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How to open Windows Defender on Windows 10

Windows Defender is the stock anti-virus that comes with Windows 10. It controls the firewall, keeps malware off your system, offers protection against ransomware, monitors websites and downloads in your browser, and tells you if your system settings need to be optimized, among other things.

It’s a good app and will offer fairly decent protection to a Windows 10 system. Users do have the option to change how it works and enable or disable some of its features. To do that, you must access Windows Defender.

Open Windows Defender

There are two ways to open Windows Defender on Windows 10; the first and obvious method is from the system tray, and it’s easy. The second requires going through the Settings app and remembering where to look, and find the button that opens Windows Defender.

1. System tray

Windows Defender adds an icon to the system tray. Double-clicking it will open Windows Defender. It is possible that you do not see the icon, which means you need to enable it.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Go to the Personalization group of settings.
  3. Select the Taskbar tab.
  4. Scroll down to the Notification Area section.
  5. Click Select which icons appear on the taskbar.
  6. Look for the Windows Security Notification icon switch, and turn it on.
  7. Double-click the Windows Defender icon in the system tray to open it.

2. Settings app

Windows Defender can be accessed from the Settings app.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Go to Update and Security.
  3. Select the Windows Security tab.
  4. Click the ‘Open Windows Security’ button.

Windows Defender is a UWP app. Some of its services and certain features do exist as executables, but there is no longer a Windows Defender executable that can be run to open this app. The lack of an executable means that you cannot open Windows defender from Command Prompt, PowerShell, File Explorer, the Run box, or the Control Panel.


Windows Defender is always running unless you turn it off. Doing so will require admin access, and you will need to open the app to do so. There are scripts that you can use to disable real-time protection in Windows Defender, but they do not serve as an alternate way to open it. Of the two methods described in this article, neither is likely to be removed or phased out. It is possible that Microsoft moves the Open Windows Security button to a different tab in the Settings app, but it will still be there.

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