Microsoft has made its digital personal assistant – Cortana – more integral to Windows 10 with every major update. Apart from searching your computer, it displays notifications, can send emails, set reminders, and do all of that using your voice. Some might find it too intrusive though, and would prefer to turn the helper off. In this article, we will show you how to disable Cortana in Windows 10.
While you could turn off Cortana with a single toggle in the days before the Anniversary Update, that’s no longer possible. And with the recent Windows 10 Creators Update, disabling Cortana can entirely break search, according to reports, with the only way to fix it being a clean install.
If you’re still bent on plugging the plug on Cortana’s capabilities in Windows 10, there are ways to go about that. You can take away the tools it uses to learn about you, or you can completely switch it off.
How To Disable Cortana Temporarily
If Cortana sometimes activates when you don’t want it to, but you still want to be able to activate it manually, the first step is to make sure that Cortana won’t respond to your voice:
- Type Cortana in the Windows search box and select Cortana & Search Settings.
- Select the Talk to Cortana tab and make sure the Hey Cortana and Keyboard shortcut switches are set to Off.
For most users, disabling Cortana’s ability to automatically respond to a voice command or a keyboard shortcut is enough. This will prevent Cortana from ever activating accidentally, but it won’t affect your search experience, and everything will continue to operate as normal.
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How To Disable Cortana Permanently Using The Windows Registry
Cortana is heavily integrated into the Windows 10 search functionality, so fully disabling it may impact your user experience. Nonetheless, users of Windows 10 Home Edition can disable Cortana with the Registry Editor tool. Users of Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise can use either the Registry Editor or the Group Policy Manager.
After you have created a system restore point, and you’re absolutely sure you want to permanently disable Cortana, then you will need to open the Registry Editor:
Warning: Disabling Cortana via the Windows Registry Editor is irreversible in some cases without performing a clean install of Windows 10.
- Right-click the Windows icon and select Run to open the command prompt. Alternatively, use the keyboard shortcut Windows+R.
- Type regedit and press Enter on the keyboard. If a User Account Control (UAC) window appears, select Yes to proceed.
- Navigate to HKEY_Local_Machine > SOFTWARE > Policies > Microsoft > Windows, then right-click the Windows directory and select New > Key.
- Name the new folder Windows Search.
- Right-click the Windows Search folder and select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value.
- Name the new file AllowCortana.
- Double-click the AllowCortana file to open it, set the value to 0, then select OK.
- Close the Registry Editor and restart your computer.
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How To Disable Cortana Permanently In Group Policy Editor
Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Enterprise users can disable Cortana through the Registry Editor, but they have another option that’s a little safer. To turn off Cortana using of the Group Policy Editor:
Important: Before using the Registry Editor or Group Policy Editor methods, consider setting up a system restore point. Your system may become unstable or even fail to boot if you make a mistake.
- Press Windows+R to open the command prompt, type gpedit.msc into the box, and then press Enter. If a User Account Control (UAC) window appears, select Yes to proceed.
- Navigate to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Search, then double-click Allow Cortana in the right pane.
- Select Disabled, then select OK.
- Close the Group Policy Editor and restart your computer.
If you want to turn on Cortana in the future, follow the steps above, but set the Allow Cortana setting to Enabled.
How To Prevent Cortana From Recording And Storing Your Search Habits And History
Some users have privacy concerns about Cortana and Microsoft keeping track of their search histories and habits in the cloud. Completely disabling Cortana is one way to deal with this concern, or you can turn off each setting that allows Cortana to record and store information about you:
- Type Cortana in the Windows search box and select Cortana & Search Settings.
- Select the Permissions & History tab, then scroll down the page and set all options to Off.
- Scroll back to the top of the page and select Manage the information Cortana can access from this device.
- Set all options to Off.
- Scroll down the page and select Speech privacy settings.
- Set the Online Speech Recognition switch to Off.
- Select the back arrow in the upper-left corner of the window twice to return to the Cortana settings page, then select Change what Cortana knows about me in the Cloud.
- Your Personal Information page will load in the Start panel. Scroll to the bottom of the window and select Clear.
Cortana will still be installed on your computer, but it will not be able to gather information, report information to Microsoft, or interact with you in any way. If you wish to use Cortana in the future, change all of the settings back to the On position.
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Preventing Cortana From Knowing You
First, let’s head into Cortana’s settings to cut off all the separate ways it monitors your computer habits. Here’s how:
- Click the search box or the Cortana icon next to the Start key.
- Open Cortana’s settings panel with the gear icon.
- In the settings screen, turn off every toggle from On to Off.
- Next, scroll to the very top of the settings panel, and click on Change what Cortana knows about me in the cloud.
- Microsoft will fetch a page from the Internet called Personal Information in the same Start panel.
- When it loads, scroll to the very bottom, and hit Clear.
To serve you better, Cortana collects data about your typing and talking, as well. If you’d like to turn that off, follow these steps:
- Hit the Start key.
- Click the Settings gear icon.
- Select Privacy.
- In the left panel, look for Speech, inking & typing.
- Click Stop getting to know me.
Remember, turning this off will also disable dictation across Windows 10. If that’s a service you rely on, then you’ll have to put up with Windows ‘getting to know you’.
Turn Off Cortana Completely
Once you’ve gone through the steps above, Cortana won’t respond to your voice. But it’s still running in the background, waiting to be called upon.
To get rid of it completely, you need to do more. Depending on the version of Windows 10 you use – Home, Pro, or Enterprise – the steps will be slightly different.
How To Disable Cortana On Windows 10 Pro
- Hit the Start key, search for Edit group policy, and open it.
- Navigate to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Search.
- Find Allow Cortana, and double-click to open it.
- Click Disabled, and then hit OK.
How To Disable Cortana On Windows 10 Home
The process is slightly trickier, and involves editing the Windows Registry. If you’re not comfortable with this process, we suggest taking a backup, or setting a restore point.
- Hit the Start Key, search for regedit, and open it.
- Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > SOFTWARE > Policies > Microsoft > Windows.
- Right-click the Windows directory, and choose New > Key. Type in Windows Search, and hit enter.
- Select Windows Search. In the right-hand side pane, right-click in the empty area and choose New > DWORD (32-bit) Value. Type in AllowCortana, and hit enter.
- Double-click AllowCortana, and type in 0 under Value Data.
Restart your computer, and Cortana should now be gone. Instead of “Ask me anything”, the new search box will only say “Search Windows”.
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