Cortana in Windows 10 – The Problem
The language assistant “Cortana” in Windows 10 is not considered a useful feature by every user. This is because Cortana is suspected of transferring user data from users to the cloud and monitoring the user. Although Cortana cannot be deleted and you cannot simply uninstall Cortana, there are several ways to disable the tool in Windows 10. Especially users with Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise have an easy option here, because they can rely on the group policies. In the smaller Windows 10 versions you have to set to manual settings. Macbook users won’t have the problem as their laptops are running on MacOS
How to disable Microsoft Cortana: Multiple Options
Activate and deactivate Cortana – Check function
By default Cortana is not active. However, you must pay attention to how you install Windows 10. Using the new installation files of Windows 10 version 1703 (Creators Update) does not reliably determine whether Cortana is enabled or not. You should therefore check the settings. If you want to use Cortana, you must activate the wizard and adjust it to your requirements. The first time you click on the search field of the taskbar, activate Cortana by clicking Next\I agree. Then enter a name with which Cortana should address you. Now Cortana is ready for use. If the option does not appear, Cortana is already activated. However, you can deactivate the assistant at any time. This will not remove Cortana from Windows and you cannot uninstall Cortana, but deactivating it is no problem.
Disable Cortana completely in Windows 10 via policies
From version 1607 and 1703 on, Cortana can no longer be switched off so easily. But even here there are enough possible options one can use to silence the assistant. However, even in Windows 10 1607 and 1703 you can neither uninstall Cortana nor remove Cortana completely. But you can largely eliminate Cortana from the system, so that the wizard cannot collect any data.
Users with Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Enterprise have an easier option here. If you are using Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise, you can disable Cortana in the policy settings. To do this, open the gpedit.msc tool and navigate to Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Search. You can now make some settings on the right side. For example, you can use “Do not search the web and do not display web results in search” to prevent users from enabling Cortana and searching the Internet. If a user tries to search the Internet, a policy warning from Cortana will appear. The window also contains other settings for controlling Cortana, such as deactivating position data.
The policy setting “Allow Cortana” allows you to turn off Cortana on all computers that use this policy by setting the “Disable” option. In this case, users will only be able to use normal search, but not Cortana.
Customize or disable Cortana search box
You can customize or hide the Cortana search field to suit your needs. To do this, use either the guidelines or the settings in Windows 10. If you only want to display an icon in the taskbar instead of the search field, right-click on a free area of the taskbar, select Cortana and then select Show Cortana icon. The search field including Cortana will only appear after clicking on the icon. This way you can also hide Cortana completely if you wish. However, Cortana remains active even if you hide the search field. To deactivate Cortana, you have to go the way of guidelines or the registry.
Deactivating Cortana in Windows 10 Home via the registry
In younger versions of Windows 10, you can only disable Cortana via the registry.
Open the Registry Editor by typing regedit.exe in the search field of the Start menu.
Navigate to the path “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\PolicyManager\current\device\Experience”.
- On the right side you will find the entry “AllowCortana”. Set it to “0” (zero) and restart the computer. If the entry does not exist, proceed as described in the next step.
- Right-click on the “Experience” key and select New\ DWORD value (32-bit) from the context menu Give the value the name “AllowCortana”. Set the value to “0” (zero) here as well.
- Restart the computer.
- After a restart Cortana should be deactivated and hidden. In the search field the entry “Search Windows” should appear instead of “Ask me something”.
You can also deactivate Cortana with a registry script
In addition to Cortana, you can also disable the complete search and specify that no localization of your computer can be performed. Although the registry file does not allow you to remove Cortana, delete Cortana, or uninstall Cortana, you can disable Cortana so that the wizard no longer functions. To do this, create a new text file with the following content:
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
Then give the file the extension *.reg, for example “cortana-remove.reg”. Double click on the file and confirm the integration into the registry. After a restart, Cortana is deactivated, as is the localization of the Windows search.
Very experimental users can uninstall Cortana via an unofficial script. This script is provided on different Windows modding forums. You can find these scripts by googling. Be aware though that these scripts are not approved or maintained by Microsoft and you can potentially damage your operating system and lose data on your computer or laptop. before using such a script you should make a complete backup of Windows 10 and then start the uninstalling process. The execution of the script is only recommended for experienced users. Download the file “Uninstall_Cortana.zip” and unpack the archive. Execute the file “Uninstall Cortana.cmd” via the context menu with the right mouse button with administrator rights. After some time you will get the feedback that Cortana is uninstalled.
What can you do with Cortana?
She remembers appointments, looks for restaurants, tells jokes and recognizes music – Cortana, the voice-operated assistant, is getting better and better. In this section we show you how Cortana can make your everyday life easier.
When Microsoft first introduced the voice-operated assistant Cortana and described it as an integral part of Windows 10, hardly any user had any idea that voice control would establish itself so quickly. What sounded like science fiction at the time is now the norm.
It doesn’t matter whether you use an iPhone or iPad and talk to Siri, own an Android device and chat with Google Assistant, ask Alexa to play a certain song and dim the lights, or talk to Cortana – clicking and tapping is silver, talking is gold. The Cortana voice assistant, which is permanently installed in Windows 10, Windows smartphones and Microsoft’s own video game console Xbox One, has already been permanently improved in recent months through regular function updates. Microsoft has focused on the “notebook”. Among other things, the appearance of the user interface was optimized and the “Manage Skills” function was integrated. In comparison, the Redstone 4 innovations are relatively minor. In this article, we will show you what Cortana is now doing, how the AI supports you in your daily work and what the next major update will bring. You may also be able to take screenshots on your computer soon via Cortana.
The homepage of Cortana
Nothing has changed in the way you open the Cortana dialog. Click with the mouse in the taskbar search field to activate the dialog, which is similar to the Windows Start menu. Five icons are placed in the left margin column. If you click on the top icon, the margin column expands to show the icon labels.
Clicking on “Home” will bring up the familiar Cortana dialog, in which you will be presented with two randomly selected suggestions, such as “How many kilometers are 50 miles?”, “Japanese yen in euros” or “Tell me a tongue twister”. The purpose is to show you the many ways you can interact with Cortana.
To see more examples, click on the gray-colored text “Show all tips”. In the “Tips and Tricks” dialog that appears, you can choose from 13 categories, including “Let’s chat”, “Reminder” and “Weather”. If you select one of these categories, Cortana will display additional suggestions. However, the section “I have more for you” and the note icon that started the music recognition process have disappeared from the Cortana start page. The latter was to be expected since Microsoft removed this feature from Cortana earlier this year. If you use multiple Windows devices and are logged in to all of them with the same Microsoft account, Cortana will also show the “Pick up where you left off” section on the home page. For example, on another device, this is where recently visited websites are listed.
However, the “Search for” section remains unchanged. As before, there are three icons to choose from – “Apps”, “Documents” and “Web”. Clicking on one of these icons will take you to the search mask, where you can access eight additional sections via “Filter”, including “EMail”, “Folder”, “People”.
The Cortana notebook
The second function that you can select in the dialog of the language assistant is the “notebook”. In the “Organizer” section, after clicking on “+ Create reminder” you can ask Cortana in writing to draw your attention to something. To do this, type in what you want to be reminded of and specify a “contact”, a “location” or a “time”. Click on “Remind” to save the changes. If you want to create a verbal reminder, first say “Hey Cortana”, then “Remind me” and answer the questions that Cortana asks you.
It is interesting to note that not only standard reminders can be created based on a description, date and time. If you select “Contact”, Cortana will remind you of what you want to do the next time you contact the selected person, for example by e-mail. If, on the other hand, you choose “Location”, Cortana can remind you of something when you reach a previously defined position.
To have a look at all the reminders that Cortana has created on your behalf so far, click on “Reminders” in the “Notebook”. Click on one of the entries, you can edit the reminder or mark it as finished by clicking on “Finished and move to history”. You can access this reminder archive by clicking on the icon with the three dots in the lower area of the “Reminders” dialog and selecting “History”. Reminders can also be deleted again. To do so, click the “Select” button, mark the reminders to be removed and click the “Delete” button at the bottom. It is also possible to cancel several reminders and mark them as completed.
Cortana waiting for you
In the “Notebook” you can also add and edit frequently visited places. To do this, click the pen icon that appears next to your user name.
Instead of clicking on “Edit favourites” under “Favourites” and then on the “+” symbol, as was the case before the release of Windows 10 April 2018 Update Version 1803, all you have to do now is select “+ Add a location”.
In the search mask that appears, enter the name of a restaurant, an address or the name of a place of interest and select the desired location from the list of places you found. You then specify an optional “nickname” and select whether the address is your “home”, work or a favourite. Click on “Save” to save the changes.
One feature that has not made it into the final version of the Windows 10 April 2019 update is “Cortana Collections”, a kind of collection of information snippets of any kind. And the ability to include external Services is also missing in this release. If you switch to the “Manage Skills” area in the notebook and click first on “Connected Services”, then on “+ Add Service”, you will only have “Gmail”, “LinkdIn”, “Office 365” and “Outlook.com” to choose from. In the US, you can currently use skills from Spotify, Fitbit and Expedia, as well as turn smart home equipment on and off by voice. You can find an overview on the website www.microsoft.com/en-us/cortana/skills/featured . The fact that the skills are referred to as “Cortana Skills” in English-speaking countries shows that Microsoft was inspired by Amazon’s language assistant (“Alexa Skills”). By the way, Cortana answers the question “What do you think of Alexa?” with “Alexa rocks!” or “I think Alexa is cool.
Cortana is growing up.
Any Windows 10 user who has already exchanged a word or two with Cortana should be delighted with the high quality of the speech recognition. You don’t have to speak excessively slowly or deliberately clearly to be understood by the digital assistant. Among other things, Cortana supports you in web searches and music playback. It is also able to open apps and desktop programs, perform simple calculations and query stock prices. In practice, this works almost seamlessly. Even when you have hardware problems you can ask Cortana for help.
Starting with “What will the weather be like tomorrow?” to “How far is it to Los Angeles?” to “What is the square root of 164? – Cortana now answers many questions directly. For others, such as “Where is Costa Rica?”, “When did Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon?” and “When did the Berlin wall fall?”, the text information is displayed in the Cortana dialogue. Only in the case of questions that the language assistant via use of headphones or headsets does not understand is the request forwarded to Bing, and the results are then presented in Microsoft Edge. You can also start games by asking Cortana. For example you can say: “Cortana, start Flight Simulator 2020 on my laptop.” Or Cortana can help you to look for Browser games via Google search.
Humour is not neglected, as shown by the funny answers to the questions “Why is the banana crooked?”, “What is the meaning of life?” and “What is your favourite dish? In this context it is interesting that Cortana asks from time to time, so that a small dialogue between user and artificial intelligence develops …
Define advanced settings of Cortana
Cortana has already been given its own entry in the “Windows Settings” in the Windows 10 Case Creators Update. But you don’t necessarily have to go this way, because a mouse click on the “Settings” icon located in the left margin of the Cortana dialog has the same effect. Four sections cover the Cortana settings: “Talk to Cortana”, “Permissions & History”, “Cortana on all my devices” and “More details”.
In the “Talk to Cortana” section you can determine whether the language assistant should reign on “Hey Cortana”. If you deactivate this option, you can start Cortana in the future only by clicking in the taskbar search field and selecting the microphone icon or by using the Windows-C key combination on your keyboard. However, you must first activate the shortcut call by setting the corresponding switch to “On”. To teach the language assistant your pronunciation, click on the link “Learn how to say Hey Cortana”, press “Start” and follow the voice instructions. If you want Cortana to listen even when the device is locked, turn on the appropriate option.
Speaking of listening: If you experience comprehension problems while using Cortana, click on the “Check Microphone” link to start the troubleshooting wizard.
What Cortana is allowed to remember and what it can access is regulated in the “Permissions & History” section. Security-conscious users who attach great importance to protecting their privacy can put the brakes on Cortana’s information-gathering frenzy by deactivating the options summarized here. For example, if you click on the link “Manage information Cortana is allowed to access from this device”, you can prohibit Cortana from accessing the “Location”, “Contacts, Email, Calendar & Communication History” and “Browsing History”. However, this also drastically limits the functionality of the Language Assistant. You should keep in mind that the more you expand Cortana’s functions the more CPU gets used. This can contribute to a dying or aging CPU.
For users who use multiple Windows 10 devices, there are two options available in the “Cortana on all my devices” section. Receiving “Phone Notifications on this PC” only plays a minor role. Because in this country – unlike many other countries – Cortana is not available for Android and iOS devices, such notifications are only received if you are one of the few people who own a Windows phone. If you don’t want Cortana to synchronize the activities you have performed on your devices, set the switch under “I need help picking up where I left off on other devices” to “Off”.