Windows 10 activity history and your privacy - Microsoft privacy

Windows 10 activity history and your privacy

Activity history in Windows 10 helps keep track of the things you do on your PC. It’s the apps and services you use, the files you open, and the websites you browse—and when you do these things. Your activity history is collected and stored locally on your device, and if you’ve signed in to your PC with a Microsoft account and given your permission, Windows sends your activity history to Microsoft. Once your activity history is in the cloud, Microsoft uses that data to enable cross-device experiences, to provide you with personalized experiences and relevant suggestions, and to help improve Microsoft product and services.

The following Windows 10 features use your activity history. Be sure to refer back to this page following future releases and updates to Windows to learn what additional services and features use your activity history:

  • Timeline. See a timeline of activities from your PC and phone and resume supported activities on your PC. For example, let’s say that you were editing a Word document on your PC, but you were unable to finish before you had to leave the office for the day. If you selected the Let Windows collect my activities from this PC check box on the Activity history settings page, you would see that Word activity in your timeline the following day, and for the next several days, and from there, you could resume working on it. If you selected the Let Windows sync my activities from this PC to the cloud check box and you were unable to finish before you had to leave the office for the day, not only would you see that Word activity in your timeline for up to 30 days, but you could also resume working on it later from another device.
  • Cortana. When collecting activity history only on your PC, Cortana lets you pick up where you left off on that PC. If you choose to send your activities to the cloud, you can pick up where you left off with activities you started on other devices. Cortana will notify you about those activities so you can resume them quickly on your PC, and with sync turned on, across your other PCs. Note that for the cross-device “Pick up where you left off” experience to work you need to have Browsing history permission turned On in Cortana. To do this, open Cortana’s home from the search box on the taskbar, and then select Settings > Permissions & History > Manage the information Cortana can access from this device > Browsing history.
  • Microsoft Edge. When you use Microsoft Edge, your browsing history will be included in your activity history. Activity history will not be saved when browsing with InPrivate tabs or windows.

Activity history is also created and sent to Microsoft when you use certain Microsoft apps on mobile devices such as iOS and Android phones and tablets. If you are signed in with your Microsoft account, you can continue activities on your PC that you started in Microsoft apps on your Android or iOS device. Initially, this will be limited to Microsoft Edge mobile, but will soon include Office mobile apps like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

In addition to using your activity history to provide you with the above features, when you give Microsoft access to your activity history, Microsoft can provide you with more personalized experiences and relevant suggestions. For example, both your timeline and Cortana’s “Pick up where you left off” features order your activities based on duration of use and anticipating what your needs might be based on your activity history.

Microsoft will use your activity history to improve Microsoft products and services. We do this by applying machine-learning techniques to better understand how customers in general use our products and services. We also diagnose where customers encounter errors and then help fix them. All of this in turn helps us improve the products and services and even make them work more effectively.

Multiple accounts—activity history is collected and stored locally for each local account, personal Microsoft account (MSA), or work or school account (AAD) that you have associated with your PC in Settings > Accounts > Email & app accounts. When you choose to send your activity history to Microsoft, activities from the primary account on that PC are sent to Microsoft. If you have more than one PC, and you have multiple accounts on one or more of those PCs, you can see activity history from your second PC’s primary account on the first PC (as a secondary account). You can also see these accounts under Settings > Privacy > Activity history, where you can filter out activities from specific accounts from showing in your timeline. Hiding an account does not delete the data on the device, nor in the cloud. See the following section for more details on managing your data.

To learn more about how Microsoft respects your privacy with your activity history, see the Privacy Statement.

Manage activity history settings

On your PC

To stop saving activity history locally, select Start , then select Settings  > Privacy > Activity history. On this page, clear the Let Windows collect my activities from this PC check box.

Note

If you turn this off, you won’t be able to use any of the on-device features that rely on activity history such as your timeline or Cortana’s “Pick up where you left off” feature. You will still be able to see your browsing history in Microsoft Edge.

To stop sending your activity history to Microsoft, select Start , then select Settings  > Privacy > Activity history. On this page, clear the Let Windows sync my activities from this PC to the cloud check box.

Note

If you turn syncing off, you won’t be able to use a full 30 days in your timeline or get cross-device activity experiences.

If you have a personal Microsoft account (MSA), you can manage your synced activity history data in the cloud by selecting Manage my Microsoft account activity data. Once you’ve signed in to the privacy dashboard, select the Activity history tab, and then select the data you want to manage.

If you have a work or school account, you can clear and delete both the activity history stored on your PC and sent to the Microsoft cloud. Select Start , then select Settings  > Privacy > Activity history. Under Clear activity history, select Clear.

If you have multiple accounts, and your work or school account (AAD) is the primary account on the PC, then clearing your activity history will delete any of your work and/or school (AAD) activity history that is synced to the cloud. To manage your personal account (MSA) activity history data in the cloud, select Manage my Microsoft account activity data. If you have multiple accounts (MSA/AAD) but your personal account (MSA) is your primary account on the PC, and you want to delete your AAD activities, go to your other PC where your work/school (AAD) account is primary, and then clear your activity history on that PC.

In your timeline, you can clear individual activities, or all activities from an individual day. To do so, right-click an activity and select Remove or Clear from [selected] day.

On your mobile device (iOS and Android)

Some apps like Microsoft Edge mobile (iOS and Android) will let you turn off browser history sharing. For other apps like Microsoft Office, you can sign out of the app from which you no longer want to send activity history to Microsoft. You can manage your synced personal account activity history data in the cloud by selecting Manage my Microsoft account activity data.