Looking for ways to improve your productivity to the next level? Welcome to Cortana.
Your Windows 10 computer comes bundled with one of the best assistants out there, but for some reason, you won't be able to access its full functionality out-of-the-box.
Awful, isn’t it? This guide will give you everything you need to remedy that.
What is Cortana?
Cortana is a virtual assistant created by Microsoft Corporation. And just like a regular assistant, it can set reminders, get directions, find facts, and perform natural language searches among others. So, how do you get it set up?
How to Set Up Cortana on Windows 10
Setting up Cortana is a straightforward task. All you need to do is locate the Cortana app settings. To do that;
Step 1: Go to your search bar and type 'Cortana'. In the best matches that show up, select 'change how you talk to Cortana'.
Step 2: In the resulting Cortana settings window, locate the Microphone section, and click on 'check the microphone'.
A troubleshooter will come up. Follow the prompts to set up your microphone.
After setting up your microphone, you can then go on to change other settings.
Just below the microphone section, you're going to find the following:
Hey Cortana: This section allows you to set up your virtual assistant to be activated immediately you give the 'Hey Cortana' command. You just need to turn on the switch to set it up.
Please note that your computer will use more battery if this setting is turned on.
Keyboard Shortcut: If you're concerned about the possible privacy issues that come with allowing a virtual assistant to run unchecked on the background, you can use the keyboard - with a combination of keys - to launch the app when needed.
Turn on the switch to let Cortana listen to commands when you press the Windows logo key + C.
Lock Screen: This section allows you to chose if you want your assistant to still work even when your computer is locked.
Cortana Language: Here you can select the language you want to use Cortana with.
Tip: Your virtual assistant works best when the language you chose here matches the region on your devices.
At this point, we’re done with the basic settings. The next step is to set up permissions where you manage the information you want Cortana to access from your device.
Step 1: Go to the left panel and select 'Permissions', or search for 'Cortana permissions' on your search bar.
Step 2: On the resulting window, select 'Manage the information Cortana can access from this device'.
Step 3: In the next window, you can turn the following features on or off, depending on what capacities you want your assistant to have.
Location: When you let Cortana collect and use your location and location history, it can notify you when you are at places you chose, help with directions, and keep you posted with what's up nearby.
Contacts, email, calendar, and communication history: Turning this part on allows Cortana to notify you of upcoming events and meetings, set reminders, follow up on your commitments, etc.
Browsing History: If you let Cortana collect and use your browsing history, it can offer you personalized suggestions on the Edge browser.
Basically, that's all for the setup. To stop Cortana from collecting any of the above data, just turn the option off.
Cortana has a few basic features you can make use of out of the box. However, to get the best out of the virtual assistant, you need to sign in to your Microsoft account.
To do that, follow the following steps:
Step 1: Go to your taskbar and click the Cortana icon. If you don’t find the icon, Cortana may have been disabled, so right-click the taskbar and click the ‘show Cortana button’.
Step 2: Click the personalize icon.
Step 3: In the resulting window, click the sign-in button to sign-in to the app.
How to Disable Cortana
Since the anniversary update, Cortana has been more integral to the Windows 10 operating system.
You can send mails, set up reminders, alarms, and much more which can only happen when the assistant has access to your data.
If you find this more intrusive than useful, here are what you can do to stop the app.
The first thing I would recommend is to reduce the amount of data you want Cortana to have access to.
Go-to your search bar and type "Cortana permissions". Press enter or click the Cortana permissions icon that will show up in the results.
In the resulting permissions window, go to the permissions section, and under the "manage what you permit Cortana to do, see, and use", click on "Manage the information Cortana can access from this device".
In the next window, you will find switches for location, browsing history, contacts, email, calendar, and communication history; turn them all off.
Return to the permissions dashboard and click on the option just below the one we clicked earlier.
Disable access to all the services you may have connected earlier.
After you've completed the steps above, Cortana will stop collecting any new data about you. To delete the data it has already, you'll need to sign out. To do that, follow the guidelines below:
Go to your search bar and type "sign out of Cortana". Press enter.
In the resulting window, select your account and sign out.
The above steps will drastically reduce what your virtual assistant can do, but it'll not be removed from your computer.
If you need to disable Cortana completely, the steps will be different depending on your type of Windows 10 - Home, Pro, or Enterprise.
If your computer is Pro or Enterprise, follow the guidelines below to disable Cortana with Group Policy Editor:
Launch the Group Policy Editor by pressing Windows + R key
In the resulting popup, type in gpedit.msc and click Ok.
Navigate to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Search.
At the right side of the window, locate and double-click on Allow Cortana.
On the resulting window, identify the "Allow Cortana" section, and select Disabled. Click on Ok and Apply.
To enable Cortana again, just follow the previous steps, and then check Enabled.
If you're using the Home edition of Windows 10, the above steps may not work for you. Follow this guide from Dan Kukarsky instead to disable your assistant.
Please note that messing around with your registry and group policy editor doesn't come without its own risks, so be sure to backup your computer before you get started.
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