How to disable Cortana

Tired of Cortana? Here's how to turn it off in Windows 10

Windows 10 Cortana
Greg Mombert/Digital Trends

One of the major features of Windows 10 is the presence of Microsoft’s voice assistant, Cortana. Along with voice searches, you will be given “suggestions” that the voice assistant makes. This includes reminders for scheduled events in your calendar, ideas when you are searching the web for something, alternatives when you are quizzing Cortana for information, and more.

If you find this more annoying than helpful and don’t use Cortana for smart devices or other tasks, you can turn it off — no matter what rendition of Windows 10 you’re running. Be aware though, when you do disable Cortana, you will also lose some functionality, such as natural language search and the ability to use other smart assistants in Windows 10 like Alexa.

Disabling Cortana in Windows Home

how to disable cortana cortanadisable01

Disabling Cortana in versions of Windows prior to the Anniversary Update was as simple as toggling a switch, but in more recent versions, it’s a little more complicated. You’re going to have to brave the Windows registry.

Note: The Windows Registry is not as scary as it once was, but it still has a lot of power behind it. If you’re unsure what you’re doing at any point, back up and reread the instructions.

Step 1: Open the Windows Registry editor by searching for it in the Windows search bar, or alternatively, press Windows key and “R,” type “regedit,” then click the “OK” button. Give administrative approval when requested.

Step 2: Use the left-hand menu to navigate to “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREPoliciesMicrosoftWindows.”

Step 3: If you can access a folder named “Windows Search,” do so. If that folder doesn’t exist, create it by right-clicking the right-hand pane and creating a new key. Rename it to “Windows Search.”

Step 4: Make sure that the “Windows Search” folder is selected, then right-click the right-hand pane again and create a new DWORD (32-bit) Value. Name it “Allow Cortana,” and make sure its value is set to “0.”

Step 5: Reboot your PC.

When you next start up Windows, you should find that Cortana has vanished from your search bar.

If you want to reinstate it at some point in the future, simply change the “Allow Cortana,” value to “1” instead.

Disabling Cortana in Windows Pro or Enterprise

how to disable cortana cortanadisable02

Windows Pro and Enterprise users can still use the registry method for disabling Cortana, but they also have access to the Group Policy editor, which makes the process a bit quicker.

Step 1: Open the Group Policy Editor by searching for it in the Windows search bar or by pressing Windows key + “R,” typing “gpedit.msc,” and hitting the “OK” button.

Step 2: Using the left-hand menu system, select “Computer Configuration,” followed by “Administrative Templates,” “Windows Components,” and finally, “Search.”

Step 3: Look for “Allow Cortana” in the right-hand pane. Right-click it and select “Edit,” from the menu.

Step 4: Use the three toggle buttons on the left-hand side to select “Disabled.” Then click the “Apply,” button, followed by the “OK” button.

You should now see “Allow Cortana,” as Disabled in the Group Policy Editor window. Reboot your PC to use it Cortana free.

To re-enable the assistant later, repeat the steps above and set it to “Enabled” instead.

Disabling “Hey Cortana”

how to disable cortana cortanadisable03

If you want to partially disable Cortana but still leave the voice assistant functioning for searches and help with internet browsing, you can disable its ability to listen in to your call for action by disabling its “Hey Cortana” feature. This can also improve your battery life on a laptop.

Step 1: Search for “Cortana” in the Windows search box and select the corresponding result. Alternatively, open up the Windows Settings menu by pressing Windows key + “I” and click the “Cortana” icon.

Step 2: Under the heading “Hey Cortana,” set the toggle to the “Off” position.

Manage what Cortana can do

how to disable cortana cortanadisable04

If you want to limit what Cortana can do or control how it functions rather than just switch it off entirely, there are some options you can tweak.

Step 1: Search for “Cortana” in the Windows search box and select the corresponding result. Alternatively, open up the Windows Settings menu by pressing Windows key + “I” and click the “Cortana” icon.

Step 2: Select “Permissions and History” from the left-hand menu.

There you’ll find several options that you can adjust, such as whether Cortana limits search queries based around adult content, whether Cortana has access to your cloud data, and whether it shows you your history of cloud and local-device usage.

Toggle any of these options on or off as you please. If you want to make a clean start, the “Clear my device history” button can get you back to square one as far as Cortana is concerned.

Computing

Get ready to say goodbye to some IFTTT support in Gmail by March 31

If This Then That, the popular automation service, will drop some of its support for Gmail by March 31. The decision comes as a response to security concerns and is aimed to protect user data.
Computing

Still miss Windows 7? Here's how to make Windows 10 look more like it

There's no simple way of switching on a Windows 7 mode in Windows 10. Instead, you can install third-party software, manually tweak settings, and edit the registry. We provide instructions for using these tweaks and tools.
Computing

Changing a PDF into an EPUB file is easier than you might think

If you like to read on a tablet or ebook reader, you'll find that ePUB files offer a number of advantages over PDFs. With this guide, we'll show you how to convert a PDF to EPUB in a few quick steps.
Mobile

Rooting your Android device is risky. Do it right with our handy guide

Wondering whether to root your Android smartphone or stick with stock Android? Perhaps you’ve decided to do it and you just need to know how? Here, you'll find an explanation and a quick guide on how to root Android devices.
Computing

Sending SMS messages from your PC is easier than you might think

Texting is a fact of life, but what to do when you're in the middle of something on your laptop or just don't have your phone handy? Here's how to send a text message from a computer, whether you prefer to use an email client or Windows 10.
Computing

Get the new Dell XPS 13 for $750 with this limited-time deal

Dell is currently running a limited time deal lasting through Thursday, March 28, where you can bring home a version of this year's new XPS 13 for around $750 with the use of a special coupon code. 
Computing

Nvidia faces attacks from AMD, Intel, and even Google. Should it be worried?

Nvidia announced an expanded array of RTX server solutions designed to leverage the power of ray-tracing at GTC 2019. The effort will help Nvidia take on Google's Stadia in game streaming with GeForce Now, and the company's investments in…
Mobile

This is the easiest way to save your iPhone data to your computer

Living in fear of losing your contacts, photos, messages, and notes on your iPhone? Fear no more -- in this guide, we'll break down exactly how to back up your iPhone to your computer using Apple's iTunes or to the cloud with iCloud.
Mobile

Here are the best iPad Pro keyboard cases to pick up with your new tablet

The iPad Pro range can double as laptops, but they do need proper keyboards to fill in effectively. Thankfully, there are loads to choose from and we rounded up the best iPad Pro keyboard cases right here.
Computing

Microsoft’s Clippy came back from the dead, but didn’t last very long

Before Cortana, Alexa, and Siri even existed, Microsoft Clippy dominated the screens of computers in the 1990s to help assist Microsoft Office users when writing letters. He recently made a bit of a comeback only to die off again.
Computing

How 5G networks will make low-latency game streaming a reality

Faster speeds and more bandwidth are some of the many promises that 5G can deliver, but for gamers, the most important thing is low latency. To achieve low latency, carriers like AT&T and Verizon are exploring hybrid models for game…
Deals

Time to do taxes? Save up to 50 percent on H&R Block tax software this weekend

Tax season is stressful, and with new tax laws in effect this year, it's not a bad idea to get some help. H&R Block has you covered: For two days only, you can save 50 percent on its great software so you can file your taxes online and save…
Computing

Stop dragging windows on your Mac. Here's how to use Split View to multitask

The latest iterations of MacOS offer a native Split View feature that can automatically divide screen space between two applications. Here's how to use Split View on a Mac, adjust it as needed, and how it can help out.
Computing

Breeze through security with these checkpoint-friendly laptop bags

Getting through airport security is a drag, but your laptop bag shouldn’t be. Thankfully, these checkpoint-friendly laptop bags will get you and your gear to your destination with ease.