Guide to Disable Windows Recall on Copilot+ PCs

Windows Recall is a highly anticipated and powerful feature introduced in Windows 11, tailored specifically for Copilot+ PCs. This advanced functionality leverages artificial intelligence to improve productivity by providing intelligent suggestions and automating certain tasks.

But its implementation has flared some valid concerns about user privacy and data security. This comprehensive guide aims to provide a detailed understanding of what Windows Recall is, why there are considerations to disable it, and a step-by-step process for disabling this feature if you choose to do so.

What is Windows Recall and how does it work?

Windows Recall is an innovative AI-powered feature integrated into Windows 11. This tool automatically captures and stores screenshots of your computer activities at regular intervals. Once taken, these screenshots are then securely saved on your local device and are intelligently indexed using advanced AI algorithms. This intelligent indexing enables users to effortlessly search for and retrieve past activities by using natural language queries.

Suppose you browsed a web page on your web browser that contained some important information. And after some time, you want to check out the page content again. To do so, add a related query or keyword of that page in Recall. The tool will then quickly go through its piles of stored screenshots and display the related snapshot along with the context of that activity.

This is quite a useful tool as it helps you easily revisit and retrieve previously accessed information. But some people have shown some genuine concerns concerning how the Recall tool works and stores information.

Why should you worry about Windows Recall?

While Windows Recall can be a useful tool, there are several reasons to be cautious. Some of them are:

Privacy concerns: The Recall feature continuously captures screenshots. So, it can also capture sensitive information like passwords, personal conversations, or financial data. Although these screenshots are encrypted and stored locally, still, isn’t the sheer amount of sensitive information being captured concerning​?

Security risks: Some security researchers have highlighted that the stored data, although encrypted, can be susceptible to vulnerabilities. Malicious actors may exploit these vulnerabilities to access sensitive data​ stored from the device.

Default activation: Initially, Windows Recall was enabled by default, meaning users were unaware that their activities were being logged unless they manually opted out. Due to significant backlash, Microsoft is planning to change this to make the feature opt-in during setup​.

How to disable Windows Recall on Copilot+ PCs

If you decide that the risks outweigh the benefits, here are three methods to disable Windows Recall:

Method 1: Disable Windows Recall using Settings

  • First, open the Settings window. To do this, you click on the Windows button on the taskbar and go to Settings. Or, just use the shortcut by pressing ‘Windows + I’ to open the Settings menu.
  • Now, go to the Privacy & security tab in the left-hand menu. Then, click on Recall & snapshots.
  • Turn off the toggle for Save snapshots to stop Recall from capturing any screenshots.

Delete Snapshots

On the same window, you can delete the snapshots taken by Windows Recall. 

Click on the Delete snapshots and then Delete all.

This will remove all the screenshots ever taken and stored by Recall.

Filter lists

If you want to use this tool but are concerned about your security. Then, instead of disabling the Recall feature, you can add websites and apps to filter lists. This will stop Recall to take snapshots for the listed apps and websites.

Method 2: Disable Windows Recall using Registry

If you want to fully turn off the Recall feature from your Copilot+ PC, this method can help.

  • First, open the Start menu and search for the Registry Editor. Then, open it.
  • Now copy the address below and paste it in the Registry’s address bar.

Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows

  • In the left panel, right-click on Windows, select New and then, Key.
  • Set the name of the new key as WindowsAI.
  • Now on the right panel, right-click and select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value.
  • Set its name as DisableAIDataAnalysis.
  • Finally, double-click on DisableAIDataAnalysis, add the value data to 1 and press OK.

Now after you restart your computer, the Recall feature will be disabled​.

Method 3: Disable Windows Recall using Group Policy

The third method to disable Windows Recall includes using Group Policy Editor. Now if you are a Home edition user, you first need to enable Group Policy editor on your Windows 11 Home. While the editor comes enabled in the Pro edition.

  • Go to the Start menu, enter edit Group policy and open it.
  • Now, on the left panel, navigate to User configuration then, Administrative Templates and then, Windows Components to locate Windows AI.
  • On the right panel, double click on ‘Turn off Saving Snapshots for Windows’
  • Next, click on Enable. Then, click on Apply and OK.

Finally, restart your computer to apply the changes​.

New security and privacy measures

In response to the widespread criticism, Microsoft is planning to implement several key changes to the Recall feature. The three major concerns expressed by users are listed below:

  • Opt-in requirement: Microsoft is planning to make Recall an opt-in feature. So, the users can choose to enable or disable it during the initial setup of their Copilot+ PCs. This ensures that the feature is not running without explicit user knowledge or consent​.
  • Enhanced data protection: Microsoft is adding layers of protection, including “just in time” decryption, which ensures that snapshots are only decrypted and accessible when the user authenticates using Windows Hello. This helps prevent unauthorised access to the stored snapshots​.
  • Local storage and processing: All AI processing and storage of snapshots are done locally on the device, with no data being sent to the cloud. This minimises the risk of data breaches from external sources​.

Conclusion

Disabling Windows Recall can help protect your privacy and secure your sensitive information. While the feature offers some advanced AI functionalities, the potential risks make it prudent for many users to turn it off.

What are your thoughts on this feature? Are you planning to disable Windows Recall feature on Copilot+ PCs?

FAQs about disabling Windows Recall

How do I turn off Windows Recall?

You can turn off Windows Recall feature using three methods: Settings menu, Group Policy Editor, or Registry Editor. These methods are easy to use and quickly disable the feature from your PC.

Can Windows Recall be disabled?

Yes, Windows Recall can be disabled from your Copilot+ PCs.

How do I turn off Microsoft Recall?

To turn off Microsoft Recall feature, you can go to Settings > Privacy and security > Recall & snapshots. Then, turn off the toggle next to Save snapshots.

How do you turn off Copilot in Windows?

To turn off Copilot, go to Settings > Personalization > Taskbar > disable Copilot in Windows toggle.

Can I ignore a Recall?

Ignoring Windows Recall is not recommended due to the privacy and security risks involved. If you want to use the feature anyways, use the Filter Out option to add the websites or apps that may use sensitive information.


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