Windows 10 introduced a featured designed to make your life easier and more hands free – Cortana. Your built-in virtual assistant could be your new best friend for finding files, checking local weather, and much more. Some users aren’t even aware of Cortana, while others aren’t sure how to use the feature. Some are even skeptical, given how Cortana accesses and uses personal data to deliver personalized results.
That’s why we’ve developed this Cortana 101 primer – so you can get to know the feature better…
Cortana’s Top Features
Think of this new feature as a personal assistant who’s ready to answer almost any question you might have. She was first introduced as competition to Apple’s Siri and she stacks up well. A few of the most notable features include:
- Aggregated Home: A daily update of reminders, calendar events, and other important details in your daily life.
- Reminders: Set reminders about people, places, and times so you never forget anything.
- Advanced search: Searches the internet, your OneDrive, and hard drive for answers to questions and searches.
- Edge integration: Highlight text in the Edge browser for more information.
- Personality: Tells you jokes when asked.
- Notebook: Tell Cortana what she needs to know about you and your interests.
- Voice activation: Use Cortana simply by speaking into your microphone.
The more you use the feature, the more she learns and adapts to your needs. We like this video of cool Cortana voice commands like weather, jokes and reminders:
Benefits of Using Cortana
At first, the benefits might not seem that obvious, but think of all the apps you use on your phone to accomplish everything Cortana does in one. You get the power of dozens of apps on your desktop with just a few clicks or a quick question into your mic. Want to find out movie times for the latest releases? Type in a search or ask her directly to find nearby showtimes for any movie of your choice. Need to make sure you don’t forget an anniversary or to take dinner out of the oven before it burns? Set reminders and Cortana won’t let you forget. Get directions or check the status of an incoming flight without having to navigate to a maps app or airport website.
Instead of searching manually or jumping from app to app, Cortana does it all for you. You save time and you only have to learn to use a single feature.
How To Activate and Use Cortana
Now that you’re ready to try out the feature for yourself, here’s how to set up Cortana in Windows 10:
- Start by clicking the Search box in the Taskbar.
- Click the Notebook icon on the left under the Home icon.
- Select Settings and switch Cortana and Hey Cortana to On. Be aware, the Hey Cortana feature does use more battery, but it’s the best way to use the voice feature.
- Choose “To anyone” if multiple people use the same computer or “To me” for a more personalized experience.
If you enabled Hey Cortana, you’ll be taken through a few prompts for Cortana to learn your speaking style. When you’re ready to use the feature, simply say “Hey Cortana” and your question or command.
If you’d rather not turn on Hey Cortana, simply type in the search box or click the Mic icon to use Cortana manually.
Be Aware of Cortana Security Concerns
Cortana needs to know a little personal information to deliver answers to some of your questions, especially location specific ones. For some users, this is a major privacy concern. The only way to avoid Microsoft from collecting this data about you is to turn off Cortana’s ability to get to know you:
- Go to Start, click Settings, and choose Privacy.
- Turn off any privacy options in the General area you’re not comfortable with and then select Location right under General. Turn Cortana’s location permission to OFF. Finally, select Speech, inking, and typing on the left and click the Stop getting to know me button.
Do note that stopping the data collection from Cortana makes her far less useful. Then again, you can always use search engines or the Search feature on the desktop like all computer users who don’t have Windows 10 yet.
Of course, if you are not interested in using Cortana, our free Win10 Wizard tool offers a free, one-click way to disable the feature and related privacy issues. Download the tool here, and save yourself the headache!
Related Read: Ultimate Guide: Windows 10 Settings