How to Add Microsoft Defender Exclusions on Windows 11

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

Exclusions may help improve systems’ performance, however, be cautious with this feature as Microsoft Defender won’t scan your excluded files and directories for malware. If these excluded directories are compromised, there won’t be any detection and your computer might be vulnerable to threats.

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

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

How to add exclusions to Microsoft Defender on Windows 11

As mentioned above, one can add exclusions to Microsoft Defender in cases where scans are impacting system’s performance. Microsoft Defender has built-in exclusions, but you can add more.

To do that, open the Windows Security app. Click the Start button and search for Windows Security, under, Best match, select to open.

In Windows Security dashboard, navigate to Virus & Threat Protection. Then, under Virus & threat protections settings, select the Manage Settings as highlighted below.

Next, scroll down to the very bottom of the page, and click Add or Remove Exclusions to beginning adding or removing items on the exclusion list.

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.

Choose the type of exclusions you want to add:

  • File: Choose file to select a single file that will be excluded from future scans. You’ll browse and select the file you’d like to exclude.
  • Folder: Choose folder to exclude an entire folder from scans. The folder’s contents and subfolders will be excluded as well.
  • File type: Choose file type to enter a file extension (e.g., “.TXT”) representing the file type that you’d like to exclude. All files of that type will be excluded from future scans.
  • Process: Choose process and enter the name of a process (a running program, i.e., “explorer.exe”) to exclude from scans.

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

That should do it!


This post showed you how to add folder or file exclusions to Microsoft Defender. If you find any error above or have something to add, please use the comment form below.