I’ve been setting up several new machines recently. As part of this, I’ve found myself repeatedly going through my Windows post-install setup steps. I finally decided to write them down so that I can have more consistent results.
When I got my first draft written, I joked that for this effort:
- 10% is uninstalling Windows bloatware
- 75% is making Edge usable
- 10% is fighting OneDrive sync
- The remaining 5% is the good stuff
Indeed, Edge’s portion of those steps is pretty lengthy. With the approach I have though, it doesn’t really take that long to get it set up the way I like. The instructions are basically to disable all the junk. Here’s how I do it (as of April 5, 2023).
On the first launch of Edge, it’ll confirm the connection for the Microsoft account used to sign in to Windows. It’ll ask about importing data from Chrome, which can be skipped. We can proceed to configuring settings across several categories.
In each of these categories, there are some settings listed out of order. That’s because other settings will disable them, so we move them up to be able to turn them off before they get disabled.
New Tab Page Settings
- Layout: Focused (work) or Inspirational (personal)
- Show sponsored links: Off
- Quick links: Off
- Show greeting: Off
- Content: Content off
- Personalize my top sites in customize sidebar: Off
- Allow sidebar apps to show notifications: Off
- Always show sidebar: Off
- App specific settings: Discover
- Automatically show related content in Discover: Off
- Page context: Off
- Show Discover: Off
All other settings that need to be updated show up under the search results for “show”. Some of these settings might not show up under a work profile, and some might not show up until Edge completes its first update. It’s generally a good idea to check all of these settings after a notable Edge update (and add any new annoyances to the list of features to disable).
- Use a web service to help resolve navigation errors: Off
- Suggest similar sites when a website can’t be found: Off
- Save time and money with Shopping in Microsoft Edge: Off
- Show Collections and follow content creators in Microsoft Edge: Off
- Get notified when creators you follow post new content: Off
- Show suggestions to follow creators in Microsoft Edge: Off
- Show opportunities to support causes and nonprofits you care about: Off
- Get notifications of related things you can explore with Discover: Off
- Enhance images in Microsoft Edge: Off
- Suggest group names when creating a new tab group: Off
- Address Bar and Search
- Show me search and site suggestions using my typed characters: Off
- Show me suggestions from history, favorites and other data on this device using my typed characters: Off
- Search engine used in the address bar: DuckDuckGo
- Search on new tabs uses search box or address bar: Address bar
- Show tab actions menu: Off
- Show tab preview on hover: On
- Show Workspaces: Off
- Show favorites bar: Only on new tabs
- Home Button: On
- Forward button: Always show
- Extensions button: Never show
- Favorites, Collections, History, Downloads, Performance, Math Solver, Citations: Off
- Web capture, Share, Feedback: Off
- Show smart actions: Off
- Hover menu:
- Show hover menu on image hover: Off
- Show visual Search in context menu: Off
- Show mini menu when selecting text: Off
Within the All Permissions section:
- Location: Ask first or Off, depending on the device
- Camera: Ask first or Off, depending on the device
- Microphone: Ask first or Off, depending on the device
- Motion or light sensors: Off
- Notifications: Off
- Protocol handlers: Off
- MIDI devices: Off
- USB devices: Off
- Serial ports: Off
- File editing: Off
- Payment handlers: Off
- Virtual reality: Off
- Augmented reality: Off
And the final set of settings:
- Open Office files in the browser: Off
- Show downloads menu when a download starts: On
- Show a high visibility outline around the area of focus on the page: On
Use the profile menu to add another profile to Edge, adding either the work or personal profile by signing in to sync this profile’s data. Once the profile is added and its initial sync completes, all of the above settings will need to be configured into the secondary profile as well.
When Edge is configured with multiple profiles, each profile gets its own Start/Taskbar icon and there’s an overlay of the account’s profile picture on the icon. When those profiles have the same profile picture, they cannot be distinguished from one another. Worse yet, Edge doesn’t give access to control the profile picture that it uses without also changing the profile picture associated with the Microsoft Account. But we can sidestep its behavior and just overwrite the image files.
There are two files that need to be overwritten:
- Edge Profile Picture.png (used inside Edge for the Profile picture button)
- Edge Profile.ico (the Edge application icon with the profile picture overlaid on it)
These files exist within the user profile folders in
- The initial profile folder for the account used to sign into Windows is Default
- The secondary profile is Profile 1 (unless any mistakes were made during setup, then perhaps Profile 2, etc.)
If you’re not sure what folder belongs to what profile, open up the
Preferences file (it has no extension, but it’s a JSON text file) from a profile folder and search for your Microsoft Account email addresses. The address for the profile will be found in the file.
You can start with the image files in that folder and then modify them to your liking. Keep copies of your modified images somewhere safe though. I’ve seen Edge stomp back over these files after updates. After these are modified in Edge’s user data folder, launch Edge for each profile and ensure it’s pinned it to the Taskbar. The icons may be stale for several launches of Edge, or perhaps even for a couple of reboots.
Custom Search Engines
Edge does not sync configured custom search engines with its settings (even though Chrome does). But the search engines are stored in a SQLite database. You can use tools like DB Browser for SQLite to view and edit the search engines, or you can even write apps to update the database using SQL statements.
I’ve written about this topic before, covering the appropriate details. See Custom Search Engines in Edge for more info. Since writing that post, I’ve created a console app that uses the Microsoft.Data.Sqlite.Core package and does the following:
- Kill any running Edge processes
- Find the right Edge user data folder for each of my profiles
- Connect to the SQLite database for that profile
- Delete all existing custom search engines
- Insert the desired custom search engines for each profile
Edge is constantly “adding value” with new features. I generally turn off every new feature that is introduced so I can keep my browser trimmed down. I could (should?) entertain bouncing back to Firefox, but with all of the junk disabled, I quite like Edge. I really just wish it did a better job of syncing all of the settings across machines.