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How To Whitelist Apps In The SmartScreen On Windows 10

The SmartScreen in Windows 10 is a security feature that prevents you from running unsigned apps, and lettings apps make changes to your system without your explicit permission. It ensures end users don’t run malicious apps and end up infecting their systems. It’s easy enough to by-pass though so the protection, while there, is limited. One shortcoming the SmartScreen has is that it doesn’t remember which apps a user has chosen to run. You have to manually whitelist apps in the SmartScreen to stop seeing the prompt each time you run them.

Whitelist Apps In SmartScreen

Before you can whitelist an app in the SmartScreen, you need to run the app at least once. When you do, SmartScreen will predictably block it. You will see the following message on your screen. Click ‘Learn More’, and click the ‘Run anyway’ button.

Once you’ve done that, return to the folder with the app’s EXE in it. Right-click the EXE and select Properties from the context menu.

In the Properties window, go to the General tab. At the bottom, you will see a Security section that reads, ‘The file came from another computer and might be blocked to help protect this computer’. Next to it is a box called ‘Unblock’. Check it and grant admin permission to execute the change.

That’s all you need to do. The next time you run this app, you will be able to double-click it and run it without being stopped by the Windows SmartScreen.

To block an app again, simply return to this same Properties window, and uncheck the Unblock option. Again, you will need to authenticate the change with the admin user.

There are some exceptions to this. For example, if you run Command Prompt with administrative rights, or you open the Windows Registry, the SmartScreen asks if you want to allow these apps to make changes to your system. There’s not getting around this unless you drastically limit what SmartScreen protects you against which isn’t a good idea.

The Windows 10 SmartScreen is an essential feature however it could do with a little improvement. macOS has a similar feature however when a user bypasses it to run an app, it remembers the user’s preference and doesn’t block the app again the next time it is run. There’s no reason the SmartScreen on Windows 10 can’t be as smart though it’s safe to say if Microsoft were to implement a change like this, they’d break one too many things in the process. It’s also possible that the processes of whitelisting an app isn’t as straightforward as it should be so as to protect users.

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  • Matt Talaga

    This is great for a single computer deployment, but does not work for an enterprise. How do you manage SmartScreen in an enterprise environment? We need to be able to whitelist apps, or drives, or something in order to authorize applications on a larger scale.