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. ...

MORE FROM ERIC

PDF on Demand

Many times, it helps to have a PDF of a file that can be distributed electronically when physical printouts are not ...

Discover More

Quick Assist for Quick Help

Many times, in our lives we will be asked, or we will ask, for computer help. Windows 10 offers a quick way of doing this ...

Discover More

Use Notepad as a Journal

As you go through the day or work on a project, you may find it helpful to write thoughts or inspirations down and have ...

Discover More
More WindowsTips

How to Password Protect a File or Folder via Zip

If you routinely create ZIP files, you may want to add some protection to those files. This tip shows how easy it is to ...

Discover More

M8 Free Clipboard

If you've ever found it tedious to do copy/paste with one piece of information at a time, you'll really like M8 Free ...

Discover More

ConFavor

Navigating to favorite files or folders need not be a time waster of click through a tree structure. ConFavor makes this ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WindowsTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is four more than 8?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WindowsTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.