Cortana, the official digital assistant for Windows laptops, was first released with Windows 10 as an alternative to Apple’s Siri and Google Now. But as helpful as the software is, the difficulties it presents for user privacy must be underestimated.
Perhaps that’s the reason Microsoft decided to drop it with the forthcoming Windows 11. However, Microsoft hasn’t eliminated Cortana totally; it just comes disabled by default. For some users, though, Cortana is too nice of a luxury to drop off. And if you’re one of those users, don’t worry—we’ve got you covered.
In this article, we’ll go through the best ways to enable (and disable) Cortana on your Windows 11 PC.
How to Enable Cortana in Windows 11
If you’re alright with the privacy loopholes of voice assistants—and believe us, there are a lot—then follow the steps below to turn on Cortana on your Windows 11. Also, note that Cortana comes installed by default, so all you’ll actually have to do is activate it.
You can immediately get started with Cortana on Windows 11 by using the start menu search bar. Here’s how:
Go to the Start menu search bar, key in ‘cortana,’ and select the Best match.
When the Cortana app appears, click on Sign in, and log in with your Microsoft account.
Finally, click on Accept and Continue.
Do this, and you’ll be logged into your Cortana account. After this, the app will launch.
2. How to Enable Cortana via the Task Manager
If for one reason or the other the foregoing solution fails to start up the app, then you can utilize the Task Manager to achieve a similar outcome. A tool designed to monitor the processes and apps running on your Windows, the Task Manager may also be used for terminating or managing applications.
Therefore, it will come in useful to enable Cortana in your Windows 11. Follow the steps below to get started:
Press Ctrl + Shift + Del and select Task Manager. Alternatively, you can hit CTRL + Shift + ESC.
From there, click on the Startup tab.
Now right-click on Cortana to get the list of options.
From this list, pick Enable.
Related: How to Use the Windows Task Manager
How to Disable Cortana in Windows 11
However, if you’ve had enough of Cortana, you can easily disable it following the same procedures you did above for enabling it, apart from using some other beneficial options that we will discuss here. Let’s go over them one by one.
1. How to Disable Cortana Through the Windows Registry
Windows Registry is a hierarchical database that maintains system-critical files which are continuously referred by an operating system. Be it the kernel, a user interface, or even device drivers—they will all need to access the Registry at some point.
Related: What Is the Windows Registry, and How Do I Edit It?
So if you’d like to stop Cortana permanently, Windows Registry is your best bet. Now before you delve headfirst into altering the Registry, we’re presuming you’ve already backed up all your Windows files. Make no mistake; tinkering with Registry modifications doesn’t come without its dangers.
After you’ve taken a backup of your computer, here’s how you may get started:
Press Win + R to launch the Run dialog box.
There, type ‘regedit’ and push Enter.
When the Windows Registry gets launched, type the following into the address bar:
ComputerHKEY LOCAL MACHINESOFTWAREPolicies
Right-click on the Windows folder and pick New > Key option.
Name the newly formed key ‘Windows Search’.
Right-click on the Windows Search and pick the New > DWORD (32-bit) (32-bit).
When you’re done, rename the newly created file to AllowCortana.
Now run the AllowCortana file and set the Value data to 0. Click on OK. When you’re done, restart your PC to confirm the modifications. Do this and Cortana will be disabled on your PC permanently.
Here’s what you’ll see when you try to relaunch Cortana from your PC.
But what if you’d wish to enable Cortana again? No issue. All you have to do is to update back the Value data of AllowCortana file from above to 1 and Cortana will be enabled again.
2. How to Disable Cortana With the Group Policy Editor
Group Policy Editor is a Windows administrative application that enables you configure essential Windows settings, known as Group Policy Settings. Group Policy is a feature of Windows that allows you control the working environment of Windows, by letting you experiment with user and machine accounts.
You may turn off the Cortana app with the help of Policy Editor. To get started, follow the steps below:
Press Win + R to launch the Run dialog box.
In the Run dialog box, enter in ‘gpedit.msc,’ and hit Enter.
When the Group Policy Editor appears, click Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Search.
From the Search folder in the right pane of the dialog box, perform the instructions below:
Look for the “Allow Cortana” policy file and right-click on it.
From here, choose the Disabled radio box and click on Apply.
This will disable Cortana from Windows 11. To re-enable it, simply change back the “Allow Cortana” settings to Enabled, and you’re back to your old settings.
3. How to Disable Cortana via the Windows Settings
Another way to go around removing Cortana on your Windows 11 is through the Settings menu. To get started, follow the steps below:
Go to the Start menu search bar, put in ‘settings,’ and select the Best match. Alternatively, press Windows Key + I simultaneously and the Settings menu will pop open.
Click on Apps > Apps & features.
Navigate to the app list search field, put in ‘cortana,’ and the Cortana app will show up. Right-click on the Cortana choices (three aligned dots) and select Advanced options.
Look for the Runs at log-in option and switch off the toggle button under it.
Once you follow all the procedures listed above, Cortana will be successfully disabled for your Windows 11.
Enabling and Disabling Cortana on Windows 11
And that’s all, guys. Now you know all the reliable techniques to adjust your Cortana settings on Windows 11. While we don’t have anything against Microsoft—or even virtual assistant programs for that matter—we’d encourage you to avoid them as much as you can. Apart from gathering your data and selling it to the highest bidder, all the virtual assistants are subject to hacks—making their daily adoption a scary prospect for most end users.