How to disable my antivirus program in Windows

Updated: 06/30/2020 by Computer Hope
Antivirus programs and companies

It should be noted that the instructions in this page are for temporarily disabling an antivirus program, not uninstalling an antivirus. Additionally, the answer to this question varies from one antivirus program to another, so you may have to use some intuition. However, nearly all antivirus protection programs can be temporarily disabled by following the steps below.


For help with uninstalling an antivirus, see: How to remove or uninstall an antivirus program.

Disable in Windows

  1. Locate the antivirus protection program icon in the Windows notification area. Below are examples of how the antivirus program icon may look.

McAfee antivirus notification icon Antivirus notification icon Norton antivirus notification icon Antivirus icon AVG antivirus notification icon Kaspersky antivirus notification icon Webroot SecureAnywhere notification icon
McAfee, Norton, AVG, Kaspersky, and Webroot examples.

  1. Once the antivirus icon is located, right-click the icon and select Disable, Stop, Shut down, or something similar. Sometimes, you may need to open the program and disable it using the program's menus.

How to disable Microsoft Security Essentials

In the previous section, we mentioned how to disable many third-party antivirus programs and that some of them require more than a few clicks in the Windows notification area. Microsoft Security Essentials is one of the special cases we get asked about frequently.

  1. Click the Windows Security or Microsoft Security Essentials icon in the Windows Notification area, and then Open.
  2. In the Virus & threat protection window Click the Manage settings link
  3. Change the Real-time protection from On to Off.

To turn protection back on, follow these steps again and check the box next to Turn on real-time protection.

Disable by starting in Safe Mode

If the recommendations above did not help you disable your antivirus scanner, you can boot into Safe Mode, which doesn't load any third-party programs, including your antivirus program. Booting into Safe Mode is helpful when you're concerned about the antivirus program interrupting another program during an installation.