However, as helpful as SmartScreen is, it may occasionally misidentify and flag legitimate apps and files as dangerous. In this case, you may need to disable Windows SmartScreen.

What Is Smartscreen on Windows?

SmartScreen is a built-in security feature in Windows. Its job is to protect Windows users from phishing and malware websites.

SmartScreen achieves this by checking websites you visit and files you download against a database of known phishing, malicious software sites, and applications.

Also read: Here is How to Report Malware Websites in Google Chrome

How Does SmartScreen Work?

SmartScreen will send out an alert if it discovers a website or newly downloaded file that contains potentially harmful content. You will have a choice to make:

  • you can ignore the warning and go ahead with your browsing or download (generally not advised due to security concerns),
  • or listen to the alert and halt the process. 
With the release of Windows 10 and Windows 11, SmartScreen has expanded its functionality across the OS and Microsoft Edge browser. It now also checks the files you receive via email, and more. The feature runs in the background, and most users will only notice its presence when it identifies a potential threat.

Also read: Does Windows 10 Need Antivirus?

Is It Safe to Disable Windows Defender Smartscreen?

No, it is generally not recommended to disable Smartscreen.

While it might be tempting to disable SmartScreen if it occasionally blocks something you know is safe, or if you find its warnings intrusive, you should know that doing so exposes your system to a higher risk of malware infection and other security threats. 

Disabling SmartScreen might be necessary for certain scenarios, such as software development or if SmartScreen is causing significant issues with legitimate software. However, for most users, SmartScreen provides a valuable layer of security that helps protect against phishing, malware, and other threats.

So, instead of disabling SmartScreen entirely, you may want to consider using the tool’s built-in options to “let in” specific content on a case-by-case basis. This will help keep your standard security shield while allowing for more flexibility to manage individual websites and apps. 

Have a reliable anti-malware solution running on your PC at all times, especially if you choose to disable SmartScreen. Auslogics Anti-Malware will keep your system safe from even the rarest malicious items.

Before Disabling: Adjust SmartScreen Settings

Before considering disabling Windows Defender SmartScreen altogether, adjusting its settings might provide a more balanced approach, allowing you to tailor its protection features to better suit your needs while maintaining a level of security.

Here’s how you can adjust SmartScreen settings in Windows:

For Microsoft Edge:

  • Open Microsoft Edge and click on the three dots (…) in the upper right corner to open the menu.
  • Select Settings.
Microsoft Edge Settings
  • Navigate to Privacy, search, and services on the left panel.
Microsoft Edge Privacy, search and services
  • Scroll down to find the Security section.
Microsoft Edge Smartscreen
  • Here, you can adjust the SmartScreen settings under Microsoft Defender SmartScreen.

For Windows 10 and Windows 11:

  • Open Windows Security by searching for it in the Start menu or clicking on the shield icon in the taskbar.
Windows Security in Search
  • Select App & browser control.
  • Select Reputation-based protection.
  • You’ll see options for Check apps and files, SmartScreen for Microsoft Edge, and SmartScreen for Microsoft Store apps.
Smartscreen for Microsoft Edge
  • Each of these options can be set to Warn (default), Block, or Off.
  • Adjusting these settings allows you to customize how SmartScreen reacts to unrecognized apps and files, potentially harmful web content, and downloads from the Microsoft Store.

Pay attention to these settings:

  • Check apps and files:

Controls whether SmartScreen checks files and applications from the web against a list of known malware sites and programs. Setting it to warn or block provides a good level of protection.

  • SmartScreen for Microsoft Edge:

Adjusts how aggressively SmartScreen filters out dangerous websites and downloads in Microsoft Edge.

  • SmartScreen for Microsoft Store apps:

Determines whether SmartScreen checks apps from the Microsoft Store for potential risks.

Adjusting these settings instead of completely disabling SmartScreen allows you to fine-tune the balance between usability and security based on your personal or organizational security policy and comfort level.

How to Disable Windows Defender SmartScreen

If you decide that you have valid reasons to disable Windows Defender SmartScreen, despite the risks involved, you can follow these steps.

Keep in mind that turning off SmartScreen reduces your protection against malicious apps, files, and websites. It’s recommended to proceed with caution and ensure you have other security measures in place.

Windows 10 and 11:

  • Search for Windows Security in the Start menu and open it.
Windows Security in Search
  • Click on App & browser control.
Windows Security App and Browser Control
  • Under Reputation-based protection, click on Reputation-based protection settings.
Reputation-based protection settings
  • Here, you’ll find options to disable SmartScreen for:
    • Check apps and files (turn this off to stop SmartScreen from checking apps and files from the web).
    • SmartScreen for Microsoft Edge (turn this off to stop SmartScreen from checking websites and downloads in Edge).
    • SmartScreen for Microsoft Store apps (turn this off to stop SmartScreen from checking apps from the Microsoft Store).

Important considerations:

  • Before making changes to your security settings, ensure your data is backed up.
  • Consider alternative or additional security measures if you disable SmartScreen, such as a reliable third-party antivirus or anti-malware solution.
  • Keep your operating system and applications updated to reduce vulnerabilities.

Troubleshooting Tips for Disabling Microsoft Defender SmartScreen

If you encounter issues while trying to disable Windows Defender SmartScreen or after having disabled it, here are some troubleshooting tips that might help:

Can’t find or access SmartScreen settings

SmartScreen turns back on automatically

  • If you’re on a network managed by an organization, group policies might revert your changes. Contact your IT department or check the Group Policy Editor (gpedit.msc) if you have access, to see if SmartScreen settings are enforced.
  • For Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise users, you can use the Group Policy Editor to permanently disable SmartScreen by navigating to Computer Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Windows Components -> File Explorer and Microsoft Edge, then configure SmartScreen settings.
  • Similar to Group Policy, registry settings might enforce SmartScreen settings. Be cautious with registry edits and back up the registry before making changes.

Issues after disabling SmartScreen

  • If you notice unusual system behavior or suspect a malware infection after disabling SmartScreen, run a full system scan with Windows Defender or Auslogics Anti-Malware.

If software was blocked by SmartScreen and continues to be blocked after disabling it, check if Windows Defender Antivirus or another security feature is causing the block. Ensure the software you’re trying to run is from a trusted source.

Windows Defender SmartScreen: Explained

With its seamless integration into Windows, Microsoft Defender SmartScreen acts as a vital defense against online dangers by striking a balance between security and convenience.

It isn’t perfect, though; occasionally it blocks legitimate files because it thinks they pose a threat. 

Luckily, you now know how to adjust or turn off SmartScreen to make sure it meets your needs without jeopardizing your online security. In the end, you are in charge: modify SmartScreen to best suit your needs, keeping the digital gates safe but accessible to reputable tools you can rely on.


Yes, you can report false positives to Microsoft. For websites, use the “Report that this site does not contain threats” option on the warning page. For files, submit them for analysis via the Microsoft Security Intelligence website under “Submit a file for malware analysis” with the option “My submission is a false positive.”

  • Review the warning: Understand why it was flagged.
  • Proceed with caution: If sure it’s safe, you might be able to bypass the warning.
  • Report false positive: Use Microsoft’s feedback options to report inaccuracies.
  • Maintain security: Keep your system and software updated.

Always exercise caution and verify the safety of content before bypassing SmartScreen warnings.