What is Windows 10 in S mode and how can you tell if you’re using it?

Windows 10 in S mode
Playing it S: check which mode Windows 10 is in

First, let’s tackle the easy question. To find out whether your laptop is running Windows 10 in S mode, tap in the Search box (or press the Windows key) and then type “about”.

The first option you’ll see is “About your PC”. Click this, and you’ll see the following screen:

Move your mouse to the right of the window and a scroll bar appears (don’t ask us why Microsoft hides this). Scroll down until you see “Windows specifications appear”.

As you can see from here, my test system (a Microsoft Surface Go) is indeed running in Windows 10 Home S mode. If your PC says Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro, then you’re already running the full OS.

If you’re running in Windows 10 S mode and want to switch, read our quick guide here.

What is Windows 10 in S mode?

S mode is Microsoft’s attempt to keep less experienced users in a cocooned environment, safe from viruses and other potentially invasive software. 

That’s because the only software you can install is from the Microsoft Store. Theoretically, every piece of software installed from there has been checked for malware.

Microsoft still recommends you run antivirus software, but because its Defender software is pre-installed you don’t need to do a thing. Just leave it be.

The big drawback of Windows 10 in S mode is that you’re stuck with Edge, Microsoft’s browser. It’s getting better all the time, but means you miss out on all the extras (such as add-on password managers) you get with Chrome.

Read this next: What are the best Windows 10 gestures?

About the author

Tim Danton

Tim Danton is editor-in-chief of PC Pro magazine and has written about technology since 1999. He enjoys playing with gadgets, playing with words and playing tennis. Email

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