How to disable the Windows 10 Timeline feature

Admins and users can turn off Windows 10 Timeline through basic settings, but to truly disable the feature you must use the Group Policy Editor or tweak the Registry file.

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The Windows 10 April 2018 Update added a supplementary feature to the standard task view system called Timeline. The basic function of the Timeline feature is to track and store what apps, websites, and documents a user worked with during a designated period so that they can easily return to those applications later. Depending on how you use Windows, that could be a helpful and productive feature to have turned on.

However, under certain circumstances, having a readily accessible history of your activity, one which can be shared across all your Windows 10 devices, can raise serious privacy and confidentiality issues. With that in mind, Microsoft allows users to delete whatever history Windows 10 has collected and to turn Timeline off through configuration settings , if they want.

But that may not be good enough for all users and for all businesses. In some cases, it may be safer to completely disable the Timeline feature in Windows 10 altogether. This how-to tutorial shows you how to use both the Group Policy Editor in Windows 10 Pro and the Registry Editor in Windows 10 to disable the Timeline feature.

SEE: Windows 10 May 2019 Update: An insider's guide (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Disable the Windows 10 Timeline with the Group Policy Editor

The Group Policy Editor is included with the Windows 10 Pro version of the operating system and network administrators and other authorized IT professionals can use it to modify settings on individual computers, across departments, or even the entire enterprise.

Type "group policy editor" into the search box on the Windows 10 Pro desktop and select the appropriate result to start the editor. You should see an app that looks something like Figure A.

a-disable-timeline-windows10.jpg

Figure A

Using the hierarchical listing in the left-hand windowpane, navigate to this folder:

Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\System\OS Policies

Look for the Enables Activity Feed entry in the right-hand windowpane, as shown in Figure B.

b-disable-timeline-windows10.jpg

Figure B

Double-click the Enables Activity Feed entry to edit the settings, as shown in Figure C. Click the radio settings button to the Disabled position to turn off the Windows 10 Timeline.

c-disable-timeline-windows10.jpg

Figure C

Click Apply, then OK, and then close the Group Policy Editor to complete the process.

If you want to turn the Windows 10 Timeline feature on again in the future, just follow the same procedure but click the Enabled radio button instead.

Disable the Windows 10 Timeline with by editing the Windows Registry file

Disclaimer: Editing the Windows Registry file is a serious undertaking. A corrupted Windows Registry file could render your computer inoperable, requiring a reinstallation of the Windows 10 operating system and potential loss of data. Back up the Windows 10 Registry file and create a valid restore point before you proceed.

To open the registry editor, type "regedit" into the search box of the Windows 10 desktop and click the appropriate item from the list of results. Using the hierarchical listing in the left-hand windowpane, navigate to this folder:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\System

As you can see in Figure D, there is no key under System dealing with the Timeline settings, so we will have to create one.

d-disable-timeline-windows10.jpg

Figure D

Right-click the System folder and select New | DWORD (32-bit) Value and name the key EnableActivityFeed, as shown in Figure E.

e-disable-timeline-windows10.jpg

Figure E

Double-click the new EnableActivityFeed key you just created and confirm its default value is set to 0 (zero), as shown in Figure F.

f-disable-timeline-windows10.jpg

Figure F

Click OK and then exit the registry editor. On the next reboot of your PC, the Windows 10 Timeline should be disabled. Change the value of the EnableActivityFeed to 1 to resume using the Timeline feature.

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