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Two Easy Ways to Remove the Windows Defender Icon from System Tray

Windows Defender comes pre-installed on Windows 10
By Bogdan Popa 

Windows Defender has evolved a lot lately, and in Windows 10 April 2018 Update it’s part of the more advanced Windows Defender Security Center.

Image used on the post

While we’re not going to discuss the purpose of the Windows Defender Security Center (which we’ll refer to as WDSC in this article), it’s mostly a hub that groups all security features on Windows 10, also offering access to the antivirus scanning engine, parental controls, and so much more.

Starting with Windows 8.1, Windows Defender comes pre-installed on Microsoft’s operating system, and it is automatically disabled when third-party security products are installed. If they’re not, Windows Defender gets updates and scans your files just like a fully-featured antivirus solution.

And just like its third-party siblings, Windows Defender Security Center places an icon in the Windows system tray, whose purpose is essentially to let you easily access its UI and features. This icon obviously makes sense, but what does not make sense is that there’s no easy way to hide it.
The Windows Defender tray icon

Windows Defender is considered a system application, and as a result, the icon cannot be removed in an easy way. Fortunately, there are other methods that come in handy to those who want to keep the system tray area clean.

Please note that removing the system tray icon doesn’t mean that Windows Defender would no longer run. It only hides the icon and nothing more, with all features still working normally.

Both methods involve changing the startup settings, so an administrator account is needed for this small hack. However, this task can be performed from either the Task Manager or from the Settings app, yet both have the same outcome.

In the Settings app, what you need to do is to navigate to the following path to disable the so-called Windows Security notification icon from startup:
Settings > Apps > Startup > Windows Security notification icon

Click the toggle to off and the icon should no longer appear after a reboot. Don’t forget that this only disables the icon and not Windows Defender itself, just like the name of the setting suggests. Microsoft has created a separate process just for the icon, and blocking it from running at startup means that it would no longer show up in the system tray.
Disabling the Windows Defender icon in Settings app

If you want to use the Task Manager, the approach is pretty much the same. Right-click the taskbar and open Task Manager, and then head over to the Startup tab. Look for the process called Windows Security notification icon, right-click it and then select the option that reads Enable. Again, after a system reboot, the icon should no longer be there, as the process isn’t launched anymore.

If for some reason you want to bring the icon back in the system tray after making these changes, all you need to do is to follow the same steps, only that this time you need to enable the icon.

On the other hand, if you don’t want to remove the icon but instead tweak the behavior of notifications, Windows Defender comes with several settings in this regard. In the Windows Defender Security Center UI click the settings gear icon and open the Notifications section.

You can configure Windows Defender to show notifications for recent activity and scan results, threats found, files or activities that are blocked, but at the same time, also get notifications for firewall and network protection system, like domain, private, and public firewall.

The next Windows 10 update in queue is Redstone 5, and it is projected to go live in the fall, and just like it happened in the most recent Windows 10 feature updates, it’s expected to bring improvements for Windows Defender as well.
Disabling the Windows Defender icon in Task Manager

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Two Easy Ways to Remove the Windows Defender Icon from System Tray Reviewed by Chidinma C Amadi on 11:01 PM Rating: 5

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