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Turn off AutoPlay

A quick and easy security measure is to turn off Windows Autoplay. It only takes a few steps to help prevent PUPS (potentially unwanted programs) from installing on your PC.

What does AutoPlay do?

AutoPlay controls the initialization of applications, and hardware. AutoPlay can be configured based on protocols, file types, and quite a bit more. AutoPlay is Windows built in mechanism to control applications, and devices for your convenience, as with anything digital people with bad intent use it too. When a disk is inserted into a DVD ROM drive it spins up, opens your video player application, and plays the movie automatically, that is AutoPlay at work. AutoPlay can be fine turned, but to keep things clear I will only be showing you how to disable AutoPlay by turning it off.

Disabling AutoPlay can help to prevent potentially unwanted programs (PUPS) from silently installing via a hard disk or a flash drive on your personal computer, especially if they get past the User Account Control. This is the main reason for disabling AutoPlay. Plug in a corrupted, or infected device, and your personal computer can be compromised in a split second.

User Account Control

Since the vast majority of computer users would like everything automated Microsoft added the User Account Control to add an additional layer of protection to Windows. User Account control tries to prevent applications from installing without your knowledge. When a program tries to install you are alerted with a pop up asking you wether or not you would like the app to make changes to your device, for many this stops them from doing anything besides clicking No, and then they wonder why the application doesn't work, and that it seems it won't install. After trial, and error most users come to understand that when they the user initializes the action that in order to go forward one must select Yes. Sounds easy, yet for many it is not. Turning off User Account Control, or setting it to a lower setting helps prevent these pop up nag screens, and allows many to get things done, and not have to worry if they just messed up by installing something they should not have installed.

What happens if I disable AutoPlay?

Disabling AutoPlay stops your computer from auto running various media and hardware devices like USB hard drives, flash drives, DVD/CD-ROM drives. It does not disable, or prevent your computer from running applications, or making file associations that would open the correct program when a link is selected. An example would be setting AutoPlay to off will stop movie software from automatically accessing, and playing a movie inserted into the DVD-ROM drive. For some the benefit does not outweigh the risk, inconvenience, or the need to learn how to run applications and/or disks manually. If you do try turning off AutoPlay and you don't like it, you can always return and enable it by repeating the steps.

Benefits of AutoPlay

AutoPlay has a number of benefits, so before turning AutoPlay off be sure you don't already use AutoPlay. Some settings are beneficial and can make using a personal computer that much easier. For example being able to connect a device, and have the pictures, or files download automatically to a predefined folder with no interaction is great, and super convenient. If you are using AutoPlay take a moment and look under the default actions to see if there is not an option they you may like to try, or use that could aid you in your day to day computer work flow.

Depending on your personal computers configuration there will be more or less options than pictured in screen shots below.

Turn off AutoPlay

1. Click on the Start menu. 2. Click on the Settings icon, the one that looks like a gear.

The Windows 10 Start menu.

3. Once Windows Settings opens click on Devices.

Turn autoplay off step one.

4. Once Devices opens click on AutoPlay.

Select AutoPlay

5. Once AutoPlay opens click on the switch under the label Use AutoPlay for all media and devices, so it reads Off as pictured. AutoPlay is off. If you find turning off AutoPlay is not right for you, simply turn it back on.

Click on AutPlay to get to AutoPlay settings.

Turn off AutoPlay via Windows 10 Control Panel

At this time there are two different AutoPlay setting locations. It is our opinion Microsoft is going to remove the Control Panel version as Windows 10 matures, and we believe this is the case for the entire Control Panel as well. Accessing AutoPlay via the Control Panel does do things a bit differently, so if you would like to turn off AutoPlay off via the Control Panel follow these steps. There are many ways to get around Windows, and we show you one way we do it.

1. Click the Cortana icon 2. Search for Control Panel 3. Click on search result Control Panel Desktop app.

Select cortana icon then search Control Panel, next click search result Control Panel.

4. If you open the Control Panel and do not see AutoPlay as an option select View by: Category and change it to large or small icons.

Change Control Panel view to small or large icons.

5. Click AutoPlay.

Select Autoplay from the list.

6. Click to uncheck Use AutoPlay for all media and devices then click Save at the bottom of window.

Uncheck Use Autoplay for all media and devices to turn off autoplay.

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More AutoPlay settings

If the wrong application opens when called from another application or shortcut we will show you where those settings are located. At this time there are numerous ways to control applications under Windows 10. There are a few AutoPlay settings categories there is Default app settings, Choose default apps by file type, Choose default apps by protocol, and Set defaults by apps.

The two options Default app settings and Set defaults by apps may sound similar but they differ greatly in execution. Default app settings offers the most basic options, where as Set defaults by app allows for granular control over each installed application.

Default app settings

Default app settings allows you to control what Microsoft has determined to be the most popular of AutoPlay options, they included Email, Maps, Music Player, Photo Viewer, Video Player, and Web browser. Select an item you wish to change by clicking on its name or icon, then select an alternative from the pop up list. Keeping it simple in order to keep from confusing users, makes for a very limited set of choices. There is no option to browse for a specific program, so if a program is desired to be associated with a particular file type, and it is not properly registered with Windows it will not be available. By trying to incorporate their store into the options Microsoft added an element of confusion, many will search the store not knowing why the store has opened, will find limited app choices, that they may cost money, and that the app they are looking for is simply not there.

Choose default apps by file type

Choose apps by file type is similar to Default app settings in the way that it works. However, Choose defaults apps by file type lists all registered app file types and their associated programs. This list can get quite large, and can take some time to locate the file type you are looking for. The list on the left is the file type sorted by file type or file extension. Applications are listed on the right hand column, and can repeat numerous times depending on how many files they are associated with. There is no option to browse for a specific program, so if a program is desired to be associated with a particular file type, and it is not properly registered with Windows it will not be available. To change an apps association with a file type select an item you wish to change by clicking on its name or icon, then select an alternative from the pop up list. Just like Default app settings, by trying to incorporate their store into the options Microsoft added an element of confusion, many will search the store not knowing why the store has opened, will find limited app choices, that they may cost money, and that the app they are looking for is simply not there.

AutoPlay

To access more AutoPlay setting select Default app settings under Related settings.

More Autoplay settings located at related autoplay settings.

Set defaults by app, to set an application defaults, select the app on the left then select Set this program as default. To customize select Choose defaults for this program.

Setting default by app.

Default apps settings window contains the most basic of AutoPlay options. The blue boxed area is where more settings are located.

AutoPlay default app settings page.

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