Article ID : 00125696 / Last Modified : 03/29/2019Print

What is Cortana and how is it used?

    IMPORTANT: This article applies only to specific products and/or operating systems. Check Applicable Products and Categories for details.

    Cortana is a clever new personal assistant from Microsoft. Cortana can search the web, help you find things on the computer, keep track of your calendar—even tell you jokes. Cortana is not a real person, but the more she helps you out, the more she learns about you, and the better she gets.

    Follow these steps to start using Cortana.

    IMPORTANT: You must have a Microsoft® account in order to use Cortana. If you do not have an account, you will be prompted to create one during this process.

    1. On the taskbar, next to the Start button, click inside the Search the web and Windows field.
    2. In the Here are some of the things I can do for you screen, click the Next button.

      Start Cortana Setup

    3. In the Before we get started... screen, read the screen, click and read the Privacy Statement, and then click the I agree button.

      Agree to terms

    4. In the Now what would you like me to call you screen, in the Name or nickname field, type what you would like Cortana to call you, and then click the Next button.

      Tell Cortana your name

      IMPORTANT: At this point you will be prompted to enter your Microsoft account. If you do not have an account, in the Microsoft account sign-in screen, click Create one and follow the on-screen instructions.

      Sign into a Microsoft account

      NOTE: You may have to click inside the Search the web and Windows field to resume the Cortana setup process.

    5. In the To help out, I need to use your location screen, click the Settings button.

      Access Settings to turn on Location

    6. In the PRIVACY window, under Location, click the slider bar to set it to On, and then click the X in the upper-right corner to close the window.

      Turn Location On

    7. Click inside the Search the web and Windows field to complete the Cortana setup process.


      • You will notice that the Search the web and Windows field has changed to an Ask me anything field and there is a microphone icon on the right side of that field.

        Cortana - Ask me anything

      • Just after setup, Cortana will present you with two options: Got it and Get Interests.

        Cortana Setup Complete

      • The Get Interests option will take you to the Cortana Settings screen where you can tell Cortana about various interests you may have, which will allow Cortana to tailor any results she presents with those interests in mind.
      • The Got it option will let you start using Cortana immediately without specifying any interests.
      • You can specify your interests later by clicking in the Ask me anything field and then clicking the Notebook icon.

        Cortana - Notebook Icon

    8. To begin using Cortana, type in the Ask me anything field or, if you have a microphone connected, click the microphone icon and speak your request.