What Is Windows 11 S Mode and How to Use It (2024)

S Mode is a relatively new feature available on both Windows 10 and Windows 11 that boosts security and performance. It makes your Windows PC run apps exclusively from the Microsoft Store, ensuring that no malicious software can be activated.

In this article, we’ll explain what Windows 11 S Mode is and how to use it (or not).

Table of Contents

    What Is Windows S Mode?

    S Mode was introduced with Windows 10 as a security mode that prevents apps from outside the Microsoft Store from being able to run. In Windows 10, S Mode is available in Windows 10 Home, Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise, and Education Editions.

    In Windows 11, S Mode is only available on Windows 11 Home Edition. It isn’t available on any other edition of Windows. This means that to upgrade from Windows 10 in any of these editions, you’ll need to switch out of S mode.

    The main purpose of S Mode is to freeze all non-Microsoft processes so that your computer can free up RAM and other resources to run better. This makes it quite similar to Chromebooks, which mostly limit app options to their web versions.

    Finally, switching out of S Mode is a one-way affair. Once you’ve switched to normal Windows, it’s impossible to switch back. There’s also no charge associated with switching out of S Mode, but you cannot switch it back on.

    When Should You Use Windows S Mode?

    Here are a few examples of people who could benefit from S Mode:

    • Parents. S Mode can add another layer of parental control by limiting how much your child can do on your PC. For example, they won’t be able to install apps from outside of the Microsoft Store, and they’ll only be able to browse the web using Microsoft Edge as the default browser (which comes with Bing’s parental control options).
    • Business owners. If you deal with sensitive documents, S Mode can restrict the chances that you install malware. However, keep in mind that you cannot use proprietary software with S Mode, so you won’t be able to use a number of apps that you might need.
    • People who want a faster PC. If your PC is slowing down, and you need it to be faster, S Mode can drastically improve performance at the cost of flexibility. It may also increase battery life and startup time. So, if you just use your Windows PC for basic functions, then S Mode is for you.

    The Downsides of Windows S Mode

    S Mode is extremely limiting and isn’t suitable for many users — especially those who like to customize their PC and have freedom over what programs they install and use.

    Here are some reasons you might not want to use Windows S Mode:

    • You can only use apps from the Windows Store. Windows S Mode only allows compatible Windows apps that run on the Modern Universal Windows Platform (UWP). These are Microsoft Store apps created by or verified by Microsoft developers and are sure to not contain malicious code.
    • You can’t use the command line. If you frequently use the Windows Command Line, PowerShell, or Linux, then S Mode isn’t for you. These apps, as well as code editing apps and developer tools, do not run in S Mode.
    • You can’t access the Windows registry. The Windows registry is also disabled in S Mode, meaning that you can’t configure Windows using this tool.
    • You can’t install drivers for third-party hardware. Another limitation of Windows 11 S Mode is that you cannot install drivers from an installer, which means you may be unable to install particular hardware on your PC.
    • You can’t use third-party antivirus or web browser apps. Because you can’t install third-party apps, you won’t be able to use browsers like Google Chrome. You also will be limited to Windows Defender as your sole choice of antivirus.
    • You can’t switch in and out of S Mode. Once you leave S Mode, you can’t return, meaning it’s only valuable if you intend to stay in S Mode for as long as you use the device.

    How to Check if You’re Using Windows S Mode

    You can easily find out if your PC is in S Mode or not. To do so:

    1. Press the Windows key + I to open Settings.
    2. Select System > About.
    3. Scroll down to the “Windows Specifications” section and check whether it says “in S mode” after Edition. For example, it might say “Windows 11 Home in S Mode” or “Windows 10 Home in S Mode.”

    How to Activate S Mode in Windows 11

    S Mode comes pre-installed with the Windows operating system. You have to activate it when setting the device up for the first time. If you originally set up Windows 11 Home Edition in the normal mode, you won’t be able to activate S Mode.

    Some Microsoft PCs, like some Microsoft Surface models, come with S Mode pre-activated.

    How to Leave S Mode in Windows 11

    Just to reiterate, leaving S Mode is irreversible. If you follow these instructions, you won’t be able to put your PC back into S Mode.

    If you still want to continue, here’s how to leave S Mode:

    1. Press the Windows key + S to open Settings.
    2. Select System.
    3. Select Activation.
    4. Under Switch to Windows 11 Pro, select Go to the Store.
    1. Here, you’ll see the “Switch out of S Mode” page. Select the Get button.
    2. After you see the confirmation pop-up message, your PC is no longer in S Mode.

    Windows S Mode: Fast, Safe, and Limited

    S Mode in Windows 11 is an interesting version of Windows that some users may find useful. However, because it has limited features, many users may find it to be more trouble than it’s worth. For this reason, if you want the full Windows experience, we recommend not using S Mode.

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    What Is Windows 11 S Mode and How to Use It (2024)


    What Is Windows 11 S Mode and How to Use It? ›

    Windows 11 in S mode is designed for security and performance, exclusively running apps from the Microsoft Store. If you want to install an app that isn't available in the Microsoft Store, you'll need to switch out of S mode. Windows 11 in S mode is only available in the Windows 11 Home edition.

    Should I turn off S mode in Windows 11? ›

    If you have a preferred antivirus software or registry cleaner, you'll need to get out of S Mode before you can install them. If you need to use a printer or connect a mouse, most peripherals that work with regular Windows should work with Windows S Mode.

    What are the disadvantages of Windows 11 in S mode? ›

    The Disadvantage Of Windows 11 S Mode

    While the curated nature of Windows 11 S mode ensures security, it also means that users are restricted to applications available exclusively in the Microsoft Store. Certain specialised or niche applications may not be available, limiting the flexibility of the operating system.

    What happens if I switch out of S mode? ›

    Therefore, applications such as Google Chrome, Firefox, Proctoring software, etc would be prohibited from installation. Microsoft allows all users to turn this mode off, and set computers back to Windows 10 Home, which will allow for installation of all applications.

    Is Windows S mode good? ›

    It uses less memory and fewer resources, so it doesn't bog down your system as much as standard Windows mode. Therefore, your computer will run faster and more smoothly, even when you have multiple apps open at once. S mode also has less background activity, so your computer is less likely to slow down over time.

    Does it cost to switch out of S mode Windows 11? ›

    There's no charge to switch out of S mode, but you won't be able to turn it back on.

    Does taking Windows out of S mode slow it down? ›

    Performance can suffer: If your computer is already slow, or it has a Celeron or Pentium processor, switching out of S Mode might cause things to slow down even more.

    Why do some laptops come with Windows 11 S mode? ›

    Windows 11 in S mode is designed for security and performance, exclusively running apps from the Microsoft Store.

    Does S mode protect from viruses? ›

    This is because the built-in security of Windows 10 in S mode automatically prevents viruses and other threats from running on your device.

    Do I need McAfee if I have Windows 11? ›

    Is antivirus software necessary on Windows 11 devices? Not for general use, but it can come in handy for those with specific security concerns or who handle sensitive data.

    Can you use Google Chrome in S mode? ›

    If you can't install Chrome on your Windows computer, your computer might be in S mode. If you want to download and install Chrome, learn more about how to exit S mode.

    Do I need Microsoft account to switch out of S mode? ›

    S Mode is a Windows 10 version with limited access. To leave it, verification with a Microsoft account is needed. This helps stop unauthorized changes.

    How long does it take to remove S mode? ›

    What to Do After Switching out of Windows 10 S Mode. The process of switching out of S Mode only takes a few seconds and you don't need to reboot your system for it to take effect. Once it's completed installation, you should have free reign of your Windows 10 PC to install just about anything you like. Be wary though.

    Should I leave my computer in S mode? ›

    There are several good reasons to run a Windows PC in S mode, including: It's more secure because it only allows apps to be installed from the Microsoft Store. It's streamlined to reduce RAM and CPU use. Everything a user does is automatically saved to OneDrive to free up local storage.

    Do we need antivirus for Windows 11? ›

    Do you need additional antivirus software? With built-in coverage, you may wonder if you should invest in paid antivirus software. The answer is, of course, yes! It can be a good idea to get another antivirus solution because blocking malware and viruses should just be one part of your threat protection.

    What is the difference between Windows 11 Home and S mode? ›

    Windows 11 S mode is just like Windows 11 Home, but with some limitations. Windows 11 in S mode is only available in the Windows 11 Home edition. Windows 11 S mode customers can only install programs from Microsoft Store, they are not able to install programs from other sources.

    Does Windows 11 S mode have Word? ›

    Usually Word and Excel does not come with Windows 11 not unless you have bought a desktop or laptop that has a bundle of Office or Microsoft 365 then that is the time that you will be able to get it.

    How do I turn off S mode on Windows 11 without Microsoft account? ›

    To turn off S Mode, go to Settings > System > Activation. Under "Switch to Windows 11 Pro," click Go to the Store, then click "Get." If you don't have a Microsoft Account, the only way to get rid of S mode is to disable Secure Boot in the UEFI (BIOS).

    Is antivirus necessary for Windows 11? ›

    If you work with sensitive data or files, there's always a possibility of encountering sophisticated malware that might evade built-in defenses. Is antivirus software necessary on Windows 11 devices? Not for general use, but it can come in handy for those with specific security concerns or who handle sensitive data.

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