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Windows 10 Tip: Turn the “Hey Cortana” Feature On or Off

Microsoft’s digital assistant, Cortana, first appeared on Windows Phone 8.1 and has migrated to Windows 10. The “Hey Cortana” feature allows you to activate the digital assistant by voice and use it. Here’s how to enable this feature or turn it off if you when don’t need it.

I like to use the “Hey Cortana” feature because it’s always listening, and makes it easy to launch programs, settings, create appointments and reminders…etc. However, if I’m using my laptop while listening to a podcast, music, or watching Netflix, sometimes Cortana can turn on and start launching things – which can be annoying.

Turn Windows 10 “Hey Cortana” On or Off

It’s actually not enabled by default, so if you want to use it, you’ll need to turn it on first. To do that, open Cortana, and choose the Notebook icon on the right side, and then Settings.

Cortana Notebook Windows 10

Next, scroll down a bit and find the switch to turn “Hey Cortana” on or off as needed. Cortana will still work with the voice activation off, you just need to type in your queries.

It’s also worth noting that if you’re on a laptop or tablet and battery power is low, turning it off can save you some juice.

Hey Cortana

All digital assistants seem to have the problem of activating due to background noise. From Google Now to Siri and even Alexa on Amazon Echo is guilty. So if you have one of those digital assistants on your phone or other devices, you’ll want to toggle the “always listening” feature off on those.

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We haven’t even touched the surface of what Cortana can do, but if you are concerned about privacy, we did show you how to erase your search content from Cortana’s database. We will have a complete guide on setting up and using it coming soon.

But, if you’re just getting started with Cortana in Windows 10, this should take care of at least one thing that might annoy you at first.

What’s your take on Cortana, and more specifically, the “Hey Cortana” feature? Leave a comment below and let us know.

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7 Responses to Windows 10 Tip: Turn the “Hey Cortana” Feature On or Off

  1. John August 12, 2015 at 6:26 am #

    I also noticed that when active moving my pointer via the touch pad on my Lenovo T500 across certain open menus or on a web page will “awaken” Cortana. Interestingly when using a USB trackball doesn’t. Prompting me to think DRIVER.

  2. Burt Heacock August 12, 2015 at 7:17 am #

    Cortana seems to really work well. Strangely, it can’t seem to hear me when I try to train it to my voice. However, is seems to hear me just fine when I actually use it. I’ve used Siri on my iPhone since it became available and Cortana’s voice recognition seems much better. So far, it hardly every makes a mistake.

  3. John August 12, 2015 at 7:44 am #

    I might also add to my above post, that turning the “Hey Cortana” option on, on the desktop seems to have no effect. I still have to click the mic button to get her attention.

  4. Paula August 12, 2015 at 4:24 pm #

    I keep trying to turn Cortana on to try it out, but must not be available thru the Windows 10 upgrade that I received from Microsoft. I do not have the “Notebook” icon available, nor the microphone available on lower left “Search” bar….. nor can I turn on the top item under Cortana’s settings which asks about Cortana giving suggestions, ideas, etc. Just a little frustrated….

  5. Pete August 14, 2015 at 6:47 am #

    How do I stop Cortana from popping up all the time? I still want her in the task bar in case I want to use her, but her constant popping up while I’m doing other things is annoying

  6. Bob Slipper August 26, 2015 at 6:49 am #

    I have same problem as John on 12th August. Even though I have “Hey, Cortana” turned on I still have to click the mike to get her to respond – makes no difference whether I use the magic greeting or not. Rather defeats the object in my view!

  7. Kevin October 16, 2015 at 2:53 pm #

    I had to turn off the Hey Cortana feature because when I watch streamed TV, Cortana picks up words and searches the internet bringing up a browser. It also happens in games while I use Ventrilo which can be very annoying while playing a game.

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