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How to Open Windows Defender {11 Ways}

Windows Defender, also known as Windows Security or Microsoft Defender, is an essential security software that protects your computer from threats like viruses and malware. Since it is such an important tool, Windows gives you several ways to open Windows Defender. From the settings app to desktop shortcut to using Command Prompt, here are all the ways to launch Windows Defender.

Use Taskbar Search

Windows 11 includes a search bar on the taskbar. Click on the search bar and type “Windows Security.” Click “Windows Security” from the search results to launch the Defender application.

use taskbar search to open Windows Defender

From the Start menu

If you don’t have a search bar on the taskbar, you can use the Start menu.

To start off, click on the Windows logo on the taskbar and type “Windows Security.” Select the top result and Windows Defender opens instantly.

Note: If multiple ‘Windows Security’ entries appear, clicking on any of them will open Windows Defender.

search for Windows Defender as Windows Security in Start menu

From Taskbar System Tray

If you prefer using your mouse, rather than using keyboard shortcuts or digging through menus, you can launch Windows Defender from the system tray located next to the taskbar clock.

To start off, look for the shield-shaped icon in the system tray and click on it to open the Windows Defender app. If you don’t see it immediately, click on the upward-pointing arrow (^) to reveal hidden icons.

click on Windows Defender icon on taskbar

Using the Settings app

Windows Defender is an integral part of Windows. As such, you can open it directly from the Settings. Open Settings by pressing the “Windows key + I” keyboard shortcut. Next, go to the “Privacy & Security” > “Windows Security” page in the Settings app and click on “Open Windows Security.”

open Windows Security in Settings

Using Run Dialog

As with most applications and settings on Windows, you can use the Run dialog to get to Windows Defender. First, open the Run window by pressing the “Windows key + R” shortcut. Next, type windowsdefender: and click on the “OK” button.

Windows defender run command

With Desktop Shortcut

If you want, you can create a desktop shortcut for Windows Defender. Once created, you can open it using the desktop shortcut. Let’s learn how to do it.

First, right-click on the desktop and select “New” > “Shortcut.” Type “windowsdefender:” in the shortcut field and Click “Next.”

create desktop shortcut for Windows Defender

Type “Windows Defender” in the name field and click “Finish.”

name the shortcut

You will now see the Windows Defender shortcut icon on the desktop. Double-click on it to launch the Defender app.

From File Explorer

Unlike the older versions, Windows Defender on Windows 11 and 10 has no special exe file you can use to launch it. The good thing is that you can use the same run command from earlier to launch Windows Defender via File Explorer.

Open File Explorer by pressing the “Windows key + E” shortcut. Type “windowsdefender:” in the address bar and press “Enter” on your keyboard.

open Windows Defender from File Explorer

From Windows Terminal

Open Windows Terminal. For that, press “Windows key + X” and choose “Terminal.” By default, the terminal opens with a PowerShell tab. If you want, you can open the Command Prompt tab by clicking on the downward-pointing arrow (˅) and selecting the “Command Prompt” tab. Next, use one of the below commands.

PowerShell command:

Start-Process "windowsdefender:"

Command Prompt:

explorer windowsdefender:

Using Task Manager

Right-click on the taskbar and click on “Task Manager.” In the Task Manager, navigate to the “Processes” tab and click on “Run new task” at the top. Type “windowsdefender:” in the blank field and click “OK.” This instantly launches the Windows Defender window.

open Windows Defender from task manager

Use a Batch File

You can also create a batch file (batch script) that opens the Windows Defender when you double-click on it. The batch script is very useful if you want access to Windows Defender as part of a much bigger process.

Press “Windows Key + R”, type notepad into the Run dialog box, and hit Enter. This will open a new Notepad window. Next, type the following line in the notepad.

start windowsdefender:

Windows Defender batch script

After that, click on the “File” > “Save As” option.

click save as

Navigate to the location where you want to save your batch file. In the ‘Save as type’ dropdown, select All Files. Type the name as “WindowsDefender.bat” and click “Save.” It’s important that you save the file with the “.bat” extension.

save Windows Defender batch file

After creating the batch file, double-click on it to open Windows Defender. Since this is a script file, you can also use it in other scripts or programs.

Scheduled Task

If you want to open Windows Defender automatically at a specific time, you can use Windows Task Scheduler. Here’s how.

Press Windows Key + R to open the Run dialog box, then type taskschd.msc and press Enter. This will open the Task Scheduler.

run command to open task scheduler

Click on “Create Basic Task” on the right sidebar of the Task Scheduler window. Type “Open Windows Defender” in the name field and click “Next.”

name scheduled task

Select a trigger of your choice. For instance, I want Windows Defender to open as soon as I log in. So, I selected “When I log on.” Click “Next.”

set scheduled task trigger

Choose the “Start a Program” option in the Actions window and click “Next.” Type explorer in the “Program/Script” and then type “windowsdefender:” in the “Add Arguments” field. Click “Next.”

set scheduled task action

Review the settings and click on “Finish.” From now on, Windows Defender will open automatically according to the scheduled task.

finish setting up scheduled task

And there you have it—multiple ways to open Windows Defender in Windows 11. If you know more ways, comment below and let me know. I will add them to the article.

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