Introducing Windows 8: How to Edit or Turn Off its Sync Settings

One of the great features in Windows 8 is the possibility to have it automatically sync your Windows settings as well as your app settings and purchases. For example, you can have your Windows theme synchronized as well as the settings you've made in the Mail app. Here's how you can turn On or Off the synchronization of your settings, how to edit each sync setting in detail and set when synchronizations can be performed.

IMPORTANT: In order for sync to work, you should first activate your Windows 8 installation. Otherwise, the instructions shared in this tutorial won't work. Also, sync works only when using a Microsoft account. If you are using a local account, you won't be able to use this feature. More details can be found here: Introducing Windows 8: Should You Use a Local Account or a Microsoft Account?. Last but not least, Windows 8 syncs everything via the SkyDrive service. However, the storage space required for synchronizing your settings is not counted against your space for storing files on the SkyDrive.

How to Access Your Sync Settings in Windows 8

Settings things up is done from PC Settings. If you don't know how to access it, you can learn from this tutorial: Introducing Windows 8: Five Ways to Access PC Settings.

Then, go to the "Sync your settings" category.

Here you will find lots of settings and switches to configure. Let's cover them one by one:

How to Turn On or Off the Synchronization Feature

The first setting says "Sync settings on this PC".

If you want to turn off the synchronization of your settings completely, set this switch to Off and you are done. Any kind of synchronization stops right now.

How to Turn On or Off Individual Sync Settings

Next, there is a list of settings named "Settings to sync". Here you can turn On or Off the synchronization for the following settings:

  • Personalize - the colors, background, lock screen, and your Microsoft account picture.
  • Desktop personalization - your Windows themes, wallpapers and the taskbar settings.
  • Passwords - the passwords you store in Internet Explorer when connecting to different websites, the passwords you store inside Windows 8 apps, the password for your Homegroup or the passwords you use to connect to other computers or devices from your network.
  • Ease of Access - the settings for the ease of access tools you may be using: Narrator, Magnifier, etc.
  • Language preferences - the keyboard input languages and the display languages you installed.
  • App settings - your settings for Windows 8 apps like Mail, Music, etc.
  • Browser - your Internet Explorer settings and information (history, favorites, etc).
  • Other Windows settings - the settings you've made in File Explorer, how you set some of your drivers, etc.

How to Set When Syncs are Made

By default, Windows 8 synchronizes your settings every time you change any of the settings it can synchronize. Also, it requires a working Internet connection.

If you are using a laptop or tablet, go to the "Sync over metered connections" section, at the bottom of the list with sync settings.

There you will find two important switches: the first is for enabling sync over metered connections (3G/4G) and the second is for enabling sync even when you are roaming. You might not want to enable this second setting.

Conclusion

It might not seem like a big deal at first, but it actually is. Having most of your settings synchronized automatically helps a lot, especially when you need to configure all the computers and devices you work on. You spend most of your effort configuring the first device and then all the others are automatically synchronized.