Web Filtering With Windows Live Family Safety

We continue our previous article on Enhancing Parental Controls with Windows Live Family Safety with a tutorial on how to setup web filtering. Web filtering means setting up what kind of pages you allow your children to visit. With Windows Live Family Safety you are able to select between pre-defined sets of settings but you may also add your custom exceptions. In this tutorial I will show everything you can do on the web filtering side.

Where to Find Edit Parental Controls Settings Section

After you have downloaded, installed and enabled Windows Live Family Safety, go to familysafety.live.com. After you log-in, you will see the list of family members. From here you can edit settings and view activity reports for each of them. Click on Edit settings to make changes for yourself or your children's accounts.

This is the window from which all the settings can be done: web filtering, activity reporting, contact management and request management. In this article I will cover the web filtering section. In future tutorials I will also cover the other settings.

How to Setup Web Filtering

Web filtering allows you to setup a list of websites that are blocked/allowed for your child and select a specific level of blocking that you consider appropriate. For parents, web filtering is disabled by default. Web filtering can only be applied to users who are not defined as parents. To set it up, select Web Filtering from the left hand side pane.

By default, web filtering is on. If you want to deactivate it, select 'Turn off web filtering'.

If you choose to turn off web filtering, save your changes.

If you want to keep web filtering on, there are 3 levels of blocking:

  • Strong - allows only child-friendly sites, rated according to Windows Live Family Safety Kids websites list, and those that you have selected as allowed.
  • Basic - blocks adult-sites only, allowing all others.
  • Custom - this level allows you to select the categories of sites to which your children have access.

To add a custom site to the allowed or blocked list, you can write its address and select whether to allow or to block access to it. For example, if you choose to block facebook.com, it will block all the pages from the specific website.

You can allow/block websites for the specific user account that you are currently setting or for all users by selecting the option you want from the drop-down list, next to the Allow and Block buttons.

Windows Live Family Safety also allows you to use a list from another account, instead of creating a new list of web-sites to block & allow. To do this, click on the 'Use list from another account' link.

Then, select the account from which to import the list of blocked/allowed sites and the list for the current user will be automatically updated.

You can also use the list that you have previously created, for other accounts. Select 'Use this list for other accounts' and choose the accounts you want.

When your child tries to enter a restricted website he will get a message saying that the page is blocked, allowing him to either send a request to the parent by e-mail or to ask the parent in person for request to enter the website.

If your child chooses to e-mail you a request, you will see it in the Requests section from the child's account Settings page. If he/she decides to ask you in person for permission, you will have to enter your Windows Live ID password and click Accept or Deny, depends on whether you allow your child to access the website or not.

You can also set if children are allowed to download files or not. When you make this choice, keep in mind that viruses and other harmful objects can be downloaded along with trusted files, so if you allow them to do this, they should have a prior security solution installed. Click the Save button when you have finished.


As you can see, filtering the websites visited by your children is very easy. For more info on how to setup other aspects of Windows Live Family Safety, look on the articles recommended below. Also, if you have any questions or problems, don't hesitate to leave a comment.