What is Windows SmartScreen?

While browsing the internet on your Windows 11 system, if you are worried that you might accidentally download the malicious app or visit the malicious website, the Windows Defender SmartScreen filter feature will be at your disposal.

In this post, we will discuss what Windows SmartScreen is and how to enable it for protection against external threats and securing your Windows 11 system.

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What is Windows SmartScreen Filter?

Microsoft Defender SmartScreen is a security feature that was first introduced in Windows 8. It is designed to protect users from downloading and installing malicious software, as well as from visiting phishing websites.

The feature works by inspecting the files or websites that you attempt to download or visit and comparing them against a list of known threats.

If you try to download a file that SmartScreen recognizes as suspicious, it will notify you before the download is complete, thus giving you the opportunity to stop it. For example, if you download a legitimate program like WinRAR, Windows Defender SmartScreen will allow it without restriction. However, if you try to download a program that is available in its black list, you won’t be able to download it with the SmartScreen filter enabled.

There might be some new program that may not be in either of a black or white list of SmartScreen. In such a case, it will warn you but also provide you the option to bypass the warning and download the program.

Similarly, suppose you attempt to visit a website that Windows Defender SmartScreen has identified as malicious or suspicious. In that case, it will send the address of the website to Microsoft and notify you before the website fully loads. In this case, Microsoft also has the option to block the website in order to keep your system safe. This will also save you from fake or Phishing websites.

The SmartScreen feature can be configured in Internet Explorer, File Explorer, Edge, or even other browsers, too (using web extensions).

SmartScreen only works in Internet Explorer, and it’s not available in other browsers like Chrome or Firefox. For Chrome users, Microsoft has released an extension named Windows Defender Browser Protection, which works similar to SmartScreen.

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What does Windows Defender SmartScreen Filter Not do?

As mentioned earlier, while the Microsoft Defender SmartScreen filter uses a list of known threats to protect your system from external threats, the following things are the points that should be noted:

  • First and foremost, Windows Defender SmartScreen is not a substitute for an antivirus program.
  • Secondly, SmartScreen will not protect you against all types of threats.

For example, if you try to download a malicious file that has been specifically designed to bypass SmartScreen, it will be able to do so. Similarly, if you visit a website that has been created by an individual who is aware of how SmartScreen works, the website may be able to bypass the protection.

Microsoft SmartScreen vs. Windows Defender

Both Windows SmartScreen and Windows Defender are security features that protect your computer against threats. Although both of them do the same thing, their functionality is slightly different. 

While Windows Defender protects you from all types of threats, including viruses, spyware, ransomware, etc., Windows SmartScreen protects you from only downloading and installing malicious software and visiting rogue websites.

To put this in simple words:  Windows Defender will detect and block all malicious software found on your computer, while Windows SmartScreen will only notify you when there is a new or unrecognized program that wants to run on your system or when you try to visit a malicious site on your IE or Edge browser.

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What are the problems with Windows SmartScreen?

There are a few issues that have been reported with Windows Defender SmartScreen:

  • Some users have complained that they have received too many warnings from the Microsoft Defender SmartScreen Filter, even for websites that are not harmful. Others have said that the feature has caused their web browsers to crash or freeze. In some cases, users have been unable to download legitimate files or programs because SmartScreen has blocked them.
  • Apart from this, SmartScreen sometimes raises false alarms. For example, if you try to download a safe application that is not in the database of the SmartScreen filter or if you try to visit a website that’s not on the list of malicious or phishing websites, you might get a warning from IE even though they are safe.
  • The biggest problem with the SmartScreen Filter is that if it’s not configured properly, it may send personal information like your IP address and the URL you are visiting, to Microsoft servers. This can be a major privacy concern for users who want complete anonymity on their devices.

How to Disable Windows Defender SmartScreen on Windows 11?

SmartScreen feature is by default enabled on Windows 11 devices. However, as mentioned in the above section, it might cause some problems for you. So, if you wanna disable it. follow these steps.

  1. Open Windows 11 Settings.open windows 11 settings

  2. Switch to Privacy & Security tab and choose Windows Security.privacy & security

  3. On the Windows Security settings page, under Protection areas, click on App & browser control.

  4. Under Reputation-based protection, click on Reputation-based protection settings.

  5. Disable all the SmartScreen security options if they are enabled.enable-smartscreen-options

Summing Up

In conclusion, Windows Defender SmartScreen is a security feature that can protect your computer against threats, but it has some limitations. You should keep in mind that it’s not a substitute for an antivirus program, and it won’t protect you against all types of threats. It’s also important to note that there are workarounds that can be used to bypass the protection, so it is better not to entirely dependent on it for protection against external threats. Nonetheless, it is an excellent security feature from Microsoft that you must keep enabled for the tight security of your system.

Should I turn off the SmartScreen filter?

Windows SmartScreen is an essential Windows 11 security feature. However, if the SmartScreen filter is continuously raising false alarms for you and disturbing your work, you can disable it for some time.

How to get the Microsoft Defender SmartScreen?

Windows SmartScreen comes in-built for Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge browsers. To get it on Chrome, you need to install an extension from the Chrome web store.

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