How to Enable Developer Mode in Windows 11/10

If you don’t already know, Windows comes with a “Developer Mode” that allows developers to experiment and test Windows Store applications or run their own apps on the Windows platform. This feature is present in both Windows 10 and 11, but needs to be manually enabled.

If you are a regular computer user, then do not worry. You probably do not need to enable this feature, and it is probably of no use to you either. However, if you are a developer who likes to mess around with Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps, then this article is for you.

Today we will be discussing what exactly Developer Mode is, how to enable or disable it, and what it offers.

What is Developer Mode in Windows

Developer Mode is a feature in Windows that allows you to perform additional testing and debugging of the Windows Store as well as third-party applications. Furthermore, it also introduces some new tools to the Windows environment designed to help the developers with their testing.

Turning on Developer Mode also helps the user experience issues with Remote Desktop, Windows PowerShell, and File Explorer, which is otherwise restricted by default.

Developer Mode was first introduced in Windows 10 in 2016 and has since made its way to all the following Windows versions. When enabled, it offers the following additional tools for the developers to use:

  • Installing and debugging uncertified Windows Store applications.
  • Device Portal
  • Device Discovery

Not only that, this mode improves the following Windows tools for an optimized developer experience:

  • File Explorer
  • Remote Desktop
  • Windows PowerShell

Let us now show you how to enable Developer Mode in Windows.

Enable Developer Mode in Windows 11

Follow these steps to activate Developer Mode in Windows 11:

  1. Navigate to the following:

    Settings app >> Privacy and Security >> For developers
  2. Here, toggle the slider under “Developer Mode” into the On position.

    Turn on Developer Mode
    Turn on Developer Mode
  3. When asked for a confirmation, click Yes.

    Yes to confirm
    Yes to confirm

This will turn on the Developer Mode. You can simply toggle the sliders under “Device Portal” and “Device Discovery” to enable them too. This is discussed in detail further down this post.

Furthermore, you will find additional settings for File Explorer, Remote Desktop, and PowerShell on the same Settings page, from which you can select and then Apply the changes.

Enable Developer Mode in Windows 10

Follow these steps to activate Developer Mode in Windows 10:

  1. Navigate to the following:

    Settings app >> Windows Update >> For developers
  2. Here, toggle the slider under “Developer Mode” into the On position.

    Turn on Developer Mode 2
    Turn on Developer Mode
  3. When asked for a confirmation, click Yes.

    Yes to confirm 2
    Yes to confirm

Developer Mode will now be enabled. If you want to disable it in the future, simply toggle the slider under Developer Mode again into the Off position.

Similar to Windows 11, you can simply toggle the sliders under “Device Portal” and “Device Discovery” to enable them too. This will be discussed in detail further down this post.

Furthermore, you will find additional settings for File Explorer, Remote Desktop, and PowerShell on the same Settings page, from which you can select and then Apply the changes.

However, unlike in Windows 11, the Windows 10 “For developer” page does not give you any options on Windows Terminal.

That said, you can now sideload third-party applications or use existing Microsoft Store apps to begin your testing.

What is Device Portal

Device Portal is a tool that can be installed on your PC after enabling Developer Mode. Once that is enabled, you can then enable the Device Portal from the “For developers” settings page.

The Windows Device Portal allows you to manage your PC remotely through a locally-installed web server. Using the server’s web interface, you can then connect to this computer remotely over the network and manage it how you please. For this reason, when the Device Portal is enabled, your PC also changes the Windows Firewall.

The Device Portal provides advanced diagnostics of the PC, as well as real-time performance data. However, not every developer may need this tool.

The Device Portal is mostly useful for testing applications on remote Windows devices, such as Xbox, Hololens, etc.

You can set up credentials and other information for the Device Portal from the “For developers” settings page.

Device Portal
Device Portal

What is Device Discovery

Windows Device Discovery is another developer feature that needs to be manually enabled. Its primary function is to pair a remote Windows device so it can be connected to this PC remotely.

Once the Device Portal is enabled, you can pair a device with it using a simple code through Device Discovery.

Device Discovery
Device Discovery

Other Developer Mode Enhancements

As we mentioned earlier, enabling Developer Mode in Windows enhances a few pre-existing Windows tools. The sections below briefly describe what options the user can choose from.

Windows Explorer

You can manage what File Explorer now displays directly from the Settings app. However, these are only a handful of options. You can select any or all of the following options:

  • Change settings to show file extensions
  • Change setting to show hidden and system files
  • Change settings to show full path in title bar
  • Change policy to show Run as a different user in Start
  • Change settings to show empty drives
File Explorer enhancements
File Explorer enhancements

Remote Desktop

The following enhancements are offered for a Remote Desktop Connection to this PC once the Developer Mode is turned on:

  • Change settings to allow remote connections to this computer.
  • Change settings to allow connection only from computers running Remote Desktop with Network Level Authentication.
  • Change settings so that the PC never goes to sleep when plugged in
Remote Desktop enhancements
Remote Desktop enhancements

Windows PowerShell

With Developer Mode, you can set whether or not to allow running scripts in PowerShell using the following option:

  • Change execution policy to allow local PowerShell scripts to run without signing. Require singing for remote scripts.
PowerShell enhancement
PowerShell enhancement

Troubleshoot Enabling Developer Mode in Windows

Users often report that they are unable to enable Developer Mode due to one reason or the other, and become frustrated when they cannot find a solution. If you experience similar issues, refer to the solutions suggested below and perform them to mitigate the issue.

Change User Account Type to Administrator

It may be possible that your user account is a standard user that does not have any administrative rights. In that case, you must convert your user account to an administrative account, or enable the Developer Mode from an account that is an administrator on your PC.

Here are 6 ways to convert your existing account into an administrative account.

Allow Trusted Apps to Install using Group Policy

Another problem could be that Windows blocks apps to install, rendering the Developer Mode and its associated tools incapable of a successful installation. In that case, you can allow trusted apps to be installed on your PC using the following steps:

  1. Open the Group Policy Editor by typing in gpedit.msc in the Run Command box.

    gpedit msc
    gpedit msc
  2. Now navigate to the following from the left pane in the Editor:

    Computer Confiuration >> Administrative Templates >> Windows Components >> App Package Deployment
  3. Here, double-click on the policy “Allow all trusted apps to install” in the right pane.

    Open policy
    Open policy
  4. From the pop-up policy, select the Enabled radio button, then click Apply and OK.

    Enable the policy
    Enable the policy
  5. Now open the Command Prompt with elevated rights and run the following cmdlet to implement the changes.

    GPUpdate /Force
    gpupdate force latest
    gpupdate force latest

Once this is done, try re-enabling Developer Mode and check if the issue persists.

Undo Recent Changes

If the Developer Mode was working just fine before and has suddenly encountered an error, something that was recently changed has likely affected it, making Developer Mode unable to run properly.

This change could be a new software installation, a new Windows update that was installed, or any other insignificant changes.

In that case, you can try to uninstall any recently-installed apps through Programs and Features in the Control Panel. If you believe it was caused by a Windows update, try uninstalling the update. If you made multiple changes to the operating system or do not recall any changes made, try restoring your PC to an earlier state to undo any changes.

Disable Windows Telemetry

Windows Telemetry is used to collect and track data and activity on your PC so it can be reported back to Microsoft, which is useful for them so they can work on improving the user experience.

However, this service can also prevent you from accessing certain Windows features, such as the Developer Mode. Therefore, disabling telemetry and data collection just might fix the problem.

Here are 6 ways to disable telemetry on a Windows PC.

Final Thoughts

Windows Developer Mode is an excellent tool for developers who like playing around with custom UWP and Microsoft Store apps. It gives you the ability to test their limits.

Moreover, if you want to try out the new features in the latest Developer options, you can subscribe to the Windows Insider channel and try out these new (yet somewhat unstable) features in the Developer Mode.

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