Microsoft released the final version of Windows 10 back in 2015, and along with the amazing OS, we also got an assistant called Cortana. As expected, a lot of people were not happy and wanted to disable Cortana.
There were concerns that Cortana is collecting personal information from the computer and uploading it to the servers. While there was not enough proof to back that off, it still managed to enrage a lot of people.
Ever since the release date, Microsoft has worked really hard to improve Cortana and have succeeded for the most part. Still, there are a lot of people who simply do not agree with the existence of an AI assistant.
The main reason behind that is Cortana does not feel like a proper AI, or an AI that belongs in the Windows. That is because the integration is not as spread out as we thought it would be in the first place.
At its current stage, Cortana feels severely lacking the most basic AI features that can be very useful. Sure, there are some useful features too, but when you compare Cortana with something like the Google Assistant, or Siri, it just feels very incomplete.
What is Cortana?
We all know that Cortana is an AI assistant. What most people are not aware of is the origins of this soft-spoken AI. Cortana gets its name from the iconic AI in the Halo series, it is available on Windows Phone 8.1 along with Window 10 from the start.
There were not a lot of pleasing reviews about this AI because many thought that it is unnecessary to the ecosystem and serves no real purpose. At the same time, the AI was also accused of collecting the data and uploading it to the server.
There are a lot of features that are built-in to Cortana’s coding. Despite what the users have stated over the course of time, some features are very useful.
For starters, Cortana Home provides you a walkthrough of all the important events every single day. Cortana aggregates things like reminders, flight timings, and other important details and presents them to the user to make the user experience better.
Cortana can also take notes for you, set reminders, search things for you, and give you contextual based information. You can also ask Cortana to give you information about a movie release, and if you are bored, you can ask Cortana to tell you a joke.
I can say that Cortana is a step in the right direction, but as an AI that has the potential to control the entire Windows ecosystem, it is not as fleshed out. Especially when you compare it with Google Assistant or Siri by Apple.
Can We Disable / Turn Off Cortana in Windows 10?
Due to the accusations that Cortana is collecting user data, a lot of people wanted to get rid of it. While there were no cruel intentions behind the data collections, it was simply a practice not many people approve of. Microsoft did issue an apology afterward, along with a method to disable or turn off Cortana if you want to.
Microsoft did issue an apology afterward, along with a method to disable Cortana if you want to. There are a number of ways to disable Cortana, and while some rely on completely disabling it, others will not get rid of it. If you are wondering whether or not you can permanently delete Cortana, that is not possible at the moment.
If you are wondering whether or not you can permanently delete Cortana, that is not possible at the moment.
However, you can completely disable it, and stop it from working again. To make things simpler, and diverse, I am writing down all the known methods that are available to use.
Disabling Cortana Through Registry Editor
Disabling Cortana back then or completely getting rid of it was easier before. However, Microsoft is constantly trying to push the users into letting it stay. The good thing is that people always find a way to disable Cortana one way or another.
At the time of writing this, there are three known methods that you can use to disable Cortana. The first one is going to be focusing on disabling Cortana through the registry editor. I admit that this is a bit intimidating and on the more advanced side.
You should not worry, as there are other easier ways that I will be talking about later in the article. As for now, let’s just stick to what is more important.
Press windows + R keys on your keyboard to open the Run window.
Type in regedit in the search bar, and press OK.
Entering the command will take you to the registry editor. On the left pane, look for HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, then click on Software, followed by Policies, and then click on Microsoft, click on Windows, then click on Windows Search.
Now here is the tricky part, in some cases, the Windows Search folder is not there. If it is not, simply right-click the Windows folder, click on New, and then click on Key. Name that folder Windows Search.
Select the Windows Search folder on in the left pane, move over to the right side of the pane, and right-click on the empty space. From the menu, click on New, and then click on DWORD (32-bit) Value.
Once you do that, there will be a new window in which you will have to name the DWORD (32-bit) Value you just created. Simply go ahead and type AllowCortana. In the Value Data section, you are going to just type 0.
Do not make any other changes, or tinker with things you do not understand.
All you have to do at this point is to click OK to make sure that your settings have been saved.
Once you are done with all the steps, simply go ahead and restart your computer. Once the computer boots up, you will no longer have Cortana working. Even the search menu will be extra simplified with just the option of search.
Cortana’s eye will no longer be in place, and the same goes for the microphone icon. Simply put, this is one of the most convenient ways of getting rid of Cortana, and even though it is difficult, it is not impossible.
In case you want to enable Cortana all over again, repeat the steps till the fifth step, and change the value in the Value Data to 1. Restart your computer again, and you will have Cortana up and running.
How to Turn Off Cortana from Settings in Windows 10
This perhaps the easiest way of making sure that you get rid of Cortana, and while the changes you make are not going to be as prominent. It still manages to disable Cortana, and ensures the user that their personal information is not being taken.
Now for those wondering what personal information Cortana takes, it is basically the location of the device, as well as browser history. Still, this is a breach of privacy cannot be excused at all.
Luckily, Microsoft has built in a feature in Cortana that will stop the AI from collecting your personal information any further. Unlike the first method, this will not get rid of Cortana completely, but will surely provide some amount of peace of mind.
Start by right-clicking the Start button, and then click on Settings.
Once you are in the settings, scroll down and look for Privacy.
A new window will open. When it does, look for the Speek, inking & typing option on the left pane, and click on it.
Once that is done, you need to click on Stop getting to know me. If you are on the newer version of Windows, you will have to click on Turn off speech services and typing suggestions.
Last but not the least, you need to make sure Cortana clears all the history it has. For that, click on the Cortana icon in the search bar. Then click on the settings icon, from there, you have to scroll down until you see Clear my device history under the My device history tab.
Following these steps will make sure that Cortana does not save your personal information anymore, and allow you to use the computer without any issues. You will not be able to communicate with Cortana anymore, but it will still be there.
You can re-enable Cortana by following the same steps and doing the exact opposite of what you did in the steps beforehand. However, if you do not want Cortana to collect your personal data and keep it saved, it is better if you just avoid doing that.
How to Disable Cortana by Renaming in Windows 10?
The next method is for people who think editing registry is a bit too complicated for them, as well as people who are still suspicious after using the default method. The good thing is that there is one more way through which you can fully disable Cortana.
This method does not require rocket science level of knowledge because it happens to be really easy. Just follow the simple steps, and you will be done in no time.
Open task manager by pressing CTRL + Shift + Esc keys together.
If your task manager is not expanded, click on More Details on the bottom left side.
Now click on Processes and from the list, find Cortana.
Right-click on Cortana, and then choose Open file location
You will be taken to the SystemApps folder. Locate the folder that has the word Cortana in it.
Now right-click the folder, and select Rename. Now add .bak at the end of the folder, and press 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.
In case you feel like reverting back, and enabling Cortana again, all you have to do is go back to C:\windows\systemapps, and make sure that you remove the .bak that you added in the first place.
Doing so will enable Cortana again, though you will have to restart the computer to make sure Windows try and execute the program again.
I would be lying if I say that Cortana is a bad AI, it is not. It is just the fact that Microsoft promised a lot, and they failed to deliver it. While they are still working on making it better, it does not seem that it is going to happen anytime soon.
Cortana has taken a huge hit, especially after the fact that users got to know that it is collecting their personal data that can be very sensitive in multiple cases. Keeping that in mind, if you are someone who wants their data to remain as private as possible, disabling Cortana is a good option.
Similarly, for anyone who does not want Cortana to use their network traffic, and does not want any additional load on their computers, disabling Cortana is always the nicer thing to do. Especially when it will save you some important resources.
Using the methods above, you will be able to turn off Cortana for good, but at the same time, it is important to note that Cortana is not completely going away from the Windows. Just like Siri, and Google Assistant, Cortana is also a part of Windows ecosystem.
So, until Microsoft decides to completely remove it from the Windows ecosystem, or at least give the users a chance to remove it, it is not going anywhere. Thankfully, the methods to remove Cortana are still here.