Windows 10 – Cortana and Search


Cortana is the digital assistant that is built into Windows 10. Cortana is similar to Siri on Apple devices. There is a Cortana search field on the taskbar, which is the toolbar that runs along the bottom of the screen.  Cortana can also be access via a circle icon next to the start button on the taskbar. Cortana can perform a variety of tasks, such as searching your computer, accessing the weather forecast, setting an alarm, getting driving directions, doing metric conversions, and much more.


  • Activate Cortana
  • Adjust Cortana settings
  • Use Cortana
  • Search with Cortana

Activate Cortana


  1. Type Cortana into the search field near the bottom of the screen. Note: If you don’t have a search field, you can click or tap the magnifying glass or circular Cortana icon right next the start button. cortanaicon
  2. Click on Cortana & Search Settings. This will bring up the Cortana settings menu where Cortana can be activated. Note: Cortana is activated by default in newer versions of Windows 10 and you will see a different set of options as well.
  3. Once the settings menu appears, you’ll be able to see if Cortana is enabled. If the button is set to off, click the button pictured below.turnoncortana
  4. Verify that you want to use Cortana. You may also be asked to allow Cortana to use your location. This comes in handy when using Cortana for things like driving directions and the weather forecast.

Note: If you have a newer version of Windows 10, your Cortana & Search settings will look different. Cortana also will require you to sign in to use certain features. If you choose to sign in, please make sure you select the “only sign into this app” option.


Using Cortana

Once Cortana has been activated, you can use the Cortana toolbar to access its functions by clicking in the toolbar with the circle. The default text says Ask Me Anything.


In this field, you can use Cortana to perform a variety of tasks, such as web searches, math calculations and driving directions. If Cortana can’t perform the task you’ve typed in, she will perform a web search to find the information. In order to get Cortana to perform a task, type what you’d like her to do into the Cortana search box. A list of results will appear. Click the one you’d like to access.

In the following example, we’ll check the weather forecast.

  1. Type weather forecast into the Ask Me Anything box
  2. The current conditions and location are displayed (ex. 81 and sunny in East Greenbush, NY)
  3. To find a more detailed forecast, click on the temperature and conditions. Note: Clicking on the temperature and conditions will open an internet search in newer versions of Windows 10.

Another thing Cortana can do is create an appointment on your Outlook calendar.

  1. To create an appointment with Cortana, type in create appointment and hit enter. Note: You may be prompted to sign into your Microsoft Account to continue. If you do sign in with your Microsoft Account, be sure to select the “only sign into this app” option.
  2. Choose the details of your appointment (name, date and time).

If you wish to disable Cortana, you can access the settings outlined earlier and click the same button to turn Cortana off. Note: If you have a newer version of Windows 10, Cortana can not be disabled.

Searching Your Computer with Cortana

The Cortana toolbar also can be used to search your computer for a particular file or folder by typing in the name of the file or folder into the search bar. Cortana can also be used to access various settings such as adjusting the display settings or to change the desktop background. With Cortana, you just type in what you’d like to do, such as “change display settings” or “change background” and the settings will appear in the search results. Tip: the settings to change the desktop background are located in the Personalization settings. If Cortana cannot find the search term you have typed in, she will offer internet search results via the search engine Bing. At this time, the search engine used by Cortana cannot be changed. Note that sometimes you’ll have to hit enter after typing a command in order to proceed.


  • Enable Cortana. Note: This may not apply, as Cortana may already be enabled by default.
  • Search for the Documents folder on your computer
  • View the weather forecast
  • Create an appointment for tomorrow at 3:00pm
  • Find out how tall Abraham Lincoln was
  • View the East Greenbush Library’s website
  • Disable Cortana. Note: If you have a newer version of Windows 10, Cortana cannot be disabled. Instead, choose off for all of Cortana’s options in the Cortana & Search Settings menu. If you signed in with your Microsoft Account, you can sign out by clicking on the circle Cortana icon and then clicking on the rectangle icon on the left. From there, click or tap on About Me. Click or tap on your name or email address, then click or tap on your email address again and then click or tap sign out. This extra step only applies to those with later versions of Windows 10.


Please remember to write a blog about your experience using Cortana and Windows Search and get a raffle ticket from Karrie!