Windows Defender

Remove spyware with Windows Defender

  • Advice on using Windows Defender to protect your PC
  • Step-by step guide shows you how to set up an automatic scan for spyware on your computer
  • How to run a manual scan for spyware on you computer using Windows Defender

Windows Defender

Windows Defender, formerly Microsoft AntiSpyware, is a software product that detects, removes or quarantines spyware. The product is installed and enabled by default in Windows Vista. 


Windows XP users can download it free of charge. 

Where to find Windows Defender on your PC

To access Windows Defender from Windows Vista, click the Start button, point to Control Panel and then click on the Windows Defender link on the left-hand side of the Security Center. 

Alternatively, you can type Windows Defender into the search box provided.  

Setting up an automatic scan


To set your computer to run an automatic, daily scan, click Tools then Options

Using the drop-down arrows select a daily scan and your preferred time for the scan to run. 

You can also tell Defender what to do when it finds, for instance, high alert items, again using the drop-down menus. 

Click Save and Continue

Running a manual scan for spyware


Alternatively, you can run a manual scan. 

As before, click the Start button and scroll down to Control Panel

Select Security Center and click on Windows Defender in the left-hand pane. 

Click Scan and Defender will look for spyware. 

The scan may take a few minutes. You can then ignore, remove or quarantine files.


For more on protecting your PC, see our guide to choosing the best security software, and check out the Which? security software reviews.