How to block new ads Microsoft adds to Windows 11

I recently upgraded my "unsupported" PC to Windows 11 and was immediately bombarded with banner alerts, ads, and current news that I didn't want to be force-fed by my operating system. Windows 11 doesn't offer a pleasant experience out of the box, but there are a few settings you can tweak to fix most issues.

You may want to use a third-party tool to disable all Microsoft's intrusive tracking with one click. While this sounds like an easier way to follow this guide, I wouldn't recommend it - it's difficult to know what types of changes these tools are making behind the scenes, and if anything goes wrong it will be difficult to troubleshoot the issue because of these Apps often adjust dozens of settings at once.

Remove start menu ads

If you hate the Windows 11 Start menu, you can replace it entirely. But if you're willing to put up with it, you can at least remove ads from the Start menu. To do this, go to the Windows 11 Settings menu. Then navigate to Personalization > Startup and disable the following options:

  • Show recommendations for tips, shortcuts, new apps, and more

  • Show recently added applications

  • Show recently opened items in Start, Jump Lists, and File Explorer

These options will give you more control over your Start menu and prevent random files and apps from appearing there. Next, remove ads disguised as pinned apps. To do this, open the Start menu, right-click the app icon for an app you never use (such as LinkedIn or Instagram), and select Uninstall or Unpin from Start Menu .

Stop junk from appearing on the lock screen

Unfortunately, Microsoft doesn't want you to enjoy a clean, beautiful lock screen. Yes, the company also uses this space to show you ads. You can fix this by going to Settings > Personalization > Lock Screen . Click the drop-down menu next to Personalize lock screen and select a picture or slideshow . A new option will appear below the photo picker labeled "Get fun facts, tips, tricks, and more on your lock screen." Disabling this option prevents promotional content from appearing there.

Hide OneDrive ads

Microsoft likes to remind you to sign up for OneDrive. To stop these ads too, go to Settings > System > Notifications and turn off OneDrive 's alerts. Next, open File Explorer and click on the three dots icon in the toolbar. Select Options and then the View tab. Now scroll down and disable "Show sync provider notifications" .

Block unwanted notifications

Speaking of spam alerts, you should also take the time to disable unwanted notifications. Go to Settings > System > Notifications and disable notifications for each app that's spamming you. Some apps will not appear in this list; in this case, you must open the app and disable alerts from its notification settings.

Stop Microsoft from collecting your data to show ads

By default, Microsoft collects your data to show you ads. Stop this by going to Settings > Privacy & Security > General and disabling everything on the page.

Disable ads based on your device usage

Windows 11 tracks your device usage as another way to serve ads to you. Go to Settings > Personalization > Device Usage and disable each setting on this page to stop them.

Fix taskbar troubles

If you don't want to use Microsoft's Copilot AI or see the News widget in your taskbar, you can hide them. Go to Settings > Personalization > Taskbar and turn off the following options:

  • co-pilot

  • task view

  • small parts

This will give you a cleaner taskbar that only contains the Start button and your pinned apps. If you prefer the weather to be displayed on the taskbar, you can enable Task View from the settings above. Its icon will appear in the lower left corner of the screen. Click on it and hide the widgets manually until only the weather widget is left (and any other widgets you really want).

Prevent advertising diagnostic data collection

Finally, you can prevent Microsoft from collecting diagnostic data for advertising. To do this, go to Settings > Privacy & Security > Diagnostics & Feedback and disable Customize Experience . For good measure, you should also disable sending optional diagnostic data .