What is Windows 11 Smart App control and how do you enable it?

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Smart App Control is a feature within Windows Security that provides protection against untrustworthy apps. When you try to run an app, SAC analyzes its credibility using Microsoft’s Intelligent Security Graph, a cloud-based security service. If the service is unable to make a confident prediction, it then checks the app for a valid signature (which identifies where the file originates from and if it’s a trusted source).

Apps from known publishers or with valid signatures will run as expected. If not, the program is blocked. There’s no manual override option, nor can you add an app to an exemption list.

Microsoft intends that SAC is only useable on a clean Windows installation. By doing so, Windows can ensure that all the apps installed on your computer are vetted by SAC, thus ensuring the devices’ safety. If you received SAC as a part of a Windows 11 update, you’ll need to perform a factory reset or clean install Windows 11 before you can use it (unless you perform a registry tweak, explained below).

Windows doesn’t automatically enable SAC completely. By default, it starts in Evaluation mode. During the evaluation period, Windows monitors your application usage pattern to determine if you are a suitable candidate to have SAC enabled full-time.

Once the evaluation is complete, if Windows thinks SAC can work without too many interruptions on your system, it’s automatically turned on. If not, it’s disabled.

How to Turn On Smart App Control

Assuming you meet the conditions explained above, you can skip Evaluation mode and turn on Smart App Control in Windows Security settings.

First, press Win+i to open the Settings app. Select the “Privacy & Security” tab in the left pane, then click “Windows Security” on the right.

Click “Open Windows Security” to launch the Windows Security app.

In Windows Security, select the “App & Browser Control” tab. Then, beneath “Smart App Control”, click “Smart App Control Settings”.

Select “On” to enable Smart App Control on your Windows device. Once enabled, SAC starts monitoring and blocks any suspicious app execution on your computer.

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