How to Disable Personalized Ads on Microsoft Sites and Apps

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microsoftad msnDepending on your viewpoint, personalized ads--the kind that track your activity on the web to provide more relevant ads--can be either handy or manipulative and creepy. If you're in the latter camp and would rather see generic ads than ones based on your last search query, you can at least opt out of personalized ads for Microsoft sites and Windows apps.

Microsoft and other companies use cookies to track the sites you've visited, searches you've done, and other online activities. If you've recently been researching your next trip to the Caribbean, for example, you'll likely see some ads for Caribbean cruises in your Bing search results or Facebook feed. The personalized ads can be helpful by showing you deals you might be interested in, but they can also make you spend more money than you intend to. They can also share sensitive information with third parties depending on what you search for.

Microsoft lets you disable personalized ads in three areas: the ads connected to your Microsoft account, ads on Microsoft sites and partner sites, and ads in Windows. Here's how to opt out of personalized ads for all three.

Turn Off Personalized Ads in Your Browser and Microsoft Account

1. Navigate to https://choice.microsoft.com in your web browser.

2. Toggle off "Personalized ads in this browser". This forces Microsoft to show generic ads when you're on sites like MSN.com, Outlook.com, Bing search, and other Microsoft-related sites and partners, including those owned by AOL.

microsoftad browser

3. Toggle off "Personalized ads wherever I use my Microsoft account." This disables personalized ads for any site or app you sign on with your Microsoft account, such as Xbox, Windows, and Windows phone.

microsoftad microsoftaccount

Turn Off Personalized Ads in Windows Apps

If you don't want to see personalized ads in Windows apps or Windows devices (even if you're not signed in with a Microsoft account):

1. Open Settings. You can do this from the Start menu in Windows.
windows settings

2. Click on Privacy.

windows settings privacy3. Turn off "Let apps use my advertising ID for experiences across apps."

windows settings adid

Note that even after opting out of the settings above Microsoft and Windows apps can still collect data about your online activity unless you use an ad blocker or other privacy tools. The settings above, however, will prevent the ads you from drawing on your search history or sites you've recently visited.

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