How-To

How to Set Up Windows Sandbox on Windows 11

If you want to test files and apps in a secure environment, you can use the Windows Sandbox in Windows 11. Follow this guide to set it up.

The Windows Sandbox feature in Windows 11 allows you to test apps and files in a virtual experience that’s decoupled from the main operating system.

Typically, you could do this by creating a complete virtual machine (VM) which takes time and resources. Instead of creating a VM in Hyper-V, you can easily set up Windows Sandbox on Windows 11 to test out suspicious files and apps instead.

Note: To use the Windows Sandbox feature, you need to be running Windows 11 Pro, Education, or Enterprise. You’ll also need to ensure that Virtualization is enabled.

How to Setup Sandbox on Windows 11

Before you can use the Sandbox on Windows 11, you’ll need to enable it.

To enable Windows Sandbox on Windows 11:

  1. Use the keyboard shortcut Windows key + R to launch the Run dialog.
  2. In Run, type optionalfeatures.exe and press Enter or click OK.

set up Windows sandbox on windows 11

  1. When the Windows Features menu appears, scroll down and check the Windows Sandbox option, then click OK.

enable windows sandbox windows 11

  1. To complete the installation process, a restart of Windows 11 is required—click the Restart now button when instructed.

restart setup windows sandbox on Windows 11

Using Windows Sandbox on Windows 11

Once Sandbox is enabled on Windows 11, it creates a copy of your Windows 11 installation in a virtual environment. However, it removes access to personal folders, providing you with a clean Windows desktop with internet access to use.

Enabling Windows Sandbox is painless enough, and using it is straightforward, too.

To use Windows Sandbox on Windows 11:

  1. Press the Windows key or click the Start button to launch the Start Menu.
  2. Next, click All apps and click on W to find apps by the first letter.
    apps by first letter
  3. Select Windows Sandbox from the Start menu.

set up windows sandbox on windows 11

  1. Click Yes if the UAC message appears.
  2. Windows Sandbox will launch, showing a lightweight and secure version of Windows 11. It looks like a virtual machine you’ve installed Windows 11 on, but without the hassle of setting up an actual virtual machine.

Windows Sandbox Windows 11

  1. Next, find the file (installer or executable) you want to run in the protected environment and copy it from the host machine.

Set up Windows Sandbox on Windows 11

  1. Switch to Windows Sandbox and paste the file. It’s important to note that you can also download files directly from the internet using the included Edge browser in Sandbox.

set up windows sandbox on windows 11

  1. Run the executable and wait for the file to install or load.

run file in Windows Sandbox

  1. After checking and testing the app, close the Sandbox window. The session will stop and any extra data deleted, so you’ll get a fresh start each time you use it.
  2. Click the OK button on the verification message that pops up to exit.

Verify shutdown Windows Sandbox

How to Disable Windows Sandbox

If you no longer need or want Windows Sandbox on your Windows 11 machine, you can disable it.

To disable Windows Sandbox:

  1. Use the keyboard shortcut Windows key + R to launch the Run dialog.
  2. Type optionalfeatures.exe and click OK.

set up Windows sandbox on windows 11

  1. When the Windows Features menu appears, uncheck Windows Sandbox and click OK.

Uncheck Windows Sandbox

  1. Click the Restart now button to complete the process.

Restart

Once your system restarts, sign in, and Windows Sandbox will no longer be an option from the Start menu. If you want to reenable it in the future, follow the steps above.

Using Sandbox on Windows 11

With Windows Sandbox enabled on Windows 11, you can test new apps or check out files without risking your main Windows installation. If a file is infected with malware, you can just shut Sandbox down—the file will be erased and your PC will remain safe.

Windows 11 has a number of other useful features you might want to check out. For example, you can run Android apps on Windows 11, or you may want to look at installing Windows Subsystem for Linux on Windows 11 instead. If you need to run older apps on your machine, don’t forget to enable older .NET Frameworks first.

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