Windows 10 Disable Cortana

Cortana, Microsoft’s supremely useful digital assistant, is a highlight Windows 10 feature — but not everyone will appreciate the amount of personal information she demands to be helpful. Cortana’s natural language search capabilities rock, and her intelligent surfacing of news and notifications that matter to you help to tailor Windows 10 to suit your specific needs. I’m in love already. But not everyone will take kindly to Cortana.

Disabling Cortana in Windows 10 on Setup

There are two ways to disable Cortana in Windows 10, and the first is incredibly straightforward: don’t activate it in the first place. When you boot up Windows 10 for the first time after Update or Clear Install, clicking in the “Search the web and Windows” box on the Taskbar prompts Cortana setup to start.

To ensure Cortana doesn’t activate, just click “Not interested”, and then confirm your decision by selecting “I’m sure”. Cortana will now remain inactive.

Disable Cortana in Windows 10 after Setup

Microsoft actually makes the process of Cortana Disable pretty simple. Open Cortana, click the Notebook icon in its left-hand options pane, then select Settings from the list. A bunch of options will appear. You’ll want to slide “Cortana can give you suggestions, ideas, reminders, alerts and more” to off, which disables the assistant on the PC and removes all locally stored data she knows about you. But you’re not necessarily done yet.

Because Cortana’s brains are based in the cloud, you’ll likely want to wipe your data from Microsoft’s servers as well. To do so, click the “Manage what Cortana knows about me in the cloud” link. Your primary browser will open to your personalization settings page in Bing. You’ll want to press the Clear buttons in the “Clear personal info” and “Other Cortana data and personalized speech, inking and typing” sections. If you initially allowed Cortana access to your location info, consider following the link to Bing Maps to wipe that, as well.

Feel free to peruse the rest of the options if you want to clear data from other Microsoft services as well. If you’re this concerned about sharing data with the company, you may also want to open the Start menu and head to Settings > Privacy to peruse all the other ways you may be sending information to Redmond, as well as the “Sync your settings” submenu in Start menu > Settings > Accounts.

How to Completely Disable Cortana

First disable it, then uninstall the Cortana app. Disable it in the search settings - like we write above:

  1. Click the search icon/box in the bottom left
  2. Click the gear on the left bar
  3. Click off next to Cortana/Web Searches

Then uninstall it, as listed here with powershell:

Get-AppxPackage | Select Name, PackageFullName

Remove-AppxPackage Microsoft.Windows.Cortana_1.4.8.176_neutral_neutral_cw5n1h2txyewy

You can use the same uninstall to remove other "features" like BingNews, BingSports, Etc

What you’ll miss, what you’ll keep

And with that you’re done! The search area remains in the Windows taskbar sans Cortana’s “Ask me anything” verbiage, but be warned: You won’t be able to use any of its Cortana-enabled services, like setting reminders, getting personalized news, receiving up-to-date travel info, or asking goofy questions.

Cortana’s Notebook

A last word about managing Cortana: Pay attention to her Notebook. Cortana’s Notebook isn’t just a place to tweak settings and turn the voice assistant off. You can also choose a variety of categories and give Cortana data about your schedule, interests, the places you like to visit, and what sort of news you enjoy.

If you just don’t see the point of Cortana and wish she was more helpful, try filling out these categories a bit before shutting her down. With info about your tastes in music, food, transportation, sports and more, Cortana can offer much more personalized information, which could make the experience much more enjoyable. If you really don’t like Microsoft collecting so much information about your interests and finances, remember that you can always go back and clear out that data whenever you want.

You will, however, be able to search for files, system settings, and terms as before. (Oddly, if you search for a general term—like “Windows 10” — files related to the term won’t appear unless you manually click the “My stuff” button at the bottom of the web search suggestions.)

That said, you won’t be able to tap Cortana’s smarts to perform natural language queries like “Find pictures from June” either, so narrowing down file search results may take a bit more work. If you ever change your mind and bring the digital assistant back to life via the search settings, don’t worry: Cortana will welcome you back with open arms.