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How to Disable Cloud Optimized Content in Windows 10 and 11

Learn how to disable cloud optimized content in Windows 10 and 11 using Group Policy, Registry edits, and PowerShell scripts. Regain control over your personalized taskbar layouts.

How to Disable Cloud Optimized Content in Windows 10 and 11

With the release of Windows 10 version 20H2, Microsoft introduced a new feature called cloud optimized content that automatically customizes the taskbar for new user accounts based on their usage and linked cloud services. For example, the Your Phone app may get pinned to the taskbar if you connect an Android phone to your Windows 10 device.

While this feature can be useful for some users, others may want to disable it for increased privacy, customization, or performance. Common reasons to disable cloud optimized content include:

  • Prevent Microsoft from tracking app usage and preferences
  • Remove suggested apps that are not useful
  • Reduce potential performance overhead
  • Customize the taskbar layout in a specific way

This comprehensive guide will cover multiple methods for disabling cloud optimized content in both Windows 10 and 11, including using Group Policy, modifying the Registry, and PowerShell scripts. We will provide detailed step-by-step instructions for each approach.

You'll also learn:

  • Which versions of Windows support the different methods
  • How to verify the changes were applied correctly
  • Tips for rolling out these settings at scale across an enterprise

By the end, you'll understand exactly how to take control over the taskbar and remove any reliance on cloud services to customize your Windows experience.

When and Why You Might Want to Disable Cloud Optimized Content

Quietly debuting in Windows 10 version 20H2, cloud optimized content is Microsoft's way of personalizing your device based on your usage patterns and connected accounts. Sounds helpful, right?

Well, let's peek under the hood and see what's really going on.

Imagine you link your Android phone to your spiffy new Windows laptop. Suddenly, the Your Phone app appears on your taskbar, ready to connect.

Pretty cool! Microsoft saw your Android and did you a solid by pinning the perfect app.

But wait - how did they know? And what else are they tracking to enable this?

You see, cloud optimized content works by sending data about your app and account usage back to Microsoft, so they can analyze it and make recommendations. For some folks, that raises privacy concerns.

And while the suggestions may be handy for novice users, not everyone wants Microsoft auto-pinning apps and messing with their carefully crafted taskbar layouts.

Beyond the customization and transparency issues, there could be minor performance implications from the background processes enabling this feature. Probably negligible for most modern devices, but still something to consider.

So when and why might you want to disable this arguably helpful capability?

  • If you're privacy-focused and wary of unnecessary data collection
  • To reduce potential resource usage on underpowered machines
  • To fully control your Windows experience and app organization
  • If your IT department mandates it across the organization
  • Simply as a matter of personal preference

Of course, reasonable minds can disagree on whether the pros outweigh the cons here. But if you want full control over cloud optimized content for any reason, we've got you covered.

In this guide, we'll unpack multiple methods for disabling the feature on both Windows 10 and Windows 11. Ready? Let's do this!

Method 1 - Using Group Policy

For our first method to disable cloud optimized content, we'll use the built-in Group Policy Editor - a handy tool for configuring policies across Windows devices.

Now we know what you're thinking: "Group Policy sounds complicated and boring!" Valid point, but bear with us. With just a few simple steps, we'll have this pesky cloud content nuked in no time.

Let's start by opening the Group Policy Editor:

  • Hit the Windows key and type "gpedit.msc" then hit Enter.
  • The Local Group Policy Editor will open.

Now navigate to this location in the left pane:

Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Cloud Content

Local Group Policy Editor: Turn off cloud optimized content
Local Group Policy Editor: Turn off cloud optimized content

See the policy called "Turn off cloud optimized content"? Double click that bad boy so we can edit it.

In the policy properties window that opens, select the "Enabled" option at the top. Then click Apply > OK.

Turn off cloud optimized content
Turn off cloud optimized content

Now let's jump over to File Explorer:

First you need to enable the feature to show hidden items

For Windows 10:

  1. Open File Explorer from the taskbar.
  2. Select View > Options > Change folder and search options.
  3. Select the View tab and, in Advanced settings, select Show hidden files, folders, and drives and OK.

For Windows 11:

  1. Open File Explorer from the taskbar.
  2. Select View > Show > Hidden items.

And then navigate to

C:\Users\<current_user>\AppData\Local\Packages\Microsoft.Windows.StartMenuExperienceHost_cw5n1h2txyewy

Be sure to replace <current_user> with your actual Windows username.

Delete the "LocalState" folder. You can also move it if you want to save it.

LocalState
LocalState

Restart your PC.

And that's it! Cloud optimized content is now disabled for current user and any new user accounts on this device. Wasn't too painful, eh?

Here are some key facts about the Group Policy method:

  • It only works for Windows 10 or 11 Pro, Enterprise, and Education editions. Home users can skip to Method 2.
  • Changes apply automatically to any new user profiles created after configuring this policy.
  • Your steps will be slightly different if using the domain-based Group Policy Editor.
  • You can reverse the changes by going back and setting the policy to "Disabled" or "Not Configured."
  • Group Policy tweaks persist even with Windows feature updates.

So in summary, the Group Policy Editor provides an easy way to disable cloud optimized content across multiple Windows devices for business and power users.

Pretty slick right? Now that you've seen how simple it is.

Up next we'll cover using the Registry Editor to disable this pesky cloud content. Home users, this one's for you!

Method 2 - Modifying the Registry

For our next trick to disable cloud optimized content, we'll bust out the Registry Editor - the power user's tool for tweaking settings under the hood.

Now before your eyes glaze over, we promise hacking the registry isn't as scary as it sounds. Just a few simple tweaks and we'll give this cloud content the boot.

Let's dive in:

  • Hit the Windows key and type "regedit" then press Enter.
  • The Registry Editor will launch. Navigate to this key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\CloudContent

  • Right-click the CloudContent folder and select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value
  • Name the new value

    DisableCloudOptimizedContent
  • Double click it, set the Value data to 1, and click OK

And that's it! Cloud optimized content is now disabled on your device. Reboot and enjoy your bloatware-free Windows.

See, editing the registry isn't so bad! Think of it like performing surgery to remove the cancerous cloud content from your machine.

Key facts on the Registry method:

  • Works on all Windows 10 or Windows 11 editions, including Home!
  • Changes apply automatically to new user accounts going forward.
  • Reversing is easy - just set the

    DisableCloudOptimizedContent
    value back to 0.
  • Advanced users can run .reg files to automate registry changes.
  • Unlike Group Policy, registry tweaks could get reset after major Windows updates.

So in summary, the Registry Editor provides a flexible way to banish cloud optimized content on any Windows 10 or 11 device. Just beware it may need reapplied after big updates.

But otherwise, it's a quick and easy way to purge those pesky personalized taskbar suggestions from your computing experience!

Method 3 - Using PowerShell

For our final trick, we'll use PowerShell - the versatile scripting tool that can automate all sorts of Windows tasks.

Now we know what some of you are thinking: "Coding stuff makes my brain hurt!" Don't worry, you don't need to be a PowerShell wizard to make this work.

We'll use a handy pre-made script that will swat down cloud optimized content in one swift stroke. Just gotta copy, paste, and run!

Here's how to do it:

  • Open Notepad and copy in this PowerShell code:
New-Item "HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\CloudContent"

New-ItemProperty -Path "HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\CloudContent" -Name "DisableCloudOptimizedContent" -Value 1 -PropertyType DWORD

  • Save the file as DisableCloudContent.ps1
DisableCloudContent.ps1
DisableCloudContent.ps1
  • Open File Explorer and shift + right click in the folder with your saved script
  • Select "Open PowerShell window here" to launch PowerShell as admin
Open PowerShell window here
Open PowerShell window here
  • Type

    . .\DisableCloudContent.ps1
    and hit Enter to run the script

This runs the script in the current folder to make the registry changes.

Reboot and your machine will be freed from Microsoft's pesky cloud content.

Key facts on using PowerShell:

  • Works on Windows 10 and 11 like the Registry method
  • Can remotely run on many PCs to automate disabling it
  • Scripts can execute on a schedule to keep it disabled
  • PowerShell wizardry not required - pre-made scripts do the work
  • Great for batch disabling cloud optimized content across a fleet

So in summary, PowerShell provides automation power to rid your Windows environment of Microsoft's nosy cloud content.

With pre-made scripts, even coding novices can easily disable this "helpful" feature across countless managed devices. Welcome to cloud freedom!

Disabling Cloud Optimized Content on Multiple Computers

So you've settled on expunging cloud optimized content from your environment. But tweaking settings on one PC at a time is a drag, am I right?

Luckily the methods we've covered allow disabling it at scale across all your managed devices. Let's quickly discuss deployment strategies:

  • Group Policy - Easily propagates changes to your entire domain. Just target your cloud content policy to specific users/groups.
  • PowerShell Scripting - Remotely execute scripts to disable the feature on any Windows PC. Works great for remote workforces.
  • Configuration Management Tools - Solutions like Microsoft Endpoint Manager let you centrally push out policies and scripts. Streamlined!
  • MDM Tools - Mobile Device Management platforms like Intune integrate with Windows Policy CSP to configure settings at scale.
  • Logon Scripts - Run PowerShell or batch scripts during logon to keep cloud content disabled on each boot.

Some key considerations for mass deployments:

  • Test in a pilot group before broad rollout.
  • Use dynamic targeting to disable only where needed.
  • Reapply scripts/GPO regularly to account for policy decay.
  • Monitor for issues and adjust targeting accordingly.

So in summary, with the right tools you can readily purge cloud optimized content from user machines across the globe. Just take caution, test thoroughly, and monitor closely.

Now go forth and exorcise Microsoft's pesky cloud demons from your entire computing flock!

Verifying the Changes and Troubleshooting

You've slain the cloud optimized content beast! But how can you be sure it doesn't sneak back to haunt you?

Verification and troubleshooting are key to keeping this nuisance at bay. Here are some tips:

  • Open Registry Editor and confirm your

    DisableCloudOptimizedContent
    value is still set to 1.
  • Check Group Policy is still configured to disable the cloud content.
  • Login with a new account and inspect the taskbar - should be default apps only.
  • The Settings options to enable cloud content should be hidden or greyed out.
  • Reboot and re-check these elements periodically.

Troubleshooting tips if cloud content returns:

  • Verify Group Policy and registry settings are still applied correctly.
  • Test with a newly created account to isolate user-specific issues.
  • Major Windows updates can sometimes reset policies, requiring a repush.
  • Monitor event logs for clues around misconfigurations.
  • Ask the artful IT spirits to re-bless your machines with their anti-cloud magic rituals.

So in summary, be vigilant about verifying cloud optimized content stays dead, and troubleshoot thoroughly if it resurrects.

With some vigilance and IT voodoo, you can rest assured Microsoft's Taskbar Zombies will stay in their graves where they belong!

Key Takeaways and Conclusion

If you made it this far, pat yourself on the back! You now know everything needed to banish cloud optimized content from Windows.

Let's recap the key takeaways:

  • Cloud content customizes your apps/taskbar based on tracked usage
  • It can be helpful but some may want it disabled
  • Group Policy, Registry, and PowerShell allow disabling it
  • Test changes before broad deployment
  • Monitor and verify it stays disabled

While cloud optimized content has good intentions, it's perfectly valid to disable it for privacy, performance, customization, or just personal preference.

You're now equipped with all the tools and knowledge to rid your PCs of this pesky feature. Go forth and freely customize your taskbars once again!

And let us know if you have any other issues where you need help taking back ownership of your computing environment. We're here to help!

WATAFAQ

Does this work for disabling cloud content on Windows 11?

Yes, the methods in this guide all work to disable cloud optimized content in Windows 11. The Group Policy paths, Registry keys, and PowerShell scripts are the same in Windows 11 as Windows 10. So you can follow the same steps to disable the feature on Windows 11 Pro, Enterprise, Education, or Home editions. Cloud freedom for all!

What happens if I disable cloud optimized content mid-use instead of new setup?

Disabling cloud optimized content will only affect new and current users in terms of how they personalize their experience. It will not affect their existing pinned apps or taskbar customizations.

If you disable cloud optimized content on an existing Windows install with user accounts already configured, it won't automatically remove any pinned apps or taskbar customizations on those accounts. The changes only apply automatically for new user account creation after disabling the feature.

For existing users, you'll need to manually unpin any apps that were added by the cloud optimized content system. You can also reset the taskbar layout back to the default under Taskbar Settings > Taskbar behaviors. A full logoff or reboot may be required for the changes to take effect.

Is there an option to customize what gets pinned instead of completely disabling?

Unfortunately there is no built-in way to selectively enable or customize the app suggestions from cloud optimized content. It's an all or nothing deal. The cloud content system dynamically pins apps it thinks are relevant based on your usage, so the only way to fully customize the taskbar yourself is to disable the feature completely.

Does Microsoft 365 or Office content count as cloud optimized content?

No, Microsoft 365 and Office apps do not count as part of the cloud optimized content system. Disabling this feature will only prevent automatic population of consumer-oriented apps like Your Phone, Xbox, tips, etc. Any Office 365 apps you have installed can still be manually pinned to the taskbar even with cloud content disabled.

What other privacy settings should I look at?

ome other Windows privacy settings that are useful to review alongside cloud optimized content include:

  • Activity History - controls cross-device tracking
  • Location Services - manages access to location data
  • Diagnostic Data - limits telemetry collection
  • Smartscreen - can filter web content and detections
  • Advertising ID - helps reduce targeted ads

Reviewing these complementary options will help minimize tracking and data collection alongside disabling cloud optimized content. Let me know if you need details on tweaking any of those other privacy controls!

Does disabling this work for Windows Server?

Sadly no. Cloud optimized content is exclusively for Windows client SKUs like Pro, Enterprise, and Education. It doesn't impact server products.

What about Windows 11 SE or IoT editions?

Cloud optimized content is not included in more locked-down editions like SE or IoT. No need to worry about it there!

Can I automate re-disabling this after big Windows updates?

Absolutely! You can use logon scripts or scheduled tasks to automatically reapply your preferred Group Policy, Registry, or PowerShell changes after each update.

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