Microsoft SmartScreen is a cloud-based anti-phishing and anti-malware component avaiable in Windows 10 via different products.

As Windows Defender SmartScreen it protects Windows 10 directly against malicious files and apps. It checks any attempts to download and run files and apps using a dynamic cloud-based list of reported phishing sites and malicious software sites.

Additional reputation checks for apps and downloaded programs analyze digital signatures used to sign files.

How Microsoft Defender SmartScreen works

If the checked URL, file, app, or certificate has been marked as safe, users won’t see any warnings. If there is no such existing reputation, the item is marked as a higher risk and SmartScreen shows a warning message to the user.

Microsoft SmartScreen is also part of Microsoft Edge where it blocks malicious websites and downloads.

The cloud-based backend used by Microsoft SmartScreen is constantly learning and updated using data provided my millions of connected devices.

Using that data Smartscreen can also block potentially unwanted apps and protect devices against malicious content and files those apps might access on the internet.

How to turn off SmartScreen

You can disable SmartScreen in Windows 10 completely or case by case the various Windows SmartScreen filters. However, in most cases you would not want to turn off SmartScreen and instead grant access manually to a blocked file, app or program if necessary.

Admins can alternatively use the Windows 10 group policy and regedit to disable SmartScreen in Windows 10 on the system level. For that purpose group policy offers to disable several SmartScreen filters. The regedit-method is more general.

How to Ignore SmartScreen Warnings and Grant Access Manually

Windows SmartScreen uses different warning messages based on the same principle. Access will be blocked and you will only see an “OK”-button to close that SmartScreen warning.

To grant access manually you will have to first click a link and then select the previously hidden option to ignore the Windows SmartScreen filter.

The option to override SmartScreen warning will not be available if it has been disabled via Group Policy or regedit (see below).

Here is an example:

  1. When you see the SmartScreen message,  click on “More info”

    The SmartScreen warning is usually called “Windows protected your PC”. 


  2. Select “Run anyway”, “Open anyway” or similar

    This will disable SmartScreen just for this particular case and you might put your system at risk. 


If you know what you are doing you can also turn off SmartScreen in Windows 10 completely or partially in the Windows Security Center.

How to Disable SmartScreen Filters in the Windows Security Center

To turn off SmartScreen you won´t find the required options in Windows 10 settings but in the Windows Security Center.

  1. Open “Windows Security” 


  2. Open “App & browser control” in Windows Security


  3. Click “Reputation based protection settings”


  4. Disable “Check apps and files” to turn off Windows Defender SmartScreen


    You won´t be able to disable Windows Defender SmartScreen if you are using third-party antivirus software. Then Windows Defender SmartScreen will automatically be turned off and the shown option be greyed out.

  5. Disable SmartScreen for Microsoft Edge


    If you decide to turn off SmartScreen for Microsoft Edge you won´t see warnings about malicious sites and downloads inside the browser. If you however use the “Check apps and files”-option above, you might still see a warning when you try to open a malicious file you have downloaded via Edge.

  6. Disable SmartScreen for Potentially Unwanted Apps


    The option “Potentially unwanted app blocking” protects you against apps with low reputation that might show unwanted behaviour such as adware or be malicious like fake-apps that try to rip you off with in-app sales.

  7. Disable SmartScreen for Microsoft Store apps

    The option “SmartScreen for Microsoft Store apps” controls the behaviour of store apps and potentially annoying or malicious content they might load from the internet.

How to Disable SmartScreen Filter using Group Policy

You can turn off SmartScreen via Group Policy using different filters or turn those filters permanently off. Then no changes to those SmartScreen filters can be made on the user level and the respective options in Windows Security will be greyed out.

  1. Open Group Policy


    Open Windows 10 group policy via search or the “Windows + R” run-dialog using the command “gpedit.msc”.

  2. Open the needed group policy


    There are different available group policies you can use to turn off Windows SmartScreen filters case by case. You can find them navigating in the left pane to their respective paths. Here we show you how this looks like for the first one.

    Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Windows Defender SmartScreen\Explorer\Configure Windows Defender SmartScreen

    This policy setting turns on Microsoft Defender SmartScreen generally to check apps and files on your device.
     

    Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Windows Defender SmartScreen\Explorer\Configure App Install Control

    This policy setting is intended to prevent malicious content from affecting your user’s devices when downloading executable content from the internet. It does not protect against malicious content from USB devices, network shares, or other non-internet sources.

    Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Windows Defender SmartScreen\Microsoft Edge\Configure Windows Defender SmartScreen
    This policy setting turns on Microsoft Defender SmartScreen in Microsoft Edge for websites and downloads.


    Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Windows Defender SmartScreen\Microsoft Edge\Prevent bypassing Windows Defender SmartScreen prompts for files
    This policy setting stops users from bypassing the Microsoft Defender SmartScreen warnings about potentially malicious files. If you enable this setting, it stops users from bypassing the warning, stopping the file download.

    Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Windows Defender SmartScreen\Microsoft Edge\Prevent bypassing Windows Defender SmartScreen prompts for sites
    This policy setting stops users from bypassing the Microsoft Defender SmartScreen warnings about potentially malicious sites. If you enable this setting, it stops employees from bypassing the warning, stopping them from going to the site.

  3. Enable SmartScreen Group Policies


    You can enable or disable SmartScreen filters shown listed above individually. In some cases there will be additional Options to choose from as shown below.

How to Disable SmartScreen Filters using the Registry Editor

Users of Windows 10 Home that don´t have access to group policies can turn SmartScreen off also via regedit. 

  1. Open “regedit” 


    Open the Windows 10 registry editor using search or the “Windows + R” run-dialog using the command “regedit”.

  2. Open the required path and create DWORD


    Go to the following location, right-click and choose “New – DWORD 832-bit) Value”.

    Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\System


  3. Name DWORD and set value


    Name the value as “EnableSmartScreen”, double-click on the newly created value and set “Value Data” to “0” to turn off SmartScreen.

  4. Create second DWORD for the SmartScreen blocking level

    Right-click on the right panel select “New – String Value” and name the value as “ShellSmartScreenLevel”.

  5. Set SmartScreen blocking level


    Double-click on the new string value and set either “Warn” or “Block” as “Value data” according to your preference.

    “Warn” will shows a SmartScreen warning message that can be bypassed.

    “Block” shows a warning message and also blocks you from running the app or file manually.

In Windows 10 you can also turn Windows Defender Application Guard on or off via Windows Features or enable or disable secure sign-in for the Ctrl+Alt+Del hotkey.