How to get past Windows Defender SmartScreen in Windows 10

The SmartScreen filter in Windows 10 can sometimes stop you from downloading the app you want. Here's how to get past it, and why sometimes you should think twice before doing so.

windows 10 logo
Microsoft

We've all been there. You read about a great little traditional desktop application or utility that you think will be a great help. Once it's downloaded, boom!, Windows 10 blocks it thanks to Windows Defender SmartScreen, a feature that prevents unrecognized apps from running. It's a helpful security feature that can sometimes be annoying. Here's how to get past it.

Are you sure you want to do this?

Before we go any further, keep in mind that the SmartScreen is there for your protection. It is designed to restrict any programs that are known to be malicious or aren't commonly downloaded. For that reason, anything experimental or outside the norm is not trusted by Windows.

Nevertheless, if you trust the creator of the program that you want to install, here's how to get past it.

Getting past SmartScreen on a case-by-case basis

smartscreen3 Ian Paul/IDG

The Windows 10 SmartScreen in the Creators Update.

When SmartScreen appears it usually says the app you want to install is unrecognized. The filter then leaves you with only one button to push: Don't run.

By showing only one option, Microsoft hopes to prevent the majority of users from running untrusted apps, because many won't bother to look beyond that single button.

smartscreen2 Ian Paul/IDG

Now you can install the program you want.

If you still want to take the risk and proceed, click the More info link at the end of the warning paragraph.

When you click that, you then see a window like this one at left, with a new option: Run anyway. Click that, and you're all set. The program will start installing as normal.

Turn it off, turn it off!

You may do away with the SmartScreen entirely. (Feeling lucky?) In the Creators Update, Open Windows Defender Security Center and click App & browser control. Under the sub-heading Check apps and files, select the Off button.

Now SmartScreen won't block any apps, but that may also put your PC at greater risk if you're not careful.

To comment on this article and other PCWorld content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.
Related:
Shop Tech Products at Amazon