How to disable advertising in Windows 10 File Explorer

Microsoft has introduced yet another bit of unwelcome advertising in Windows 10, but it's easy to shut off if you know the trick

How to disable advertising in Windows 10 File Explorer
Marcin Wichary (Creative Commons BY or BY-SA)

Most of us have become resigned to Windows 10 serving up ads in many nooks and crannies. Now it seems Microsoft's latest ad platform is File Explorer.

That venerable center of most Windows users’ navigation can, on occasion, show an ad like the one below. The ads appear on some Windows 10 Anniversary Update PCs, and it looks like they’re going to become more common with version 1703, the Creators Update, due later this month or early next month. (This screenshot is from build 15048, a recent beta test version of 1703.)

file explorer ad InfoWorld

Fortunately, it’s easy to tell File Explorer to stop nagging you.

To get rid of advertising in File Explorer – at least, this kind of advertising – start File Explorer, click View, then Options, then in the View tab, uncheck the box marked "Show sync provider notifications."

file explorer turn off ad InfoWorld

When you restart File Explorer, the ads will no longer darken your door.

Earlier this week on Reddit, poster Tall_Ships_for_Life drew interesting comments about the setting. Apparently the ads don’t appear in European versions of Windows 10 (although there’s a confirmed sighting of File Explorer ads in the United Kingdom) and the ads don’t appear in Windows 10 Enterprise.

Poster Silversee on a different Reddit thread admonishes:

Be aware that if you follow that guide you are disabling all sync provider notifications in File Explorer, including legitimate ones.

Presumably this is used by OneDrive or other services to notify you about the sync status of cloud synced content.

As a blog on Into Windows notes, "The so-called Sync provider notification feature, according to Microsoft, is designed to help users by displaying quick, easy information about things that can improve the overall experience with Windows 10." But even if Silversee’s observation proves correct, Microsoft may well change the way it uses that File Explorer advertising slot, and not tell anybody.

Martin Brinkmann at Ghacks.net nails it:

Microsoft makes it difficult to turn off all ads in Windows 10. Ads are not controlled using a single preference, as controls are scattered around. What makes this even more difficult is that the preferences don’t necessarily reveal that they control advertisement (or suggestions) at all.

Discussion continues on the AskWoody Lounge.

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