One of the most interesting innovations of Windows 10 was an integrated personal helper known as Cortana. This service is based on AI pre-programmed functions. Despite having an interesting design, not everyone was happy with Cortana after the release. In today’s article, we are going to talk about this personal helper, its functions, and how you can disable Cortana in Windows 10.
What can Cortana do?
This smart AI assistant was developed to be a tool that will make Windows 10 users life easier and boost productivity. Cortana understands voice commands and knows how to search for information on the computer and Internet as well. Apart from that, searching algorithms also include cloud storages and services such as OneDrive, Outlook, etc. In addition to that, you can use Cortana to manage apps, for example, media player.
We also want to specify that personal assistants like Cortana are available on other operating systems not just in Windows 10 – for example, there is Google Assistant for Android and Siri on iOS. Such services are created with one main idea in mind – your personal assistant must always be with you, no matter what device you are using at the moment. Plus, it must be synchronized with all your gadgets.
Cortana always logs and analyzes your basic actions and remembers your preferences – that is why all its recommendations are personalized for a specific user. AI is based on the principle of adaptation. To get access to this feature of Windows 10, you just need to open the Windows menu. Your personal assistant is integrated into Windows search that can be accessed from the Start menu or your taskbar.
Why disable Cortana?
There are several reasons that might induce you to disable your personal Windows 10 assistant:
- This service logs your personal information/preferences and hands it over to Microsoft. You may think that it is done to improve Cortana in the However, it the program copies your voice, handwriting examples, collects addresses, analyzes planned meetings, and other things that are clearly not related to improving its functions. Not everyone finds this “behavior” acceptable.
- Cortana is always on watch, which means that it requires PC resources. The impact on the system is easily noticeable on weak/old devices.
- Cortana constantly sends reports to Microsoft and eats your traffic, which is a major problem for users with non-unlimited access to the Web.
- It does not understand all languages – right now it is limited to thirteen language packs. If your native language is not on the list and your English is not fluent, it might be difficult to use Cortana as intended.
That is why disabling Cortana in Windows 10 can be a quite rational decision.
Four easy ways to disable Cortana
The first method requires you to perform the following actions:
- Open the Start Menu and click on Settings (an icon with a small gear).
- Go to the “Privacy” menu.
- Select the “Diagnostics & feedback” tab on the left.
- Use the slider to deactivate the service that sends inking and typing data to Microsoft.
- Go to the "Speech, inking, & typing” menu.
- Click on the button “Stop getting to know me” (users with latest versions of Windows need to click on the “Turn off speech services and typing suggestions” button).
After the release of the Windows 10 build 1607, it has become impossible to deactivate Cortana in a few clicks. However, you can still use the local group policy editor tool. If you have Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise follow these instructions:
- Press Win+R on your keyboard, type gpedit.msc in the window to appear and hit Enter.
- Go to Computer Configuration/Administrative Templates/Windows Components/Search.
- Double click on “Allow Cortana” and set it to Disabled.
- Confirm changes.
- Reboot your PC.
Disabling Cortana Through Registry Editor
Now let’s discuss how you can disable Cortana in Windows 10 using Registry Editor. It gets a bit more complicated (in comparison with previous methods) but still manageable with our guidelines. As hard as Microsoft tries to prevent users from disabling the personal assistant, the users fight back and invent new solutions. Don’t be afraid to tinker with the registry even if you don’t know anything about it – just follow the steps below and don’t touch unnecessary things.
Press Windows + R keys on your keyboard to open the Run window.
- Press Win+R and type regedit in the search bar to appear. Press “OK.”
- Registry Editor window will appear on the screen. Find HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE on the left sidebar, then select Software – Policies – Microsoft – Windows – Windows Search.
- If you don’t have the Window Search folder, don’t worry. You can create it by yourself. Right-click on the Windows folder, select New and then select Key. A new folder will be created, so you just need to rename it to “Windows Search.”
- Open the newly created Windows Search folder, move to the right side of the window, and right-click anywhere. In the menu to appear, click New, then select DWORD (32-bit) Value.
- After creating the DWORD (32-bit) Value, you will need to rename it. Just type AllowCortana instead of the default name. Open it, find Value data section, and set Value data to 0.
- Now just click “OK” to save changes.
After completing all these steps, there is only one thing left to be done – reboot your computer. When it is back, you will notice that Cortana is longer working. We find this way to be rather convenient despite being more complex with all those Registry Editor tinkering. If you want Cortana back, just repeat the process up to the 5th step, then change Value Data of “AllowCortana” to 1. Reboot your computer after that to “resurrect” Cortana.
Disable Cortana by simple renaming
If you don’t feel confident enough to make changes in Registry Editor, but still want to get rid of Cortana, here is another simple method. It does not require any specific Windows knowledge or technical skills. Just follow our instructions, and you will get there in the blink of an eye.
- Press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to open Task Manager (alternatively, you can right-click on the Start menu and select Task Manager from the list).
- If Task Manager is opened in the compact mode, click “More Details” in the lower left corner.
- Go to the tab with Processes and find Cortana there.
- Right click on the Cortana’s process, then select “Open file location.”
- You will find yourself in the SystemApps folder. Look for the folder with the word “Cortana” in it.
- Right click on the folder and choose Rename. Type .bak at the end of the folder. Hit Enter.
If doing that gives you an error regarding how Cortana is running in the background, go to task manager, and end the Cortana task. Do that, and repeat the process again. Make sure you restart the PC afterward. Keep in mind that this will not fully get rid of Cortana. However, it will do enough to disable it for as long as you want. That is because by renaming the folder, you are no longer allowing the Windows to access Cortana on startup. Sure, it does make an attempt at launching it, but due to a renamed folder, it fails to do so.
Delete your personal information from the cloud
Even after disabling Cortana using one of the methods above, you still need to delete the data your personal assistant had sent to Microsoft when it was active. In order to wipe your record clean, you need to do the following:
- Go to the Microsoft official website and log in to your Microsoft account.
- Click on “Settings” in your profile.
- Open your personal info and find “Interests.”
- Click on the “Clear” button.
- Go to “Other Cortana Data and Personalized Speech, Inking and Typing”
- Click on the “Clear” button.
- Clear other saved information by following other links on the page.
Doing so will help you to erase personal information such as Bing search logs, marked Bing Maps places, OneDrive data, Outlook, Microsoft Advertising, and Xbox.