Microsoft’s digital assistant Cortana was one of many main additions to Home windows 10 when it first got here out. However it was launched again in December 2015, and it’s modified fairly a bit since then. Through the years, it’s had new options added, after which others taken away. Relying on which model of Home windows you’re utilizing, it might be built-in immediately into the Home windows Search field, or run as a completely separate app.
Irrespective of which model you utilize, although, it’s a really great tool and might do so much for you, together with alerting you to imminent conferences; looking your PC and the online; telling you concerning the climate, information, and sports activities; and much more. That will help you get essentially the most out of Cortana, I’ve put collectively a few of my favourite suggestions for utilizing it — together with utilizing Cortana to handle your Google Calendar and to ship you reminders.
Word that this text covers suggestions for Cortana within the Home windows 10 Might 2021 Replace (model 21H1), so if in case you have a distinct model, issues might look completely different or might not work. If that’s the case for you, see the “Cortana and search” part of Computerworld’s “Home windows 10 cheat sheet” or the Cortana part of our Home windows 10 Might 2020 Replace overview.
Earlier than we head into the information, we must always cowl a little bit of background. Cortana was once built-in within the Home windows search field: Whether or not you carried out a search by talking or typing, the outcomes had been delivered within the Cortana pane. However that’s modified over time. First, Microsoft separated Cortana from the Home windows search field. After which Microsoft went ever additional and turned Cortana into its personal app that works like every other Home windows 10 app, together with working in a resizable window that may be moved across the display screen.
That’s the best way it really works now. So the one manner to make use of Cortana is to run the app. You can begin it by clicking the Cortana icon within the taskbar simply to the appropriate of the search field, urgent the Home windows key + C, or saying “Cortana.”
When you begin the app, to carry out a Cortana search, you say “Hey Cortana” and communicate your search, or click on the Cortana icon to the appropriate of the search field and communicate, or press the Home windows key + C and communicate or sort.
While you ask Cortana an easy query or concern an easy command, Cortana shows the outcome onscreen and reads it to you. Nevertheless, when you ask a extra sophisticated query that requires a show of internet hyperlinks, Cortana will present the hyperlinks within the Edge browser.
Within the earlier model of Cortana, you typically needed to fill out on-screen types to create reminders. Nevertheless, the Cortana app now presents a chat-like expertise, so that you as an alternative communicate or sort utilizing plain English phrases. Cortana might ask inquiries to make clear what you need achieved, inform you it’s created the reminder, or say it might’t create the reminder. As with chat or texting, it shows your earlier interactions, so you'll be able to scroll again and see your questions and Cortana’s solutions.
It's also possible to take away the Cortana button to the appropriate of the search field. Proper-click the taskbar and uncheck Present Cortana button from the menu that seems. (You'll be able to even flip off the search field on this manner. Proper-click the taskbar, choose Search, and click on Hidden.)
One ultimate be aware earlier than we start: Cortana’s capabilities had been considerably scaled again within the Home windows 10 Might 2020 Replace. It will possibly now not play music, management streaming video providers like Netflix or Hulu, management sensible house home equipment, or do different consumer-oriented duties. And it might’t do many smaller duties both, similar to creating location-based reminders — for instance, having it inform you to purchase Cherry Garcia ice cream once you’re at a Entire Meals retailer.
These conversant in earlier variations of Cortana will doubtless discover that it has been stripped down in one other manner as effectively. There’s now not a pocket book that permits you to do issues such view and edit your reminders. In lots of instances, you merely can’t do the issues with Cortana that you simply used to arrange by means of the pocket book — the assorted shopper duties, notably.
We’re watching Cortana intently, although. So examine again often in case Microsoft decides to provide it some extra energy sooner or later.
1. Use natural-language queries
Cortana is so much smarter than you assume: It enables you to use natural-language queries — in different phrases, make requests of it utilizing plain English (or no matter your language is), slightly than having to make use of particular phrases.
For instance, to ship an electronic mail to a contact, you'll be able to say, “Ship an electronic mail to Jane Doe.” Cortana will look by means of your contacts, discover the particular person to whom you wish to ship the e-mail, after which allow you to fill out a kind onscreen to create and ship the e-mail with out having to enter a mail app. If you happen to’ve linked your Outlook account to a different account, similar to a Gmail account, it's going to look by means of that as effectively. And if it finds a number of matches for the particular person’s identify, it's going to ask you which ones tackle you wish to ship the mail to.
2. Set and use reminders
Certainly one of Cortana’s most helpful options is the best way wherein it might remind you about duties or upcoming occasions. It’s quite simple to set a reminder — simply say or sort in plain English what you wish to be reminded about — for instance, “Create a reminder for my weekly Wednesday 1 pm Zoom assembly.”
Word that when you don’t give Cortana sufficient info to create the reminder, it's going to ask you a follow-up query. So when you say “Create a reminder for my weekly assembly” however don’t specify at what time you wish to be reminded, Cortana will ask “When ought to I remind you?” Converse or sort the reply, and your reminder will probably be created.
You'll be able to set reminders in the identical manner for time and contacts. If you wish to be reminded to fill your automotive with fuel tomorrow morning, for instance, say or sort “Remind me to get fuel tomorrow morning.” A display screen will pop up asking for extra particulars, similar to the precise time and whether or not it must be a recurring reminder.
It's also possible to inform Cortana to remind you to do one thing once you work together with somebody in your contact e-book. So if you wish to remind your self to ask your good friend Lydia a couple of dinner invitation, say “Remind me to ask Lydia a couple of dinner invitation.” A display screen pops up asking for the contact’s identify if Cortana didn’t acknowledge it. Then the subsequent time you ship or obtain an electronic mail with that particular person, you’ll get the reminder.
While you’ve set a reminder, and it’s time for the reminder to provide you with a warning to do one thing, the alert doesn’t come by way of Cortana. As an alternative, it’s despatched as a Home windows notification.
In earlier variations of Cortana, you can simply view, handle, and edit your reminders by way of Cortana’s pocket book. However Cortana now not has a pocket book, and so it’s not simple to do anymore. Nevertheless, you are able to do it utilizing a little-known Microsoft instrument known as To-Do. Head to https://to-do.stay.com/ and log in utilizing your Microsoft account info. (You'll be able to set up the Microsoft To Do app from the Microsoft Retailer when you want to make use of an app slightly than do it on the net.)
Click on Duties and also you’ll see a listing of all your reminders. Click on any reminder, and you may edit it, for instance by having it repeat, altering the day and time, including it to your calendar, dismissing it, and so forth.
3. Handle your Google Calendar with Cortana
Home windows 10 features a built-in calendar app that works with Cortana. Nevertheless, when you’re a Google Calendar person, you may get Cortana to combine with that as effectively, so you should use Cortana to create and edit appointments, and present you your schedule with Google Calendar in the identical manner as you do with the built-in Home windows 10 Calendar app.
To do it, you first have to combine your Google Calendar with the Home windows 10 Calendar. First, launch the Calendar app by typing calendar into the Home windows 10 search field, then clicking the Calendar app icon that seems.
That’s all it takes. Any longer, your Google calendar will sync with the Home windows 10’s Calendar app. So, for instance, when you ask Cortana to “create appointment,” you’ll have the ability to inform Cortana the main points, together with the date, time, and goal. If any info Cortana wants is lacking, it's going to ask you, and also you merely want to offer the reply. Cortana will add the occasion to your Calendar. No matter which calendar you add an occasion to, each Google and Home windows 10 Calendar will stay in sync.
Additionally, once you ask to see your schedule — similar to by asking “What’s my schedule at this time?” — Cortana will present you the occasions from all your calendars, together with Google.
One draw back is that you would be able to’t add occasions to sub-calendars on Google Calendar (like “house” or “work”) with any common success. Generally it really works, and generally it doesn’t.
4. Use alternate serps and browsers with Cortana
The newest model of Cortana is designed for duties similar to setting reminders, interacting together with your calendar, and related duties, however it additionally solutions many common questions, similar to “Why are deepfakes harmful?”
It does this through the use of Microsoft’s Bing search engine to do the search. Bing then sends the outcomes to Cortana, and Cortana reformats the knowledge and reads and/or shows info from the primary search outcome. It's also possible to click on the See extra hyperlink on the backside proper to see the knowledge on the Bing website online. Microsoft’s Edge browser shows the outcomes.
In some situations, Cortana gained’t give a solution to your question, and as an alternative responds with a phrase similar to “Sorry I don’t know the reply to this one.” In that case, Cortana will give you a hyperlink that you would be able to click on on to be despatched to a Bing seek for the query, which will probably be displayed in Edge.
(Word: I did an investigation and located that Cortana gained’t inform you even essentially the most fundamental details about defending your self towards COVID-19, together with whether or not masks assist shield towards the unfold of COVID and whether or not vaccines are efficient towards COVID. It gained’t even reply the query, “Will the COVID-19 vaccine implant a microchip in me?” or whether or not measles or polio vaccines work, despite the fact that it's going to give you recommendation on what to do when you get a chilly. For particulars, see “Cortana is AWOL within the struggle towards COVID-19 disinfo.”)
Even once you do this, although, Cortana will nonetheless use Bing to carry out the search. You'll be able to, although, as an alternative have Cortana use Google, DuckDuckGo, Yahoo, or Baidu to carry out the search. To do this, you’ll additionally should make your default internet browser both Chrome or Firefox.
If you wish to change from Bing to an alternate search engine and use Chrome as your default internet browser, first observe the above steps to inform Home windows to person Chrome as your default browser. Then launch Chrome and set up the Chrometana Professional extension. Ignore the directions about having to obtain and use a program known as Edge Deflector — you solely want to do this if in case you have a Home windows 10 model earlier to the Might 2020 Replace.
Click on the Chrometana Professional extension on the upper-right of the display screen in Chrome, then select your new default search engine for Cortana. Any longer, your internet searches launched from Cortana will use no matter search engine you select and can show the leads to Chrome.
Word that there’s additionally a model of Chrometana Professional for Firefox. To make use of it, first make Firefox your default internet browser, then set up Foxtana Professional in Firefox, and use the identical directions outlined for Chrometana Professional for Chrome.
This text was initially revealed in March 2016 and most not too long ago up to date in September 2021.