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Activating Cortana: Your Windows 10 Digital Voice Assistant

Having a more personalized experience in Windows 10 is the primary goal of Cortana, your newest digital assistant introduced by Microsoft. She has been developed to become one of the smartest operating system features, which never existed in the previous Windows versions. She has been tailored to include a natural language-driven search facility, a brilliant notification system and a creative news broadcasting feature, among others. The more you interact with Cortana, the more she will customize your Windows experience to perfectly suit your computer needs and preferences.

Working similarly like the “Hey Sir” feature in iOS or the “OK Google” in Android, you will be able to take full advantage of Cortana if you use her voice-activated attributes to perform certain tasks without even physically touching your computer. All you have to do is exactly say “Hey Cortana” for your Windows 10 PC to respond.

Cortana is not automatically turned on when you buy a brand new computer. To get this hands-free digital assistant started, follow these simple steps:

Enable the search facility first by right-clicking on the taskbar, selecting Search then choosing either Show search icon or Show search box.

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Once the search facility is enabled, either the Search icon or the Search Windows input box is displayed right next to the Start button.

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Click on the Search icon or Search Windows input box then choose the Settings button at the left panel (just below the Home button). If your region and language settings are not compatible to support Cortana, then you will get the following screen:

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Cortana has been designed with a complex language recognition system to be able to communicate with you and perform the tasks you will assign to her. In this case, she needs to understand what language is set on your device so she can respond appropriately. The region and language settings should match to maximize the potential of this hands-free Windows digital assistant. Cortana is only available in the following regions and languages:

  • Australia: English
  • Brazil: Portuguese
  • Canada: English/French
  • China: Chinese (Simplified)
  • France: French
  • Germany: German
  • India: English
  • Italy: Italian
  • Japan: Japanese
  • Mexico: Spanish
  • Spain: Spanish
  • United Kingdom: English
  • United States: English

You can change your settings to any of the above-mentioned region and language options. However, if you set your region to something different from where you are currently located, you might not be able to perform certain tasks, such as shop at the Store or use memberships or subscriptions that you have purchased previously from your own locality.

Changing Region and Language Settings

Let’s say you will configure your region setting to United Kingdom and set the language to English for you to activate Cortana. To do this, go to Start Menu, click on the Settings button and then choose Time & Language option.

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Inside the Time & Language settings screen, click on Region & language. Under Country or region, make sure that it is set to United Kingdom and the Languages section includes English (United Kingdom). If you do not see the said language then click on Add a language and type “english” inside the input box.

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When you click the English option, all the variations of the said language from different countries or regions will be displayed. Find and select English (United Kingdom).

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You will now see English (United Kingdom) under English (United States) in the Region & language settings screen.

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However, seeing the new option does not mean that it is already set as the default language nor Cortana is compatible with it. You still need to click on English (United Kingdom) then choose Set as default button. After this, click the Options button to take you to the Language options screen. At this point, click on the first button, which is the Download language pack option, to install the new feature in your computer system.

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After installing the new language pack, go back to the Time & Language settings screen and this time select Speech option at the left panel. Make sure to set the language you will speak with your device to English (United Kingdom).

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Restart to Begin Communicating with Cortana

Once all the region setttings and language packs have been installed and configured, the final step is to reboot your computer. When it is back on, click the Search icon or Search Windows input box and then click the Settings button at the left panel. This time, it will give you a different Settings screen. Just toggle the first option to On to finally activate Cortana.

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As for the voice command feature, ensure that your microphone is working properly and compatible with Cortana. For your computer to respond whenever you say “Hey Cortana”, you will still need to activate this feature by going back to the same Setting screen and toggle the Hey Cortana option to On.

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Also, right-clicking the taskbar will now include Cortana as one of the available options that you can manage:

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Now that Cortana has been activated, you may can perform any of the following tasks (some may require internet connectivity):

  • Search for files in the computer using the natural language
  • Search web using Bing (find answers to questions, check weather updates, research on facts and figures)
  • Track teams, interests and even flights via the flight number and check for corresponding packages
  • Set calendar events, appointments, reminders and alarms based on a specific time, a particular location or a group of people
  • Find a song saved in the computer by listening and matching a particular music
  • Perform quick mathematical calculations and conversions
  • Open/Launch any computer application
  • Send emails via the built-in Mail app and text messages
  • Get a list of Help commands and features
  • Play games
  • Simply chit chat with Cortana and make her respond to silly questions

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