How to Use Smart App Control in Windows 11

The digital landscape is brimming with opportunities, but it also harbors an abundance of risks. Downloading malicious apps can wreak havoc on your system, compromising your data and security. Windows 11’s newest guardian, Smart App Control (SAC), aims to tackle this challenge by acting as a vigilant gatekeeper against untrusted applications.

This article delves into the intricacies of SAC, guiding you through its activation, functionalities, and potential pitfalls.

What is Smart App Control in Windows 11?

Imagine an intelligent shield that scrutinizes every app attempting to gain entry to your system. That’s essentially what SAC does. Leveraging Microsoft’s cloud intelligence and reputation data, it meticulously analyzes downloaded apps from untrusted sources before granting them access. This multi-layered defense system checks for various red flags, including:

Unknown or suspicious publishers: Apps with no established reputation or a history of negative feedback raise red flags.

Unsigned or tampered code: Code lacking a digital signature or showing signs of manipulation triggers an alert.

Uncommon or risky behaviors: If an app attempts suspicious actions like excessive file access or system modifications, SAC intervenes.

Enable Smart App Control in Windows 11

There’s a crucial caveat: Currently, SAC is only available on clean installations of Windows 11, version 22H2. If you haven’t performed a clean install, worry not! You can reset your PC, keeping your files intact while allowing you to activate SAC. Remember, this will remove installed apps, so plan accordingly. Once on a clean slate:

1. Open the Start menu and type “Smart App Control.”

2. Click on “Smart App Control system settings.”

3. Toggle the switch to “On.”

Alternatively, you can navigate through:

1. Settings > Privacy & security > Windows Security.

2. Click on “App & browser control.”

3. Select “Smart App Control settings.”

4. Turn the switch to “On.”

5. Navigating the Battlefield: Understanding SAC’s Options

Smart App Control Features

Evaluation Mode: Upon initial activation, SAC operates in “Evaluation Mode.” It silently observes your app usage patterns to determine if it suits your workflow. Feel free to switch it to “On” to immediately activate full protection.

Notifications: When SAC blocks an app, it generates a notification explaining the reason. You can choose to:

Allow the app: If you trust the app, grant it access. Use this with caution!

Report a problem: If you believe SAC blocked a legitimate app, inform Microsoft.

See more information: Get detailed insights into why the app was blocked.

Exceptions: You can add trusted apps or specific file types to an exclusion list, preventing SAC from blocking them. However, use this sparingly to maintain security.

Smart App Control Limitations

While SAC offers robust protection, it’s essential to be aware of potential limitations:

False Positives: Legitimate apps might occasionally get caught in the crossfire. Carefully review notifications and use the “Allow” option judiciously.

Incompatibility: Some apps, particularly older ones, might not function well with SAC enabled. If you encounter issues, consider temporarily disabling it for specific apps.

Advanced Users: If you’re a tech-savvy user who deeply understands app security, you might find SAC’s limitations frustrating. In such cases, weigh the benefits of increased protection against potential workflow disruptions.


Smart App Control offers a valuable layer of protection against untrusted apps in Windows 11. While it’s not a foolproof solution, its intelligent analysis and layered approach significantly reduce the risk of malware infections.

Remember, responsible app downloading habits and vigilance remain crucial alongside SAC’s active protection. So, empower your digital guardian and navigate the online world with greater peace of mind!

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