Cortana in Windows 10: Everything You Need to Know

Sandy Writtenhouse 06-02-2018

Microsoft’s Cortana can be a handy and helpful tool for Windows users. Initially released for Windows Phones in 2014, Cortana showed up one year later on Windows 10. But, even though it has been a few years since this digital personal assistant popped onto the scene, many still have unanswered questions.


From what Cortana is to what it can do to how to turn it off, we have answers for you. Here is everything you need to know about Microsoft Cortana.

What Is Cortana?

Cortana is a virtual assistant that can help you perform tasks. You can use Cortana to set a reminder, schedule a meeting How to Painlessly Schedule Calendar Meetings Using Cortana Smart meeting schedulers have been helpful as they can look at your calendar and match it up with other participants. But now, there's a better solution using Microsoft's artificial intelligence. Read More , search the internet, find answers to questions, locate an item on your computer or Windows phone, manage your tasks, and much more.

Who Is the Voice of Cortana?

The application is named after Cortana, a character in Microsoft’s game Halo. The character’s voice in the game comes from actress Jen Taylor. Her voice was used from the inception of the Cortana application for the United States.

What Can Cortana Do?

As mentioned, you can use Cortana for simple tasks, searches, and reminders. But you can use this convenient tool for much more than those few items. Here is a list of additional things that Cortana can do for you:


To check out even more ways that Cortana can help you, follow these simple steps.

  1. Access Cortana from your toolbar.
  2. Scroll to the Tips & Tricks section in the pop-up window.
  3. Click See More Tips.

tips for cortana in windows 10

You can also view installed applications that work with Cortana 8 Cortana App Integrations You Have to Try Did you know Cortana can already cook your dinner, put the kids to bed, and wash your laundry? Okay, that's not entirely true, but the potential of Microsoft's personal assistant might surprise you. Read More by clicking Show My Cortana-Powered Apps at the bottom of the Tips window. You can even ask Cortana questions Hey, Cortana? Everything You Didn't Know to Ask and More Cortana can do a lot more than you think. This master list of basic and not-so-obvious commands will help you get to know your virtual assistant and increase your productivity. Read More that are a bit outside of the box.

How to Turn On and Activate Cortana

You can access Cortana from the Taskbar on your Windows computer. Just click the Cortana icon, enter a command into the search box, or say “Hey, Cortana” if your machine has a microphone and this feature enabled.


In order to enable the Hey Cortana feature or keyboard shortcut, first access Cortana in your Taskbar. Next:

  1. Click Settings (gear icon).
  2. Select Talk to Cortana in the pop-up window.
  3. You can then turn on or off the response and keyword shortcut options.

activate cortana in windows 10

How to Use Cortana

After you activate Cortana, you can issue commands by typing or by voice, depending on your preference. As you begin the command, you will see possible matches start to appear in the list. When you see the one that applies, click it and you’re on your way.

How to Make Cortana Use Google

While it is obvious that Microsoft wants you to use Edge as your browser and Bing for your searches, especially with Cortana, you can change this. If you want Cortana to use Google Chrome, for example, you can install a tool to make this adjustment.


A couple of options include EdgeDeflector and SearchWithMyBrowser. These are downloadable programs that you can obtain from GitHub. One more option for Chrome is a browser extension called Chrometana which works with SearchWithMyBrowser.

For more details, read our previous article on how to make Cortana use Google How to Force Cortana to Use Chrome & Google in Windows 10 Microsoft made its Edge browser and Bing search engine the exclusive choice for Cortana search results. We'll show you how you can make Cortana use your default browser and preferred search engine. Read More .

How to Use Cortana on Xbox One

You can use Cortana for many commands on your Xbox One. To enable Cortana, follow these steps on your console:

  1. Click the My Games & Apps
  2. Highlight Apps and choose Cortana.
  3. Follow the onscreen prompts to restart your console and enable Cortana.

Using Cortana on your Xbox One lets you turn your console on and off or put it to sleep. For a complete list of things Cortana can do on your Xbox One, say “Hey Cortana, what can I say?” This will let you view categories and show you a list of sample commands.


If you want to disable Cortana and go back to the original Xbox One command method, follow these steps:

  1. Turn on your Xbox One and press the Xbox button to access the guide.
  2. Select Settings > All Settings > System > Cortana Settings.
  3. In the window, highlight the On switch and press A to switch Cortana Off.
  4. Select Restart Now.

How to Turn Off and Disable Cortana

If you never use or plan to use Cortana, maybe you want to turn it off. Windows offers a way for you to simply hide it and it’s very easy to do. Just follow these steps:

  1. Right-click the Taskbar or Cortana specifically.
  2. Put your mouse over Cortana in the selection window.
  3. Click Hidden.

hide cortana in windows 10

If you decide that hiding Cortana is what you want to do, it may be wise to adjust the permission settings as well. This allows you to disable your location, your calendar email, contacts, and text data, and your browsing history:

  1. Access Cortana and click Settings (gear icon).
  2. In the pop-up window, select Permissions & History.
  3. You can then click the links under Permissions at the top to manage your details in the cloud, on your device, or other services.

cortana permissions in windows 10

You can also turn off Cortana’s personalization feature which will stop the collection of data. It’s as simple as signing out of your Microsoft account used for Cortana:

  1. Access Cortana and click Notebook.
  2. Choose About Me.
  3. Select your account (username) and when prompted, click Sign Out.

cortana about me in windows 10

For more information on Cortana, your data, and privacy, you can visit Microsoft’s policy page. Or, view the Microsoft Privacy Statement for how your data is used.

How to Uninstall and Remove Cortana

The question regarding how to uninstall Cortana and remove it from the system completely is a common one. And it has been asked in the Microsoft community various times with similar answers:

“Cortana is an integral part of Windows 10 that cannot be uninstalled.”

All of that being said, you may still see ways to do it here and there when searching the question on the internet. However, methods vary depending on if you have Windows 10 Pro or Windows 10 Home as well as your current version number. Plus, it can be a tricky task depending on your technical skills and it may have repercussions.

So, since Microsoft does not offer a simple way to remove Cortana from Windows 10, we’ll save this question for a later time. When and if the information becomes available, we’ll update the article to share it with you.

Which Cortana Questions Did We Miss?

These are the most commonly asked questions regarding Cortana in Windows 10, but there are likely more. For example, you might want to know how to change Cortana’s name How to Change Cortana's Name in Windows 10 Cortana will help you out in Windows 10 when you say "Hey, Cortana." But if you'd like to change this command, you can add some new names using this app. Read More or learn more about Cortana’s integration with Skype Cortana Is Listening Into Your Skype Conversations Microsoft is adding Cortana to Skype, but to make use of the intelligent assistant you'll have to let her listen in on your conversations. Read More .

Is there a question you have that we haven’t answered here? Let us know what questions you still have in the comments below!

Related topics: Microsoft Cortana, Voice Commands, Windows 10, Xbox One.

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  1. Nicole C
    January 3, 2020 at 11:42 pm

    One section heading is "How to Turn Off and Disable Cortana". But while the information in that section explains how to *hide* Cortana, how to adjust the permission settings (which does include disabling its access to things like location, contacts, etc. But that's not the same thing as disabling Cortana), and how to turn off the personalization feature; nowhere does it explain how to turn off of disable Cortana. Either you need to make it clearer (if this is the case) that 'hiding' it is the same as turning it off, or you need to say that it's not possible to truly disable Cortana.