I’ve already talked to you about Windows 10’s privacy problems in the article Are Windows 10's privacy issues real? that I wrote a few weeks ago, so I’m not going to bore you and go over all the details again. Last time, I offered you a few solutions to mitigate these problems, but recently, one of my friends has shown me a better way to deal with this. It’s a small tool called Ultimate Windows Tweaker, which can help you modify a lot of Windows 10’s settings include those regarding privacy.
Before you begin, you should know that some anti-virus programs might see the application as a potential threat, but that is a false alarm. In order to do its job, Ultimate Windows Tweaker has to modify system files, and this is why security tools see it as dangerous. However, I have scanned and used the program myself and haven’t seen any dangers or harm, so if you download it from its original website (and check the checksum just to be sure), there’s no infection risk for your computer. Furthermore, right before starting to use it, the application will ask permission to create a system restore point, which guarantees that even if you mess something up, you will be able to return to a previous state when everything was well.
The first thing that you will need to know is where and how to get Ultimate Windows Tweaker. The tool is completely free, and you can download it from its official website by clicking on this link or from Software Informer, as it appears in the Related Programs section of this page. Once you have it on your PC, simply run the setup and follow the steps there. (At the moment, the installation kit doesn’t come bundled with any additional tools you may not want, so it should be a pretty straightforward process). Run the application, create the restore point (this might take a little while, depending on your machine), and then you’re ready to start modifying your Windows 10’s system settings.
Tweaking Privacy Settings
In order to tweak privacy settings, you will first need to click on the “Security & Privacy” button on the left side bar, then choose the “Privacy” tab from the upper-middle section of the window. There you will see a list with all the available options, and you simply check or uncheck the boxes in front of the desired settings. Here’s what each option does:
- Disable Telemetry – When this box is checked, Microsoft will no longer receive various data about your activity on the PC. As far as I’m concerned, this this is one of the most important things boxes to check, if you want to keep your privacy intact.
- Disable Biometrics – This will stop Windows 10 from storing any of your biometrical data. (The one collected from people who use tools like Windows Hello.) I left that on, as it doesn’t really affect my privacy; if someone needs my biometrics, there are easier ways to get them than taking data from Microsoft.
- Disable and Reset Advertising ID – This is something that I recommend activating, as it will stop Microsoft from collecting data about you which it can later share with advertising companies. I don’t like receiving targeted ads, or the idea that knowledge about my habits and what I like can be passed around between various companies, so I chose to check this box.
- Disable Handwriting Data Sharing – This is only good if you handwrite documents that you save on your PC or if you use handwritten signatures. Since a lot of you don’t do that, it’s not really that important.
- Disable Taskbar Bing Search – This one will restrict the area of your taskbar searches to just your local machine, but I actually like the fact that Windows 10 performs online search for whatever I’m looking for, so I keep this box unchecked.
- Disable Cortana – I like Cortana, but it’s not very difficult to get why having an app that constantly listens to what you speak around the PC can be scary. Check the box if you feel like you want to, but I don’t consider it to be utterly important.
- Disable Windows Update Sharing – As I said before, Microsoft uses a tiny portion of your bandwidth to spread Windows 10 updates faster across the Internet. If you have a slow Internet connection or a capped one, you might want to check this box.
- Disable Windows Feedback Request – This is pretty much self-explanatory and, as far as I know, it only applies to those still in the Insider program. When checked, this option will stop the operating system from asking the user for their input on certain aspects.
- Disable Password Reveal Button – As you know, by default, most of the boxes that ask you to type a password automatically hide your characters. However, there’s also a button that makes them visible, which can be handy in certain situations. Checking the box disable the button that makes the Windows 10-related passwords visible, but that’s only useful if someone else has access to your computer. If you’re the only user, there’s no need for you to enable this option.
- Disable Steps Recorder – Steps Recorder is an option which can be used if case you want Microsoft to help you figure out a certain problem. When it’s activated, your Windows will record everything you do on the PC, including the keys that you type. Checking this box will prevent you from activating Steps Recorder even if you would want to.
- Disable Inventory Collector – Used for compatibility purposes, the Inventory Collector stores data about your software and hardware. As far as I know, it’s only compatibility-related information, but it can pose a small threat to your security, so if you wish, you can check this box as well.
- Disable Application Telemetry – Another big one from my point of view, Application Telemetry allows Microsoft to collect data about the applications you install and use on your PC. Checking this box will no longer make this data available to the IT giant.
The privacy settings aren’t the only ones that you can modify with the help of Ultimate Windows Tweaker. The tool also allows you to change the general look of your operating system (thumbnail sizes, delay times, removing the action center notification, etc.), which is actually quite helpful. Furthermore, you can alter a bunch of settings related to security, your user account, context menu or Internet Explorer (in case if you still use it).
As I said in the beginning, Ultimate Windows Tweaker creates a system restore point before tweaking anything on your PC, so feel free to experiment with the application knowing that, in case if you don’t like something, you can easily go back to the way things were (either by using the application and undoing your actions or by using the system restore option if things get serious).