What Windows 10’s “Optional Features” Do, and How to Turn Them On or Off

Windows 10 comes with a number of “optional” features that you can turn on or off through the Windows Features dialog. Many of these features are intended for business networks and servers, while some are useful to everyone. Here’s an explanation of what each feature is for, and how to turn them on or off.

All these Windows 10 features take up space on your hard drive whether you have them enabled or not. But you shouldn’t just enable every feature–that could result in security problems and slower system performance. Only enable the features you need and will actually use.

How to View Windows’ Optional Features, and Turn Them On and Off

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Windows 10 doesn’t offer a way to manage these features from the new Settings application. You’ll have to use the old Windows Features dialog, available in the Control Panel, to manage features.

From this Windows Features dialog, you can enable features like Microsoft’s Hyper-V virtualization tool, the Internet Information Services (IIS) web server and other servers, and the Window s Subsystem for Linux. You can also remove access to some default features–for example, you could disable Internet Explorer to hide that legacy web browser from Windows 10. The exact features available to you here depend on the edition of Windows 10 you’re using.

To launch the Control Panel, right-click the Start button or press Windows+X on your keyboard, then select “Control Panel” from the menu that pops up.

Click “Programs” in the list and then select “Turn Windows features on or off” under Programs and Features.

You can also quickly launch this window with a single command. To do so, open the Start menu, type “optionalfeatures”, and press Enter. You can also press Windows Key + R to open the Run dialog, type “optionalfeatures”, and press Enter.

The list of available Windows features appears. If a feature has a checkmark next to it, it’s enabled. If a feature doesn’t have a checkmark, it’s disabled.

If you see a square in a box, the feature contains multiple sub-features and only some of them are enabled. You can expand the feature to see which of its subfeatures are and aren’t enabled.

Click “OK” and Windows will apply whatever changes you made. Depending on the features you enabled or disabled, Windows may require you reboot your computer for the changes to take effect.

You can do this entirely offline and without any Internet connection. The features are stored on your computer and aren’t downloaded when you enable them.

What Are All the Optional Features on Windows 10?

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So what should you turn on or off? We put together a list of some features available on Windows 10 Professional, since many of the most interesting features–like the Hyper-V virtualization server–require Windows 10 Professional. If you’re using Windows 10 Home, you’ll only have some of these features. If you’re using Windows 10 Enterprise or Education, you’ll have even more features available. These are just the most common ones you might come across.

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Most Windows users will never need to visit this window and actively manage these features. Windows 10 will automatically install features programs require, when necessary, though for certain features, it’s handy to know where you can turn them on or off. If you ever don’t have a feature you think you should, it’s a good place to check.