Disabling Cortana

How to Disable Cortana

Cortana is a virtual assistant that runs on several Windows platforms, including Windows 10, Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 10 mobile. The assistant is designed along the lines of Google Now, Amazon Echo and Apple Siri. Cortana can recognize natural voice and answer questions based on the information harvested from Microsoft’s Bing Search engine. According to Microsoft Office, the intelligent assistant can get answers to various questions, play music, offer weather updates and provide directions. In terms of organizational capability, the assistant also makes it possible for the OS to set the local time, location reminders, as well as track flight information.

You can also use the assistant to connect to various smart devices in your home such as temperature, lights, and much more. Overall, the intuitive interaction between Cortana and Windows OS has made it the first digital assistant to help users perform common computing tasks. The version of Cortana that is embedded in Windows 10 also integrates with third-party apps, directly and as a service. Microsoft unveiled Cortana as part of its aggressive efforts to transform the way the Windows Operating system and Windows Phone will operate in the future. However, to operate more efficiently, Cortana demands huge volumes of information, and this can be bothersome to some users.

It is also a potential privacy nightmare because, in order for Cortana to work, it must listen to everything that is said around it. Essentially, it is an open microphone sitting in the room with the audio potentially being stored or used for unknown purposes. Ok, unknown but easily guessed purposes.

Disabling Cortana: What you need to know!

With all the information out there on the web, and with gadgets like smartphones, smart watches, and laptops, users are increasingly becoming wary about their privacy and the amount of personal data that could get into the wrong hands. Part of the effort to keep privacy in check is taking active steps to disable Cortana.

Things you need to know before disabling Cortana

  • To completely eradicate Cortana from your operating system, you need to access the Registry Editor. If you do not follow this route, the assistant may still linger on in the background, even though it will have limited functionality.
  • Cortana can only be disabled per device, which will leave the information from other Windows devices intact.
  • Turning Cortana off will affect the efficiency of your Windows 10, especially in the area of making suggestions.
  • To prevent Microsoft from storing personal information in the cloud, and other devices, begin by turning the Cortana off before clearing personal information.
  • With the new changes in Cortana, there is no single button solution to clear the accumulated data. The changes have also made it difficult for Cortana to gather information collated from the user’s Microsoft accounts.
  • The action of disabling Cortana may not affect information stored on the Microsoft server. This information can only be cleared manually.
  • If you chose to re-enable Cortana, simply go back to settings and select privacy. Next, select Speech, and click the “Get to Know Me” command button. The alternative method is to go to the taskbar, and select settings, then switch on the assistant.

How to disable Cortana on Windows 10

When Cortana was initially introduced, it was much easier to turn if off using a simple click. Following the Windows 10 upgrade, the disabling procedure has become less obvious. According to PC Gamer, the difficulty users experience today stems from the fact that Cortina is neatly woven into Windows 10 OS and Windows Search. This means the disabling action will impact the working of the Search and OS as well as functionalities like natural language search, personalized news and reminders.

Users are strongly advised to create a restoration point before disabling Cortana to guard against operational issues in the event the attempt to disable it doesn’t go as expected.

Disabling Cortana on Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise

If you are using a Local Group Policy Editor to disable Cortana, GPEdit makes it easy to turn off the assistant without adversely affecting your system.

  1. Go to the Windows search box and type the words Group Policy
  2. Point to the left window pane of your Local Group Editor and navigate your way to Computer Configuration. Follow the Administrative Templates, Windows Components and select Search
  3. On the right side of the window pane, select Allow Cortana
  4. Choose Edit after selecting Allow Cortana
  5. Go to the radio button on the left side of the screen and click on Disabled
  6. Lastly, click on Apply, and close the window

How to disable Cortana on Windows 10 Home

If you do not have Group Policy on your Windows 10 Home, add it via the registry editor to lessen your work.

  1. Begin by typing “regedit” on Windows search. Alternatively, press the combination of the Windows Key + R to bring up the run interface and type regedit. Before executing the command, Windows might request additional permission to run the registry Editor.
  2. Go to the left pane of regedit and navigate your way through HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Windows Search. In case, you do not see the Windows Search folder, you can create one by right clicking the Windows folder, selecting New, and creating a new folder labeled Windows Search.
  3. Right click on an empty space in the regedit pane and click on New, select DWord (32 bit) value.
  4. Name it “AllowCortana” and assign the Value 0.
  5. Save the new key and close the Registry Editor and sign out of Windows 10

Conclusion

Because of Cortana’s wide reach, you can also remove personalized information found in areas like Notebook, Reminders and Bing Places by visiting Bing Settings.

However, the process of wiping Cortana’s stored data can be a little trickier. According to PCWorld, you can start by going to Microsoft’s privacy dashboard and then sign into the account with requested details. Once you are logged in, clear every detail, including personal information and every detail you want the system to foreget. While doing so, it is important to recognize that your action may affect services like Microsoft Edge, Bing and Maps.

If you decide to bring back Cortana at a later date, retrace the steps you performed in the Registry Editor. If the system is intact, go to AllowCortana and enter the value 1 in place of 0. The other strategy is to clear the AllowCortana value and save your settings.

About The Author
Katya Seryabkina
Ukrainian born, and a self-taught geek. I started hacking when I was 14 and can write code in 5 languages, but have no formal technical education. The edge of technology is what keeps me interested. I cover file sharing, the dark web, and certain gadgets for The High Tech Society.