How to Use Windows 10 Cortana: And Become a Pro!

The Ultimate Guide to Using Windows 10 Cortana:

Have you heard of Cortana, the voice assistant for Windows 10? How to use Windows 10 CortanaDo you own a Windows phone, PC, or other devices with Windows 10?

If so, then you have most likely come across Cortana, and I’ll bet now you’re wondering just how to use Windows 10 Cortana and her features, right?

Well, did you know that Cortana was named after the AI character in Microsoft’s Halo game series?

Yep, it was, and it was such a hit that Microsoft decided to add her to Window’s 10 desktop operating system as the primary search tool and other personnel functions.

Apart from helping you to search for apps and web pages, she can write emails, deliver sports scores, weather, news, navigation, set reminders, make any type of appointments, track air flights, and so much more.

She will also give you tips on how to use her from time to time.

And with the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, which rolled out this past August 2, you can now access and chat with her from the Lock screen without having to log in. So if you want to know how you can use and benefit from using Cortana, keep reading and we will go over all her great features.

Here’s How to access Cortana’s Settings:

You will find that Cortana exists on your taskbar as a full-sized search bar which allows you to type what you want directly or you can click on the microphone icon and speak. You can also set it up as a simple icon/button eliminating the large bar.How to use windows 10 cortana

To do this, just right-click on the empty portion of the search field and then under Cortana, choose either “Show search icon or “show search box.” You can always toggle between the different modes depending on your style.

To open Cortana and get to her settings just click anywhere inside her search bar and then in the left-hand column click on the gear icon.  Once you have opened Cortana, you will be presented with information that will be collected during your interaction with her.

Setting up your preferred language:

As a digital voice assistant, she relies on your language in order to perform the tasks for you. And by default, it is set to English, but if your native tongue is something different then you will want to set it to your preferred language.

She is optimized for a specific language and market pairings. She works best when your region and language settings are aligned. The following is a list of regions where she is available and the corresponding language that she is optimized for in each of those regions.

  • Australia: EnglishHow to use Windows 10 Cortana
  • Brazil: Portuguese
  • Canada: English/French
  • China: Chinese (Simplified)
  • France: French
  • Germany: German
  • India: English
  • Italy: Italian
  • Japan: Japanese
  • Mexico: Spanish
  • Spain: Spanish
  • United Kingdom: English
  • United States: English

It’s a good idea to check and make sure she is set to your region and language to get the most out of her.

Here’s how to confirm that your Language settings are correct or to make changes:

    1. Open Settings. (click on Windows icon, then the settings gear) Select Time & language, and then select Region & language.
    2. Under Languages, check that the Language setting is for your Windows display language.  If you want to get a new language, select Add a Language and then choose one from the list. It may take a few minutes for the language pack to load. If you remove a language you can always add it back later.
    3. You will want to check the Country or region setting to make sure that the country selected corresponds to your Windows Display language set in the Language setting.
    4. Next, make sure the Speech-language setting is aligned with the previous settings. If the language you want isn’t available, follow the steps on the next tab to add it.
    5. You will need to sign out and then sign back in for the new settings to take effect.
    6. If you had to download a new language pack you will want to repeat the above steps once the pack has been downloaded.

Did you know that she has an option that helps it understand non-native speech patterns? Yep, she does. To turn on this feature, press the Windows Key and type “Speech”. Select Speech settings option and click “Recognize non-native speakers of this language.”

To open Cortana and get to her settings just click anywhere inside her search bar and then in the left-hand column click on the gear icon.  Once you have opened Cortana, you will be presented with information that will be collected during your interaction with her.

Now the first time you setup Cortana she is going to ask for your name, go ahead and type in the name you want her to use and hit enter. How to use windows 10 cortanaYou can change this later by selecting the notebook icon from her settings then click on About Me, Change my name, enter your name and hit enter.

After you have entered your name click on “Hear how I’ll say it” if it sounds OK, at the bottom click on “Sounds good”, if not click on “That’s wrong” click on the microphone and say your name. Repeat until she is saying it correctly.

Setting up Hands-Free activation of Cortana:

How to use windows 10 cortanaWhen you open up Cortana’s setting pane, near the top you will see a switch to turn on the voice activation phrase “Hey Cortana” this is what you will say to interact with her.

Right below that you will see a box that you can check if you would like to keep your device from going to sleep (as of now you cannot activate her while your device is asleep). This, of course, will put a small drain on the battery if using a Laptop and other devices that depend on a battery.

Next, you can choose for her to respond to anyone saying “Hey Cortana” or just yourself. If you want her to respond only to you then click on “Try to respond only to me” and she will then take you through six phrases to repeat so she can get familiar with your voice.How to use windows 10 cortana

You’re now all set now for activating her with the phrase “Hey Cortana”

 A closer look at the Settings menu:

Now that you have your language set and you have her responding to your voice let’s take a look at the settings menu to see what to set up.

To access the settings menu click on Cortana’s search bar and then select the settings gear on the left-hand side.

  • Lock Screen: By turning this on you will be able to access and chat with her, even when your device is locked. Check the box below the switch so she can access your Calendar, email, Messages, and Power Bi data when your device is locked.
  • Taskbar tidbits: Turning this one on will allow her to pipe up from time to time with thoughts, greetings, and notifications in her Search box.
  • Send Notifications between Devices: by turning this on you can have her tell you on the device your log onto when your battery is low and if you missed a call, text, or app notification. Just make sure you have allowed this on your phone for this to work. Below this switch is where you can choose to “Edit sync settings” between your computer and phone. You can read more on how to do this below.
  • History View: Turning this one on will allow her to show your apps, settings, the web search and other histories on her Homepage. Below the switch, you can select to “Clear your device History”.
  • My Search History: By having this one turned on it help her to improve searches using your search history from your signed-in devices.
  • At the Bottom of Settings: At the bottom of the settings menu, you will see some options to learn more about your Search history settings, Bing SafeSearch settings, Other Privacy Settings, and Learn more about Cortana and Search.

How to Send Notifications between Devices:

Cortana’s app is available for installing on your iPhone, Android, or Windows Phones; you can click here to find the right app for your phone. How to use windows 10 cortanaOnce you get it installed on your phone you will take you to the Notifications setting like we did above and turn it on.

Back on your computer go to Cortana’s settings then scroll down the page to the area labeled “Send notifications between devices.”

Just like we did above and make sure that setting is turned on.

Then click on the button that says “Edit sync settings” and make sure the options to “Get notifications from this PC on my phone” and “Upload notifications from this PC to the cloud” are also turned on.

You’re all set now for your notifications to be sync across your devices.

Setting up Cortana’s Notebook:

This is where you can select what you will see on her Homepage, which is accessed with a click on her search bar. Now to get to the notebook open Cortana and in the left-hand column click on the Notebook icon.

You will now see the notebook page with a list of several things to add to her home page. By selecting any of them you will be taken to another page where you can turn on or off cards that will then display results on her home page.

For example selecting “Getting around” you will see a page where you can turn on notifications for “Traffic, time, and route”. You then can define more of what your want notified by checking any of the items in the list, as seen below.How to use windows 10 cortana

  • Traffic updates to my calendar events.
  • Notify me when it’s time to go to my calendar events.
  • Traffic updates to my favorite places.
  • Notify me when it’s time to go to work or head home.
  • “When using public Transit”
  • Transit updates to my calendar events.
  • Notify me when it’s time to go to my calendar event.
  • Transit update to my favorite places.

So with a list of 20 items that include travel, music, news, sports, getting around, finance, events, meetings, and reminders, eat and drink, movies and TV, and more.

You can see just how helpful she can be to you in your day to day activities.  And with the ability to have it all synced to your other devices.

The Notebook section allows you to change what you are able to see on the Home interface. And you can customize each one separately.

Anytime you want to search for an app or website on the internet, type it in the search field or you can ask her by saying  “Hey Cortana” and proceed to chat with her, even ask her to tell you a joke if you need a little cheering up.

Your search results will then be displayed on the interface page allowing you to have a look at them, or she will open up Microsoft Edge to a list of search results.

Microsoft Edge and Cortana:

By now we have all heard about Microsoft Edge (that is if you use Windows 10) the new browser that has replaced the longtime serving Internet Explorer. You know, the one that was dogged with many issues like slow browsing speeds and insecurity.

Well, this new browser is designed to work with Cortana. When browsing various web pages, the digital voice assistant can help you immensely.

For example, if you find a word that needs further explanation or understanding, all you need to do is highlight the word on the webpage, right click and select “Ask Cortana”.  From there she will show you a pane on the right of your screen with an explanation of the word or words, if she can’t explain it she will then show you websites that contain the word or phrase.

Now, this something like what Google Chrome has, the ability to highlight the word or phrase and then right-click, and select “Search Google for **”.

To enable this feature, open your Edge browser and click on the ‘More” action button, which is represented by the three dots in the upper right corner.

Inside the next screen click on “settings” at the bottom of the page, scroll down to the “View advanced settings”, click, and then locate the “privacy and services section”, (which is about a quarter of the way down).

Below that look for a switch labeled “Have Cortana assist me in Microsoft Edge” and make sure it is turned on. That’s it, you will now be able to use Cortana to help in your browsing.

Using Cortana on your Lock screen:

First off let’s make sure she is set up to be used when your device in the Locked state. To do this click anywhere on Cortana’s search bar, then click the settings gear icon on the right, now under the words “Lock Screen” make sure the switch is turned on.

Next, check the box to let “Cortana access your calendar, email, messages, and Power BI data when your device is locked”. Keep in mind that by doing this anyone that has access to your computer can now see these notices.

So if you don’t want that, don’t check the box, she will still respond to your voice though when your device is on the lock screen. To let her show you those notices you will want to click on the words “Lock screen settings” which is just above that box.

This will take you to the personalization page settings where you want to make sure you have either “Picture or Slid show” selected under the background picture. This will now enable her to show notices and tips on your lock screen.

Your now a Pro at How to use Windows 10 Cortana!

I think that Cortana is an amazing tool that is designed to make your work easier as well as offer you tons of information. And because it is actively in development, new features are added from time to time in order to extend its functionality.

Taking a little time and going through everything here will get you in shape for being a pro at using all that she has to offer you. I hope you have found this to be useful! And should you have any questions, please leave them in the comment section below the video.


Have any Questions or Comments About Cortana?

I love hearing from my readers, so if you have any questions at all, or maybe some suggestions to using Cortana please leave them in the comment section below and I will get back to you within 24 hrs.

Thanks for stopping by, and a wonderful day!


Before you leave, maybe you would like to see her in action?


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About Author

Hello, my name is Kim and I am the owner of this site. I have been working with computers since they first became available to the public.I have built several computers over the years and enjoy helping others with their everyday computing. Should you have any questions about using your computer, or any other device, please leave me a note below in the comment section and I will be more than happy to help you out. Come back often for more tips and solutions to your every day computing.


  1. Kamil

    Hi Kim

    Wow, this is pretty cool!
    The first time I heard of something like this was “Siri” an artificial personal assistant for Apple. This seams like a much more sophisticated version.

    Kind of makes me wonder if “she” is going to do everything for us, won’t we get a bit lazy? :p
    I suppose a lot of people who have busy lifestyles and would like to get a lot done will enjoy the benefits of Cortana. Personally I would experiment to what extent “she” will answer difficult or controversial questions.

    Thanks for sharing this info, very useful.


    1. Kim (Post author)

      Hey there Kamil, who knows, the way technology is going, we might just find that artificial assistants will be doing everything for us. lol

      For now though they do make it a little easier for us to do some of the simpler things by being able to speak to them instead of typing. And they are very good for keeping track of the things we tend to forget, due to our busy lives.

      Thank you for stopping!


  2. scott

    Well i have yet to make the jump to win 10 . but after reading all about cortana (cool name i recognized) and what she can do for me im really exited to upgrade . I see a very thorough guide here so ill be bookmarking it as a reference thankyou for the help

    1. Kim (Post author)

      Hey there Scott, happy that you stopped by! I think you will enjoy Windows 10 and if you want more info on the OS you can check out my article here.

      Where I’ll cover some of the great feature. Cortana is just one of the benefits you’ll get out of upgrading. And you can still get it for free.

      I think you will really like Cortana and all of her features and she is just getting started, Microsoft is always updating her to make better and better.

      If you should need help with anything at all, don’t hesitate to ask!


  3. Kenny

    Hey thanks for the great article! I have been using windows 10 for a while now but I have never really got into checking out Cortana! I am glad I found your site. I learned a whole lot more. I will be checking out all the Cortana features through the day! I think it is super cool that Microsoft decided to name there AI after Halo’s Cortana. How often do you use Cortana?

    1. Kim (Post author)

      Hey there Kenny, thanks for stopping by!

      I find that the more I use Cortana the more I like her and I become more adapt at using her features. At first I kept going back to the keyboard to complete my task, but I stuck with her and now find myself using her a lot more. Once you get used to Cortana the more you will benefit from her features.

      Thanks again for stopping by and adding to the discusion here!



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