Make Windows SmartScreen work the way you want it to


There is more malware for Windows computers than for any other operating system or device. That is because it is so popular and there are so many Windows PCs around – it’s a big target that attracts malware writers and scammers. To help combat these, Windows 8 has something called SmartScreen and you can configure it to work whatever way you want.

Let’s see SmartScreen in action first. If you download a program from the internet, you might not be sure whether it is safe to run on the computer.

 Windows SmartScreen protects your PC

SmartScreen in Windows 8 examines the file and if it is unrecognised or suspicious, it will be blocked when you try to run it.

 Protect against malware with SmartScreen

At first sight, there is only an OK button and this simply returns you to the desktop. However, there is a More info link if you look carefully and clicking this displays the publisher and application, and has Run anyway and Don’t run buttons.

 SmartScreen protects Windows

This does not mean that the program is malware, such as a virus or spyware. It could be a false positive. SmartScreen is over cautious and the message simply means that the program is unrecognised, not that it is malware. If you are sure that it is OK, you can run it anyway.

It is good to be wary of programs flagged by SmartScreen, but there are lots of good programs that it does not recognise. It might be a bit annoying frequently seeing this message, so SmartScreen can be configured in the Action Center.

Press the Windows key and X at the same time, and click Control Panel. Select View by: Small icons, then click Action Center. On the left is Change Windows SmartScreen settings. Click it.

 Configure Windows SmartScreen

You can now choose what to do with unrecognised programs. The most secure setting is the one at the top and this prevents unrecognised programs from running (unless you go via More info). This is good for less technical or less experienced users, but if you know what you are doing, the middle option to warn before running might be better for you. It is even possible to turn it off completely. It is up to you which option you choose.

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