Can’t install apps on Windows 11? Here is the solution

Some people are having problems installing apps on Windows 11. They can install them from the Microsoft Store, but not from anywhere else. What is wrong? It’s a Windows S Mode problem.

The reason why you cannot install any software on your new Windows 11 computer could be quite straightforward and you simply have the wrong version of Microsoft’s operating system. Your new computer could have been supplied with a version of Windows that is feature-limited.

If you have tried to download and install Chrome browser for example, you can’t until you have fixed the problem.

Don’t panic, there is a solution to the problem and you can easily enable Windows to install and run any software you want from inside and outside of the Microsoft Store. I am using Windows 11 for this, but Windows 10 is very similar.

Advanced app settings in Windows

Windows app settings in the Settings app in Windows 11.
Windows 11 advanced app settings
  1. Open the Settings app by holding down the Windows key and pressing I.
  2. Select Apps in the sidebar on the left.
  3. Click Advanced app settings on the right.
  4. Click the button to the right of Choose where to get apps and select Anywhere from the menu that is displayed.
Choose where to get apps in the Windows 11 Settings app.
Choose where to get apps in Windows 11

There are several options on this menu and the one that is likely selected as the default if you cannot install software is The Microsoft Store only (Recommended). You need to select Anywhere. However, some people don’t have this option in Settings. Why?

Choose where to get apps missing?

Some Windows 11 users (and Windows 10) have found that there is no Choose where to get apps option in their Windows Settings app. This means that they cannot change the hidden default setting, which is to only install apps from the Microsoft Store. The Microsoft Store only (Recommended) setting is the reason why software from outside of the store cannot be installed.

The problem is caused by the version of Windows that is being used and instead of the full featured version, you have Windows S Mode. The solution is to activate Windows 11 and switch from S mode to standard mode. You then have the options shown above.

Some budget computers come with Windows S Mode installed. It is not a reason to avoid these computers because they can be switched to standard mode, but you must disable Windows S Mode if you want to install software from outside of the Microsoft Store. You need to activate Windows 11 and this unlocks it.

Disable Windows S Mode

  1. Open the Settings app by pressing Windows+I.
  2. Select System in the sidebar in the Settings app.
  3. Click Activation on the right.
  4. Go to the Switch to Windows 11 Pro section (not Upgrade)
  5. Click the Go to the Store link.
  6. In the store, click the Get button.

Follow any instructions that are displayed. Afterwards, Windows will be running in standard mode and any software can be installed. Note that it is a one-way process and there is no going back to Windows S Mode.

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