Join Nick Brazzi for an in-depth discussion in this video Setting up Cortana, part of Windows 10 Essential Training.
- In Windows 10, there's one unified tool that will let you search both the contents of your computer and the web. It's called Cortana. If you're looking for a file on your computer or you want to find something on the internet, you might go to Cortana. But Cortana also works like a personal assistant, collecting information about your day, including appointments and weather reports, and suggesting news stories that you might be interested in. So before we even get into using Cortana's search features, let's go through the setup to get Cortana working as your personal assistant.
But before we start, Cortana is one of those features that requires you to be logged in with a Microsoft Online account. So if you're not using your Microsoft account to log in to your computer, you might not want to go through this setup process. Or, you can go through the setup, and log into Cortana with a Microsoft account manually, while leaving your computer to log in with a standard local account, it's up to you. But I am logged into my computer with a Microsoft account, so I'll go through the standard setup. And I want to start with this field in the task bar that says, "Search the web and windows." If I click on that, this panel pops up.
But because I've never used Cortana on this computer, it's going to walk me through some basic setup. Now on this first screen, I can scroll through here, and it just sort of lists out some of the features that Cortana is capable of. So if you want to get familiar with some of these features, you can just read through this list. But we're going to talk about some of these things as we go through the rest of this chapter, so I'm just going to hit "Next." For Cortana's personal assistant features to work, you need to give it permission to save information about your web activity, your internet searches, your address book and calendar, and more.
So you need to make sure that you're comfortable with allowing your computer to capture and store this data. If you are comfortable, you can just hit, "agree," and continue on with this setup. Cortana is designed to interact with you in a conversational way, so it's designed to address you by name, whether in a text field or through a synthesized voice. So here, you should set whatever you want your name to be when Cortana is talking to you. So I'm just going to put in my name as Nick, and I'll hit "Next." And now, after a moment, Cortana is pretty much set up.
So if I click anywhere outside of this box, that panel goes away. And now if I look at the search filed on my task bar, it says, "Ask me anything." So now I know Cortana is set up. I can click on that field and the Cortana box pops up again. Now, Cortana wants to anticipate your needs and interests. So it's going to display some information about your day, and it's going to start building a database of information that you find interesting. So one thing that you'll see here is a feed of news stories.
If I scroll through here, on my setup I currently don't see the news stories. We'll see that in just a moment. But I do see other things. I see my appointments in my calendar. I see the weather report. And I see some information about local restaurants. But on your computer, you're probably going to see news stories on this list. So why do I see different things from what you see? Well, I've already set up Cortana on another computer using this same Microsoft account, and it saves my configuration settings from that other computer, and brings them over here.
So I'm not dealing with a completely empty configuration. So let's talk about how you can get these things configured. Well, as you look through this feed, most of the items on this list will have this little button with three dots, and if I click on that, I can choose to hide this information. Or I can edit it in the notebook. So instead of making a change here, let me go over to the notebook. I can find that over on the side bar over here on the left. I'm currently in the home feed, but if I click on this little button that looks like a book, now I'm in the notebook.
And I can scroll through all of these different categories of information that I may or may not want to see in my home feed. So for example, if I go to news, you can see that I have News cards turned off. But I could turn this on, and then I could choose what type of news I want to see. Maybe I want local news, but I don't want headline news. So I can choose all these options, and hit "Save." So now when I go back to my home feed, I see my calendar appointment.
I see the weather. And now it hasn't updated yet, but if I give it a few minutes, it'll start populating my feed with news stories. While we're waiting on that, let me go back to the notebook and look at some of these other categories. If I go to eat and drink you can see I've got the cards for restaurants turned on. And that's why I saw that in the feed. I can click back. Maybe I want to see information about events. So I'll make sure that one is turned on, and I'll hit "Save." And of course I know that I have my calendar appointments and my weather report, but if I wanted to change that I could go to weather here.
I could change my configuration, and I could go to meetings and reminders and change my configuration. So you might want to go through here and adjust these settings, and configure what you want to see in your home feed. And now, if I go back to my home feed, I can see now I've got local news, as well as my weather report and restaurants. And if I ever want any of these gone, I can go to the notebook to configure, or I can click this little menu right here, and I could hit, "Hide." So as you keep using Cortana, and as you adjust these settings, it's going to learn more about what you want, and it's going to make those adjustments, and it's going to put the information that it thinks you're most interested in right here in this home feed.
So we've seen the home feed, and we saw the notebook. Now let me go to this third option for Reminders. And this is where we can just set some quick reminders. So let me add a new reminder here. I'm going to hit the little plus button. And first thing they set, what I want to Remember, so I want to remember to Feed the Dog. And I could choose to have a reminder based on a Person, a Place, or a Time. So usually I'm going to choose Time. And let's set this to 12:05.
I'll hit the check mark to save this. I'll hit "Remind." And now we're all set. It's going to remind me at 12:05. Now while we're waiting for that reminder to kick in, I want to talk about adjusting some settings inside of Cortana. If we go back to the notebook, of course we can adjust the types of information we see in our feed, but this is also where we would go to adjust Settings. So I'm going to click on that. And you've got some options here for things that you can adjust. And we're going to look at some more of these settings as we go through the rest of this chapter.
But I'd like to leave this first option on. So with this option on, Cortana will start giving me information that it thinks I'm interested in, based on things that I've looked for or asked for in the past. Now if I turn this option off, it'll clear Cortana's memory, and it'll forget all of the things it's learned about my preferences. So generally I like to leave that on. So I'm going to go back to the main home feed. And I'm going to click outside of this to close the Cortana window. And if I wait a moment here, now I see that reminder that I set just a minute ago.
So this is what it looks like when you receive a reminder from Cortana. I could hit "Snooze," and then I'll get this reminder again in five minutes. Or I could choose a different period of time from this menu, and hit "Snooze." Or, if I hit "Complete," it'll mark this reminder as done, and it won't remind me again. But it's also interesting to see, if I click on the action center, I can see this reminder will appear in the action center as well. And of course I can clear it from here. I can just point at it, I could hit the little x, or the check mark to say that it's done.
I'll hit the x to clear it. So those are some of the things that you can do with the personal assistant features inside of Cortana. And of course we'll be building more on this as we go through the rest of the chapter. Some people prefer to just use Cortana as a search tool. But if you take a few minutes to get it set up, it can be a great tool to find news and important information as you plan your day.
Learn all the essential features of Windows 10. This comprehensive course covers everything you need to know to install Windows, customize it to your liking, and start working with files and applications. Author Nick Brazzi shows how to manage folders, use Cortana to search and navigate, browse the web with the new Microsoft Edge browser, and work with Mail, Calendars, and People (aka contacts).
Plus, learn about sharing via a home network, multiuser configurations, security and privacy, and troubleshooting Windows.
- Installing or upgrading to Windows 10
- Connecting to the Internet
- Launching, quitting, and managing applications
- Creating, copying, moving, and renaming files and folders
- Zipping and unzipping files
- Using Cortana to search
- Browsing the web with Edge
- Sending email
- Installing new apps
- Sharing files over home networks
- Backing up and restoring files
- Configuring Windows updates
- Using Windows Defender