How to activate cortana

Cortana is a clever little personal assistant that helps you to find things, complete tasks and organise your calendar

How to activate cortana

Read on to learn how to:

  • set up and personalise Cortana
  • use Cortana to set up a reminder
  • use Cortana to search your computer

How to set up Cortana

  1. To set up Cortana, click on the Cortana icon in Start or click on Start > All apps > Cortana. This will open up the Cortana window.
  2. Type in the name you would like Cortana to call you by. You can also fill in details about your preferences, but you can do this later if you prefer.
  3. If you would like to use voice commands with Cortana, you will need to calibrate the microphone. Click on the microphone icon to the right of Cortana’s search bar and read through the sentences to set up your microphone.
  4. Cortana will now automatically open whenever you log on.

Watch the below to see how it works:

How to activate cortana

How to personalise Cortana using the Notebook

  1. Click on the Cortana search bar at the bottom of your screen. This will bring up Cortana’s window. Then click on the Cortana icon to bring up your Notebook.
  2. The more information you provide Cortana with, the more personalised your experience will be. Click on ‘About Me’ to change the name Cortana calls you and to fill in your favourite places, such as home and work.
  3. Work your way down the list of categories, such as events, finance, and news, and update your information for each one. If you don’t want to receive updates about a subject, you can turn them off by clicking on the top button in each topic and you can turn them back on at any time. For example, you might choose to switch on travel updates if you’ve got a trip planned and want to make sure your flight is on time or there aren’t any traffic delays. Once you’re happy with your changes, click ‘save’ before moving on to the next category.
  4. If you would like to link Cortana to your LinkedIn, Xbox Live, Office 365 or Dynamics CRM, click on ‘Connected Accounts’ and then ‘Connect.’ This will synchronise your accounts across different devices.
  5. If you decide you want to turn off Cortana, click on the Cortana icon and then go to ‘Settings’. Click on the top button to switch it to ‘off’. Disabling Cortana will not erase the information Cortana has about you, so you can turn it back on again at any time without losing anything.

Watch the below to see how it works:

How to activate cortana

How to use Cortana to set up a reminder

  1. Open Cortana and click on the lightbulb icon at the top left.
  2. Click on the plus sign at the bottom of the window to set up a new reminder.
  3. Type in what you want to be reminded about in the “Remember to…” box. You can also add a person from your contacts list by clicking on the ‘Person’ box, add a place by clicking on ‘Place’ and set a time by clicking on ‘Time’ and selecting the hour and minute.
  4. You can also set up a new reminder by typing in the Cortana search bar or talk into the microphone, starting with “Remind me to.”
  5. If you are signed into your Microsoft account on your phone, any reminders you set on your phone will automatically be synchronized across all the devices your Microsoft account is connected to.

Watch the below to see how it works:

How to activate cortana

Using Cortana to search your computer

  1. Click on the Cortana search bar at the bottom left of your screen or click on the microphone icon.
  2. Type or say the name of what you’re looking for. You can include details such as date or location, for example ‘photos from June’ or ‘photos from London.’
  3. Click on ‘My stuff’ to see the results for files, apps, photos, videos and music across your PC.

Watch the below to see how it works:

How to activate cortana

Now we know how to set up and personalise Cortana, as well as use Cortana to set a reminder and search a computer for files.

From here, you might like to learn more about using Cortana to get more out of the internet with Microsoft Edge.

By Vera | Follow | Last Updated October 11, 2019

Summary :

How to activate cortana

Have you disabled Windows 10 Cortana due to some reason? But now you want to get Cortana back? What can you do to realize this aim? Easy! Read this post written by MiniTool and you will know how to enable Cortana on Windows 10 with 3 simple methods.

As is well known, Cortana is a voice assistant that is embedded in Windows 10 and Microsoft has spent much time building this virtual assistant. With it, you are able to do many tasks, for example, search for information on the web, organize your calendar, receive the weather forecast, find things on your PC, etc.

How to activate cortana

Windows 10 users complained that their Cortana Web Preview is not working after the Windows update.

But, not all of you are satisfied with Cortana since some said that this feature could collect some private information and eat up a large percentage of system memory. Thus, you choose to disable Cortana.

What if you change your mind and want to bring Cortana back on Windows 10? You will be happy to read this article since we will show you how to enable Cortana easily.

How to Re-Enable Cortana in Windows 10

Method 1: Enable Cortana via Registry Editor

If the method chosen by you to turn off Cortana is to use Windows Registry Editor, you also need to use the same way to get Cortana back.

  1. Open the Run window by simply pressing two keys on your keyboard – Win + R.
  2. Input regedit to the text box and press Enter or click OK.
  3. In the Registry Editor window, navigate to the following path: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsSearch.
  4. Double-click the AllowCortana key and change its value data to 1. This can tell Windows to enable Cortana.
  5. Exit Registry Editor and restart your computer.

How to activate cortana

Method 2: Enable Cortana via Group Policy

If you are a Windows Pro user, you may disable Cortana in Windows 10 via the Group Policy Editor. To re-enable it, you should also use it.

  1. Input msc in the Run window and click OK.
  2. After entering the Local Group Policy Editor interface, go to Local Computer Policy > Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components.
  3. Go to Search, find Allow Cortana and double-click it.
  4. Check the Enabled option, then click Apply and OK to save changes. Later, restart your PC.

How to activate cortana

Method 3: Get Cortana Back via Using the Correct Program Path Name

If you have initially renamed the path to disable Cortana in Windows 10, you should re-enable it in the same manner. Here is what you should do:

  1. Open the Run window, input taskmgr and press Enter to open Task Manager.
  2. Find Cortana from the Processes tab, right-click on it and choose Open file location. This will take you to C:windowssystemapps.
  3. Locate to the Windows.Cortana folder with the .bak extension.
  4. Right-click this folder to choose Rename and then remove the .bak extension.
  5. Restart your computer.

Final Words

After reading this post, you have clearly known how to get Cortana back. Hope that all the mentioned methods can help you to enable Cortana easily. If you don’t remember which method you used to disable it, try them one by one.

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How to activate cortana

Position: Columnist

Vera is an editor of the MiniTool Team since 2016 who has more than 5 years’ writing experiences in the field of technical articles. Her articles mainly focus on disk & partition management, PC data recovery, video conversion, as well as PC backup & restore, helping users to solve some errors and issues when using their computers. In her spare times, she likes shopping, playing games and reading some articles.

How to activate cortana

One of Windows 10’s biggest chances and feature changes is the insertion of Cortana into the OS. Cortana, like Siri, allows users to interact with their devices and now Cortana will allow you to interact with Windows 10. Cortana doesn’t come enabled by default, so you can enable and disable it as you see fit. However, if you don’t enable it, you’ll lose access to Windows 10 notebooks, places and reminders functionality.

The latest Windows 10 Technical Preview build showcases Cortana integration, on some levels, so let’s take a look at what it has to offer and how it’ll make your life easier when using Windows 10.

Cortana in Windows 10

In order to get started with Cortana, you just need to click anywhere on the Search box in the bottom left-hand corner of Windows 10. You’ll be prompted to enable Cortana from here. Cortana will ask for your name, ask you to customize a few features, then you’ll be able to start using Cortana to its full potential.

How to activate cortana

Open Cortana and click the icon in the top left-hand corner of it. You’ll be able to access all the settings and customize how Cortana works, along with turning on the “Hey Cortana” feature that’s popular with other voice-enabled apps and services, such as Google Now and Siri. This feature is turned off by default, so you have to enable it in order to begin using it.

How to activate cortana

As you can see, Cortana can be customized in a variety of ways for each user to take advantage of. Cortana, by default, can show you daily tasks, the local weather and news from your area. You can set up Notebooks, Reminders and Places, each offering to save notes, alarms and places to be used when you ask Cortana various things throughout the day.

How to activate cortana

Another nifty feature Cortana integrates is showcasing flight information, package delivery and emails from your devices into Windows 10 although this functionality isn’t fully working just yet in the technical preview.

How to activate cortana

In order to give Cortana full control over helping you when using Windows 10, you’ll want to make sure you turn location functionality on in the Windows 10 Privacy Settings.

How to activate cortana

Cortana Notebooks, just like on Windows Phone, allows you to keep track of everything Cortana has learned about you from interacting with, including searches, musical preferences, location data and more. You can delete this data as you see fit, but the more Cortana can learn from you, the better it can answer your inquiries.

Cortana Reminders, again like Windows Phone, allows you to set all sorts of alarms and reminders about anything you need. Need to catch a bus? Wake up early? Meet up with friends? Get a task done on a given day? Cortana can remember, then remind you – several times if need be – about what’s coming up so you never miss a thing.

Cortana Places keeps tracks of your home location, work location and more so that you can real-time traffic updates and other information. When on the go, this might seem more practical, but on a Windows 10 PC you’ll be able to get real-time information on when to leave, how long it’ll take and the best routes to take to get to and from.

Troubleshooting Cortana in Windows 10

Cortana still has several bugs and kinks to work out before Windows 10 is ready for consumers. The biggest issue so far is that Cortana just fails to work. In order to use Cortana, you need to be logged into a Microsoft Account. If it fails to connect, you’ll be prompted to verify your credentials, so make sure that you do to continue using Cortana.

Another issue that has popped up for some users is that your audio drivers don’t quite work with Cortana, yet. This is mostly due to using Windows 10 before drivers for the OS have been officially released for it. You can attempt to update the driver to see if that works, but if it doesn’t, you may have to wait for the official release of Windows 10 to give Cortana a go.


Cortana will likely be the most talked about new feature in Windows 10. There’s more to come and a lot a user can do when utilizing Cortana to its fullest potential. While Windows 10 Technical Preview only gives us a glimpse of what it can do, it’ll be another feature that Microsoft adds to make your life easier, so long as you give it a shot. In the meantime, if you’re using the technical preview, enable Cortana and see what it can do for you.

Hi, how do I set up Cortana to recognise my voice?

In Cortana settings voice activation is turned on, but nothing was prompted to speak a line or something similar to make my voice be recognised by Cortana.

How do I do that? Cortana want launch when I say “hey Cortana” probably my voice isn’t recognised/set up?

Replies (5) 

I’m Benedict, an Independent Advisor. I’m here to help you.

Have you already gone through these steps?
1. Open Cortana, click the three dots in the top left corner and select Settings.
2. Click on Voice Activation and follow the given instructions:
– Click the Voice activation privacy settings link.
– Turn on “Allow apps to use voice activation”
– Scroll down, and under Cortana enable the option “Let Cortana respond to ‘Cortana’ keyword”
3. Close Settings and test if Cortana will recognize your voice.

If you have already done that, kindly check if Online speech recognition is turned off:
1. Open Settings.
2. Go to Privacy and click on Speech.
3. Turn on Online speech recognition if it is turned off.

If that doesn’t still work, kindly check if there are pending updates to install in the Windows Update settings. If so, please download and install the update(s).

Please see if that helps.

Benedict P.

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Oh. online speech recognition was turned off. Now that’s done, few other questions.

How do I make Cortana call me by my name?
How do I change Cortana’s voice?
What commands can I give Cortana (when I say to send and email to so and so, it says “I’m sorry, but I can’t help with that” (or is my command wrong?) and Cortana is sort of not good as Siri or Bixby) is there a way to fix these issues?

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Great! Thanks for your feedback.

How satisfied are you with this reply?

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How satisfied are you with this reply?

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How do I make Cortana call me by my name?
– Since version 2004 and later of Windows 10, this option is no longer available in Cortana. But we don’t know in the future, perhaps the Microsoft team may restore this setting or may develop more tweaks and features with Cortana.

How do I change Cortana’s voice?
– I don’t think so if this is possible, I can’t find any settings or tweaks to do this with the updated Cortana.

What commands can I give Cortana (when I say to send and email to so and so, it says “I’m sorry, but I can’t help with that” (or is my command wrong?) and Cortana is sort of not good as Siri or Bixby) is there a way to fix these issues?
– I’m afraid but it seems that opening Mail app is what it can only do for now. Cortana is under development and perhaps in the future, it could do more than what other AI’s do. For sure, Microsoft team is developing Cortana with promising features.

1 person found this reply helpful

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Use your voice just by uttering the phrase ‘Hey Cortana.’ Here’s how.

How to activate cortana

Microsoft’s Cortana voice assistant is an integral part of Windows 10. But normally, to pose a question or command, you first have to click on the microphone icon next to Cortana’s “Ask me anything” field just to wake it up.

But why bother clicking on something when you can use your voice? Through Microsoft’s “Hey Cortana” feature, you can get the attention of the voice assistant just by saying “Hey Cortana,” and segue into your converation seamlessly. Let’s see how this works.

In Windows 10, click on the microphone icon next to Cortana’s “Ask me anything” field to open the Cortana window.

Then click on the Settings icon (the one that looks like a gear).

In the Settings pane, turn on the option under “Hey Cortana” that says “Let Cortana respond to ‘Hey Cortana.'”

Now Cortana will respond to you when you utter that special phrase. But, wait, there’s more. The next option says: “Keep my device from sleeping when it’s plugged in so I can always say ‘Hey Cortana’ (unless I turn it off myself).” If you want your laptop to never fall asleep when plugged into an outlet so that “Hey Cortana” will always be available, turn on this option.

Next up is deciding who can say “Hey Cortana” to activate the voice assistant. If you want anybody to be able to turn on the feature by saying the magic words, then click on the button that says: “Respond when anyone says ‘Hey Cortana.'” If you want to be the only person who can wake up Cortana by voice, then click on the next button that says: “Try to respond to only me.”

If you’re going to be the sole user of “Hey Cortana,” then it’s a good idea to help Cortana better understand the sound and quality and nuances of your voice. In that case, click on the link that says: “Learn how I say ‘Hey Cortana.'”

A screen pops up telling you that you’ll have to repeat six phrases so Cortana can get familiar with your voice. As the screen says, it’s best to do this in a quiet place so no extraneous noise interferes with the process. Click on the Start button.

Cortana prompts you to repeat the six phrases, one after the other. If it has trouble understanding a particular phrase, it will ask you to repeat it. When you’ve repeated all six phrases to Cortana’s satisfaction, you can now say “Hey Cortana” followed by your question, command, or comment, but now with a bit more confidence that it will understand what you’re saying.

Okay, now that Cortana can wake up via your voice, what are some questions, commands, and comments you can throw at it? Here are a few examples. You can tell Cortana to…

  • Open a specific app on your Windows 10 PC
  • Turn key Windows 10 features on and off
  • Set a calendar appointment for a specific date and time.
  • Set a reminder for a specific date and time
  • Provide a weather forecast
  • Compose and send emails and texts to specific people
  • Search for photos, videos, music, documents, and other files by name or other criteria
  • Serve up information on various research questions, such as “What is the population of the United States?” or “Who was the 25th US president?”
  • Tell you a joke

Cortana can even offer suggestions as it learns more about you. For example, it can cull information about you from its Notebook (the third icon from the top of the Cortana window) to suggest books to read, movies to see, restaurants to dine at, and events to attend. It can also track the status of your airline flights, package shipments, investments, local traffic, and an array of other items.

Finally, Microsoft’s Meet Cortana and What is Cortana webpages provide more details on just what you can ask the voice assistant. For more, check out 11 Cortana Tricks for a Master Chief and some of our other Windows 10 tips below.

Let Cortana help you surf the web

How to activate cortana

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Cortana, the virtual assistant integrated into Windows 10, helps you to complete tasks by typing or speaking commands into a computer’s microphone. Enabling Cortana in-browser settings in the Microsoft Edge web browser provides even more benefits.

Instructions for this article apply to Cortana in Windows 10 using Microsoft Edge version 80 or earlier. The Cortana feature has not yet been ported to Microsoft Edge Chromium.

Benefits of Using Cortana With Microsoft Edge

From setting reminders in your calendar to getting the latest updates on your favorite sports team, Cortana acts as a personal secretary. The digital helper also enables you to perform various functions within the Windows operating system, such as launching an application or sending an email.

Another benefit Cortana offers is the ability to interact with Microsoft Edge. You can submit search queries, launch web pages, and send commands or ask questions without leaving the current web page. This is done through the Cortana sidebar, located within the browser.

How to Activate Cortana in Windows 10

Before you can use Cortana in Microsoft Edge, you must activate it in the operating system. To do that, complete the following steps:

In the Windows toolbar, select the Windows search icon.

In search, type Cortana. A white circle appears in the Windows toolbar.

Windows takes you through the activation process. Cortana uses personal data, such as location history and calendar details, so you must opt-in before continuing.

On the Windows toolbar, select the Cortana icon (the white circle) to ask questions or run searches.

How to Use Voice Recognition

While you can use Cortana by typing in the search box, its speech recognition functionality makes it easier. There are two ways to submit verbal commands.

The first method involves selecting the Cortana icon in the Windows toolbar. Once selected, the accompanying text should read Listening. At this point, you can speak the commands or search queries you want to send to Cortana.

The second method is straightforward but needs to be enabled before it becomes accessible. Select the Cortana icon.

In the Cortana window, select Settings.

How to activate cortana

Select Talk to Cortana, then turn on Hey Cortana.

How to activate cortana

Once activated, instruct Cortana to either respond to anyone or only to your voice. After you enable this feature, the voice-activated app listens for your commands as soon as you say Hey Cortana.

Enable Cortana to Work in Microsoft Edge

After you activate Cortana in Windows 10, enable it in Microsoft Edge. To do so, complete the following steps:

Open a Microsoft Edge browser window.

Select the More actions icon, represented by three dots.

How to activate cortana

Select Settings.

In the sidebar, select Advanced.

How to activate cortana

Under Cortana, turn on Have Cortana assist me in Microsoft Edge.

How to activate cortana

How to Manage the Data That Cortana and Microsoft Edge Generate

Just like the cache, cookies, and other data are stored locally while you surf the web, browsing and search history are saved on your hard drive, in the Notebook, and sometimes on the Bing dashboard (depending on your settings) when you use Cortana with Microsoft Edge.

To manage or clear browsing and search history stored on your hard drive, follow the instructions in our Microsoft Edge private data tutorial.

To delete search history stored in the cloud, complete the following steps:

Return to the Cortana Settings.

In the sidebar, select Permissions.

How to activate cortana

Select Change what Cortana knows about me in the cloud.

How to activate cortana

In What Cortana knows about you, select Clear.

Mar 26, 2021

Cortana is the personal assistant on Windows 10. Over the past five years, it’s improved quite a bit in terms of what it can do but like many desktop personal assistants, it still isn’t used as much nor is as useful as the personal assistant on a mobile OS.

While Cortana isn’t as popular as other virtual assistants, it does still have a few neat tricks up its sleeve. It can set reminders, add events, look up information, make quick notes, and launch apps. It also works fairly well with voice commands.

How to activate cortana

Can’t Find Cortana

Cortana needs to be enabled before you can use it. When you first boot to fresh Windows 10 installation, you have the option to set Cortana up. If you decline to set it up, you can set it up later from the desktop.

Cortana works and is activated when your Windows 10 system has an internet connection. Little else is needed to get it up and running.

How to Activate Cortana

If you can’t activate Cortana in Windows 10, try the following fixes.

1. Restart Cortana

Cortana is a stand-alone app. If you’re unable to activate it, you can try restarting the app.

  1. Right-click the taskbar and select Task manager from the context menu.
  2. Go to the Processes tab.
  3. Select Cortana.
  4. Click End Task at the bottom right.
  5. Restart the system and try to enable Cortana.

How to activate cortana

2. Change region

Officially, Cortana is available in only a few regions however, you will find that the app works outside these regions. Some features may be restricted but most such as reminders, timers, notebook, etc., will all work.

If you can’t activate Cortana in Windows 10, it might be because of your region settings.

  1. Open the Settings app (Win+I keyboard shortcut).
  2. Go to Time and language>Region.
  3. Open the Country or Region dropdown.
  4. Select one of the following regions.
    • Australia
    • China
    • France
    • Germany
    • India
    • Italy
    • Japan
    • Mexico
    • Spain
    • UK
    • USA
  5. Restart your system and launch the Microsoft Store once to make sure the change has been applied.
  6. Enable Cortana and change the region back to your current region.

How to activate cortana

3. Enable location services

Cortana relies on certain services in order to work. Location is one such service which is used to display nearby places e.g., restaurant recommendations, or the current weather. Make sure you have location services enabled on Windows 10.

  1. Open the Settings app (Win+I keyboard shortcut).
  2. Go to Privacy.
  3. Select the Location tab.
  4. Turn location on.
  5. Turn on the ‘Allow apps to access location on this device’ switch.

How to activate cortana

4. Disable antivirus

Windows 10 comes with an antivirus called Windows Defender however, many users prefer other, third-party antivirus apps instead. These antivirus apps may block Cortana, or Cortana related services which in turn can prevent the feature from being activated.

  1. Turn your antivirus off.
  2. Turn on Windows Defender.
  3. Try activating Cortana.

5. Check Microsoft account

If your Microsoft account needs attention i.e., it needs you to sign in again, it may prevent you from enabling Cortana. Normally, you should get a desktop notification telling you as much but you can nevertheless check in the Settings app.

  1. Open the Settings app (Win+I keyboard shortcut).
  2. Go to Accounts>Your Info.
  3. Click Manage my Microsoft account.
  4. Sign in again on Windows 10.
  5. Try enabling Cortana.

How to activate cortana

6. Run the Search troubleshooter

Cortana was, up until recently, tied to the Windows search feature. It is now a stand-alone app but the separation between the two services now often results in odd bugs and problems. Running the Search troubleshooter can help with activation trouble in Cortana.

  1. Open the Settings app (Win+I keyboard shortcut).
  2. Go to Update & security.
  3. Select the Troubleshoot tab.
  4. Click Additional troubleshooters.
  5. Run the Search and indexing troubleshooter.
  6. Apply all fixes and restart the system.

How to activate cortana

7. Uninstall and reinstall Cortana

Cortana can be uninstalled and reinstalled like many stock Windows 10 apps. A fresh installation of the app can fix problems with it. You must be running Windows 10 build 2004 in order to uninstall and reinstall Cortana.

  1. Open PowerShell with admin rights.
  2. Run the following command to uninstall Cortana.
  1. Restart the system.
  2. Install Cortana again from the Microsoft Store.
  3. Enable Cortana again.

How to activate cortana

Enable Cortana: Conclusion

Cortana is useful in lots of little ways. It’s unlikely that you’ll be using voice commands at/during work to open apps but its reminders and notebooks are pretty great. If you live in a supported region, you’ll be able to get more out of Cortana making it a feature worth using.

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Today, we’re showing you how you can enable “Hey Cortana” so you can simply ask Cortana for whatever it is you need with your voice!

“Hey Cortana” lets you interact with Cortana hands-free so you can master multitasking. You can even use “Hey Cortana” to interact with Cortana above your lock screen so you don’t even have to login to your computer to have Cortana help you out.

Here’s how to enable “Hey Cortana:”

How to activate cortana

To get started, click on the Search bar, then click on the Settings icon and find the button to enable Hey Cortana.

Here are a couple things you can ask for when you say, “Hey Cortana:”

  • Ask Cortana to set a reminder for a specific time
  • Ask Cortana about local services, such as the nearest Thai restaurant
  • Ask Cortana to add something to your grocery list
  • Ask Cortana for your next meeting or what’s on your schedule
  • Ask Cortana questions about just about anything, such as how many ounces are in a cup

To enable Cortana above the lock, go to settings and enable “Use Cortana Even When My Device is Locked”.

You can also train Cortana to recognize your voice so she can better understand you:

How to activate cortana

Once you have “Hey Cortana” enabled, you can click on “Try to respond only to me.” Then just underneath that, click on “Learn how to say, ‘Hey Cortana.’ Cortana will prompt you to repeat six phrases out loud. Then you’re all set!

For more Windows 10 tips on Cortana, head over to these blog posts to read about using Cortana above your lock screen or searching your PC and the web with Cortana, and have a great week!

*Cortana available in select markets