Delete Personal Content from Public Computers

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Remove Personal Email Accounts and OneDrive Files from Public Computers

When it comes to computer security, ignorance is not bliss. Have you used a computer outside of your normal environment and not realized that you have to delete personal content from public computers?

Picture this scenario…

You made a trip to the library or took a class at the local college and logged in with one provided by them. That was well and good but you wanted to take advantage of all the great features of Windows 10 and online apps which are not available or are limited unless you used a Microsoft login. You discovered to your delight you could add a Microsoft approved email account in Account Settings, and take advantage of accessing web email and calendar events, along with sharing and messaging features. You added the account and happily made short work of all your projects using the Calendar and Mail app tiles and sharing amazing finds on the web.

Eventually, you look at the time and realize you must jet out of there. Closing all open applications, you log off, or even better, shut down the computer, and scurry off to dinner feeling quite proud of your accomplishments. You have a pleasant day or two and return to the institution and sit down at the same computer and again use their login. You click the Start button and see the live tiles rolling…Screech! Wait a minute, that looks like my emails and appointments…what the heck!

Shock at personal files still on public computer`

End of scenario…

That was my reaction the first time I saw it! After a lot of heart-pounding and testing, was able to delete the online email and shared event content but then discovered (the next day) that all my synced OneDrive files were still available to anyone who logged into that public computer! This is separate issue from the connection for online apps but, thankfully, there is a way to remove those files so they are drop-kicked from the file directory.

Delete Personal Content from Public Computers

Since the email and calendar entries can be accessed without displaying and syching  the OneDrive files and vice versa, we’ll cover them separately.

Remove Personal Email and Calendar Entries

Here are the steps to abolish those messages, calendar entries and shared web content:

  • Click Start and then click on the Settings icon.

Settings gear on Start Screen

  • Click on the Accounts icon.
  • Look for Email, calendar and contacts.
  • Then, scroll down until you see Accounts used by other apps.

Email, calendar and contacts dialog box

  • Under Accounts used by other apps section, click on your Microsoft email address.

Accounts used by other apps dialog box

  • After clicking on your email address, you should see these two buttons displayed –Manage and Remove.
  • Click Remove. The account will instantly remove.
  • If you get another message displaying “Remove account from your device?” click yes/confirm. *
  • Look under “Add an Account.” If your email address remains, click on your email address.

Email account displayed under Add a Microsoft account

  • Click the Manage button.
  • Choose Delete Account.

Account Settings dialog box

  • If you get the “Remove account from your device?” click yes/confirm. *
  • Do a Restart and login with the same login you used originally.
  • Click on the Mail App in Start Menu and ensure that it doesn’t display the emails or email address in the Mail window.
  • Click on the Calendar App in Start Menu and ensure your personal appointments are deleted.

* Don’t let this scare you. Your content is only being removed from that particular computer. It still exists in all your own devices.

Remove OneDrive Files from Public Computer

I want to delete all the synched files from OneDrive in File Explorer but ensure they remain in the cloud-based storage. Microsoft OneDrive allows you to selectively sync files and folders at the device level so you can store files in OneDrive online without keeping them on each of your personal devices.

Steps to remove the shared files and folders from the computer:

  • On the right side of the taskbar, right-click the cloud-shaped OneDrive
    icon.
  • Click Settings. (if you have a full taskbar, you may have to select the arrow for Show hidden icons to see the OneDrive icon).

OneDrive Settings menu

  • Click the Account tab.

OneDrive Account tab

  • Select Choose folders button to display the customizable list.

Remove OneDrive files from public computer

  • Clear the check boxes for any folders you don’t need offline. *
  • Click OK.
  • Click on File Explorer and ensure that OneDrive has no entries.

* Those folders won’t show up in File Explorer anymore, but they’ll still be online at OneDrive.com.

Note: Please keep in mind that screens might be slightly different depending on the version or update you have of Windows and/or Office.

Has this worked for you? Let me know in the Comments below!

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