How to alter Search settings and take cost of your privateness in Windows 11

Unless you modify the default settings in your Privacy Dashboard, Microsoft Windows 11 will retailer your full search historical past in your machine and within the cloud.

Image: Mark Kaelin/TechRepublic

The Search instrument (magnifying glass icon) discovered on a typical Windows 11 desktop taskbar is a handy and helpful characteristic. But have you ever ever thought of precisely how that characteristic’s default settings affect search outcomes? Or, extra importantly, precisely how nicely it remembers every part you could have ever searched and shops it within the cloud for future reference?

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Users can regulate the Search characteristic’s settings, however Microsoft doesn’t make it apparent the place the settings are positioned or that such settings can be found. Diving deeper into these Search configuration settings will be enlightening and doubtlessly a bit troubling in case you are involved about your on-line privateness.

How to alter search settings and enhance your privateness in Windows 11

Clicking the magnifying glass icon on the usual Windows 11 taskbar will open the Search characteristic, as proven in Figure A.

Figure A

Screen shot of search

Type your question within the textual content field, and Search will give you an inventory of outcomes to select from. The characteristic searches your machine for paperwork, folders, apps and web sites that meet your search phrases—handy and helpful.

To get to the underlying settings for Windows 11 Search, click on the ellipsis on the far proper of the menu (Figure A) and choose “Search settings,” which can take you to the Search permissions display screen proven in Figure B.

Figure B

Screenshot of search settings

The first part on this web page known as “SafeSearch,” which lets you designate how a lot grownup content material ought to seem in your search outcomes. This is a private choice setting.

The subsequent part known as “Cloud content search,” which lets you personalize your search outcomes to incorporate content material from OneDrive, SharePoint, Outlook and different net companies.

The subsequent part known as History, as proven in Figure C. These settings assist you to save your search historical past to your machine and to the cloud, which, in line with Microsoft, permits the system to reuse earlier outcomes to make your present search simpler and environment friendly.

Figure C

Screenshot showing the privacy dashboard

You have the choice to show this characteristic off fully if you don’t want your search historical past saved. Under regular circumstances, you’ll in all probability not discover that a lot distinction within the general efficiency of the Windows 11 Search characteristic with this setting positioned within the “off” place.

If you select to depart this setting on and relying in your search historical past and your private emotions concerning privateness, chances are you’ll wish to delete this historical past sometimes. To delete the search historical past in your machine, click on the Clear Device Search History button.

Deleting your search historical past from the cloud is extra difficult as a result of that may solely be carried out out of your Privacy Dashboard positioned in your Microsoft account’s web site. Click the hyperlink within the History part labeled Privacy Dashboard, the place you may be requested to log in to your Microsoft account web page, as proven in Figure D.

Figure D

Screenshot of sign in prompt

Once logged in, scroll down the Privacy web page, discover the Search History part, after which increase it to disclose extra particulars, as proven in Figure E.

Figure E

Screenshot of search history in Windows 11

The system has saved virtually 1,200 of my searches to the cloud. The machine I’m utilizing on this instance is lower than a 12 months outdated, so, as you may see, it doesn’t take lengthy to determine a major search historical past.

While the person searches listed could also be benign, they might reveal extra about your character and habits than you are feeling snug sharing. Managing your search historical past must be part of your common upkeep routine.

From this part, chances are you’ll look at your search historical past, obtain your search historical past, clear your search historical past or go away it as is. You may even delete particular person searches if you want. The selection is yours, however these cloud adjustments can solely be constituted of the Microsoft Privacy Dashboard.

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