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How to enable and use Cortana on Windows 10 PC’s / Tablets

Cortana is Microsoft’s latest addition to Windows to make it more mobile friendly. In this guide, I will take a look at how to enable Cortana and use it to efficiently get the latest stock quotes or perform certain tasks.

Cortana is pre-installed on Windows 10 and you only need to enable it. All that requires of you is to sign in with your Microsoft account. Please note that Microsoft is recording samples to improve Cortana’s speech-to-text features.

StepDetails
1Enable Cortana
2Use Cortana

Enabling Cortana: Microsoft Account Required

Before we proceed with installing Cortana, you will need a Microsoft account (yes, it does not work without one), but that is relatively easy, all you need is to register an account at live.com and you’re good to go. So head over to live.com if you don’t have one already.

1. Step Click right into the search bar on your Windows 10 taskbar and you will be asked to log into your Microsoft account

Click Once To Enable Cortana Bar.png

2. Step Sign in or follow the instructions on your screen to register an account

Sign In With Microsoft Account To Enable Cortana.png

3. Step After you’ve signed in successfully, Cortana is enabled and will ask you your name:

Enter Name For Cortana Usage.png

Using Cortana: Plug In Your Microphone

4. Step Before you can talk to Cortana, plug in your headset. If you are on a PC, find the pink jack (mic-in)
either on the backside of your PC, on the front or sometimes on the top. Tablet users don’t have to deal with this, their microphone is built-in and usually enabled by default.

Connect Microphone.png

5. Step Once you’ve successfully connected your headset and the mic is working, click into the Cortana bar that says “Ask me anything” to see what Cortana is all about.

Ask Cortana Questions.png

6. Step Cortana is able to perform search queries and give you stock quotes at the moment. It is currently not possible to ask Cortana to open the internet explorer for example, but that will be added in the next update, at least that’s what Cortana says ;)

Cortana Launching Programs.png

7. Step Ok, now click the Mic button (it will appear slightly bluish when you hover over it)

Cortana Mic Button Hover.png

It will then go into “Listening Mode” for a few seconds and record what you say:

Cortana Is In Listening Mode.png

8. Step While you talk, Cortana will try to convert speech to text. Speak very clearly. The speech-to-text feature is not even close to ready and it also stops listening very quickly. All in all, at the moment it is barely usable and requires major improvements, but it’s fun to tinker with this feature:

Speech To Text Working.png

9. Step Ask it for “Microsoft stock price” and it will give you the most recent quote:

Cortana Giving You Stock Quotes.png

Conclusion: Useful Feature With Lots Of Upside

Cortana is a great addition. Admittedly, launching programs is currently one of the least efficient things. There are countless Windows app launchers that can help a little, but a personal assistant like Cortana that can give me stock quotes and open programs for me would make things a lot easier. At the moment, Cortana is not capable of opening IE for me, nor is it very good at understanding all of my commands, but Microsoft still has months before it launches Windows 10 and will hopefully use the time to make Cortana a killer feature.

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Published: Tuesday, March 24th, 2015 Last Modified: April 5, 2016

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