There’s a picture in the Windows 10 Search bar. This started after the May 2022 Windows Update, and so far, I’ve seen either owls, a swimming turtle, tennis, a tea cup with what might be mint, or a purple flower and a bee. No idea what this kiddy cartoon is called other than looking very much look a toolbar added by malware. Or a BHO, also known as a browser helper object. Maybe a widget, a gadget? Maybe it’s a distant relative of the old Clippy, the Talking Paper Clip from Office ’97? Microsoft has used so many names for extra screen clutter over the years that this is clearly a Whatever. Yes, whatever that is.
Here’s how to turn off the Whatever: Right-click the Search box, and the menu will pop up as below. Uncheck ‘Show search highlights’. Done.
If anybody knows what that setting changes beyond adding cartoons to the bar, let me know and I’ll update this.
Updated May 21st with the tea cup. And on May 22nd with the Tennis image. And so on…
The lock screen is that first photo that Windows shows on startup, with the login prompt. It shows advertising occasionally, usually for Microsoft Games, and suggests a visit to the Microsoft store, or asks odd questions. That’s an odd location for any of that; they probably got the idea from the Amazon “Kindle with Special Offers”, which does something similar.
To turn off these annoyances, go to Settings, Personalization, Lock Screen, and change the top item, to either Picture or Slideshow. “Windows spotlight” is the setting that shows ads. After making that change, set “Get fun facts, tips, tricks, and more on your lock screen” to Off. Important: This setting is reset by installing some of the larger Windows 10 updates, so re-apply as needed. Bad news if you aren’t running the ‘Pro’ version of Windows: Not all settings of this type are available for ‘home’ users.
As in most versions of Windows, the Windows 10 Start menu is ignored by most users. It’s usable if it isn’t enormous, but by default, it’s showing far too many apps and advertisements to be useful, and they’re in no order, and include advertising for apps with “in-game purchases”, like CandyCrush. You can drag the icon blocks to any position or order you like, and they’ll dock. But first, delete the blocks you won’t use, by right-clicking on each, and choosing “Unpin from Start”. If you remove enough blocks, the scrollbar will disappear. You can also turn off internet content on items like News, Finance, or Twitter: Right-click any of these blocks, and choose “More >” and then “Turn live tile off”. For any tiles you keep, you can change the size, choose “Resize >” and select an option.
Reminder: Removing these icon blocks does not uninstall the matching apps. To do that, click the start icon, go to the Settings app (the gear), System, Apps & features. This includes both desktop software and so-called ‘modern’ apps. The usual caution applies: There are hardware drivers in that list–lookup anything you don’t recognize before removing it.
There are also settings to keep Windows from adding more tiles and ads to the Start menu. Go to Settings, Personalization, Start. Turn off “Occasionally show suggestions in Start”. You might also want to turn off “Show recently added apps”. These settings are not available in every version of Windows 10.