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10 bad Windows default settings you should change today

Whether it’s a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop, your devices come loaded with settings, apps and bloatware. They exist for many reasons: To give you a free tease of a paid program, to collect data or simply part of a deal with other companies.

Your iPhone is a wonderful piece of tech right out of the box, but you can take some steps to make it even better. Tap or click here for 10 default iPhone settings you can change right now.

Windows also comes with many preloaded settings that you don’t need. Many of them involve programs or features you’ll never use and can slow down your system. Let’s go through 10 default settings you can change on your Windows PC.

1. Disable keylogger

With the Windows 10 keylogger, Microsoft observes what you’re typing and saying and uses it to improve its service (Windows 11 doesn’t come with this built-in feature). Do you need this Big Tech company recording everything you do on your PC? No! Here’s how to put a stop to it:

  • Go to the Start menu and open Settings.
  • Select Privacy, then Diagnostics & feedback from the left pane.
  • Turn off Improve inking and typing and Tailored experiences.
  • Now tap Delete under Delete diagnostic data.

2. Distance yourself from Cortana

Windows 10 lets its productivity assistant Cortana get to know you through your voice and writing so you can get better suggestions. If this makes you uncomfortable, you can turn off the feature. Here’s how:

  • Go to the Start menu and open Settings.
  • Click on Privacy, then choose Inking & typing personalization from the left pane.
  • Click the slider to Off under Getting to know you.

RELATED: How to see everything Microsoft knows about you and shut down tracking

3. When was the last time you printed something from your PC?

Windows runs a print spooler service to keep your printing jobs running smoothly. Even when you’re not using it, it’s running in the background.

If it’s been a while since you printed anything, go ahead and disable the print spooler:

  • Hold down the Windows button + R to open a Run dialog box.
  • Type in services.msc and hit Enter.
  • Scroll down and double-click Print Spooler.
  • Change the Startup Type to Disabled.
  • Click Apply.
  • Under the tab for Service Status, click Stop.
  • Click OK and close the window

4. Unless you’re running an office, you’re probably not faxing anything

Do people still use fax machines? Well, yes, you’ll find them in doctors’ offices and such. But even if you need to fax something, there are apps for that. Here’s how to turn off fax services:

  • Hold down the Windows button + R. 
  • Type in services.msc and hit Enter.
  • Scroll down and double-click on Fax.
  • Change the Startup Type to Disabled.
  • Click Apply.
  • Under the tab for Service Status, click Stop.
  • Click OK and close the window

5. Bluetooth for your PC

You’re probably using Bluetooth on your phone to control your smart home features, portable speaker, smart TV, or pair your phone to your car.

Regarding your computer, the most common uses for Bluetooth are pairing peripherals such as wireless keyboards, headphones and mice. If you’re not using any of these, you can turn off the feature:

  • Go to the Start menu and open Settings.
  • Click Devices.
  • In the Bluetooth & other devices section, slide the toggle under Bluetooth to the left to disable it.

5. Wi-Fi Sense

Wi-Fi Sense shares your Wi-Fi network password contacts in Outlook, Skype and Facebook. Do you really need this exposure? No, you don’t!

  • Go to the Start menu and open Settings.
  • Select Network & Internet.
  • Click Wi-Fi from the left pane.
  • Select Manage known networks.
  • Toggle off Connect to networks shared by my contacts.

6. Change your default internet browser

Internet Explorer is dead. Your default Windows browser is now Edge. While uninstalling Edge is a complicated procedure (and Microsoft wants to keep it that way), you can change to a different browser:

  • Go to the Start menu and open Settings.
  • Select Apps, then tap Default apps from the left pane.
  • Click the current default browser under Web browser and select the one you want to change it to.

RELATED: Sick of Google Chrome? 6 alternative browsers to try instead

7. Get rid of those Start menu ads

Microsoft places ads and suggested apps in the Start menu. If you don’t plan on ever using these, you can get rid of them:

  • Go to the Start menu and open Settings.
  • Choose Personalization.
  • Select Start from the left pane.
  • Toggle off Show suggestions occasionally in Start.
  • Now open the start menu and right-click any apps or ads you don’t want.
  • Select Uninstall.

8. Disable programs at Startup

Windows comes with many preloaded programs, not all of which you’ll use. And some of those are set to open whenever you boot up your computer. You can stop this and give your PC a nice performance boost.

  • Go to the Start menu and open Settings.
  • Select Apps, then Startup from the left pane.
  • Click on the slider next to each app to disable or enable it.
  • Check the impact level to see how much or how little an app affects your startup process.

9. Remote desktop services expose you to hacks

If you have a problem with your computer, tech support can connect to your system to start troubleshooting. It’s helpful but leaves your PC open to cybercriminals as well.

You can turn it off now and benefit from a nice boost in processing power. You can always enable it if needed. How to disable remote desktop services:

  • Type Remote Settings into the search bar next to the Windows button.
  • Select Remote Desktop Settings.
  • Toggle the switch to OFF. (NOTE: Not all editions of Windows 10 support Remote Desktop Settings.)

10. Touch keyboard and handwriting panel services

Touch keyboard creates an on-screen interactive keyboard for you to type with. The handwriting panel allows you to write with a stylus. Unless you need this adaptive assistance, it’s safe to go ahead and keep these services from consuming processing power that can be better used elsewhere.

How to turn off the touch keyboard and handwriting panel:

  • Type Ease of access keyboard into the search bar next to the Windows button.
  • Select Ease of access keyboard settings.
  • Toggle the switch under Use your device without a physical keyboard to the left to disable it.
  • Type Handwriting input into the search bar next to the Windows button.
  • Select Handwriting Input Panel Settings.
  • Uncheck the box labeled Write in the handwriting panel with your fingertip.

Bonus: Turn on file extension names

Malware is an ever-present threat. If you’re connected to the internet, you’re exposed. Do you run new apps and files without a second thought? You’re putting yourself at risk.

Most PC malware is written as an executable file or .exe. Not all executable files are harmful, of course. Your favorite PC games, for instance, run on executable files.

A major red flag to watch for is a file that masquerades as one file type but is, in reality, an .exe. Say you download concert tickets. The file may be named “concerttickets.pdf,” but upon closer examination, you see the path is actually “concerttickets.pdf.exe.”

This is a common hacker trick. Foil their efforts by setting up your PC to reveal the file extension for any file next to its name. So, instead of seeing Solitaire and Meeting Notes on your desktop, you’ll see Solitaire.exe and Meeting Notes.doc.

Setting file extensions always to display is easy:

  • Open a folder and click View at the top. Check off the box marked File name extensions.

It’s always worth checking file types, especially if you’re downloading something from an email or online. Make sure it’s what you expect by right-clicking on the file and selecting Get Info. If that PDF isn’t really a PDF, don’t open it!

You may also like: Best free Windows and Mac security downloads for your computer

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