Windows Defender replaces Microsoft Security Essentials in Windows 8, but it does not include the ability to quickly right-click folders and scan them. However, you can add this option yourself with a quick registry hack.

This trick adds a “Scan with Windows Defender” option to the context menu that appears when you right-click a folder. It works similarly to the “Scan with Microsoft Security Essentials” option on previous versions of Windows.

Unfortunately, there is no command that launches Windows Defender in graphical mode and initiates a scan, so we will have to launch Windows Defender in a Command Prompt window.

Option 1: Download and Run a .reg File

You can add this option to your registry by downloading and running the file below. This will do everything for you – just download the .zip file, open it, and double-click the AddWindowsDefenderToContextMenu.reg file it contains.


If you want to remove this option later, run the included RemoveWindowsDefenderFromContextMenu.reg file.

If you would rather add this context menu option manually, follow the instructions below.

Option 2: Add the Context Menu Entry Manually

Press the Windows key to access the Start screen, type regedit at the Start screen, and press Enter to launch the Registry Editor.

Navigate to the following key:


Right-click the shell key in the left pane, point to New, and create a new Key. Name it WindowsDefender.

With the WindowsDefender key selected in the left pane, right-click in the right pane and create a new String value. Name it Icon, then double-click it and enter the following value:

%ProgramFiles%\\Windows Defender\\EppManifest.dll

Right-click in the right pane again and create another new String value. Name it MUIVerb, then double-click it and enter the following value:

Scan with Windows Defender

Right-click the WindowsDefender key in the left pane, point to new, and create a new key. Name it Command.

Double-click the (Default) value in the right pane with the Command key selected and give it the following value:

“C:\Program Files\Windows Defender\MpCmdRun.exe” -scan -scantype 3 -SignatureUpdate -file %1

When you use the option, you will see the scan happen in a Command Prompt window. You will only be alerted if a problem is found. If the scan is very quick, you will see a Command Prompt window appear and disappear quickly. If a problem is found, the window will alert you instead of closing

Adding Other Entries to Your Context Menu

You can use similar tricks to add any application to your Windows context menu.

If you want to scan individual folders from the graphical user interface, use the Custom option in Windows Defender to scan any file or folder.

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Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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