This post shows students and new users the steps to add an exclusion to Microsoft Defender in Windows 11. Microsoft Defender (formally Windows Defender) will scan the files on your computer for viruses and malware. If you are performing certain tasks or running virtual machines, you may want to exclude certain files and folder areas so that Microsoft Defender does not scan them.

Exclusions can help improve system performance; however, be careful with this feature, as Microsoft Defender will not scan your excluded files and directories for malware. If these excluded directories are compromised, there will be no detection and your computer could be vulnerable to threats.

On the other hand, you don’t want to scan all files and directories. In fact, Microsoft Defender has built-in exclusions to improve system performance. You can do the same if certain tasks or applications are affected by Microsoft Defender scans.

To get started adding exclusions to Microsoft Defender, follow the steps below.

How to add exclusions to Microsoft Defender in Windows 11

As mentioned above, exclusions can be added to Microsoft Defender in cases where scans affect system performance. Microsoft Defender has built-in exclusions, but you can add more.

To do that, open the Windows security application. Click on the Start button and search Windows security, for Best Match, select to open.

windows 11 open windows security application

In the Windows security panel, navigate to Protection against viruses and threats. So low Virus and threat protection settings, Select the Manage settings as highlighted below.

Windows 11 Windows security application protection against viruses and threats

Then scroll down to the bottom of the page and click Add or remove exclusions to start adding or removing items from the exclusion list.

Windows security adds exclusion in Windows 11

On the Exclusions page, you can add or remove files that you want to exclude from Microsoft Defender scans. To add an exclusion, click the Add an exclusion button with a plus sign.

Windows 11 security app adds a

Choose the type of exclusions you want to add:

  • Proceedings: Choose file to select a single file to be excluded from future scans. You will browse and select the file you want to exclude.
  • File: Choose folder to exclude an entire folder from scans. The contents and subfolders of the folder will also be excluded.
  • Type of file: Choose the file type to enter a file extension (for example, “.TXT”) that represents the type of file you want to exclude. All such files will be excluded from future scans.
  • Process: Choose process and enter the name of a process (a running program, ie “explorer.exe”) to exclude from scans.
add exclusion to microsoft defander

When you’re done, close Windows Security and your settings will be saved.

You should do that!


In this tutorial we have seen how to add file or folder exclusions to Microsoft Defender. If you find any errors above or have something to add, please use the comment form below.

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