How to manage App permissions on Windows 10

The revelations that companies like Facebook, Google, etc. were using user data for advertisements and other purposes led to widespread public outrage and companies started justifying the act and promising users better privacy for future. But even more, since users were mostly unaware of this fact, the news prompted them to check their Google, Facebook and Microsoft archives.

When I check my data that Google has stored, I was shocked to know that they knew everything from the locations I have been to and on what date to my call history. Obviously, privacy is important, and every user should be allowed to protect themselves from such data breach.

Manage App permissions on Windows 10

Here’s how app permissions could be managed for Windows 10 v1803.

Where are the App permissions located?

Click on Start and then the gear-like symbol to open the Settings page.

Select Privacy, and it shows a list of App permissions on the list on the left.

Now let us take a look at all the sections.

Manage App permissions on Windows 10

1] Location

Location: This setting allows each user logged on to the system to choose their own location settings.

Location service: Turning Off the Location service disallows all apps, services, and websites from accessing the user’s location. However, when turned On, only permitted apps can access the user’s location. By default the Location service is set to On.

Location history: Location history stores the location history of users for some time, so apps needing the same could use it. There is an option to clear the location history as well.

Geofencing: This service helps Windows find out when you change your geolocation and remind of places of interest.

2] Camera

Allow access to the camera on this device: Camera is usually not activated by default for any app, and they prompt if the user wishes to use the camera or not. However, turning this setting Off will disallow all apps and services from accessing to camera totally.

Allow apps to access your camera: This setting is a subset of the previous setting. If we turn this setting Off, it disallows all apps from accessing the camera, but not Windows itself. We can choose which apps have access and which don’t.

3] Microphone

The Allows access to the microphone on this device and Allow apps to access your microphone settings have the same functions as for similar options mentioned with the camera settings earlier.

4] Notifications

Let apps access my notifications: Turning this Off this setting restricts all apps from accessing the user’s notifications. When On, we can choose individual apps which could access the notifications.

5] Account info

Just like earlier settings, Allows access to the Account info on this device and Allow apps to access your Account info allow apps and Windows or just apps to access the users account information.

6] Contacts

Microsoft stores users contacts (name, phone number, email ID, etc.) and this setting helps users choose whether they want Windows and/or apps to access their contacts.

7] Calendar

This setting refers to the Calendar schedule the user has set, which means allowing the system and apps to access it with make your calendar schedule available to them. Eg. If you have an important meeting scheduled for a specific date, the app (and administrator) would be able to access the same.

8] Call history

Most users will hate if anyone finds their call history is shared with anyone. Perhaps we live in the perception that only legal authorities have access to it, but that isn’t a fact. Any calls made from a device which you have logged on from your Microsoft account would save that information and make it available for apps and Windows. The Call history settings helps to turn off this access.

9] Email

Microsoft allows apps and settings to access emails of its users. Yes, it literally means they can check your emails along with the date and time of sending/receiving. This setting helps deny them access to the same.

10] Tasks

Most advertisements are based on your tasks on the system or any system on which you have logged on with your Microsoft account. This setting could prevent apps and Windows from accessing the same.

11] Messaging

Here messaging refers to SMS and MMS on systems and phones where the user has logged on with his/her Microsoft account. Disabling it prevents apps and Windows from accessing the same.

12] Radios

Radios are options like Bluetooth which could be controlled by apps remotely. Eg. A music sharing app could automatically switch On your device’s Bluetooth and start sending files. We can select apps which have this access from this setting.

12] Background apps

At times (or mostly) apps run in the background while the user is working on the system, being invisible to the user. So, apps could be running on your system in the background without your being aware of it at all. Users can disable all or specific apps using this setting.

14] App diagnostics

Apps collect diagnostic data from your system, and this setting allows or disallows other apps to use that diagnostic data from the system.

15] Automatic file downloads

Online storage providers (e.g. OneDrive) have a facility to download files to the system automatically. While that setting is disabled from the provider’s website itself, we can allow the again from this setting.

16] Documents

This setting helps allow or disable Windows/apps from accessing documents stored either on the system or Microsoft storage accounts.

17] Pictures and Videos

Windows and apps have access to all your pictures and videos by default. To prevent them from accessing your personalized pictures and videos, we can turn Off this setting.

18] File system

This a cumulative of all pictures, videos, and documents on the system. We can modify this setting as per our preferences.

By now, you must have a precise understanding of what all information Microsoft can access, and rather does by default.

We hope this post helps you make your Microsoft experience private and secure.

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Anand Khanse is the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.