If you’re already using Windows 10 and haven’t started using Cortana, you might want to give it a try. It’s basically Microsoft’s version of Siri and Google Assistant, but built right into Windows.
You can ask questions about Cortana and it can help you with things on your PC. With each update, Microsoft adds new features and options to Cortana, making it somewhat useful. Since I sit at my computer desk most of the day, I’m used to Cortana asking random things.
In this article, I will show you how you can enable Cortana and do some more useful tasks that can be done for you. Compared to Google and Siri, Cortana is still a bit slower, but it is catching up very quickly.
How to enable Cortana
Cortana is basically in the little search box to the right of your Start button. If you click inside the search box, you’ll see a settings icon on the far left. If you click that, you can manage all Cortana related settings.
The first option at the top, Micro, is the first step to using Cortana. If you don’t have a microphone on your computer, you can still use Cortana, but it’s not nearly as useful without voice control.
If you click Begin, it will try to detect your microphone and then go through the wizard to check the volume and make sure the mic is working properly. Once you’ve done that, you can start activating the other options listed. The first thing is Hey CortanaThis will allow you to simply say Hey Cortana and then start asking a question. Pretty similar to Hey, Siri.
When you enable this feature, it will ask you to enable speech recognition, which will send your voice input to Microsoft to improve their voice system. Obviously, if you don’t like your voice commands being sent to Microsoft, you can simply choose Maybe later. You definitely give up some privacy when you activate Cortana because it wants to access voice history, location, email, calendar and more. You can turn them on or off one by one and I will show you how.
When you enable the setting, it will usually show you more related options. For example, the Hey Cortana feature will prevent your computer from sleeping by default so it can hear you say those words whenever. It can also reply to anyone or try to answer only you. When you enable the lock screen option, it will give you Cortana tips even when your device is locked. By default, it will give itself access to your calendar, email, and other data when the device is locked. You can uncheck that box if you like.
As you scroll down, you’ll see more options. You can enable keyboard shortcuts to access Cortana instead of having to say Hey Cortana. You can also download Cortana on your Android or iOS device and have notifications synced across devices.
Towards the bottom, you can also choose whether to enable device history and search history. Obviously, this will track all your searches etc, so switching them is up to your security.
Next, you need to check your permissions. To do this, click on the small laptop icon below the home button. You will see a list of items like About Me, List, Reminders, Connected Services, etc.
You can set all these other options later, but click first Permission. Here you can enable or disable permissions for location, contacts/email/calendar, and browsing history.
At the bottom, it also tells you how to delete all that data if you want to get rid of it. If you don’t enable location, Cortana doesn’t actually work. I had to enable it to get the home screen. At this point, you should go through each of the items listed in the notebook and configure the settings.
The home screen will basically load up with popular stories, top news, local weather, and tips and tricks. I suggest scrolling down to tips and tricks and clicking See more tips. This should give you a good idea of all the things Cortana can do.
The most useful to me are using lists, reminders, and alarm settings. If you happen to use Spotify for your music, you can use Cortana to play songs, which is really cool. Also, like Amazon Alexa, Cortana supports third-party skills. Currently, they support about 45 or so skills that you can activate and use.
When you start using Cortana, the search box will show up on your entire screen and give you full-screen results. Overall, if you happen to be sitting in front of your computer a lot, Cortana comes in pretty handy. I stopped using Siri because I usually don’t like talking on the phone when I’m not at home, but my computer is always used at home and that eliminates the awkwardness. Give it a shot and see what you think. You can always turn it off later. Enjoy!
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