How you can Use Cortana | Digital Tendencies

You may know Cortana as a digital voice assistant on the now no longer available Windows Phone Mobile platform. Starting with Windows 10, however, Cortana switched to the desktop.

Named after the AI ​​character in Microsoft's Halo game series, Cortana is a virtual assistant that offers many customizable and personal features. Here's how to set up and use Cortana in Windows 10.

Sign in to get started


Cortana has some basic features that you can use without being signed in. However, you can use most of the functions when you are signed in to your Microsoft account. To do this, select the Cortana icon in the system tray (to the right of the search bar) and then the house icon on the left in the Cortana menu window. Then press the button that says "Cortana can do a lot more". When prompted, click the Sign In button and follow the instructions on the screen.

Set up Cortana

Screenshot of the Cortana settingsScreenshot

Click the Cortana icon in the system tray. Then, in the Cortana menu window that appears, click the Settings gear icon. The Cortana section of the Windows 10 Settings menu has several options here. However, the first section controls the search feature's voice activation phrase "Hey Cortana". You don't really need the whole "hey" business though.

Alternatively, you can turn this detection off by flipping the Hey Cortana switch to Off. This is useful when looking to extend the battery life of a laptop or when using a desktop without a microphone. You can activate a voice search manually by tapping the Cortana icon in the system tray or by pressing the Windows + C keys at the same time. This key combination only works when it is activated. Enable it by going to Settings> Talk to Cortana> Make Cortana wait for my commands when I press Windows logo key + C.

The Talk to Cortana tab also has settings for using Cortana on the Windows 10 lock screen and setting your preferred language.

The Permissions tab is also important to familiarize yourself with. Cortana can access a lot of information about you and your device. It is therefore worth deciding what you want to share with Cortana – and thus also with Microsoft.

For more information on how Cortana works or how to manage your Windows 10 privacy options, click the More Details tab to view these options.

Show or hide the Cortana icon

Screenshot of the Cortana symbol system trayScreenshot

If you'd rather not see the Cortana icon in your system tray, you can hide it. Right click on the taskbar. From the menu that appears, choose Show Cortana Button, which will remove the check mark next to it. Removing the check mark will hide the Cortana icon. If you want the icon to reappear, simply select the Show Cortana Button option again to add a check mark next to it.

Cortana home

Screenshot of the Cortana start menuScreenshot

When you click the Cortana icon in the system tray, you are greeted with Cortana's main menu of options and Cortana itself waiting for you to speak your commands. There are three main sections of this menu: Home, Notebook, and Devices. In the home area (the house-shaped icon on the left side of the menu), Cortana lives and awaits your instructions.

The Notebook section is where you can manage things like reminders, to-do lists, and skills that Cortana can use to manage your life and work.

Note: Some of the capabilities that are currently pre-installed with Cortana have been discontinued, such as: B. Sports, commuting and traffic. There are still some useful skills that are still active, such as weather, music, and restaurant reservations.

In the Manage Devices area, add Cortana devices or other connected devices, e.g. E.g. an Amazon Alexa device or your Surface headphones.

Cortana notebook

Screenshot of the Cortana notebookScreenshot

This allows you to access the information Cortana learned about you as a user and customize the skills and tasks that can help you manage it. The menus for the various skills and tasks allow you to add or use a variety of tools to help you manage your hobbies or daily tasks.

The notebook is divided into two sections: Organize and Manage Skills. With Organizer you can keep track of your to-do lists, tasks and reminders. With "Manage Skills" you can use Cortana to keep up to date on certain topics (e.g. weather) or manage specific tasks (e.g. restaurant reservations) using preset skills. You can also use these skills to manage things like home appliances, streaming music, or social media and email accounts. Each skill has a submenu that you can easily customize.

Manage accounts

Cortana account management screenshotScreenshot

Cortana's Manage Accounts ability lets you connect any Microsoft or third-party service that Cortana can access. You can connect services like Office 365, Outlook, Gmail, Skype and even LinkedIn and Spotify.

You can find the Cortana Manage Accounts skill under Taskbar> Cortana> Notebook> Manage Skills> Manage Accounts. From there, click the Link button next to each service you want to link.


Screenshot of the Cortana remindersScreenshot

Cortana also has the ability to set reminders for you, just like Siri and the Amazon Echo. Just go to Notebook > memories set one up. You can also manage your existing reminders, add them manually, or delete one from this menu. To delete a reminder, just click on the one you want to change. To create a new one, click the plus icon in the lower right corner.

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