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Disable Cortana (Windows 10): How to Turn Off Cortana, Completely

As you may have already known, Microsoft developed and introduced a digital personal assistant with their flagship operating system, Windows 10, which they called Cortana. If you’ve been a fan of the Halo game series, you may be familiar with this name, seeing as in this game Cortana was a smart AI construct that was essential to how the plot of the game unfolded.

Cortana Windows 10

Cortana was originally designed to work as a smartphone assistant on Windows mobile devices, but considering that Microsoft pulled the plug on Windows Phone in 2017 and officially ended support 2 years later, this smart AI assistant starts to look more and more like a technological relic. Unfortunately, for those of us who use Windows 10, Cortana is still a sad reality, as after every major(ish) update most of us are still struggling to disable it.

Don’t get me wrong, the idea of having a digital assistant makes perfect sense on a smartphone, as the ability to multitask on such a device is somewhat limited compared to that of a desktop computer, for instance. However, having an AI assistant on a desktop computer or a laptop is simply redundant. I mean, have you tried using it? Why open Cortana and tell it to open Outlook when you can simply double-click its desktop shortcut?

Is Cortana useful?

How to Turn Off Cortana, Completely

Sure, chatting with Cortana could make you feel entertained for a while, even if you’re just doing it for lols and giggles, but functionality-wise it’s not as bright as other assistants, such as Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant.

On top of that, it spends an unholy amount of time tracking your PC usage patterns trying to learn a lot of stuff about you (so it can provide you with a unique experience tailored specifically for you and your needs) to no avail, as sometimes it fails to perform even simple tasks, such as locating a file (and a frequently-used one, too) on your PC.

Well, you get the point. Cortana could’ve been something different, but the sad truth is that it didn’t turn out exactly how Microsoft envisioned it, and that’s precisely why so many of us go out of our ways trying to disable it from our personal computers.

Cortana: not as effective as it should be

It doesn’t make sense to keep it there, considering that it hogs up a lot of resources, invades our privacy (to some degree), and sometimes it can’t even perform menial tasks. Oh, and if you use it to perform online searches, it forces you to use Bing as a default search engine, and you can’t undo that without using a third-party browser extension. Ouch.

With that in mind, if you ever wanted to disable Cortana from your PC and quit before you even gave it a shot because you found it impossible to do so without going a few extra miles and thought that it’s not worth the effort, fear not; we’re here for you, and we’ll help you disable Cortana and get rid of its intrusions for once and for all. However, note that you might have to go through this guide again at the next major Windows 10 update.

Should I disable Cortana?

If you like having the full Windows 10 experience that Microsoft intended you to have, then there’s no point in removing Cortana. This especially applies if you’re using it regularly to schedule appointments in your calendar, manage contacts, see how’s the traffic, send an email to someone, navigate to a specific location on your PC, or whatever other reason.

However, if you’ve had enough of the blue ring assistant and want to stop it from analyzing your PC usage behavior and reporting back to Microsoft, then this guide is definitely worth checking out. We’re going to guide you through not only removing Cortana from your computer, but also disabling the Bing web search, setting a limit on what types of data Cortana can collect about you, and preventing Cortana from running at startup.

How to limit Cortana data collection

If you’ve decided that Cortana is in fact a good thing to have on your personal computer, we won’t judge you; your PC, your decision. However, if you’re not exactly on board with the amount of data Cortana collects from you and you want to limit the types of data you send to Microsoft through your trustworthy artificial intelligence-powered digital assistant, we can also help you with that.

There are a few places you’ll need to visit since Cortana collects various types of data from different services, but we’ll focus on two of the most important ones: speech and typing. Over the last few major updates, Cortana data collection and privacy settings have been modified, but at the time being our guide is still accurate. Here are the steps you need to take to restrict the type of data that Cortana can collect from your computer:

  1. Press the Win key on your keyboard
  2. Click the gear-shaped button (it should be next to the Power button)
  3. Go to the Privacy panel (you can toggle off everything here to give yourself a non-Cortana-related privacy boost)Windows 10 shows how to access privacy settings
  4. Navigate to the Speech category on the left
  5. Disable speech recognition
  6. Go to the Inking & typing personalization category on the left
  7. If it’s turned on, select View your personal dictionary
  8. Click the Clear your personal dictionary button (make sure you won’t need to use any of the included suggestions)
  9. Go back and toggle the Getting to know you feature off
  10. Select the Microphone category on the left
  11. Scroll down until you find Cortana and toggle it off (revokes access to your microphone)Disable Cortana microphone access
  12. Go through all the categories and disable Cortana wherever you may find it

Note that revoking Cortana’s microphone access will also make it unable to use voice activation, so there’s no need to disable voice activation first, then come back to revoking its access to your microphone. Also, it’s worth mentioning that disabling certain features such as the Getting to know you one from the Inking & typing personalization section will disable typing suggestions altogether on your Windows 10 PC.

How to COMPLETELY Disable Cortana

How to disable Cortana completely on Windows 10

Now we’re going to focus exclusively on disabling Cortana altogether, so before we proceed, make sure you’re sure you won’t need this digital assistant just moments after de-activating it. The process is quite painless, but on some versions of Windows 10 (the Home version, to be more precise) it involves modifying some things in the Windows registry, and doing so without a proper backup can sometimes lead to unpleasant situations.

That being said, below you’ll find detailed instructions on how to disable Cortana on both Windows 10 Home and Pro editions.

1. Windows 10 Home

Although on Windows 10 Home the Cortana removal process is a bit messier than on the Pro edition of the same operating system, it’s not difficult at all if you follow the next steps carefully:

  1. Press the Win key on your keyboard
  2. Type regedit and press Enter
  3. Click the Yes button to confirm your action (allow the Registry Editor to make changes on your device)
  4. Copy the address below and paste it on the top field (address bar) of the Registry Editor
    • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows
  5. Right-click the Windows folder
  6. Select New > Key from the context menuCreate Windows Search folder in regedit
  7. Type Windows Search as the new folder name
  8. Make sure that the Windows Search folder is selected
  9. Right-click any empty space in the right section of the screen
  10. Select New > DWORD (32-bit) ValueCreate new DWORD registry for removing Cortana
  11. Type AllowCortana as the name of the newly-created item
  12. Double-click the newly created item (AllowCortana)
  13. Make sure that the base is set to Hexadecimal and that the value is 0 (zero)Set AllowCortana to zero
  14. Click OK
  15. Restart your computer for the changes to take effect

That’s all. You’ll notice that Cortana isn’t there anymore, and you’ll be free to use Windows Search without worrying about Cortana collecting various types of data about your PC behavior.

2. Windows 10 Pro

On Windows 10 Pro things are a bit more straightforward, as you won’t have to perform any complicated modifications in the Registry Editor. However, you’ll still have to use a feature you probably never used before called a Local Group Policy Editor in order to disable the virtual assistant effectively. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Press the Win key on your keyboard
  2. Type edit group policy
  3. Select Edit group policy from the list of results
  4. Double-click the Computer Configuration icon
  5. Open the Administrative Templates folder
  6. Double-click the Windows Components icon
  7. Scroll down until you see the Search folder and double-click it
  8. Double-click the Allow Cortana optionDisable Cortana
  9. In the newly-opened window select the Disabled radio button
  10. Click the OK button
  11. Close the Local Group Policy Editor
  12. Restart your computer

Notice that you don’t have Cortana on your PC anymore, not in the taskbar, not in the Windows Search. If you’re still seeing the ring icon under the magnifying glass icon on your taskbar, just right-click your taskbar and disable the Show Cortana button option.

How to remove Cortana from startup

Although you revoked most (if not all) of Cortana’s privileges on your computer and even disallowed it from interfering with your Windows Search results, there’s still a chance that Windows 10 will try loading it during startup. As we’ve explained in a different guide, having a lot of startup items, especially Cortana, which is a complex tool that uses system-wide data to function, can massively slow down your PC.

For that reason, it’s best if we get rid of Cortana and prevent it from being launched during startup, considering that we don’t plan on using it anymore and we’ve gone the distance to remove it from our operating systems. Take the following steps in order to prevent Cortana from being launched during the system startup:

  1. Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to launch the Task Manager
  2. Navigate to the Startup tab
  3. Right-click Cortana
  4. Select Disable from the context menu

That’s all you needed to do. If you want to check if Cortana really stops running during startup, you can go ahead and restart your PC. Once your PC finishes its booting sequence, feel free to launch the Task Manager once more and check if Cortana is running (in the background or otherwise). If you did everything right, you shouldn’t see any trace of it.

How can I disable Bing Search in my Start menu?

Windows 10 has an excellent Start menu search system. You can call it by simply hitting the Win key on your keyboard and start typing the name of the app or folder you want to quickly navigate to. However, you may have noticed that aside from local results (apps and folders), the search results also include results from the web. Either that, or it offers to perform an online search for you.

Now that wouldn’t be a problem, considering that sometimes it would be nice to have a powerful search engine at our fingertips. However, searching for various things from your Start menu will only return Bing Search results, and there’s absolutely no way you can change that from within Windows. If you don’t find any utility for the Bing Search feature in your Start menu, you might as well remove it. Here’s how you can do that with minimum effort:

  1. Press the Win key on your keyboard
  2. Type regedit and hit the Enter key on your keyboard
  3. Press the Yes button to allow the Registry Editor to make changes to your system
  4. Copy the address below and paste it in the address bar within the Registry Editor
    • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Search
  5. Check if there’s an item called CortanaConsent
  6. Double-click CortanaConsent and check if its base is Hexadecimal and value is set to 0 (zero)How to revoke Cortana Consent registry editor
  7. If you can’t find the CortanaConsent item, right-click any empty space in the right section of the screen
  8. Select New > DWORD (32-bit) and type CortanaConsent as the name of the item
  9. Double-click CortanaConsent and set its base to Hexadecimal and its value to 0 (zero)
  10. Right-click any empty space in the right section of the screen
  11. Select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value from the context menu
  12. Type BingSearchEnabled as the name of the new value
  13. Double-click BingSearchEnabled
  14. Make sure the Base is set to Hexadecimal and the Value is 0 (zero)
  15. Again, right-click any empty part of the right section of the screen
  16. Select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value from the combo menu
  17. Type AllowSearchToUseLocation
  18. Double-click AllowSearchToUseLocation
  19. Once again, make sure the Base is set to Hexadecimal and the Value is 0 (zero)

After performing all of the steps described above, reboot your computer. After the boot sequence comes to an end, check if you still see Bing Search results whenever you’re trying to perform a search in your Start menu. If you still do, perform the steps above again, and make sure you’re following each one very carefully.

Disabling Cortana on Windows 10 – CONCLUSION

To wrap it up, Cortana could’ve been quite a useful feature that would’ve helped many of us simplify the way we interact with our computers, but a few years after its initial release it still has a long way to go until it reaches that status (if ever). For that reason, many of us may attempt to remove Cortana from our systems, seeing as it hogs quite a few resources and isn’t exactly useful, to begin with.

Whether you’re trying to remove Cortana from your Windows 10 PC, limit the data it collects from your computer, preventing from running at startup, or all of the above, we believe you’ll find our guide quite helpful, as it holds detailed instructions on how to perform all of the above, and more, in a safe, effective manner.

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