How to Disable/Enable Spotlight Search on macOS Monterey in 2022

What is Windows Spotlight?

Windows Spotlight is an option for the lock screen background that displays different background images and occasionally offers suggestions on the lock screen. Windows Spotlight is available in all desktop editions of Windows 10.

A Windows Spotlight includes the following features.

  1. Background Image
  2. Feature suggestions, fun facts, tips

Video

How to launch apps now?

I find being able to Command+Space and start typing in the name of the app then hitting return a lot faster than any of Apple’s methods for launching an app, including the iOS-like Launchpad. (Well, I do use the Dock to lauch apps, but I don’t really like to clutter it up with too many copies of web browsers).

I am now using Launchy, an open source launcher which does exactly what I want: just launch apps.

Why switch off Spotlight indexing?

As mentioned at the start of this post, the CPU hogging was starting to get pretty annoying and I really only use Spotlight for launching apps. It’s great being able to Command+Space and start typing in the app name and hit return when it’s found what I want.

Alfred has automation at its core (free, or a $40 paid version)

Screenshot: Khamosh Pathak

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Alfred is available in both a free and a paid version. Its free version can be thought of as a simpler, easier-to-use version of Spotlight Search. It does all the things that Spotlight Search does, but better, and faster. It’s especially great at finding and launching files and folders (with a separate modifier just for searching folders).

But if you buy the Powerpack (which costs £29, or around $40), Alfred transforms into an automation machine, unlocking features like clipboard history, text expansion, hotkeys, and most importantly, automations (which Alfred calls “workflows”).

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You can create workflows using a visual, flowchart-based builder in the app itself. The workflow engine allows you to you integrate system features, third-party actions, and even web APIs to perform everyday tasks with a single click. But the beauty of Alfred is that you don’t really need to do all the work of building your own workflows—there’s a thriving online community that creates and shares workflows that you can simply install on your Mac.

How do you disable Windows Spotlight for managed devices?

Windows Spotlight is enabled by default. Windows 10 provides Group Policy and mobile device management (MDM) settings to help you manage Windows Spotlight on enterprise computers.

Note

These policies are in the User Configuration \Policies\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Cloud Content path in the Group Policy Management Console, and in the User Configuration \Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Cloud Content path in the Local Group Policy Editor.

Group Policy MDM Description Applies to
Do not suggest third-party content in Windows spotlight Experience/Allow ThirdParty Suggestions In Windows Spotlight Enables enterprises to restrict suggestions to Microsoft apps and services Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise, and Education, version 1607 and later
Turn off all Windows Spotlight features Experience/Allow Windows Spotlight Enables enterprises to completely disable all Windows Spotlight features in a single setting Windows 10 Enterprise and Education, version 1607 and later
Configure Spotlight on lock screen Experience/Configure Windows Spotlight On Lock Screen Specifically controls the use of the dynamic Windows Spotlight image on the lock screen, and can be enabled or disabled Windows 10 Enterprise and Education, version 1607 and later
Turn off the Windows Spotlight on Action Center Experience/Allow Windows Spotlight On Action Center Turn off Suggestions from Microsoft that show after each clean install, upgrade, or on an on-going basis to introduce users to what is new or changed Windows 10 Enterprise and Education, version 1703
Do not use diagnostic data for tailored experiences Experience/Allow Tailored Experiences With Diagnostic Data Prevent Windows from using diagnostic data to provide tailored experiences to the user Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise, and Education, version 1703
Turn off the Windows Welcome Experience Experience/Allow Windows Spotlight Windows Welcome Experience Turn off the Windows Spotlight Windows Welcome experience which helps introduce users to Windows, such as launching Microsoft Edge with a web page highlighting new features Windows 10 Enterprise and Education, version 1703
Turn off the Windows Spotlight on Settings Experience/Allow Windows Spotlight on Settings Turn off the Windows Spotlight in the Settings app. Windows 10 Enterprise and Education, version 1803

In addition to the specific policy settings for Windows Spotlight, administrators can replace Windows Spotlight with a selected image using the Group Policy setting Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Control Panel > Personalization > Force a specific default lock screen image (Windows 10 Enterprise and Education).

Tip

If you want to use a custom lock screen image that contains text, see Resolution for custom lock screen image.

Pay attention to the checkbox in Options. In addit

Pay attention to the checkbox in Options. In addition to providing the path to the lock screen image, administrators can choose to allow or Turn off fun facts, tips, tricks, and more on lock screen. If the checkbox is not selected, users will see the lock screen image that is defined in the policy setting, and will also see occasional messages.

Steps to Disable Windows Spotlight using Intune (MEM)

Using the Configuration Profiles, you can disable Windows Spotlight in Intune (MEM). First, sign-in to Microsoft Endpoint Admin center and go to Devices > Configuration Profiles. Click Create Profile.

Disable Windows Spotlight in Intune
Disable Windows Spotlight in Intune

On Create a profile window, select Platform as Windows 10 and later and profile type as Settings Catalog (preview). Click Create.

Create new Configuration Profile
Create new Configuration Profile

On the Basics section, specify the profile name as Disable Windows Spotlight or something similar. You can add a profile description and click Next.

Create new Configuration Profile
Create new Configuration Profile

On the Configuration Settings section, click Add Settings.

Settings Catalog – Add Settings
Settings Catalog – Add Settings

Now you see Settings Picker window where you filter and select the Windows Spotlight settings. In the search box, type Spotlight and click Search. Under Browse by category, select Experience.

This loads all the settings related to Windows Spotlight applicable to Experience category. Select the settings and close the Settings picker window.

Disable Windows Spotlight Using Intune
Disable Windows Spotlight Using Intune

Very similar to GPO settings, even here we see Windows Spotlight related settings. You can disable or block Allow Windows Spotlight (User) and that should disable all the Windows Spotlight features.

Before you click Next, if you are interested to know what each of the setting does, keep reading. You may skip to the next section if you just want to disable the Windows Spotlight settings at once.

Disable Windows Spotlight Using Intune
Disable Windows Spotlight Using Intune

Allow Windows Spotlight (User)

Specifies whether to turn off all Windows spotlight features at once. If you enable this policy setting, Windows spotlight on lock screen, Windows Tips, Microsoft consumer features and other related features will be turned off.

You should enable this policy setting if your goal is to minimize network traffic from target devices. If you disable or do not configure this policy setting, Windows spotlight features are allowed and may be controlled individually using their corresponding policy settings. The most restricted value is 0.

Allow Tailored Experiences With Diagnostic Data (User)

This policy allows you to prevent Windows from using diagnostic data to provide customized experiences to the user.

If you enable this policy setting, Windows will not use diagnostic data from this device to customize content shown on the lock screen, Windows tips, Microsoft consumer features, or other related features.

Allow Third Party Suggestions In Windows Spotlight (User)

Specifies whether to allow app and content suggestions from third-party software publishers in Windows spotlight features.

This includes features like lock screen spotlight, suggested apps in the Start menu, and Windows tips. Users may still see suggestions for Microsoft features, apps, and services.

Allow Windows Consumer Features

This policy allows IT admins to turn on experiences that are typically for consumers only, such as Start suggestions, Membership notifications, Post-OOBE app install and redirect tiles.

Allow Windows Spotlight On Action Center (User)

This policy allows administrators to prevent Windows spotlight notifications from being displayed in the Action Center.

If you enable this policy, Windows spotlight notifications will no longer be displayed in the Action Center.

If you disable or do not configure this policy, Microsoft may display notifications in the Action Center that will suggest apps or features to help users be more productive on Windows. The most restricted value is 0.

Allow Windows Spotlight Windows Welcome Experience (User)

This policy setting lets you turn off the Windows spotlight Windows welcome experience feature. The Windows welcome experience feature introduces onboard users to Windows.

If you enable this policy, the Windows welcome experience will no longer be displayed when there are updates and changes to Windows and its apps.

If you disable or do not configure this policy, the Windows welcome experience will be launched to inform onboard users about what’s new, changed, and suggested.

Configure Windows Spotlight On Lock Screen (User)

Allows IT admins to specify whether spotlight should be used on the user’s lock screen. If your organization does not have an Enterprise spotlight content service, then this policy will behave the same as a setting of 1.

Alright, let’s get back to the Configuration profile. On the Assignments tab, include the groups that you want to target this configuration profile. Click Next.

Disable Windows Spotlight Using Intune
Disable Windows Spotlight Using Intune

On the Scope tags section, click Next.

Disable Windows Spotlight Using Intune
Disable Windows Spotlight Using Intune

On the Review and Create section, click Create. We have now created a configuration profile to disable or turn off Windows Spotlight features in Intune.

Keep an eye on the notifications which confirm the policy has been created successfully.

Disable Windows Spotlight Using Intune
Disable Windows Spotlight Using Intune

After you deployed the configuration profile to disable Windows Spotlight features, let’s monitor and check if the devices have received the settings.

Select the Disable Windows Spotlight Configuration profile. Under Device and user check-in status, click View report.

Disable Windows Spotlight Using Intune
Disable Windows Spotlight Using Intune

You can see the device name and logged-in username.

Disable Windows Spotlight Using Intune
Disable Windows Spotlight Using Intune

I am logged in to one of the VM and I see the Windows Spotlight option has been removed from the list of background options. This confirms that the Windows Spotlight settings are disabled on the device or VM.

Disable Windows Spotlight Using Intune
Disable Windows Spotlight Using Intune

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