How-To Geek

Disable Security Center Popup Notifications in Windows Vista

If you decide to turn off automatic updates, you’ll be annoyed to death with popup messages from the Security Center that tell you to “Check your computer security” or “Check your Firewall status” if you disabled the firewall. It’s a good thing you can turn those messages off.

Before we begin: I’d definitely recommend keeping the firewall enabled at all times.


To disable the popup messages shown above, right-click on the little red shield icon and choose Open Security Center from the menu. You could also open Security Center from the start menu.


Click the link for “Change the way Security Center alerts me”


Now you’ll see a dialog with three choices. Choose the bottom one if you don’t want the notifications anymore.


Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 02/8/07

Comments (65)

  1. dsparel

    thanks. i really needed that. it sucks having those everytime i reboot.

  2. vistault

    thanks.. been looking for remove this pain in the rear for a while now…

  3. John Rhodes

    I turned off the security center and now when I boot up I get a damn error message about the security center turned off!

  4. Brian Pesh

    Your cooment on how to “Make Security Center go away? did not address a problem I and many other are having in forums. It is this (and I hope you may have an answer), Clicking on the “Don’t notify me and don’t display the icon? option does not take- or work. Program keeps defaulting back to its default setting which is the notify me option. When logged on as full administrator, cannot undo the default. You click on don’t’ notify me, then close window, then go back to it and the defult setting is still activated. Any ideas?
    Thank you,

  5. craig

    I have basic vista on an HP. On the total care advisor I can’t enable the internet security when i try the norton opens and I’m not sure if that is taking the place of the HP’s or if niether one of them is running. But it is listed as a critical. Keep in mind this is a brand new piece.

  6. Spoodie

    This fix did not work for me. Specifically, I use non-Microsoft firewall/antivirus/antimalware programs so I have disabled everything Vista recommends to leave on. When I click on the Security Center balloon in the taskbar, the option to change the Security Center alerts delivery method is not even available. Any way of bypassing this? I just installed Vista and am still trying to get a feel for it. Thanks.

  7. Vayne

    This worked for me as i chose the third option.

    Remember this aswell if Securitry center is disabled you will not beable to stop the ballon, turn it on THEN you will see the ooption there after that chose the third option “the not recommended one” and it will no longer appear.

  8. Helene

    This didn’t work for me either. I just bought a Toshiba P200 and I keep getting these damn pop-ups!!! I selected the thrid option (Don’t notify me… etc) but the stupid thing didn’t take. Dunno what to do now. I’d love to be able to disable the whole thing. I have Norton 360 installed (not that it could prevent a major attack) but prefer that to this stupid Windows security. I will not recommend Vista to anyone!

  9. Gunther VanDross

    Using Vista Home and don’t get that option listed at all.

  10. Bob Riggan

    When I go to security system and selec third option it does not respond to the change of my command. It leaves number 1 checked. Any help will be appreciated. hagd

  11. Les Fergus

    How easy was that. But what a lot of rubbish posted elsewhere about editing registry keys and downloading apps to suppress the annoyance. Many thanks

  12. Carolyn

    Since I havve SBC they have their own security built in and it is great but somehow this pestering window and sometimes porn pics pop up as well. What should I do to get rid of it? I do not recoginize it in the Add/Delete programs.

  13. WC

    Awesome!!! You the man!!

  14. B

    If you aren’t seeing the option, go to Control Panel, hit the “Classic View” option, and then enter Security Center from there.

  15. Joe

    “Change the way security center alerts me” is not there in Security Center regardless if i hit ‘classic view’ or not. Is there an alternate way to disable security center alerts? I’m using Vista Home Premium on a laptop.

  16. matt

    thanks a lot, that fken thing was getting annoying.

  17. Johny

    Well I actually like the security center, because it will let me know if something has stopped working unnoticed. But is it possible to turn off a specific warning? For instance I’ve disable UAC, and I get a warning because of that everytime I restart Windows Explorer, and that’s getting pretty annoying…

  18. Ripensis

    Joe …your solution is: go to start>run> type services.msc; find in the list Security Center service, double click it and if it is disabled put it on manula and start it. After this follow this tutorial and at the end disable the service (security center) :P
    i hope this helps(it worked for me :) )

  19. Piet

    What they all mean, is:
    When you cannot see “Change the way Security Center alerts me”, you probably have shut down Security Center allready. You have to disable the notification service BEFORE you disable SC. So, go back to services and enable SC, then disable the notification through “Change the way Security Center alerts me”, and then re-disable SC.

  20. Reda


  21. Alex

    You’re good. Thanks. Now it’s possible to stop annoying wscsvc, set it to manual mode and forget about it.

  22. Johny

    Still no solution to just disabling that particular warning, right?

  23. kota

    so simple… i feel ludicrous now…

  24. Marco

    I’ve followed the instructions but I still get the annoying popups every 5 minutes or so and when I click the little popup window it leads me to a website with anti-spyware software. Any other way to disable it?

  25. The Geek


    The popup that you are getting is most likely not from Windows, it’s most likely some type of spyware itself. You should run spybot or ad-aware and scan your system.

  26. Heidi

    ok question..i am trying to run avg 8 on my vista system and i have an issue…i get the security notification and when i click it it tells me my avg is not on bt windows defender is…when i try to turn it on it wont allow me and i cant seem to figure ut how to turn off or remove my defender…I love my AVG and I use it withall our home computers…the lap top tho is the only 1 running vista…any ideas????????

  27. Ina Bechhoefer

    I disabled the security alerts via your registry hack. Whereas it did get rid of the annoying message that urges me to turn on my user account settings, it introduced the problem that I was no longer able to copy my outlook.pst file. Since often I back up that file manually, I found it necessary to re=enable the security notification.

    Thus, I would love to disable the “turn on user control setting” reminder but not affect anything else.

  28. Mark Anderson


    I appear to be having the same trouble as you guys in that I have changed the way it notifies me to not at all and still keep getting the popup asking me to purchase The SpyBot (which caused no end of problems in the first place and I had to uninstall it) I am using a vista home platform for the very first time and when I click on start I do not see an option to run, though I can see it on this machine (xp) can someone give a tip on whether it has to be activated please. I am working on a very new machine.


  29. Johny

    Run can be accessed with the hotkey “WINKEY + R” (WINKEY being windows symbol on your keyboard), so I personally always have that option disabled, because the hotkey is faster.

    However, if you want to enable it again, you can customize the startmenu by rightclicking the start button and clicking properties. From there you just need to click “Customize” (make sure “Start Menu” is enabled though), and enable the check for “Run command”.

    That should do the trick.. :)

  30. Mark Anderson

    That’s handy to know.
    Thanks very much Johny. I’ve moved on now and become quite the expert at trojan removal today. It turns out it was not windows at all but a rogue affiliate of a respectable company dumping malware on my computer and hten masquerading as windows to ask me to purchase scan and destroy programs to remove it.

    Who ever he/she is they have seriously hurt me – never mind.

    Thanks again for the tip, you’ve set me on the hotkey path now and I am thinking up loads of new uses for them :-)


  31. James Fahey


    If you want to use the “run” dialog there is a shortcut you can use to actually make the dialog box pop up, that shortcut is “windowskey + r” that will bring up the box. However the vista start menu actually has an inbuilt run function and all you have to do is open the start menu and just start typing. It will automatically search for stuff although it won’t autocomplete command prompt functions so you’ll have to type those in full. I’m not sure about this last bit but i think if no results come up from typing you can also just hit enter and have vista do a complete search for it.

  32. Mark Anderson

    Thank you James

    Have to say, it’s a very helpful forum you have here.

    Best regards to you,

  33. Nessa

    Thank you so much for this tip. Been trying to do this for ages with no success. And thanks to Piet for his advice.

  34. Ghostman


    your right. Cheers man.

  35. amaxx

    Thanks! It helped me out.

  36. Phyllis

    I have read all the info on how to get rid of
    security pop-ups and still don’t know what to do!
    Hopefully, there will be a simple Step by Step message on
    exactly what to do soon. Why did Microsoft Vista make things so complicated?

  37. Justin

    Remember what Piet wrote above…

    You must remove the tray icon by following the tip at the top of this page BEFORE you disable the Security Center service.

    If you disable the service before following the tip, you will get a tray warning that the security center is disabled.

    Enable the service, follow the tip at the top of this page, and then disable the service again.

  38. Joshua

    Change the way security center alerts me is GREYED OUT. I can’t download anything. Someone please help.

  39. annoyed vista user

    Thank God for this tip.
    Vista treats you like an idiot!

  40. Maurice

    Forget God…..thank you man….you saved my ass

  41. Jimmy Chainsaw

    Article did not have answer but comments did. I had to re-enable Security Center service, open Security Center, turn off alerts, then disable and turn off Security Center service. I feel bad for the guy who has the “change alerts” thing greyed out. Switch to Ubuntu 8.10 when you can, I plan on it.

  42. Lygia

    I am grabbing some google image pictures from google saving them to the server to upload them to my site. Everytime I get back on my site the picture doesn’t pop up it asks me “This may have secure or non-secure items? Do you want to open anyway. Why does this happen does anyone know?

  43. Csq

    Jimmy Chainsaw: Thanks for your summary :) (The “I had to re-enable Security Center service, open Security Center, turn off alerts, then disable and turn off Security Center service” part)

    Finally I got rid of the “the security center service is turned off” messages :)

  44. Kevin

    Everything was running fine then I go into my mail and it’s asking for name and passwrd, I already had it in my mail system to remember my log on info some how it changed by itself and I can’t get it to remember my info now….darn VISTA . anyone having the same problems? Help

  45. Mark

    I had to type services.msc in the search bar after hitting the start menu button. I had to find security center and found it was disabed. I then right clicked on it and chose properties and changed it to manual. It then let me start the security center when I right clicked on the balloon on the task bar. Then I had the choice for the Change the way I am notified and was able to pick the third one.

  46. Dany

    if this option doesn’t show on your pc, turn on the security center and then the “change the way SC alerts ” will show.

  47. David

    Thank you for this post, it was very helpful…

  48. mr smoke

    Thanks, that annoyed the hell out of me. It worked

  49. dohertybhoy11


    you’re a genius! thanks! that did exactly what I wanted

  50. BERT

    Isn’t VISTA great?

  51. Brandon

    THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  52. sonu

    ahh man u made ma life easy…thanks a very lotttttttttttttttttttttt ;)

  53. Brad

    Yes: Microsoft is dedicated to making sure that our PCs are labor-expanding devices rather than labor-saving devices. With all of the useless, unrequested, undesirable, effeminate crap they load unto each new version of their crap Windows. The world finally collaborates to find hacks and fixes for all of Microsoft’s defects–Workarounds–and then to justify their continued existence, they go and release a new version to defeat everyone’s ingenious patches and fixes. So that you can have another animation.

    Thank God Linux front-ends are fast matching & exceeding them. With Netbook sales, everyone will finally ditch Windows for good and move to a Labor-Saving machine (Linux)

  54. ame

    why my vista dont have this option
    “change the security alert me…”??

  55. Danny

    i see what you mean. but this is something different. my computer gets these annoying notifications RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PAGE. I ts driving me insane!!! plus it keeps restarting itself for no good reason!!! ive had like 60 popups just typing this!!!

  56. Kris Bright

    A word of advice people, use Trend Micro or something other than Norton. Norton is a piece of crap now that so many viruses can get past it. Norton is no longer safe because it was too widely used.
    By the way this so far seems to have worked.

    Danny you probably have a virus, you have to reformat your Computer. Or you don’t have Windows Vista.
    Most likely you have either Windows XP or Windows 2000. If I were you I would take my computer to my local pc repair shop and have them back up your files and reformat your computer and reinstall your programs and your operating system.

  57. Pasan Indeewara

    This option is not available in my Vista installed HP laptop. I have Vista Home Premium service pack 1. Is there a way to disable this notification by editing registry. In my case I have stopped entire Security centre service to get rid of all stupid services like windows update, firewall, etc. instead I’m using a Kaspersky total solution which is more reliable.

    Pls help. thanks.

  58. Jaydon

    This is why I love Windows 7. It doesn’t have the confusion of several taskbar buttons or fifteen billion notifications, it just has one icon, the Action Center, and your usual battery/network/sound icons. What’s more, you are able to easily adjust its settings when you first install Windows.

  59. anon

    Thanks! This really helped! I hated this thing popping up everytime I booted up; I also hated the UAC (which I disabled)

    @Jaydon :: There’s nothing wrong with Vista, though. It’s actually all of the programs on Vista (or ones you have installed) that automatically put notifications in the tray. There can be quite many, but I only have one (Avira AntiVir). Thing is, most of those notifications are from programs you really have no need for. You can go to ‘Run…’ and enter ‘msconfig’ which will allow you to edit the startup programs (which can DRAMATICALLY affect boot up time).
    Everyone hates Vista because it’s slow. This is mostly caused by the startup programs (and clutter which can be reduced with CCleaner [a free program]), but of course, if you know how to work with this stuff, you can increase speed and enhance performance. I’ve had Vista for about three years now, and after I’ve configured it to run quite fast; I’ve NEVER had any problems and everything is lickety-split. Just wanted to stand up for Windows and Microsoft because they are only partially in the wrong; the users are the other part. Instead of making things easier for the user, I think Microsoft should educate people about computers so that they eventually become simpler than brushing your teeth to use later on. But people don’t want that (I suppose they’re too lazy to learn or don’t have the time [probably the latter])- and they don’t realize that they’re getting off on the wrong foot. Just saying. :)

  60. Abid Ghufran

    Thanks a lot.

    If it werent for people like you Microsoft would be running naked and wild on our heads.

  61. Yoda

    you guys are awesome. THANKS!!

  62. Cass

    Actually, I’ve heard everywhere that this is a virus…

  63. bigbubba

    Taken from another websight

    disable UAC click Start->Control Panel->User Accounts, click “turn User Account Control on or off” link if UAC is active, & pops up just click continue. Uncheck the box where is says ” Use User Account Control (UAC) to help protect your computer then click OK then restart your computer. There you have it, no more pop up.
    Have Fun.

    Update, you will need to remove the security warning too

    There is no option in Security Center or group policy to prevent the security warning balloon from appearing but it can be disabled via the registry.

    How to disable the User Account Control status warning message:

    1. Go to Start-> type Regedit in the search bar and navigate to the following

    2. HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Security Center

    Add the following value:
    Data Type:
    Value Name:
    Restart the Security Center service for the change to take effect.
    Updated Version July 2008
    To turn off UAC, the easier version, go to start->control panel-> security center. expand the other security settings bar at bottom of list then click turn off user account control. all done.

  64. noychi

    hi there. i have anti virus softwars in my laptop. my question is, how come microsoft security center always informs me that its turned off? ive already changed my anti viurs hoping that it would solve the problem. but unfortunately, it didnt.

    anybody want to shed some light on this? thanks!

  65. Trushant


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