I just upgraded my Windows 11 computer and suddenly there’s a new icon on the Taskbar! I clicked and it opens a side window and is apparently “Copilot”? I don’t want it. How can I remove the icon?
You’d have to live under a proverbial rock to have missed all the excitement and enthusiasm towards Artificial Intelligence in the computer industry. Seems like the news is overrun with all the power – and risks – of so-called generative AI and I admit, there’s lots that’s cool about it too. But when it shows up unannounced on your Taskbar or Windows desktop? That can feel a smidge invasive, but that’s exactly what happens when you restart your PC after the “22H2” update to Windows 11.
Before you throw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater, however, I’m going to encourage you to try out Microsoft Windows Copilot with a few questions first. If you’ve tried Bing Chat through Microsoft Edge, it’s been renamed “Copilot” and is exactly the same program whether you access it from Windows itself or from within the browser.
SUDDENLY, COPILOT APPEARS
Restart after the latest Windows upgrade and darned if a colorful new icon doesn’t just magically appear on your Taskbar:
Not only does it appear, but it’s closest to the searchbox, meaning you can’t help but see it every time you glance down to choose one of your other Taskbar shortcuts. And what does the icon mean? 🤣
If you’re adamant that you want to remove it without trying Copilot, okay, I can respect that decision! Right-click on a blank spot of the Taskbar, then choose “Taskbar Settings”. You’ll be immediately dropped into the newly updated Settings window:
Disable “Copilot (preview)” and the icon will vanish. Mission accomplished.
BUT MAYBE IT’S WORTH TRYING
If you’re a smidge more adventurous, however, you might want to actually try Copilot before you make this change. For one thing, any search you would do in the Windows search box can also be done in Copilot, with the added benefit of it being able to reach out to Internet resources for potential answers too. This means you can ask more obscure questions!
Click and that big side window appears:
The interface is rather like text messaging someone, actually. On the lower right is an input box and you can ask for just about anything you can imagine…
In fact, you can ask it how to get rid of its own icon on your Taskbar:
There ya go, same answer I have above, but without the helpful screenshots. Notice it underlines quoted passages and includes reference citations so you can check up on its answer if you’re unsure. In this context, not a big deal, but if you ask about something controversial about world history or politics or health, a “second opinion” is always a smart move for verification.
You can also ask non-tech questions!
There’s not much you can’t ask and get a reasonable answer about, from history to music, famous photographers to famously bad jokes. I appreciate having Copilot and find myself using it all the time, so encourage you to check it out and see how it does with your own queries.
MICROSOFT WINDOWS COPILOT SETTINGS
If you are going to use Copilot at all, it’s worth checking the one setting that’s optional in this early release. In the Copilot window find and click on the “•••” link on the very top right. A tiny menu appears:
You can check out the other options, but for our purposes, choose “Settings“. Here’s the one and only setting (so far) in Copilot:
Even though it says “Bing Chat” they mean “Copilot”. Here’s what this setting means, according to Microsoft:
“If you ask Copilot in Windows to summarize the contents of your active tab in Edge, Copilot in Windows first checks if you’ve provided that permission to the chat provider (for example, Bing Chat). If you haven’t, Copilot in Windows asks for your permission to use the page content of your active tab in Microsoft Edge to provide its response.”
In other words, Copilot and Edge live in the same “universe” so Copilot can see what you’re doing in your browser. This can be super helpful if you encounter a long, complex page because you can type “summarize the current web page”, but if you’re very privacy-centric, you might want to disable this feature.
BONUS: HIDE COPILOT IN MICROSOFT EDGE
If you really want to hide all this AI stuff, no worries, you now know how to do so from the Taskbar. If you’re using Microsoft Edge as your browser, there’s another version of the Copilot button that shows up within the browser itself. Which you can hide!
Go into Settings within Microsoft Edge, choose “App and notification settings”, then “Copilot” and here are the options offered:
Unchose “Show Copilot” and that button will also vanish. Now you can pretend that there’s no AI or generative AI sneaking onto your computer, but Microsoft’s betting big on this technology being able to revolutionize the Windows experience, so you’re hiding it, not removing it!
Pro Tip: I’ve been writing about Windows since the beginning. While you’re here, please check out my extensive Windows help area for hundreds of other useful tutorials and how-to articles. Thanks!