Microsoft’s digital assistant Cortana is without doubt one of the main additions to Home windows 10 — and it is a winner. Flip it on and Cortana alerts you to imminent conferences; searches your PC and the online; tells you concerning the climate, information, and sports activities; and much more.

That will help you get essentially the most out of Cortana, I’ve put collectively a few of my favourite ideas for utilizing it — together with utilizing Cortana to handle your Google Calendar, establish the music you are listening to, and monitor packages and flights.

Notes:

This text assumes that you simply’re already aware of the fundamentals of Cortana. If you need assist getting began, see the Cortana part of Computerworld’s “Home windows 10 cheat sheet.”
Remember that there have been six main updates to Home windows 10 since its preliminary launch in July 2015. This text displays how Cortana works for those who’ve put in the Home windows 10 October 2018 Replace (model 1809), so for those who haven’t put in that replace, what you see and browse right here could differ barely from what you see in your model of Home windows 10.

Get a direct reply to your query

Whenever you ask Cortana a query, it can sometimes present you the reply by way of an inventory of internet hyperlinks; you then open the search leads to your browser. That is what occurred, for instance, once I requested, “What was the coldest day of the 12 months in 2015 in Boston?”

That is a helpful however time-consuming course of, as a result of you must flick thru the search outcomes, click on one after which search for info from the online web page that seems.

However there are many questions that Cortana can reply instantly, with out first sending you out to the online. As a substitute, you get your solutions proper in Cortana’s pane. Following is only a partial listing — attempt experimenting by yourself to see what else it is aware of.

Outline [word] Desire a definition for “absquatulate”? Simply ask Cortana.

When is [name of holiday]? Cortana is aware of when holidays fall on the calendar.

Who’s [title of person]? Cortana can inform you who’re the CEOs of Microsoft, Google, and Apple, as effectively who’s the president of america. Attempt different titles and names as effectively.

What time is it in [place]? Confused about what time it’s proper now someplace on the earth? Cortana is aware of.

Convert [currency] to [currency] Wish to know the present trade charges between currencies? Simply ask.

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Cortana can give you solutions instantly with out sending you out to the online. (Click on any picture on this story to enlarge it.)

How tall is [person]? It is aware of how tall most well-known persons are. So it is aware of, for instance, that former U.S. President Barack Obama is six ft one inch tall.

How lengthy is [movie]? How lengthy is The Godfather? Simply ask, and Cortana will inform. Nevertheless, it would not know each film ever made, so typically you will be despatched out to the online for a solution.

What’s the capital of [country or state]? If that you must know the capital of a rustic or state, Cortana is aware of.

Join your accounts, apps, and providers to Cortana

One option to prolong the ability of Cortana is to attach it to an account — for instance, LinkedIn — in order that once you ask Cortana to do one thing, it could possibly look by way of info in that account and provide you with further details about your request. Cortana can do extra as effectively, together with taking part in music by way of a service akin to Spotify or controlling sensible dwelling home equipment. And Cortana can work with Home windows 10 apps, akin to discovering a present and taking part in it on Netflix or Hulu, or asking Fitbit what number of steps you’ve taken in a day. Microsoft calls some of these actions “Cortana abilities.”

To get began, click on within the Cortana search field and, when the Cortana panel seems, click on the icon of the pocket book within the left-hand navigation panel. Click on the Handle Expertise tab on the prime of the display screen that seems and look underneath Connections, which is separated into 4 sections: Related providers, Music, Related Residence, and Microsoft household. Click on the suitable field — for instance, Music if you wish to have Cortana play music by way of Spotify. Then click on the service you need to join. As I write this, solely three providers can be found: iHeartRadio, Spotify, and TuneIn. Comply with the prompts so as to add the account after which begin taking part in music.

To manage dwelling home equipment, click on Related Residence, then from the display screen that seems, click on the equipment you need to management — for instance, the Nest sensible thermostat. Click on Join after which comply with the prompts. It can most likely assist for those who verify the handbook of your sensible dwelling equipment earlier than attempting this.

For different providers, choose “Related providers” after which “Add a service.” You’ll see a listing of accessible providers, together with LinkedIn, Gmail, Workplace 365, Outlook.com, Wunderlist, and Skype. (Observe that Workplace 365 integration is offered solely when you’ve got a enterprise Workplace 365 account, not a private one.) To hook up with an account, click on it, then click on the Join button that seems. Enter the data you usually use to log into the account, and Cortana will do the remaining.

If you wish to share occasions and calendars with relations, click on Microsoft household, then click on “Begin including relations” and comply with the prompts.

There are further accounts you possibly can hyperlink to Cortana for a wide range of different abilities, akin to linking to your Fitbit account to get an exercise abstract, and even ordering pizza from Domino’s. To hyperlink to them, go to the principle Handle Expertise display screen, then click on the “Uncover extra Expertise” button. That can launch the Microsoft Edge internet browser to a web page with a listing of providers you need to use. Click on any for directions on how to connect with it.

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You may hyperlink a wide range of accounts to Cortana, to have it do issues akin to play music, search by way of LinkedIn and management dwelling home equipment.

The advantages you will get from linking your accounts to Cortana differ based on the account. For instance, for those who hyperlink Cortana to LinkedIn, when it reminds you of a gathering, it can look to see if any of the individuals on the assembly are LinkedIn members. If they’re, it can seize their info — together with their LinkedIn profile photograph, their job title, and their firm. You may then click on on the individual’s title to leap to their LinkedIn profile.

Observe that in lots of situations, you don’t have to manually add a ability to Cortana to have it carry out duties for you. So long as you’ve put in the app, Cortana mechanically integrates with it. Quite a lot of widespread apps, together with Netflix, Hulu, and Uber, combine with Cortana like this. For instance, if you wish to play the TV collection Grasp of None on Netflix, you possibly can sort “Netflix discover Grasp of None.” (Really, you possibly can sort “netflix discover grasp of none” — Cortana is case-insensitive.)

If you wish to use a voice command as an alternative, you possibly can say, “Hey, Cortana, Netflix discover Grasp of None.” Use the identical syntax for Hulu — for instance, “Hulu discover Spiral” if you wish to discover and play the French police present. You can too play and pause utilizing voice instructions.

Remember that you must use the exact syntax required for every app — you possibly can’t sort or converse utilizing real-life, pure language. And it is completely different for every app. For Netflix and Hulu, for instance, the syntax is [name of app] discover [name of show]. You may’t say, “Play Grasp of None on Netflix” and even “Netflix play Grasp of None” and have it work.

Set and use reminders

One in every of Cortana’s most helpful options is the way in which wherein it could possibly remind you about duties or upcoming occasions. It is quite simple to set a reminder — simply say or sort “Remind me.” From the display screen that seems, fill within the kind with the individual, place, time, or factor that you simply need to be reminded about. When you want, you possibly can bypass the shape and simply say one thing like “Remind me about my tennis sport at this time at 6 pm.”

You can too set a reminder by clicking within the search field, deciding on the pocket book icon within the Cortana pane that seems, clicking the Organizer tab, after which deciding on “Create a reminder.”

To ensure that Cortana to pop up alerts concerning the reminders you’ve set, that you must activate Home windows 10’s notification characteristic. To do it, go to Settings > System > Notifications & actions after which flip the slider on within the “Get notifications from apps and different senders” part.

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Cortana can set reminders primarily based on time, location, or contacts.

Let’s begin with location. Say that you simply at all times need to be reminded to purchase a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream once you’re close to your favourite grocery store — Complete Meals, for instance. Say or sort “Remind me to get Cherry Garcia ice cream once I’m at Complete Meals.” A display screen will seem, displaying the tackle of any close by Complete Meals shops and asking you which of them one to set a reminder for — or whether or not the reminder ought to present up once you’re in any Complete Meals. Then, the following time you are there, Cortana will remind you to bask in your ice cream dependancy.

Observe that you simply’ll have to have location providers turned on for this characteristic to work. To show the providers on, choose Settings > Privateness > Location. Click on the Change button, and from the display screen that seems, transfer the slider to On. Additionally, if the place is not one which Cortana readily acknowledges, it can ask you for extra info or have you ever sort within the tackle your self.

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Setting a location-based reminder in Cortana.

You may set reminders in the identical manner for time and contacts. If you wish to be reminded to fill your automobile with gasoline tomorrow morning, for instance, say or sort “Remind me to get gasoline tomorrow morning.” A display screen will pop up asking for extra particulars, akin to the precise time and whether or not it needs to be a recurring reminder.

You can too inform Cortana to remind you to do one thing once you work together with somebody in your contact e-book. So if you wish to remind your self to ask your buddy Lydia a few dinner invitation, say “Remind me to ask Lydia a few dinner invitation.” A display screen pops up asking for the contact’s title if Cortana did not acknowledge it. Then the following time you ship or obtain an e mail with that individual, you will get the reminder.

Cortana additionally helps you to view, delete, and edit any of the reminders you’ve created. To handle your reminders, click on within the search field, click on the pocket book icon from the Cortana pane that seems, and click on “Reminders” within the Organizer tab. You’ll see a listing of all the reminders you’ve created. To edit or delete any, click on the three-dot icon to its proper. From the menu that pops up, click on Edit to edit it — for instance, to alter the time, place, or individual concerned. To delete it, click on both Delete or Full.

Handle your Google Calendar with Cortana

Home windows 10 features a built-in calendar app that works with Cortana. Nevertheless, for those who’re a Google Calendar consumer, you may get Cortana to combine with that as effectively, so you need to use Cortana to create and edit appointments, and present you your schedule with Google Calendar in the identical manner as you do with the built-in Home windows 10 Calendar app.

To do it, you first have to combine your Google Calendar with the Home windows 10 Calendar. First, launch the Calendar app by typing “calendar” into Cortana, then clicking the Calendar app icon that seems on the prime of search outcomes.

Subsequent, click on the Settings icon on the decrease proper of the Calendar display screen — the icon is within the form of a gear. When the Settings menu seems, choose Account > Handle Accounts > Add account. From the “Select an account” display screen, choose Google. You will be requested to check in along with your Google account info. Comply with the prompts to create the account.

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You may create an appointment in your Google Calendar utilizing Cortana for those who add your Google account info.

That is all it takes. To any extent further, your Google calendar will sync with the Home windows 10’s Calendar app. So, for instance, for those who ask Cortana to “create appointment,” you can fill within the particulars utilizing Cortana, together with the date, time, and goal. Cortana will add the occasion to the Home windows 10 Calendar. To reserve it to your Google calendar instantly, select the calendar from the drop-down listing simply above the Add button. No matter which calendar you add an occasion to, each Google and Home windows 10 Calendar will stay in sync.

Additionally, once you ask to see your schedule — akin to by asking “What’s my schedule at this time?” — Cortana will present you the occasions from all your calendars, together with Google.

One draw back is which you can’t add occasions to sub-calendars on Google Calendar (like ‘dwelling’ or ‘work’) with any common success. Typically it really works, and typically it would not.

Use Cortana on the lock display screen

Do you know you don’t even should log into Home windows to make use of Cortana? You may work with the digital assistant on proper on the lock display screen.

To get began: Click on within the Cortana search bar and click on the gear icon that seems on the left facet of the pop-up menu. This brings up Cortana’s settings.

Scroll right down to the Lock Display part and transfer the slider to On. Look just under that for the “Let Cortana entry my calendar, e mail, messages, and Energy BI information when my gadget is locked” setting. Test that field as effectively. When you don’t, Cortana will probably be restricted in what it could possibly do for you from the lock display screen — you’ll be capable to hearken to music and discover out the climate from the lock display screen, however you gained’t be capable to set reminders, ship emails, or add occasions to your calendar.

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This setting helps you to use Cortana on the lock display screen.

When you’ve carried out that, when your gadget is locked you possibly can simply say “Hey Cortana” and use it from the lock display screen as you usually would, to set reminders, play music, verify your calendar, and extra with out logging into Home windows.

Use Google and Chrome with Cortana

Whenever you ask Cortana to look the online, it makes use of Microsoft’s Bing search engine. After which, so as to add insult to damage, it shows the outcomes utilizing the Microsoft Edge browser. Earlier than April 2016, you can simply have Chrome or one other browser show the outcomes by making a easy change in Home windows 10 Settings. Alas, that’s now not the case, as a result of even for those who configure one other browser like Chrome to be your default browser, Cortana will ignore your needs and launch its internet searches utilizing Edge.

Nevertheless, there’s a workaround that can drive Cortana to make use of Google or one other search engine to do its internet searches, and one other that tells Cortana to make use of Chrome or one other browser to show the outcomes. Right here’s do them.

First we’ll deal with Cortana’s behavior of displaying search leads to Edge. Though you possibly can have Cortana use any browser that you simply’ve set as your default, I’ll give the directions beneath for Google Chrome, as a result of for those who additionally need to drive Cortana to make use of Google or one other search engine in addition to Bing, you’ll want to make use of Chrome.

To start out, ensure that Chrome is about as your default in Home windows 10. Open the Home windows 10 Settings app and choose Apps > Default Apps. If Chrome isn’t the listed because the default browser, click on the online browser icon and choose Google Chrome from the listing that seems. That makes Chrome your default once you click on a hyperlink. However that you must do yet another factor to drive Cortana to make use of Chrome.

To try this, you’ll have to put in a free piece of software program known as EdgeDeflector. To do it, first get the newest model of EdgeDeflector’s .EXE executable file from GitHub. (The GitHub website additionally has extra details about EdgeDeflector.) After you’ve downloaded the file, create a brand new folder in File Explorer the place you’ll put EdgeDeflector. You may create the folder wherever you need, though I like to recommend placing it in both the Program Information or Program Information (x86) underneath your Home windows set up, as a result of that’s the place most or all your different packages are saved. It’s a good suggestion to call the folder EdgeDeflector or one thing related, so that you’ll be capable to know at a look what’s in it. You’ll should be logged in as an administrator to create the folder.

After you’ve created the folder, transfer EdgeDeflector’s .EXE to the folder and run it. Whenever you do, it can ask what program you need to use to open the file. Select EdgeDeflector. To any extent further, when Cortana does an internet search, it can show the leads to your default internet browser — on this case, Chrome.

(Observe: EdgeDeflector doesn’t replace itself mechanically. When Home windows 10 will get an replace, there’s an opportunity it might cease working. If that occurs, get the newest launch of EdgeDeflector’s .EXE file from GitHub and set up it.)

Now we’ll deal with the second downside: the truth that Cortana searches the Web utilizing Bing. When you want that it as an alternative search Google, Yahoo, or the DuckDuckGo search engine, set up the Chrometana extension for Chrome. (It solely works for Chrome, not another browsers.)

After you put in it, a tab will open asking which search engine you need to use. Click on the one you need to use, and from that time on, your search will probably be carried out by way of that search engine, not Bing. Observe that Chrometana gained’t work except you first set up EdgeDeflector.

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The Chrometana Chrome extension redirects your Cortana searches to Google, DuckDuckGo, or Yahoo fairly than Bing.

One remaining observe about Cortana and internet browsers: Cortana solutions quite a lot of questions instantly with out sending you to an internet outcomes web page, as defined earlier on this article. For instance, for those who use Cortana to seek for “Climate,” you will see the outcomes proper in Cortana in a flyout pane. These outcomes are nonetheless gotten by way of Bing. Nevertheless, once you click on on the pane to see extra or associated info, that info opens up in Chrome, not in Bing for those who use EdgeDeflector.

Use natural-language queries

Cortana is quite a bit smarter than you suppose: It helps you to use natural-language queries — in different phrases, make requests of it utilizing plain English (or no matter your language is), fairly than having to make use of particular phrases.

For instance, to ship an e mail to a contact, you possibly can say, “Ship an e mail to Jane Doe.” Cortana will look by way of your contacts, discover the individual to whom you need to ship the e-mail, after which allow you to fill out a kind onscreen to create and ship the e-mail with out having to enter a mail app. When you’ve linked your Outlook account to a different account, akin to a Gmail account, it can look by way of that as effectively. And if it finds a number of matches for the individual’s title, it can ask you which of them tackle you need to ship the mail to.

Make Cortana reply solely to you

You may inform Cortana to reply solely to your voice and nobody else’s. To do it, click on within the search bar, then click on Cortana’s settings icon (it seems to be like a gear) on the left of the display screen. Be sure that the slider beneath “Let Cortana reply to ‘Hey Cortana’” is about to On. Beneath it, you’ll see two buttons — one which reads, “Reply when anybody says ‘Hey Cortana’” and one other that reads “Attempt to reply solely to me.”

That second button is grayed out — to pick out it, you first have to coach Cortana to acknowledge simply your voice. Click on “Find out how I say ‘Hey Cortana.’” Cortana will ask you to repeat six phrases. After that, you’ll be capable to choose “Attempt to reply solely to me.” Do this, and Cortana will do its greatest to reply solely to your voice.

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You may practice Cortana to acknowledge your voice and reply solely to you.

Test your calendar for Cortana-created info

Cortana can mechanically add occasions to your calendar primarily based on emails you obtain — for instance, it can add airline flight information to your calendar for those who obtain a flight affirmation by way of e mail. Take into account, although, that it solely does this with mail despatched to an Outlook.com account or to company Outlook customers. If the data goes to a unique service, akin to Gmail, it gained’t work.

Miscellaneous cool stuff

There are a number of different helpful and/or enjoyable issues that Cortana can do for you. Just a few of my favorites:

You may monitor packages or flights by typing or saying the flight quantity or bundle monitoring quantity.
You may ask Cortana to carry out easy calculations: Simply sort within the search field (“What’s 521 * 12 – 26 / three?”) or converse (“Hey Cortana, what’s 5 hundred twenty-one instances twelve minus twenty-six divided by three?”).
You may snap an image of a poster for an occasion, and Cortana will detect the dates on it and ask if you wish to create a reminder to attend it.
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There are a number of helpful providers Cortana can carry out, akin to monitoring flights.

To search out out different issues that Cortana can do, simply sort or say “assist me” and you will get an extended listing of different Cortana options. Click on something on the listing — “Play music,” for instance — and Cortana will do your bidding.

Associated video: Get essentially the most from Cortana

Preston Gralla presents up some recommendations on use the Cortana digital assistant in Home windows 10 to its fullest potential. (Observe: The interface seems to be a bit of completely different now than when this video was shot, however the primary steps are the identical.)

This text was initially printed in March 2016 and most not too long ago up to date in March 2019.

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