure UAC

To make appropriate changes, go to Action Center and select “Change User Account Control settings” from the pane on the left. Move the slider to whatever setting you are comfortable with. Just make sure that you are not turning it off, as this will make your computer vulnerable to spyware and other malware. One thing though, don’t over-reliable on the UAC protect your computer, as it can give you a false security.

Trust This PC

In Windows 8, Microsoft has given an option to connect and log in with your Microsoft account instead of the local Windows account. Using the Microsoft account, you can make your PC trustworthy in the eyes of Microsoft. This will make sure that all the user credentials for apps, websites and networks are synchronized in the cloud using SkyDrive. After synchronization, you will be able to use the same saved user credentials if you log in to another Windows computer using your Microsoft ID.

Windows Action Center can help to monitor your computer and make sure that it is running smoothly without any security threats and other problems. Understanding the use of Action Center and tweaking it a little bit will make you understand your system better, leading to you being able to resolve issues in a timely manner.

Have you ever played with the Action Center? Do you even know its existence?