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Microsoft Edge is growing in popularity, not least because Microsoft bundles it with Windows and continues to shove it down users’ throats at every given opportunity.
Microsoft’s browser first burst on to the scene as a leaner alternative to Google Chrome, even though it’s based on the same Chromium browser engine. However, Microsoft has since added a wealth of features to Edge, some less welcome than others.
Here then are five things that you should turn off in Microsoft Edge, either because they get in the way, provide needless distractions or because they pose a security risk.
1. Shopping coupons and offers
Microsoft recently introduced ‘shopping’ features into Edge, switching them on without first seeking permission from users. This sees a little icon light up in the address bar when Edge spots you’re on a site where discount coupons are available. It also produces annoying pop-up windows when you’re on product pages and Edge detects the item could be bought more cheaply elsewhere.
In my experience, the voucher codes offered by Edge rarely deliver a valid discount when you get to the checkout and the pop-ups are irritating. Microsoft has made its browser behave like those spammy toolbars that rogue apps used to sneakily install into your browser.
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To switch off these shopping features, open Edge’s setting menu (click the three dots in the top right of the screen and select Settings), then use the ‘search settings’ bar on the left-hand side to search for ‘shopping’. In the results, uncheck the option marked ‘save time and money with Shopping in Microsoft Edge’.
2. Auto-filled payment methods
Microsoft does something incredibly irritating and potentially costly with Edge.
If you have payment methods saved with Microsoft – because you have an Xbox account or Office 365 subscription, for example – these are automatically linked to your Microsoft account.
Now, if you sign into the Edge browser with your Microsoft account, as Microsoft urges you to do, those payment methods are automatically synced to the browser.
Worse, if you get to the payment section of websites, Edge offers to automatically fill in those payment details. To be clear, you’ll still need to enter the CVC or three-digit security code on the back of the card to process a payment, but on a shared family computer, for example, it makes it much easier for someone to use payment details without permission.
To stop saved cards being automatically filled at the online checkout, go back into Settings and this time search for ‘payment’. Switch off ‘Allow sites to check whether you have payment methods saved’.
You can also remove saved payment methods from your Microsoft account, although this may affect subscriptions.
3. Pinterest suggestions in Collections
Collections is a useful feature of Edge. It allows you to collate shortlists of things you might be considering buying, for example, such as cars or dresses. However, once again Microsoft seems to want to pollute this feature with needless add-ons.
Granted, this one isn’t too intrusive, but at the bottom of collections you may see a prominent link to ‘see ideas for’ whatever the collection is focused on, which whisks you off to Pinterest.
You can switch this off in Settings by searching for ‘Pinterest’ and then turning off the option that reads ‘Show suggestions from Pinterest in Collections’.
4. Open Office files in the browser
This is another one of those features where Microsoft thinks it’s being helpful, but actually just gets in the way.
By default, Edge will open any downloaded Microsoft Office document in the web browser instead of opening the file in Word, Excel or PowerPoint on your computer.
That might be desirable if you don’t have Office installed, but if you do it just puts another hurdle in front of what you’re trying to achieve when filling out job application forms, school permission slips etc.
To switch this feature off, return to Settings, search for ‘office’ and turn off ‘Open Office files in the browser’.
5. Saved passwords
Repeat after me: never save your passwords in a browser.
Saving passwords in any browser is a bad idea. It locks you into the browser, it makes them available to anyone who might be using that browser, and in the case of Microsoft it creates a single point of failure. If someone, say, hacks into your Xbox account, they might get access to your saved passwords too.
Use a dedicated password manager (Bitwarden remains my preferred option) that you can use with any browser or operating system, and make sure that’s protected with two-factor authentication.
To prevent Edge from saving or offering to save your passwords, head back to settings, search for ‘passwords’ and switch off the option to ‘offer to save passwords’.
You may need to head into your Microsoft account to clear out any passwords that have been previously saved.