The Microsoft Defender SmartScreen filter in Windows 10 helps protect your PC from phishing and malware on the websites you browse and the applications you use. It works as an early warning system to let a user know whether a site is suspicious or a downloaded file wasn’t found in its list of safe software programs.
Keeping the SmartScreen “always-on” is advisable, as it’s the easiest way to protect your device from undetectable threats. But sometimes you may want to temporarily deactivate this setting to download a game or application you know is safe but is flagged by SmartScreen. The following guide shows how to disable SmartScreen Filter in Windows 10.
Note: even if you don’t want to run such an unknown file through SmartScreen, before downloading you can check for potential malware online at this link.
Using App & Browser Control
The easiest way to disable the SmartScreen filter is to use a system settings menu called “App & Browser Control” which can be accessed from the Start menu.
The option for SmartScreen is prominently displayed as “On” in the corresponding page. You just need to turn it “off” to disable the Windows Defender SmartScreen.
You will get an alert by Windows Defender: “SmartScreen for Windows Defender is off. Your device may be vulnerable.” You can choose to dismiss the message and change the flag signs from “warn” to “off” temporarily if you’re going to install unknown files.
Also check the radio buttons under “Check apps and files,” where there are two options: “Warn” or “Block.” If you select “Warn,” SmartScreen will warn you when you try to open an unrecognized app or file.
If you choose “Block,” SmartScreen will show a warning message and block the file or app from running.
Using Group Policy Editor
Apart from the above easy default method, we will also explore some system or network administrator methods for alternative access to the Windows Defender SmartScreen.
For system or network administrators, Windows has a specific policy setting within the Group Policy editor to quickly disable the SmartScreen filter in Windows 10.
1. Open Group Policy Editor by searching for “gpedit.msc” in the Start menu. In the Policy Editor, go to “Computer Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Windows Components -> File Explorer.”
2. Find and double-click on the “Configure Windows Defender SmartScreen” policy.
3. In the policy settings window, configure it as follows:
- To disable the SmartScreen filter, select the radio option “Disabled.”
- To enable the SmartScreen filter, select “Enabled” and either select “Warn” or “Warn and prevent bypass” under the Options section.
To make the changes take effect, restart your system or execute the
gpupdate /force command as admin.
Using Registry Editor
Windows 10 Home users will not have access to the Group Policy Editor. However, you can use the Registry Editor to disable the SmartScreen filter. You just have to create a couple of values. Before editing the Registry, back it up.
1. Search for “regedit” in the Start menu and open it as an administrator. Go to the following location.
To disable the SmartScreen filter, create a new DWORD value by selecting “New” and then “DWORD (32-bit) Value.”
Name the value as “EnableSmartScreen.” Double-click on the newly created value and set its Value Data as “0.”
3. To enable the SmartScreen filter, first set the Value Data of “EnableSmartScreen” as “1.”
4. Now you need to set the SmartScreen blocking level. For that, right-click on the right panel and select “New -> String Value.” Name the value as “ShellSmartScreenLevel.”
5. Double-click on the new string value and set either “Warn” or “Block” as the value data.
- Warn: shows a warning message, but you can bypass it.
- Block: shows a warning message and blocks you from running the app or file.
Once you are done, restart your system and you are good to go.
Here we have seen various ways to disable Windows Defender SmartScreen on the rare occasion when you may want to download the files or applications which are being flagged.
Do you want to know more about how Windows Defender is protecting your PC? You will find out that it measures well against the best anti-virus software in the market. Moreover, it does not burden your system resources, as it is built in into the operating system. Therefore, we recommend keeping SmartScreen on at all times.