How to Find & Remove Bloatware from Windows 11

How to Find & Remove Bloatware from Windows 11 blog image

Figuring out how to find and remove bloatware from Windows 11? We need to know that Windows 11 ships with a significant amount of bloatware, both from Microsoft and from the manufacturer. Even after you’ve cleaned it up, new, unwanted apps can arrive from system updates and bundled with other software that you install.

Bloatware (a combination of ‘bloat’ and ‘software’) are apps that you don’t want or need installed on your computer. Unnecessary programs take up disk space, make your computer run slower, and may even be used to spy on you for advertising purposes. Here’s how to find and remove bloatware from Windows 11.

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Identifying bloatware in Windows 11

What ‘bloatware’ means differs from user to user, but broadly, it’s any app that is installed on your Windows 11 device that you don’t want or use. Some users will find a few of the pre-installed apps on their PC useful, while others will never even open them.

However, there are a few things you should look out for when identifying bloatware:

  • Does it ask for a subscription for functionality that is already included in Windows or available for free (for example, pushy antivirus subscriptions)?
  • Does it run continually in the background without providing any benefit to you?
  • Does it display ads?
  • Does it record your activity for advertising purposes?

If you use applications that do these sorts of things, consider finding alternatives that are more respectful of your time, privacy, and wallet.

Common examples of bloatware include:

  • Antivirus and VPN software that was installed by your computer manufacturer: These will often push you for a subscription, but don’t offer any major advantages over Windows’ built in antivirus.
  • Communication apps: Instant messaging and video calling apps are often included on new PCs, though most users already have their favorite and don’t need more.
  • Productivity software trials: Office and creative software is often bundled in and will try to sign you up for a subscription.
  • Music and video streaming platforms: Like software trials, these clog up your system and may encourage you to sign up for their service.
  • Games: Video games are great. Most of the ones included with your PC are thinly disguised gambling apps riddled with ads.

As bloatware has a habit of creeping back onto your system through updates (and sometimes riding along inside the installers for other programs you actually need), you should periodically check for any unwanted applications, and remove them using the steps in this article.

Steps to manually to remove bloatware from Windows 11

The first place you should check for bloatware to remove is in the Windows Settings app. Open the Settings app from the Start menu, then click on Apps in the left sidebar, and then Installed Apps.

 

The apps window for the blog How to Find & Remove Bloatware from Windows 11

 

From here, click on the dots next to each app to see the options for uninstalling them.

The next place to check for bloatware is in the Microsoft Store app. Open it from the Start menu, then click on Library in the left sidebar.

 

The library window for the blog How to Find & Remove Bloatware from Windows 11

 

Again, click on the dots next to each listed app to see if it can be uninstalled (some may not let you if they are part of Windows 11).

Using Group Policy and PowerShell to remove bloatware

You can use a Local Group Policy (the settings usually used by system administrators to control corporate computers) to enforce some rules that should reduce the appearance of bloatware on your Windows 11 computer. This is probably unnecessary for most users, but if you want to give it a shot, follow these steps:

Open the start menu and search for gpedit and then open the Edit Group Policy search result.

 

Edit Group Policy in the menu for the blog How to Find & Remove Bloatware from Windows 11

 

Then, navigate to Computer Configuration/Administrative Templates/Windows Components/Cloud Content in the left sidebar of the group policy editor, and change the value of Turn off cloud optimized content to Enabled by double clicking on it.

 

Change the value of Turn off cloud optimized content to Enabled for the blog How to Find & Remove Bloatware from Windows 11

Finally, to remove any existing shortcuts, navigate to the directory %localAppData%\Packages\Microsoft.Windows.StartMenuExperienceHost_cw5n1h2txyewy (you can copy and paste this address into the Explorer address bar or Start menu Run prompt) and delete the LocalState folder from this directory.

PowerShell can also be used to update Windows 11 configuration options to remove and discourage the installation of bloatware and other Windows features that tend to get in the way. Below is a script to do so that you can adapt to remove or disable the built-in Windows 11 software and features you don’t need.

As with any script, you should carefully review it before running it, so that it doesn’t remove anything or perform any action that you don’t expect it to.

# Function to prompt the user for confirmation

function Confirm-Action {

param (

[string]$Message

)

$confirmation = Read-Host "$Message (y/n)"

return $confirmation -eq 'y'

}

# Function to remove a given app

function Remove-App {

param (

[string]$AppName

)

if (Confirm-Action "Do you want to remove $AppName ?") {

Get-AppxPackage -Name $AppName | Remove-AppxPackage

Write-Output "$AppName removed."

} else {

Write-Output "Skipped removing $AppName"

}

}

# List apps to remove (The below example contains some default Windows apps, feel free to add your own, or remove entries)

$appsToRemove = @(

"Microsoft.3DBuilder",

"Microsoft.BingWeather",

"Microsoft.GetHelp",

"Microsoft.Getstarted",

"Microsoft.Microsoft3DViewer",

"Microsoft.MicrosoftOfficeHub",

"Microsoft.MicrosoftSolitaireCollection",

"Microsoft.MicrosoftStickyNotes",

"Microsoft.MixedReality.Portal",

"Microsoft.MSPaint",

"Microsoft.Office.OneNote",

"Microsoft.People",

"Microsoft.Print3D",

"Microsoft.SkypeApp",

"Microsoft.WindowsAlarms",

"Microsoft.WindowsCamera",

"Microsoft.WindowsFeedbackHub",

"Microsoft.WindowsMaps",

"Microsoft.WindowsSoundRecorder",

"Microsoft.XboxApp",

"Microsoft.XboxGameOverlay",

"Microsoft.XboxGamingOverlay",

"Microsoft.XboxIdentityProvider",

"Microsoft.XboxSpeechToTextOverlay",

"Microsoft.YourPhone"

)

# Loop through app list and prompt for removal

foreach ($app in $appsToRemove) {

Remove-App -AppName $app

}

# Function to set a registry key value

function Set-RegistryKey {

param (

[string]$Path,

[string]$Name,

[string]$Value

)

if (Confirm-Action "Do you want to set $Name in $Path to $Value ?") {

Set-ItemProperty -Path $Path -Name $Name -Value $Value

Write-Output "Set $Name in $Path to $Value"

} else {

Write-Output "Skipped setting $Name in $Path"

}

}

# Disable telemetry in using the registry

Set-RegistryKey -Path "HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\DataCollection" -Name "AllowTelemetry" -Value 0

Write-Output "Windows Debloat completed"

 

Preventing bloatware installation

In addition to using group policy to try and prevent bloatware from being installed with Windows 11 updates, turning off Start menu ads and recommendations will both reduce the number of unwanted app icons in your start menu, and make it less likely that you unintentionally install an unwanted app.

To do this, open the Settings app, click on Personalization in the menu to the left, and click Start and turn off Show recommendations for tips, shortcuts, new apps, and more.

 

Show recommendations for tips, shortcuts, new apps, and more option for the blog

 

You should also carefully review the options presented when using third-party installers to install software. Uncheck any components or bundled apps you don’t want to install, and scroll through the user agreements to make sure that you are only consenting to installing the software you intend to.

Ninite is a fantastic tool for installing popular free software packages. It installs and updates a wide range of productivity and system tools, and strips out all unnecessary bloatware that is often included with them.

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Risks and considerations in bloatware removal

There are a few considerations (and risks) when removing software from your Windows computer. Often, removing an app will only remove it for the current user, so if you have multiple users, you may have to debloat each account. Some bloatware will also show up again in the same account (OneDrive in particular, has a habit of coming back even if you’ve uninstalled it multiple times).

You should be careful when uninstalling applications if you are unsure of their purpose: some may include drivers for your device that will stop it from working properly if they are removed or make your system unstable. You should also make sure that you aren’t paying for any of the software you are removing (for example through a subscription), and if you are, cancel your subscription before removing it. If you have paid for software and think you might want to use it again one day, make sure you have a copy of the software license or login details to restore your purchase before uninstalling.

If in doubt, you should contact your local IT professional to help you debloat your computer. Your computer contains your whole digital life, so it’s a small price to pay to make sure that it’s operating correctly.

Maintenance best practices and optimizing Windows 11 post-bloatware removal

There are a few best practices you can follow to keep your Windows 11 system optimized and running just as quickly as the day you bought it:

  • Regularly perform a disk cleanup to remove temporary files and increase available disk space.
  • Keep an eye on your computer’s performance, and if it seems to be running slower than usual, investigate and identify which program could be the cause.
  • Remain vigilant and regularly check for any unwanted apps that may have been installed automatically.
  • If your computer is becoming unusable due to bloatware or malware, consider resetting it to remove all installed software or contacting an IT professional to help you do so without losing any of your files.

Once you’ve finished removing bloatware from Windows 11 (whether manually, or using group policy or PowerShell), you might wish to clean up your own files to reclaim some extra disk space. If you’re having trouble finding them, check out our guide for showing hidden files and folders in Windows 11.

Next Steps

The fundamentals of device security are critical to your overall security posture. NinjaOne makes it easy to patch, harden, secure, and backup all their devices centrally, remotely, and at scale.

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