A Quick Guide to Microsoft’s Personal Assistant Cortana

August 6, 2015 Updated: August 6, 2015

One of the main features of Windows 10 is Microsoft’s voice-based virtual assistant Cortana, which has been ported from Windows Phone to the desktop. In fact, Microsoft beat Apple and Google when it came to adding voice assistant features to its PC operating system.

The company is clearly hoping Cortana becomes a daily part of users’ PC experience, but what kind of commands can Cortana handle?

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Before you start using Cortana, you have to make sure you set it up properly, Lifehacker points out. You can issue commands to the assistant verbally, or by typing them into the Start Menu. An always-on listening option is also available – just make sure the “Hey Cortana” option is enabled in Settings.

To get the most of Cortana, you also need to use plenty of other Microsoft services so that the assistant can actually comb through your personal data and deliver accurate responses.


Below, you’ll find a selection of questions that Cortana might be able to answer, depending on which Microsoft services you’re using.

  • What’s the weather like?
  • What’s on my schedule?
  • What’s the status of my flight?
  • How long will it take me to get to [place]?
  • Show me directions to [place]
  • Show me my notes
  • Create an appointment
  • Move my appointment
  • Set a reminder
  • Show my reminders
  • Set an alarm
  • Show me my alarms

You can also ask Cortana a bunch of questions that will be answered with online searches performed directly from the Start Menu, without actually having to open a browser. Here are some examples:

  • How tall is Jeff Goldblum?
  • How long is Age of Ultron?
  • What time is it in California?

When partnering up with Bing, Cortana can deliver more awesome results. Cortana is integrated into the Edge browser as well, in addition to the Start Menu. Here are some questions that use Bing to deliver results:

  • Show me Indian restaurants nearby
  • Show me pictures of Mila Kunis
  • When is the next baseball game?

If you want to use Google rather than Bing, that’s also possible. Using a Bing2Google extension allows you to issue Cortana commands and get results from Google products. It’s like harnessing the power of Google Now through Cortana. Here are some examples:

  • Where are my packages?
  • When does Battle and Brew close?
  • What is tonsillitis?

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Lifehacker’s detailed article explaining Cortana’s commands in Windows 10 is available here. Furthermore, this handy Windows 10 cheat sheet should help you make the most of Windows 10.

Republished with permission from BGR. Read the original.