Microsoft’s digital assistant Cortana is among the main additions to Home windows 10 — and it is a winner. Flip it on and Cortana alerts you to approaching conferences; searches your PC and the online; tells you concerning the climate, information, and sports activities; and much more.
That can assist you get essentially the most out of Cortana, I’ve put collectively a few of my favourite ideas for utilizing it — together with utilizing Cortana to handle your Google Calendar, establish the music you are listening to, and monitor packages and flights.
This text assumes that you just’re already accustomed to the fundamentals of Cortana. If you need assist getting began, see the Cortana part of Computerworld’s “Home windows 10 cheat sheet.”
Take into account that there have been six main updates to Home windows 10 since its preliminary launch in July 2015. This text displays how Cortana works if you happen to’ve put in the Home windows 10 October 2018 Replace (model 1809), so if you happen to haven’t put in that replace, what you see and skim right here might differ barely from what you see in your model of Home windows 10.
Get a direct reply to your query
While you ask Cortana a query, it’ll usually present you the reply by way of a list of internet hyperlinks; you then open the search ends in your browser. That is what occurred, for instance, after I requested, “What was the coldest day of the 12 months in 2015 in Boston?”
That is a helpful however time-consuming course of, as a result of you need to flick thru the search outcomes, click on one after which search for data from the online web page that seems.
However there are many questions that Cortana can reply instantly, with out first sending you out to the online. As an alternative, you get your solutions proper in Cortana’s pane. Following is only a partial checklist — attempt experimenting by yourself to see what else it is aware of.
Outline [word] Need a definition for “absquatulate”? Simply ask Cortana.
When is [name of holiday]? Cortana is aware of when holidays fall on the calendar.
Who’s [title of person]? Cortana can let you know who’re the CEOs of Microsoft, Google, and Apple, as nicely who’s the president of the USA. Attempt different titles and names as nicely.
What time is it in [place]? Confused about what time it’s proper now someplace on the planet? Cortana is aware of.
Convert [currency] to [currency] Need to know the present alternate charges between currencies? Simply ask.
Cortana can give you solutions instantly with out sending you out to the online. (Click on any picture on this story to enlarge it.)
How tall is [person]? It is aware of how tall most well-known persons are. So it is aware of, for instance, that former U.S. President Barack Obama is six ft one inch tall.
How lengthy is [movie]? How lengthy is The Godfather? Simply ask, and Cortana will inform. Nonetheless, it would not know each film ever made, so generally you may be despatched out to the online for a solution.
What’s the capital of [country or state]? If that you must know the capital of a rustic or state, Cortana is aware of.
Join your accounts, apps, and companies to Cortana
One solution to lengthen the facility of Cortana is to attach it to an account — for instance, LinkedIn — in order that whenever you ask Cortana to do one thing, it might look by way of data in that account and provide you with further details about your request. Cortana can do extra as nicely, together with enjoying music by way of a service comparable to Spotify or controlling sensible residence home equipment. And Cortana can work with Home windows 10 apps, comparable to discovering a present and enjoying it on Netflix or Hulu, or asking Fitbit what number of steps you’ve taken in a day. Microsoft calls most of these actions “Cortana expertise.”
To get began, click on within the Cortana search field and, when the Cortana panel seems, click on the icon of the pocket book within the left-hand navigation panel. Click on the Handle Expertise tab on the high of the display that seems and look below Connections, which is separated into 4 sections: Linked companies, Music, Linked Residence, and Microsoft household. Click on the suitable field — for instance, Music if you wish to have Cortana play music by way of Spotify. Then click on the service you need to join. As I write this, solely three companies can be found: iHeartRadio, Spotify, and TuneIn. Comply with the prompts so as to add the account after which begin enjoying music.
To regulate residence home equipment, click on Linked Residence, then from the display that seems, click on the equipment you need to management — for instance, the Nest sensible thermostat. Click on Join after which observe the prompts. It is going to in all probability assist if you happen to examine the guide of your sensible residence equipment earlier than attempting this.
For different companies, choose “Linked companies” after which “Add a service.” You’ll see a listing of accessible companies, together with LinkedIn, Gmail, Workplace 365, Outlook.com, Wunderlist, and Skype. (Notice that Workplace 365 integration is on the market solely you probably have a enterprise Workplace 365 account, not a private one.) To connect with an account, click on it, then click on the Join button that seems. Enter the data you usually use to log into the account, and Cortana will do the remainder.
If you wish to share occasions and calendars with members of the family, click on Microsoft household, then click on “Begin including members of the family” and observe the prompts.
There are further accounts you’ll be able to hyperlink to Cortana for quite a lot of different expertise, comparable to linking to your Fitbit account to get an exercise abstract, and even ordering pizza from Domino’s. To hyperlink to them, go to the principle Handle Expertise display, then click on the “Uncover extra Expertise” button. That may launch the Microsoft Edge internet browser to a web page with a listing of companies you should utilize. Click on any for directions on how to hook up with it.
You may hyperlink quite a lot of accounts to Cortana, to have it do issues comparable to play music, search by way of LinkedIn and management residence home equipment.
The advantages you may get from linking your accounts to Cortana differ based on the account. For instance, if you happen to hyperlink Cortana to LinkedIn, when it reminds you of a gathering, it’ll look to see if any of the individuals on the assembly are LinkedIn members. If they’re, it’ll seize their data — together with their LinkedIn profile photograph, their job title, and their firm. You may then click on on the individual’s title to leap to their LinkedIn profile.
Notice that in lots of situations, you don’t have to manually add a ability to Cortana to have it carry out duties for you. So long as you’ve put in the app, Cortana routinely integrates with it. Plenty of fashionable apps, together with Netflix, Hulu, and Uber, combine with Cortana like this. For instance, if you wish to play the TV sequence Grasp of None on Netflix, you’ll be able to sort “Netflix discover Grasp of None.” (Really, you’ll be able to sort “netflix discover grasp of none” — Cortana is case-insensitive.)
If you wish to use a voice command as a substitute, you’ll be able to say, “Hey, Cortana, Netflix discover Grasp of None.” Use the identical syntax for Hulu — for instance, “Hulu discover Spiral” if you wish to discover and play the French police present. You may also play and pause utilizing voice instructions.
Take into account that you need to use the exact syntax required for every app — you’ll be able to’t sort or communicate utilizing real-life, pure language. And it is completely different for every app. For Netflix and Hulu, for instance, the syntax is [name of app] discover [name of show]. You may’t say, “Play Grasp of None on Netflix” and even “Netflix play Grasp of None” and have it work.
Set and use reminders
Considered one of Cortana’s most helpful options is the best way during which it might remind you about duties or upcoming occasions. It is quite simple to set a reminder — simply say or sort “Remind me.” From the display that seems, fill within the kind with the individual, place, time, or factor that you just need to be reminded about. When you favor, you’ll be able to bypass the shape and simply say one thing like “Remind me about my tennis recreation right now at 6 pm.”
You may also set a reminder by clicking within the search field, deciding on the pocket book icon within the Cortana pane that seems, clicking the Organizer tab, after which deciding on “Create a reminder.”
To ensure that Cortana to pop up alerts concerning the reminders you’ve set, that you must activate Home windows 10’s notification characteristic. To do it, go to Settings > System > Notifications & actions after which flip the slider on within the “Get notifications from apps and different senders” part.
Cortana can set reminders primarily based on time, location, or contacts.
Let’s begin with location. Say that you just at all times need to be reminded to purchase a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream whenever you’re close to your favourite grocery store — Entire Meals, for instance. Say or sort “Remind me to get Cherry Garcia ice cream after I’m at Entire Meals.” A display will seem, displaying the handle of any close by Entire Meals shops and asking you which of them one to set a reminder for — or whether or not the reminder ought to present up whenever you’re in any Entire Meals. Then, the subsequent time you are there, Cortana will remind you to take pleasure in your ice cream dependancy.
Notice that you just’ll have to have location companies turned on for this characteristic to work. To show the companies on, choose Settings > Privateness > Location. Click on the Change button, and from the display that seems, transfer the slider to On. Additionally, if the place is not one which Cortana readily acknowledges, it’ll ask you for extra data or have you ever sort within the handle your self.
Setting a location-based reminder in Cortana.
You may set reminders in the identical means 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 will pop up asking for extra particulars, comparable to the precise time and whether or not it needs to be a recurring reminder.
You may also inform Cortana to remind you to do one thing whenever you work together with somebody in your contact ebook. So if you wish to remind your self to ask your pal Lydia a couple of dinner invitation, say “Remind me to ask Lydia a couple of dinner invitation.” A display pops up asking for the contact’s title if Cortana did not acknowledge it. Then the subsequent time you ship or obtain an electronic mail with that individual, you may get the reminder.
Cortana additionally permits you to view, delete, and edit any of the reminders you’ve created. To handle your reminders, click on within the search field, click on the pocket book icon from the Cortana pane that seems, and click on “Reminders” within the Organizer tab. You’ll see a listing of all the reminders you’ve created. To edit or delete any, click on the three-dot icon to its proper. From the menu that pops up, click on Edit to edit it — for instance, to vary the time, place, or individual concerned. To delete it, click on both Delete or Full.
Handle your Google Calendar with Cortana
Home windows 10 features a built-in calendar app that works with Cortana. Nonetheless, if you happen to’re a Google Calendar consumer, you may get Cortana to combine with that as nicely, so you should utilize Cortana to create and edit appointments, and present you your schedule with Google Calendar in the identical means 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 Cortana, then clicking the Calendar app icon that seems on the high of search outcomes.
Subsequent, click on the Settings icon on the decrease proper of the Calendar display — the icon is within the form of a gear. When the Settings menu seems, choose Account > Handle Accounts > Add account. From the “Select an account” display, choose Google. You will be requested to sign up together with your Google account data. Comply with the prompts to create the account.
You may create an appointment in your Google Calendar utilizing Cortana if you happen to add your Google account data.
That is all it takes. Any further, your Google calendar will sync with the Home windows 10’s Calendar app. So, for instance, if you happen to ask Cortana to “create appointment,” you’ll fill within the particulars utilizing Cortana, together with the date, time, and objective. Cortana will add the occasion to the Home windows 10 Calendar. To reserve it to your Google calendar instantly, select the calendar from the drop-down checklist simply above the Add button. No matter which calendar you add an occasion to, each Google and Home windows 10 Calendar will stay in sync.
Additionally, whenever you ask to see your schedule — comparable to by asking “What’s my schedule right now?” — Cortana will present you the occasions from your whole calendars, together with Google.
One draw back is which you could’t add occasions to sub-calendars on Google Calendar (like ‘residence’ or ‘work’) with any common success. Generally it really works, and generally it would not.
Use Cortana on the lock display
Do you know you don’t even should log into Home windows to make use of Cortana? You may work with the digital assistant on proper on the lock display.
To get began: Click on within the Cortana search bar and click on the gear icon that seems on the left aspect of the pop-up menu. This brings up Cortana’s settings.
Scroll all the way down to the Lock Display screen part and transfer the slider to On. Look just under that for the “Let Cortana entry my calendar, electronic mail, messages, and Energy BI knowledge when my gadget is locked” setting. Test that field as nicely. When you don’t, Cortana will probably be restricted in what it might do for you from the lock display — you’ll be capable to hearken to music and discover out the climate from the lock display, however you received’t be capable to set reminders, ship emails, or add occasions to your calendar.
This setting permits you to use Cortana on the lock display.
When you’ve accomplished that, when your gadget is locked you’ll be able to simply say “Hey Cortana” and use it from the lock display as you usually would, to set reminders, play music, examine your calendar, and extra with out logging into Home windows.
Use Google and Chrome with Cortana
While you ask Cortana to look the online, it makes use of Microsoft’s Bing search engine. After which, so as to add insult to damage, it shows the outcomes utilizing the Microsoft Edge browser. Earlier than April 2016, you can simply have Chrome or one other browser show the outcomes by making a easy change in Home windows 10 Settings. Alas, that’s now not the case, as a result of even if you happen to configure one other browser like Chrome to be your default browser, Cortana will ignore your needs and launch its internet searches utilizing Edge.
Nonetheless, there’s a workaround that can power Cortana to make use of Google or one other search engine to do its internet searches, and one other that tells Cortana to make use of Chrome or one other browser to show the outcomes. Right here’s learn how to do them.
First we’ll deal with Cortana’s behavior of displaying search ends in Edge. Though you’ll be able to have Cortana use any browser that you just’ve set as your default, I’ll give the directions beneath for Google Chrome, as a result of if you happen to additionally need to power Cortana to make use of Google or one other search engine apart from Bing, you’ll want to make use of Chrome.
To start out, make it possible for Chrome is ready as your default in Home windows 10. Open the Home windows 10 Settings app and choose Apps > Default Apps. If Chrome isn’t the listed because the default browser, click on the online browser icon and choose Google Chrome from the checklist that seems. That makes Chrome your default whenever you click on a hyperlink. However that you must do another factor to power Cortana to make use of Chrome.
To do this, you’ll have to put in a free piece of software program referred to as EdgeDeflector. To do it, first get the most recent model of EdgeDeflector’s .EXE executable file from GitHub. (The GitHub web site additionally has extra details about EdgeDeflector.) After you’ve downloaded the file, create a brand new folder in File Explorer the place you’ll put EdgeDeflector. You may create the folder anyplace you need, though I like to recommend placing it in both the Program Recordsdata or Program Recordsdata (x86) below your Home windows set up, as a result of that’s the place most or your whole different applications are saved. It’s a good suggestion to call the folder EdgeDeflector or one thing related, so that you’ll be capable to know at a look what’s in it. You’ll must be logged in as an administrator to create the folder.
After you’ve created the folder, transfer EdgeDeflector’s .EXE to the folder and run it. While you do, it’ll ask what program you need to use to open the file. Select EdgeDeflector. Any further, when Cortana does an online search, it’ll show the ends in your default internet browser — on this case, Chrome.
(Notice: EdgeDeflector doesn’t replace itself routinely. When Home windows 10 will get an replace, there’s an opportunity it may cease working. If that occurs, get the most recent launch of EdgeDeflector’s .EXE file from GitHub and set up it.)
Now we’ll deal with the second downside: the truth that Cortana searches the Web utilizing Bing. When you favor that it as a substitute search Google, Yahoo, or the DuckDuckGo search engine, set up the Chrometana extension for Chrome. (It solely works for Chrome, not some other browsers.)
After you put in it, a tab will open asking which search engine you need to use. Click on the one you need to use, and from that time on, your search will probably be accomplished by way of that search engine, not Bing. Notice that Chrometana received’t work until you first set up EdgeDeflector.
The Chrometana Chrome extension redirects your Cortana searches to Google, DuckDuckGo, or Yahoo relatively than Bing.
One remaining observe about Cortana and internet browsers: Cortana solutions a variety of questions instantly with out sending you to an online outcomes web page, as defined earlier on this article. For instance, if you happen to use Cortana to seek for “Climate,” you may see the outcomes proper in Cortana in a flyout pane. These outcomes are nonetheless gotten by way of Bing. Nonetheless, whenever you click on on the pane to see extra or associated data, that data opens up in Chrome, not in Bing if you happen to use EdgeDeflector.
Use natural-language queries
Cortana is rather a lot smarter than you suppose: It permits you to use natural-language queries — in different phrases, make requests of it utilizing plain English (or no matter your language is), relatively 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 way of your contacts, discover the individual to whom you need 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. When you’ve linked your Outlook account to a different account, comparable to a Gmail account, it’ll look by way of that as nicely. And if it finds a number of matches for the individual’s title, it’ll ask you which of them handle you need to ship the mail to.
Make Cortana reply solely to you
You may inform Cortana to reply solely to your voice and nobody else’s. To do it, click on within the search bar, then click on Cortana’s settings icon (it appears like a gear) on the left of the display. Guarantee that the slider beneath “Let Cortana reply to ‘Hey Cortana’” is ready to On. Beneath it, you’ll see two buttons — one which reads, “Reply when anybody says ‘Hey Cortana’” and one other that reads “Attempt to reply solely to me.”
That second button is grayed out — to pick it, you first have to coach Cortana to acknowledge simply your voice. Click on “Find out how I say ‘Hey Cortana.’” Cortana will ask you to repeat six phrases. After that, you’ll be capable to choose “Attempt to reply solely to me.” Do this, and Cortana will do its greatest to reply solely to your voice.
You may prepare Cortana to acknowledge your voice and reply solely to you.
Test your calendar for Cortana-created data
Cortana can routinely add occasions to your calendar primarily based on emails you obtain — for instance, it’ll add airline flight data to your calendar if you happen to obtain a flight affirmation by way of electronic mail. Take note, although, that it solely does this with mail despatched to an Outlook.com account or to company Outlook customers. If the data goes to a distinct service, comparable to Gmail, it received’t work.
Miscellaneous cool stuff
There are a number of different helpful and/or enjoyable issues that Cortana can do for you. A number of of my favorites:
You may monitor packages or flights by typing or saying the flight quantity or package deal monitoring quantity.
You may ask Cortana to carry out easy calculations: Simply sort within the search field (“What’s 521 * 12 – 26 / three?”) or communicate (“Hey Cortana, what’s 5 hundred twenty-one instances twelve minus twenty-six divided by three?”).
You may snap an image of a poster for an occasion, and Cortana will detect the dates on it and ask if you wish to create a reminder to attend it.
There are a number of helpful companies Cortana can carry out, comparable to monitoring flights.
To seek out out different issues that Cortana can do, simply sort or say “assist me” and you will get a protracted checklist of different Cortana options. Click on something on the checklist — “Play music,” for instance — and Cortana will do your bidding.
Associated video: Get essentially the most from Cortana
Preston Gralla gives up some tips about learn how to use the Cortana digital assistant in Home windows 10 to its fullest potential. (Notice: The interface appears somewhat completely different now than when this video was shot, however the primary steps are the identical.)
This text was initially printed in March 2016 and most lately up to date in March 2019.