Setting your preferences for Windows 10 services

Last updated: 9/28/15

This article shows you what you get with Express settings and what you can choose to customize when you first set up your Windows 10 system. It’s written for customers who set up their own devices, or devices used by their friends or family. These instructions focus on the Windows 10 PC, but also has the info for Windows 10 Mobile. If you set up many Windows 10 devices at a time for an organization or enterprise, using tools like Group Policy, read this info for IT Pros.

Choosing preferences during Windows 10 set-up

As you upgrade to or install Windows 10, you'll see a screen that says "Get going fast."

The Express settings screen during Windows 10 setup.
The Express settings screen during Windows 10 setup.
Express settings turns on some settings for what we think is the best experience: personalization, location, Internet browsing and protection, connectivity, updates, connecting with friends, and error reporting. To turn them all on, choose Use Express settings.

To turn any of them off, choose Customize settings. It’s the last link on the screen, below the other text. No matter what settings you choose during set-up, you can update these settings at any time.

First Customize settings screen during Windows 10 setup for the PC.
The first Customize settings screen during Windows 10 setup for the PC.
Here's what each setting means on this page:

Personalization is all about using your data to make your current Windows 10 experience more awesome, and make future Windows 10 experiences even better.

  • Personalized speech, inking, and typing. This information helps Windows 10 correctly recognize and personalize your input, like building a dictionary of spelling and auto-complete words personalized to you. For example, if your friend's name is spelled "Aarron," instead of the more common "Aaron", then when you're texting, we could offer your friend's unique spelling as an auto-complete suggestion to you.

  • Send typing and inking data. To make the next versions of Windows 10 even better, this sends samples of the words you type or write by hand so that we can recognize handwriting better and build better dictionaries and suggestions. How people use language changes over time, and region by region. By sharing these samples, we can help make products that serve you better in the future.

    More info about speech, inking, and typing can be found in the Windows 10 speech, inking, typing, and privacy: FAQ.

  • Advertising ID. Part of how we operate our business as a business is to display ads. For those ads to be relevant to you, we generate a random, unique advertising ID for each person on a device, for apps and other experiences to use. If you turn this off, you'll still see ads. If you keep it on, you're more likely to see ads for things you're interested in.

  • Connecting with Skype. Let Skype make it easy to connect with the friends already in your address book. It will also let Skype verify your mobile number, so any SMS or data charges will apply. This will only happen if Skype is installed.

Location services gives you handy information such as restaurants near your location, driving tips to avoid traffic, and more, by knowing the location of your device. It sends data when you first activate your device, and then, if you ever lose it, the location service helps you find it with Find My Phone for phones, and Find My Device for PCs with location capabilities. Before an app can use your location data, it asks for your consent. The Location settings option gives you control over which apps can use your device location and location history information. For more info about Location data, read the Windows 10 location service and privacy: FAQ.

For devices that use cellular networks, Allow cellular data usage if you want to use cellular data when you’re not connected to Wi‑Fi. You may be charged for using cellular data according to your plan with your cellular service provider.

When you have set those settings according to your preferences, select Next.

Second Customize settings screen during Windows 10 setup for the PC.
The second Customize settings screen during Windows 10 setup.

Connectivity and error reporting. Making it easy to connect and stay connected is an important part of Windows 10.

  • Suggested open hotspots. With these settings, you can choose to automatically connect to suggested open Wi‑Fi networks it knows about.

  • Shared by your contacts. When your contacts share their password-protected Wi‑Fi networks, youand can choose to connect, but you and your contacts won’t see each other’s shared Wi‑Fi passwords. Remember, not all Wi‑Fi networks are secure. Read the Wi‑Fi Sense FAQ for more info.

  • See if paid Wi-Fi services are available. To make it as easy as possible to stay connected, you can set your PC to automatically connect to see if paid Wi‑Fi services are available.

Send error and diagnostic information to Microsoft is a setting that helps ensure the health, quality and performance of the operating system. If this setting is on, we set diagnostic and usage data collection on your device to Full, which lets us collect a more complete set of data to solve problems. Here’s how that works: When we haven’t been able to solve a problem with internal testing, we gather data, including the user content that may have triggered the issue, if appropriate, from a small sample number of devices that have the Full level of error and diagnostic info turned on that are showing the problem.

If you turn this setting off, we will set diagnostic usage data collection to Enhanced, which means we still collect some data to diagnose errors from your device, but not the full set. Diagnostic and usage data may also be used to improve features and services, and personalize operating system features and services to serve you better. Read more here: Feedback, diagnostics, and privacy: FAQ.

The third Customize settings screen during Windows 10 setup for the PC
The third Customize settings screen during Windows 10 setup for the PC.
Browser, protection, and update. Windows 10 comes with Microsoft Edge, which has some features which can give you a faster and safer web browsing experience. For these to work, some data has to be sent to Microsoft.
  • SmartScreen online services help to protect you and your device from unsafe web content or malicious software.

  • With Page prediction, pages you're likely to browse to next can be proactively loaded for you for a faster browsing experience.

  • Get your Windows and app updates faster by turning on Get updates from and send updates to other PCs on the Internet. This lets you download Windows updates once for all the devices on your home network, instead of separately, for each device. Learn more about Windows Update Delivery Optimization here.

To change your settings later

On Windows 10, you can change your preferences whenever you want. For system-wide settings, like which apps can use your camera, go to Settings > Privacy.

The Privacy section within Settings
The Privacy section within Settings

For preferences in a specific app, use the Settings area within that app.

Cortana is a digital personal assistant that can help you find files on your PC, remind you of appointments you might miss, suggest music you might love, and more. In order to do that well, Cortana needs to understand your interests and preferences.

  • Turning the Cortana app on. Cortana is off by default. If you want to use Cortana (and you're in one of the regions we make Cortana available), you need to turn the functionality on separately for each Windows 10 device.

  • Turning Cortana off. You can always turn Cortana off by selecting Cortana > Notebook > Settings, and then turning off the Cortana setting.

  • Choose what information Cortana can access. To add or remove information or interests to your Cortana Notebook, go to Cortana > Notebook, then select About me. For more info, see the Cortana, Search, and privacy: FAQ.

Microsoft Edge provides many options to work just the way you want it to, like syncing your browsing history and reading list, managing your cookies, and more. For more info, see the Microsoft Edge and privacy: FAQ.

Skype can check your address book from time to time to find people you know and automatically add them as new Skype contacts. If you change your mind, turn this off in Skype settings.

Windows Hello lets you sign in to some devices with your face, your fingerprint, or other methods. Learn more about how Windows Hello uses your info to make sign-in easier at Windows Hello and privacy: FAQ.

Windows Update has settings that let you download Windows updates once for all the devices on your home network, instead of separately, for each device. More info here: Windows Update Delivery Optimization: FAQ.

Learn more about Windows and privacy