How to Scan for Potentially Unwanted Applications with Windows Defender

Windows Defender is the built-in antivirus solution for your Windows system from Microsoft. Though the Windows Defender is not the best antivirus solution you can get for free, it certainly is a good choice for home users who know what they are doing and why. As good and useful as it is, Windows Defender has not been configured to scan for and protect your system from any Potentially Unwanted Applications.

However, this feature is enabled for Enterprise users. Even then the Enterprise users have to manually opt in to use this feature.

If you are using Windows Defender as your active antivirus solution and want it to protect your system from any potentially unwanted applications like bundled adware, spyware, etc., then do the following steps.

To enable Windows Defender to scan and protect your system from potentially unwanted applications, you need to add a Registry entry. To do that, press “Win + R,” type regedit and press the Enter button.


The above action will open the Windows Registry. Here, navigate to the following key on the left pane.

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows Defender


Once you are here, we need to create a new key. To do that, right-click on the “Windows Defender” key and select the “New” option and then “Key.”


Once the new key has been created, rename it “MpEngine,” and press the Enter button.


Now we need to create a new value in the new key. To do that, right-click on the right panel and select the “New” option and then “DWORD (32-bit) Value.”


Name the new DWORD value as MpEnablePus.


After renaming it, double-click on it to open the Edit Value window. Here, enter the new value data as “1,” and click on the Ok button to save the changes.


Just restart your system, and you are good to go. From this point forward, Windows Defender will protect you from any potentially unwanted programs.

If you want to exclude specific files and folders from being scanned by Windows Defender and being classified as PUAs, you need to manually exclude them. To start, open the settings panel by pressing the shortcut “Win + I.” Select the “Update and Security” option.


Navigate to Windows Defender in the left pane, and then click on the link “Add an Exclusion” under the Exclusions category.


The above action will open the “Add an Exclusion” window. Here, depending on your requirement, click on either the “Exclude a File” or “Exclude a Folder” options to add the exclusion.


Do comment below sharing your thoughts and experiences about using Windows Defender to protect your computer from potentially unwanted programs.

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