How To Switch Off Windows 10 'Keylogger'

John Lister's picture

Some media outlets have accused Microsoft of building creepy keylogger spyware into Windows 10. That's a somewhat overblown interpretation, but some users may want to take the option to turn off the relevant setting.

Traditionally references to "keyloggers" are about unauthorized programs installed on computers, often without the owner's knowledge and often through trickery. Such programs are designed to track everything the user types, then relay the data over the Internet to criminals who then look for passwords, credit card numbers, and bank account information.

In this case, however, the "keylogger" in Windows 10 is something Microsoft has been relatively open about. It was included in the various preview editions of Windows 10, but has now come back to public attention as it turns out to also be in the finished edition - something that wasn't widely expected.

Windows 10 Speech And Typing Monitored

According to Microsoft, "When you interact with your Windows device by speaking, writing (handwriting), or typing, Microsoft collects speech, inking, and typing information - including information about your Calendar and People (also known as contacts)."

It appears Microsoft isn't, as such, interested in the content of what people type. Instead, it's trying to get more data about factors such as the way people pronounce words or the speed at which they type. The idea for this "logging" is to improve services that are able to recognize human speech, including the ability to figure out what a user is typing in a search box and to be able to present solutions without the user having typed in the full question. Currently Google search does something similar to this with its search box, which is also based on similar semantics. (Source:

With that said - because this technology deals very closely to privacy and security settings, the issue comes down to trust. For example, Microsoft may at some point begin using the data it collects for the purpose of advertising. If that were the case, then it would surely create an uproar.

Settings Menu Allows for Data Collection Opt-Out

The good news is that you can turn off multiple data collection features from within Windows 10's Settings app.

To do so:

  1. Click Start and then click on the Settings app. If you don't see Settings in your Start Menu, you can access "All Settings" using the Action Center (speech balloon icon) near the clock. Once the Settings app is opened, go to the Privacy section.
  2. Next, go to the General menu on the left of the screen. Turn off the feature that says "Send Microsoft info about how I write to help us improve typing and writing in the future."
  3. Optional: Go to the Speech, Inking and Typing menu on the left of the screen. Click the button that says "Stop getting to know me". Note this will turn off any personalization for Cortana, which will make Cortana less useful. If you don't use Cortana, then you will probably want to disable this feature anyway.
  4. Optional: Go to the Feedback and Diagnostics menu on the left of the screen.  Under "Feedback frequency", look for the heading that says "Windows should ask for my feedback" and set to "Never"; then, set "Diagnostic and Usage data" to "Basic".

Note that the steps above are not exhaustive, but will help with disabling the majority of data collected by Microsoft.

What's Your Opinion?

Is it fair to use the term "keylogger" and accuse Microsoft of shady practices? Do you trust Microsoft to use the data it collects for legitimate purposes that help improve Windows? Should Microsoft have made this feature opt-in rather than enable it by default?

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Dennis Faas's picture

Smart phones collect data on usage as well, which is what makes smart phones so incredibly useful. Most folks install smart phone software and simply agree to the terms of service - if you don't agree then you don't get to use the software. Windows 10 operates in the same manner. I for one don't like being "spied on" (if that's what you can call it). As long as it's not being used for advertising purposes, then I'm OK with it.

ecash's picture

Strange..and entertaining..
For all the speech irregularities..
For all the spelling mistakes..

they accumulate this for WHAT?? for US to help them make something better??

Im pretty good at looking things up on the net, and have told others how I do it..
Change the words around..Sleepy rag doll, becomes Doll, rag, sleepy..
Mis-spell there are more people who cant spell LIKE OTHERS, then there are proper spellers..
Iv tried to get search sites to do an old trick to help us, CHECK BOXES, to help limit Sales, people, groups, things to help Cut the Crap out of searches..

Speech identification is a pain..and there are tricks to help..IF' you can get people to do it..the problem I see, tends to be MS collecting the data. It would be great if I confabulated my device to ONLY recognize my voice and Wording for things.

mORE AND more SOFTWARE IS generating more and more data, of our uses..Even Adobe collects data..Itunes KNOWS who you are..MOST of the programs on your smart phones and tablets TRACK YOU..

Goog luck out there..

RedDawg's picture

That isn't what bothers me. With governments going through everything, building dossiers on everyone just how far in the future is 'Big Brother'. Now Governments claim they can even access data stored on different continents. No I don't want detailed profiles built on me all over the place. I'm not doing anything illegal but it's kind of creepy thinking big brother thinks he needs to be able to predict where I may be or what I may do, or what ever the hell they think they need to do.

Eventually we may get our own power hungry 'putin' in power and what damage can he do with all this info at hand before we can get him out?

No I'm not too worried about one company acquiring some data, but combined companies or governments saving unbelievable amounts of data for future search (and possibly manipulation for THEIR reasons) does worry me!

CaddmannQ's picture

How reliable is this industry in general, Microsoft in particular, or the various hardware and software we trust daily?

Not very, based on my experience.

And worse, the most trustworthy seem to have been waylaid by the more aggressive and unscrupulous.

But the most real danger seems to come from a gross inability to protect the data once collected.

I might trust MS not to use my data, but I can't trust them to secure it.

matt_2058's picture

I've gotten use to SOME data collection since it is a necessity to live with technology. What I don't like is the misuse and abuse.

Companies change their policy, but will not remove the data if you don't like the new policy and cease use. Large companies acquire smaller ones just to get what they have, be it consumer data or research. Look at how many companies are bought (or at least a controlling interest). Sometimes they keep the entity, but many times it is shelved one they get what they want. And guess what? The new company doesn't have an agreement with you, until they do.

How much of this site's user data was collected by facebook when that was the only way to log in?

And then there is the weakest part...people. People will not follow the rules dealing with other people's data. Casual attitude or selling it, doesn't matter.