Getting Cortana to Listen to You

by Eric Wyatt
(last updated March 19, 2018)

Over the last several years the tech industry has seen the introduction of many digital assistants. Windows is no different, with Microsoft introducing Cortana. The only difference is that Microsoft refers to Cortana as a digital agent, not a digital assistant.

If you have a microphone plugged into your computer you can interact with Cortana in two different ways, by default. The first is by typing in the Search box, or you can click on the microphone and talk to Cortana directly. However, there is also a way to have Cortana listen to you and be ready to help you when you need it. To set Cortana to listen for your "call to action," follow these simple steps:

  1. Click on the Start button in the bottom left corner. Windows displays the Start screen.
  2. Click on the Settings button (it looks like a small gear). Windows displays the Settings dialog box.
  3. Click on the Cortana option, which modifies what you see in the Settings dialog box.
  4. Click on the Talk to Cortana option, which again changes the options available in the dialog box.
  5. Click on the toggle under Hey Cortana. (See Figure 1.)
  6. Figure 1. Turn on the Let Cortana Respond to "Hey Cortana" option.

  7. Close the Settings dialog box; the change takes effect immediately.

With this setting turned on, anytime your computer hears you use the phrase "Hey Cortana," your computer will listen for your commands and help you get things done quickly. Some of the things that Cortana can help you with include the following:

  • Launch any app on your computer
  • Track your favorite teams, flights, or packages
  • Set reminders based on people, places, or time
  • Send texts or emails
  • Manage appointments and your calendar
  • Create and manage lists
  • Find facts, files, places, and info

All you need to do is to say what you want to have happen (such as saying "Launch" or "Track") followed by what you want to actually launch or track (such as "Launch Notepad" or "Track UPS package"). It is best to simply try talking to Cortana naturally; if it cannot understand your request, it will let you know.

 This tip (11217) applies to Windows 10.

Author Bio

Eric Wyatt

Eric Wyatt is a swell guy (or so his friends tell him). He is a formally trained designer and branding expert, bringing a wide range of skills to his Tips.Net articles. ...

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