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On Windows 10, Microsoft Defender (formerly called “Windows Defender”) always scans files before you open them unless you’ve installed a third-party antivirus. You can also perform a quick scan of any file or folder, too. Here’s how.

First, find the file or folder you’d like scan. It can be located within File Explorer or on your Desktop. Using your mouse cursor, right-click on the item.

Right-click on a file to scan it with Microsoft Defender on Windows 10

In the menu that pops up, select “Scan With Microsoft Defender.”

(On versions of Windows 10 prior to the May 2020 Update, this option will say “Scan With Windows Defender.”)

Select Scan with Microsoft Defender in the Right-Click menu on Windows 10

A Windows Security window will pop up, and the results of the scan will be shown near the top—just below the “Scan Options” heading. If everything is OK, you will see “No Current Threats.”

Microsoft Defender scan results


On the other hand, if malware is detected, Microsoft Defender will alert you with a message that says “Threats Found,” and it will list the file or files that are infected.

To remove the threats, click the “Start Actions” button.

Click Start Actions in Microsoft Defender

After clicking “Start Actions,” Microsoft Defender will remove the threats automatically, and everything should be back to normal. If you’d like more details on what threats were neutralized, click “Protection History” just below the scan results.

Good luck, and stay safe!

RELATED: How to See What Malware Windows Defender Found on Your PC

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Benj Edwards is an Associate Editor for How-To Geek. For over 15 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
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