How to Add Exclusions in Windows Defender on Windows 10

Windows Defender


Windows Defender

The Windows Defender main page is pictured above (all content and images are the rights of and respectively). Windows Defender is intentionally fully integrated into Windows 10, constantly running in the background by default and scanning your files for malware against its Cloud database per updates in real time unless one disables it (not recommended).

Geeks aka Windows experts like Dr. Sky and John do not take responsibility in any way if you attempt to exclude any file or files from Windows Defender. We usually only do this to improve performance for tasks like compiling programming code, running virtual machines, etc. DO NOT DISABLE GROUPS OF FILE TYPES, only specific files unless you consult experts like us at

Exclusions can also help if you’re running into false positives where Windows Defender marks legitimate files as malware.

**Warning: Be careful about what you exclude. Windows Defender won’t scan your excluded files and directories for malware. You wouldn’t want to exclude everything in your Downloads folder, for example!**

I. First, we need to launch Windows Security to change some settings. Open the Start menu and type “Windows Security.” Then, select the “Windows Security” app.

Launch Windows Security from Start menu in Windows 10


II. In Windows Security, navigate to “Virus & Threat Protection.” Then, click “Manage Settings.”

Click manage settings in Windows Security on Windows 10


III. In “Virus & Threat Protection Settings,” scroll down to the very bottom of the page, and click “Add or Remove Exclusions.”


Select add or remove exclusions to Windows Defender in Windows 10


IV. On the Exclusions page, you can add or remove files that you want to exclude from Windows Defender scans. To add an exclusion, click the “Add An Exclusion” button beside the large plus symbol (+).

Click Add an exclusion in Windows Security Settings for Windows 10

–>A small menu will pop up allowing you to define your exclusion by File, Folder, File type, or Process.

Exclusion types menu in Windows Security for Windows 10

V. What you choose depends on what type of exclusion you are trying to make. Here’s what each choice does.

  • File: If you select this, a box will pop up allowing you to browse your computer to select a single file that will be excluded from future scans. Select the file you’d like, then click “Open.”

  • Folder: Like the File option, this will let your browse your computer for a specific folder to exclude from scans. The folder’s contents and subfolders will be excluded as well.

  • File type: A box will pop up asking you to enter a file extension (e.g., “.MID”) representing the file type that you’d like to exclude. All files of that type will be excluded from future scans. This one is dangerous because you might accidentally exclude a large class of potentially hazardous files, such as PDF or DOC files.

  • Process: A pop-up will ask you to enter the name of a process (a running program, i.e., “explorer.exe”) to exclude from scans. If a certain program you know is safe keeps getting flagged by Defender, you can enter it here.

Select one of these options and make the necessary selections in the pop-up dialog that follows.

Selecting a file to exclude from Windows Defender scans in Windows Security Settings for Windows 10

VI. Once you add an exclusion, it will show up in a list on the Exclusions page.

A list of Windows Defender scan exclusions in Windows 10


VII. If you’d like to remove an exclusion you’ve already defined, hover your mouse cursor over the item until the downward-pointing carat arrow appears, then click the “Remove” button that pops up.

Removing an exclusion from Windows Defender scan settings in Windows 10


Now that you are all done, close Windows Security and your settings will be saved automatically. The next time your system does a Defender scan, the item(s) you added to the exclusions list will no longer cause trouble and will be bypassed from Defender and can be ran and used as needed.

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