How To Activate & Use Cortana On Windows Phone 8.1 Developer Preview

Christian Cawley 08-05-2014

You’ve upgraded to the Windows Phone 8.1 Developer Preview How To Upgrade To Windows Phone 8.1 Now If you want to speak to Cortana and get access to other cool new features, you will have to wait until June at least. Unless you'd update early. Like now. Read More – but where is Cortana, the Google Now and Siri rival? If you’re in the USA, it may just need pinning to the Start screen, but if you’re in the UK, the setup is a little more complicated.


Cortana Is In Charge

With Cortana activated on your Windows Phone device, you can put the finding of news items, weather, calendar management and more in the hands of your phone. Like Siri (which you should be using If You're Not Using Siri By Now, You Should Be Most of the commercials, jokes, and media hype about Apple's iOS voice assistant, Siri, have subsided, but I still run into iPhone users who don't take advantage of this powerful feature. Just the other day... Read More ) and Google Now on iOS and Android, Cortana is capable of integrating with apps and has its own shortcut button, activated by tapping Search.


Once installed, Cortana can help you make a phone called, send a text message, make notes, reminders and calendar appointments, play music, get directions and set alarms.

Currently, Windows Phone 8.1 isn’t available to most users, with the roll out not expected to commence until late May. This would indicate that the majority of devices should have the update by the end of the year. If you can’t wait that long, our recent guide to setting yourself up as a developer and installing the Windows Phone 8.1 Developer Preview You Need No Development Skills to Create Professional Windows Phone Apps App development on Windows Phone has been restricted to those with knowledge of programming – until now. With Windows Phone App Studio you can create your own apps – but what, exactly, can you do... Read More should enable you to install the early version of the update, where Cortana can be found.

Getting Ready: Find & Launch Cortana

By default, Cortana can be found in the apps list of your Windows Phone 8.1, listed under C.



Unhappy with this? Not a problem – just long-tap and select pin to Start to create a Start screen tile. You can also use the Search button to launch Cortana.

Now, this should be simple enough if you’re in the USA. Launching Cortana for the first time, you’ll find the app holding your hand as it guides you through the various voice commands that you can use to organise your life.

But what if you’re in the UK? Is Cortana missing from the Windows Phone 8.1 Developer Preview?


Fool Windows Phone, Activate Cortana

To activate Cortana in the UK, you’ll need to trick your phone into thinking you’re based in the USA.

We do this by changing the regional and language settings.

First, open Settings > Speech and switch the Speech language to English (United States). This will require a 66 MB download followed by a restart, so wait for this to complete.



With your phone now restarted, open Settings > Language, tap +add language and select English (United States). This will need to be listed first, so tap and hold, selecting move up to place it at the top of the list if this doesn’t happen automatically.

When this is done, you’ll need to restart your phone a second time.


This time, when the phone is ready, open Settings > Region, and under Country/Region select United States. Leave the Regional format option set to match phone language. For the final time, restart your phone.


When Windows Phone 8.1 has loaded up, you’ll find Cortana in the app list, as described above.

Note that there is no confirmation of this working in any other countries.

Getting To Grips With Cortana

Getting started with Cortana means a small amount of training and configuration. The tool will ask you for your name, which you must enter by text – you can then confirm whether or not Cortana is pronouncing it correctly.


Designed (and named) to resemble the AI system in the Halo series, Cortana can also be configured to find news that you’re interested in and share it with you. Other things such as reminders, the people in your “inner circle” (that is, the ones you’re happy to be contacted by) and favourite places can be set up, while Cortana has its own settings for whether it should use your name and operate under low battery.

The notebook can be used to configure your Cortana preferences, but you’ll need a few days use to train it up.

Cortana Has Your Data In Her Hands

With Cortana up and running, you can begin to utter voice commands, instructing your Windows Phone 8.1 device to play music, book appointments, send text messages and answer questions.

The similarity with Siri is considerable, but Cortana’s links to Halo (particularly using the same voice artist, Jen Taylor), give it a personality of its own, making it sufficiently different from Apple’s groundbreaking entry in this field.

If you’ve followed our guide to upgrading your Windows Phone 8 device to the new developer preview, then the next step has to be activating Cortana!

Related topics: Windows Phone, Windows Phone 8.

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  1. Osaid
    April 8, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    I have changed everything. region, language,speech everything to US but cortana is still not visible or accessable.
    Please someone help me

  2. Huzeifa
    January 27, 2015 at 1:45 pm

    Hi. Just installed the developers preview update for WinPhone 8.1, which is supposed to support Cortana in India. However, under settings for Cortana, it does not give me the option to start the app. If I change the regional settings to US, the app store will stop working. The WindowsPhone site says that Cortana works in Beta when this update is installed. Can anyone recommend a fix to this?


    • Christian Cawley
      February 2, 2015 at 8:26 am

      Your only option there is to switch between regional settings depending upon what you want to do.

  3. Suzanne
    December 27, 2014 at 3:57 am

    Got bush windows phone claiming already has installation of Cortana in UK nothing is showing , tried this fix still not showing :(

  4. Prakash
    December 23, 2014 at 7:27 am

    Thanks. It worked in India.

  5. Prakash
    December 23, 2014 at 7:26 am

    Thanks. It worked in India.

  6. Saulo Fernandes
    November 2, 2014 at 12:37 am

    Sou usuário do Windows Phone e não consigo achar a Cortana em meu aparelho Lumia 520, atualizei pra WP 8.1 e mudei todo pra USA, tanto idioma, região, speech e tudo o que pude. Porém acho que não seja um problema de atualização e sim de configuração pois mexi muito nas funções da Cortana e agora não consigo a encontrar, Agradeço a oportunidade.
    Saulo Fernandes, usuário Windows Phone.

  7. Ben
    October 30, 2014 at 9:30 pm

    Worked for me here in New Zealand, thanks. I just followed your instructions to the letter. Only problem is that changing region back to NZ loses Cortana.

  8. Max
    September 4, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    Hi.. I Don't see the music icon on cortana.. It was the same when I had 8.0 (through bing)

  9. Catherine
    July 25, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    I have Siri and it is set to a British male voice that sounds like Stuart Varney. What I truly want, is Siri to be voiced by John Malkovich. And it would be snarky. Bliss.

  10. Indu
    July 25, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    Its working in India.. and I am loving it:)

    • Shyam Bahmani
      February 22, 2015 at 5:36 am

      Really ......thxs fr telling.....i live in India too.... I try it .ye pee

  11. dognose
    July 4, 2014 at 7:14 pm

    Also working in Germany :)

  12. Benoche
    June 3, 2014 at 11:30 am

    Just installed 8.1 and followed the instructions and it works fine here in Belgium! Even if I set back my regional settings to Dutch(Belgium) but still country USA, Cortana stays active

  13. ian
    June 1, 2014 at 12:13 am

    Not working in Australia. Followed your instructions, but so far no appearance of Cortana.

    • Samuel
      June 1, 2014 at 1:14 pm

      Its very simple steps to make her work in all country, just you need to do all settings like region / language / speech to US English after installing wp 8.1. Its working here in Nigeria very well.

    • Aliyu
      March 18, 2015 at 8:07 am

      Hi, I've upgrade to wp 8.1 cyan not developers preview.. But it didn't come with Cortana its still showing bing! Please I need your help on how to get Cortana working in my phone...Nigeria

  14. Sreejith
    May 29, 2014 at 6:47 am

    Chris It's not working in India. Sujeet can you tell the process how you enabled cortana? [email address removed]

  15. Bharadhwaj
    May 16, 2014 at 2:22 am

    Sir, Its not working in India..........?

  16. Jano
    May 15, 2014 at 5:24 am

    Cortana works in Georgia, Thank u. I LOVE it but wish voice activation of Cortana, not by pushing button.

  17. steve
    May 12, 2014 at 1:58 am

    works perfectly in Australia too - many thanks. Oh, can I put the region back again once activated - or do I have to leave in the USA mode?

    • Christian C
      May 12, 2014 at 9:06 am

      For the best results, leave in US mode. From what I understand this changes from device to device, so if you're enjoying Cortana leave your settings as they are (where possible) and wait for the full rollout.

  18. Brent Challis
    May 12, 2014 at 1:27 am

    Having got Cortana installed, can you then reset the regional settings back or do they have to stay set to the US?

  19. Nmklotas
    May 11, 2014 at 10:11 am

    This works in Lithuania:) Thanks

  20. Jim Gibson
    May 9, 2014 at 11:56 am

    I have recently purchased a Windows phone and am looking forward to this update having used other mobile assistants before.

  21. Sujeet
    May 8, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    Thanks... I am from India and I updated my settings as mentioned.. It's working... And Cortana is Awesome.. I am Loving her :-).. I had updated my phone long back to WP 8.1 and Cortana was only missing.. Now its a Complete update.. Thanks again for this useful information.

    • Christian C
      May 8, 2014 at 8:29 pm

      Good to hear it's working for you in India!

    • manasemcee
      May 13, 2014 at 10:47 am

      hey if i update it to developer mode, would that void my warranty ??