You will use Cortana, Microsoft says

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 26, 2016
Updated • Apr 16, 2018

Surprise, surprise. If things remain as they are, Windows 10 users who upgrade to the Anniversary Update won't be able to turn off Cortana anymore using the Cortana settings.

If you compare the start menu settings of Cortana of the current version of Windows (version 1511) with those of the Anniversary Update (version 1607) you will notice that Cortana's off switch is no longer available (thanks Ian Paul @ PC World for spotting that)

Cortana, the digital assistant that Microsoft touts as one of the major features of Windows 10 supports interaction via touch, typing, ink and voice.

Microsoft integrated Cortana deeply with the native search functionality of Windows 10. While linked to search, Windows 10 users may turn off Cortana currently to use search without it. While you might have to turn off web searches on Windows 10 as well, doing so ensured that you got search functionality that matched those of previous versions of Windows.

Windows users who turned off Cortana had two main reasons for it: either they did not need Cortana functionality, or they did not want it because of privacy implications.

Windows 10 version 1511 vs 1607

turn off cortana

The screenshot above shows the off switch that is currently available if you run version 1511 of Windows 10 or previous versions of the operating system.

You may turn off Cortana directly using the menu, or use the Group Policy Editor for that instead.

Do the following to open the Cortana settings:

  1. Tap on the Windows-key and start to type.
  2. Click on the preferences icon on the left to open the settings.

There you find options to turn off Cortana, turn off online search and device history search.

Microsoft changed the settings in the Anniversary Update. You access them in exactly the same way as before, but will notice that they are completely different to before.

cortana no off

You find options to disable "Hey Cortana", Cortana on the Lock Screen, disable Cortana taskbar tidbits, disable sending notifications between devices, disable history view, disable my device history, and select the language you want Cortana to use.

Windows 10 KB3176495 (August 2016 update)

Microsoft changed things around again. You will notice changes made to Cortana settings after you install the KB3176495 update released August 2016.

cortana turn off online web results

While Microsoft did not re-introduce the option to turn off Cortana completely using the interface, it lets you disable online and web result searches now there.

Windows 10 Fall Creators Update

And Microsoft did change things around again. Basically, the only option left is to turn off Cortana using the methods described below.

Does that mean that you cannot turn of Cortana anymore?

disable cortana

It is still possible to turn off Cortana, but not by using the preferences. The policy to disable Cortana is still available and you may use it to turn off Cortana on the device.

Please note that the Group Policy Editor is only available in professional versions of Windows 10. Most notably, it is not available in Windows 10 Home. Check out this guide to find out which version of Windows is installed on a computer. Skip the next paragraph and go to the Registry option instead as it will work on Home devices as well.

  1. Tap on the Windows-key, type gpedit.msc and hit enter.
  2. Use the left folder hierarchy to go to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Search.
  3. Locate Allow Cortana and double-click on it to open the policy.
  4. Set it to disabled to turn off Cortana.

turn off cortana

You can undo the change at any time by repeating the process outlined above. Set Allow Cortana either to "not configured" or "enabled" to reset the preference to its original value and turn on Cortana again.

Disable Cortana by editing the Registry

turn off cortana registry

If you cannot or won't use the Group Policy option to disable Cortana, you may use the Registry instead to do so.

  1. Tap on the Windows-key, type regedit.exe and hit enter.
  2. Confirm the UAC prompt that is displayed.
  3. Go to the key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Windows Search
  4. If AllowCortana exists already, jump to step 7.
  5. Right-click on Windows Search and select New > Dword (32-bit) Value.
  6. Name it AllowCortana.
  7. Double-click on AllowCortana and set its value to 0 to disable the feature.

Closing Words

While it is still possible to turn off Cortana on devices running Windows 10's Anniversary Update, it is less obvious how to do so.

You will use Cortana, Microsoft says
Article Name
You will use Cortana, Microsoft says
Surprise, surprise. If things remain as they are, Windows 10 users who upgrade to the Anniversary Update won't be able to turn off Cortana anymore using the Cortana settings.
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  1. Dan Donx said on January 15, 2023 at 10:29 am

    What mental age of reader are you targeting with the first sentence? 10?

    Why not write an article on how to *avoid* upgrading from W10 to W11. Analogous to those like me who avoided upgrading from 7 to 10 for as long as possible.

    If your paymaster Microsoft permits it, of course.

  2. Dexter said on January 15, 2023 at 11:14 am

    5. Rufus
    6. Ventoy

    PS. I hate reading these “SEO optimized” articles.

    1. cdr said on January 15, 2023 at 3:32 pm

      I used Rufus to create an installer for a 6th gen intel i5 that had MBR. It upgraded using Setup. No issues except for Win 11 always prompting me to replace my local account. Still using Win 10 Pro on all my other PCs to avoid the bullying.

  3. sv said on January 15, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    bit pointless to upgrade for the sake of upgrading as you never know when you’ll get locked out because ms might suddenly not provide updates to unsupported systems.

    ps…. time travelling?
    written. Jan 15, 2023
    Updated • Jan 13, 2023

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 16, 2023 at 5:49 am

      This happens when you schedule a post in WordPress and update it before setting the publication date.

  4. Anonymous said on January 16, 2023 at 8:24 am

    Anyone willing to downgrade to this awful OS must like inflicting themselves with harm.

  5. basingstoke said on January 16, 2023 at 11:18 am

    I have become convinced now that anybody who has no qualms with using Windows 11/10 must fit into one of the following brackets:

    1) Too young to remember a time before W10 and W11 (doesn’t know better)

    2) Wants to play the latest games on their PC above anything else (or deeply needs some software which already dropped W7 support)

    3) Doesn’t know too much about how computers work, worried that they’d be absolutely lost and in trouble without the “”latest security””

    4) Microsoft apologist that tries to justify that the latest “features” and “changes” are actually a good thing, that improve Windows

    5) Uses their computer to do a bare minimum of like 3 different things, browse web, check emails, etc, so really doesn’t fuss

    Obviously that doesn’t cover everyone, there’s also the category that:

    6) Actually liked W7 more than 10, and held out as long as possible before switching, begrudgingly uses 10 now

    Have I missed any group off this list?

    1. Heinz Strunk said on September 19, 2023 at 3:57 pm

      You have missed in this group just about any professional user that uses business software like CAD programs or ERP Programs which are 99% of all professional users from this list.

      Linux doesn’t help anyone who is not a linux kid and apple is just a fancy facebook machine.

  6. ilev said on August 24, 2023 at 7:34 pm

    Microsoft has removed KB5029351 update

    1. EP said on August 24, 2023 at 9:21 pm

      only from windows update though
      KB5029351 is still available from the ms update catalog site

  7. Anonymous said on August 24, 2023 at 11:05 pm

    1. This update is labaled as PREVIEW if it causes issues to unintelligent people, then they shouldn’t have allowed Preview updates ot install.

    2. I have installed it in a 11 years old computer, and no problems at all.

    3. Making a big drama over a bluescreen for an updated labeled as preview is ridiculous.

    This is probably another BS internet drama where people ran programs and scripts that modified the registry until they broke Windows, just for removing stuff that they weren’t even using just for the sake of it.
    Maybe people should stop playing geeks and actually either use Windows 10 or Windows 11, but don’t try to modify things just for the sake of it.

    Sometimes removing or stopping things (like defender is a perfect example) only need intelligence, not scripts or 3rd party programs that might mess with windows.

  8. john said on August 24, 2023 at 11:17 pm

    Windows 11 was a pointless release, it was just created because some of the Windows team wanted to boost sales with some sort of new and improved Windows 10. Instead, Microsoft cannot support one version well let alone two.

    1. John G. said on August 25, 2023 at 12:08 pm

      Windows 11 is the worst ugly shame by Microsoft ever. They should release with every new W11 version a complete free version of Starallback inside just to make this sh** OS functionally again.

  9. EP said on August 25, 2023 at 3:10 pm

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released a statement regarding the “unsupported processor” blue screen error for their boards using Intel 600/700 series chipsets & to avoid the KB5029351 Win11 update:–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–Error-Message-of-Windows-11-Update-KB5029351-Preview-142215

  10. EP said on August 29, 2023 at 7:32 pm

    check out the following recent articles:

    Neowin – Microsoft puts little blame on its Windows update after UNSUPPORTED PROCESSOR BSOD bug:

    BleepingComputer – Microsoft blames ‘unsupported processor’ blue screens on OEM vendors:

  11. Leonard Britvolli said on August 30, 2023 at 10:33 pm

    While there may be changes or updates to the Windows 10 Store for Business and Education in the future, it is premature to conclude that it will be discontinued based solely on rumors.

  12. sembrador said on September 5, 2023 at 9:32 pm

    My advice, I left win 15 years ago. Now I’m a happy linux user (linuxmint) but there is Centos, Fedora, Ubuntu depending on your needs.

  13. EP said on September 6, 2023 at 11:55 am

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released new BIOS/firmware updates for their Intel 600 & 700 series motherboards to fix the “UNSUPPORTED_PROCESSOR” problem (Sept. 6):–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–caused-BSOD-on-MSI-s-Intel-700-and-600-Series-Motherboards-142277

  14. Raphael Benzo said on September 24, 2023 at 9:52 pm

    I try to disable the Diagnostics Tracking Service (Connected Devices Platform User Services) but it wont let me disable it, any help will be greatly appreciated.
    Tank you for your help

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