For those of you who don't know, Cortana is Microsofts answer to Siri, Google's Assistant and Amazon's Alexa. It is a powerful tool to help gather any information you might be looking for.But there's good news and bad news. The good news is that it's baked right into Windows 10, so you don't have to go search and download anything. The bad news is it has to be setup and optimized for it to work seamlessly.
Enabling isn't hard and setup should be a breeze. Ready to jump right in?
1. Enabling Cortana
First, click the search box right next to the Start button in your taskbar. The search window will popup. Next, click the Cortana icon in the bottom-left corner of the popup window. The Cortana icon looks like a circle and is directly above the Windows logo.
Once you click the circle, you'll see the Cortana privacy statement. Read it thoroughly and click "I agree" once you're ready to continue. Cortana is now enabled.
Your search bar should look like this now:
Now the you have enabled Cortana, it's time to start streamlining your searches.
2. Setup Voice Command
Most desktops have a built-in microphone, but if not, you will have to connect one to dictate searches. If you want to verbally search something, just click the microphone icon in the search bar. For a more immersive experience though, you will have to set Cortana upfor voice detection.
Voice detection opens the door for the user to simple say, "Hey Cortana," which activates Cortana and lets you vocally search using hotwords like "Find" or "Search."
To get started, click the "Settings" icon, which is in the bottom left corner of the Cortana menu.
Once you're in the settings menu, scroll down and toggle the "Hey Cortana" switch from "off" to "on." You can now say, "Hey Cortana" to activate the Cortana assistant. From here, anyone can use the "Hey Cortana" hotword, but if you want you want Cortana to only respond to your voice, you will have to activate the "to me" button under "Respond best:" section directly under where you activated the "Hey Cortana" button.
3. Setup Single User Commands
First, Cortana will have to learn your voice. To start, click "Learn my voice." Now, you will be prompted to read six written phrases out loud. Say these phrases in your most natural voice. You don't want a scenario where Cortana only activates when you're loud and boisterous. After you've finished this section to your liking, you're done... almost.
Now that Cortana knows your voice, you're going to want to customize her a little more to further your information experience. To do this, go back to the "Notebook" section in the Cortana side menu. This time, click "About Me." You can change your name in this section.
4. Teach Cortana Your Preferences
Next, you will need to teach her about yourself. Adding addresses to the preferences will allow Cortana to find directions, restaurants, movie theaters or other information you may need from any of the points you saved.
In the same "About Me" section, click "Edit Favorites." Then click the plus sign in the bottom-right corner. Use the search box to enter addresses or favorite places you'd like to save for Cortana. Be sure to "Save" when you're finished.
Cortana can learn all your different preferences and tastes. In the "Notebook" section, there are various categories. Just click on a category to add the appropriate information and Cortana will remember it for next time.
Use Cortana to assist with tasks and other computer uses. Find files, fill out calendar reminders, setup meetings and even schedule an Uber ride.
There are many great uses for Microsoft's virtual assistant. If you don't already have it set up on your Windows 10, I definitely recommend giving it a go.
Here are some key phrases to use with Cortana:
- Hey Cortana:
- How far is it to Dallas?
- What time does Starbucks close?
- Remind me to clean my car out.
- Write an email.
- Play [insert song name] by [insert band name].
- What is the meaning of life?
- Who is Cortana?