Want to enhance your Windows computer’s security? Then Smart App Control (SAC) is something you must check out. It is a new AI-powered security solution that blocks untrusted and unknown apps. Plus, it does a lot more to help you protect your computer. If you have been wondering what Smart App Control is on your Windows 11 computer and how to use the security feature, this article has you covered.
What is Smart App Control?
Smart App Control adds additional protection from the new age and emerging threats your computer faces. It works by blocking apps that are untrusted or malicious.
This security feature helps you block potentially unwanted apps that can harm your computer and make it run slow, display unwanted ads, or offer to download additional software you don’t want. The security feature works alongside other security software, such as Microsoft Defender or any other software you have installed on your computer. Even if you have antivirus disabled, this feature will still work.
You should know that Smart App Control is only available with clean Windows 11 installations. So if you don’t see Smart App Control on your computer, you need to reinstall or reset Windows. It works best with the latest version of Windows 11 OS and Windows Defender.
What are Smart App Control Modes?
The Smart App Control has three modes. Out of them, the Evaluation mode is the most interesting one. Here are more details on it:
On: When you turn on Smart App Control, the program’s job is to check an app’s background. Whenever you are installing an app, it will check the details of the app using its intelligent cloud-powered security service. If the program approves the app, then you can install the app. Smart App Control will block the app immediately if it finds anything suspicious.
If it fails to predict whether the app should be allowed to run, then Smart App Control checks to see if the app has a valid signature. If the app has a valid signature, Smart App Control will let it run; else gets blocked.
Evaluation: Next, there is the Evaluation mode. This is not something that you can turn on whenever you wish to. Instead, the program starts in the evaluation mode.
Evaluation mode is best described as a period in which Windows decides whether your PC is eligible for Smart App Control. If you are eligible for the program, it will get turned on automatically; otherwise, it will be turned off.
Also, when you are in the Smart App Control’s evaluation mode, it will not block any app. But once the evaluation is completed, or if you manually switch Smart App Control on or off, you won’t be able to return to evaluation mode unless you reinstall or reset Windows.
Off: Lastly, the off mode, or you can say not use Smart App Control. As you guessed, you can install any app you wish to without being blocked by the Smart App Control mode. It is recommended to keep it turned off if you frequently install apps or games on your computer from third-party sources. Or you are a software developer who wants to test different apps.
Should you turn off Smart App Control?
While Smart App Control protects your computer from untrusted apps, using it can sometimes be annoying, especially if you are a software developer who wants to test your apps frequently. Although you can sign your software with a valid certificate, that could be time-consuming.
Alternatively, if you frequently install different apps on your computer and download games from third-party sources, then using Smart App Control can be annoying, and turning it off is recommended.
However, you should know that once you disable Smart App Control, you can only enable it back when you perform a clean Windows 11 installation.
To disable it, follow these steps:
- Go to Windows Search, type Windows Security and launch it.
- Select App & browser control > Smart App Control settings from the sidebar.
- Over here, select Off to turn off Smart App Control.
So that was all for the Smart App Control (SAC). This feature could be pretty helpful and stop any malicious program from getting into your computer without your concern. But in some instances, it can be not very pleasant too.
If you are an app developer, it’s best to sign your app with a valid certificate. You can use Code Signing or check with Microsoft Trusted Root Program feature.
Does Smart App Control replace my antivirus software?
No Smart App Control doesn’t replace your antivirus software. Instead, it works alongside your antivirus and other security software for added protection.
How can I tell Smart App Control to let a specific app through?
Currently, there is no way to bypass or allowlist apps in Smart App Control. So if you are dealing with untrusted apps, you better have SAC disabled.
Why is Smart App Control turned off?
According to Microsoft, Smart App Control is only available on clean installs of Windows 11. However, even after the clean install, you notice it’s off; it could be because you were not a good candidate, or it was turned off manually by you or another user signed into your machine, or the optional diagnostic data in Windows turned off.
What makes somebody a good candidate for Smart App Control?
Microsoft is looking to see how often Smart App Control gets in the way of legitimate tasks that corporate users, developers, or others may do regularly. Some of these tasks may not be a great experience with Smart App Control running.
If Microsoft identifies you as one of those users during the evaluation period, we will automatically disable Smart App Control to minimize interruptions.