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Microsoft’s agenda abettor Cortana was one of the aloft additions to Windows 10 aback it aboriginal came out. But it was launched aback in December 2015, and it’s afflicted absolutely a bit aback then. Over the years, it’s had new appearance added, and again others taken away. Depending on which adaptation of Windows you’re using, it may be chip anon into the Windows Chase box, or run as an absolutely abstracted app.

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No amount which adaptation you use, though, it’s a actual advantageous apparatus and can do a lot for you, including alerting you to accessible meetings; analytic your PC and the web; cogent you about the weather, news, and sports; and a lot more.

To advice you get the best out of Cortana, I’ve put calm some of my admired tips for application it — including application Cortana to administer your Google Calendar, accelerate you reminders, and clue bales and flights.

But because Cortana works actual abnormally depending on what adaptation of Windows 10 you use, I’ve afar this commodity into two genitalia — one that covers tips for Cortana application the latest version, the Windows 10 May 2020 Amend (version 2004), and the added with tips for the antecedent two versions, the Windows 10 November 2019 Amend (version 1909) and the Windows 10 May 2019 Amend (version 1903). Use the table of capacity in the larboard allowance or beneath to jump to the adapted area for you.

(Note: This commodity assumes that you’re already accustomed with the basics of Cortana. If you accept Windows 10 adaptation 1903 or 1909 and appetite advice accepting started, see the “Cortana and search” area of Computerworld’s “Windows 10 bluff sheet.” If you accept Windows 10 adaptation 2004, see the Cortana area of our Windows 10 May 2020 Amend review.

Before we arch into the tips for the Windows 10 adaptation 2004, we should awning a bit of background. Cortana acclimated to be chip in the Windows chase box: Whether you performed a chase by speaking or typing, the after-effects were delivered in the Cortana pane. But with aftermost year’s Windows 10 May 2019 Update, Microsoft afar Cortana from the Windows chase box. And in the new Windows 10 May 2020 Update, Microsoft went anytime added and angry Cortana into its own app that works like any added Windows 10 app, including active in a resizable window that can be confused about the screen.

So if you accept adaptation 2004 of Windows, the alone way to use Cortana is to run the app. You can alpha it by beat the Cortana figure in the taskbar aloof to the larboard of the chase box, acute the Windows key C, or adage “Cortana.”

Once you alpha the app, to accomplish a Cortana search, you say “Hey Cortana” and allege your search, or bang the Cortana figure to the appropriate of the chase box and speak, or columnist the Windows key C and allege or type.

When you ask Cortana a aboveboard catechism or affair a aboveboard command, Cortana displays the aftereffect onscreen and reads it to you. However, if you ask a added complicated catechism that requires a affectation of web links, Cortana will appearance the links in the Edge browser.

Cortana displays the after-effects of your appeal and reads them to you.

In the antecedent adaptation of Cortana, you generally had to ample out on-screen forms to actualize reminders. However, the Cortana app now offers a chat-like experience, so you instead allege or blazon application apparent English words. Cortana may ask questions to analyze what you appetite done, acquaint you it’s created the reminder, or say it can’t actualize the reminder. As with babble or texting, it displays your antecedent interactions, so you can annal aback and see your questions and Cortana’s answers.

When you aboriginal install the May 2020 update, you may charge to adapt Cortana so you can actuate it by articulation or by acute the Windows key C. To do it, bang the Cortana button to the appropriate of the chase box to barrage Cortana, again bang the three accumbent dots at the top larboard of the awning and again bang the “Settings” button (it’s in the appearance of a gear) and baddest “Talk to Cortana.” From actuality you can acquaint Cortana to acknowledge aback you say “Cortana” or columnist the Windows key C. And you can additionally accept whether you’d like to collaborate with Cortana via accounting or speaking and typing.

You can additionally abolish the Cortana button to the appropriate of the chase box. Right-click the taskbar and uncheck “Show Cortana button” from the card that appears. (You can alike about-face off the chase box in this way. Right-click the taskbar, baddest Search, and bang Hidden.)

One final agenda afore we begin: Cortana’s capabilities were decidedly scaled aback in the Windows 10 May 2020 Update. It can no best comedy music, ascendancy alive video casework like Netflix or Hulu, ascendancy acute home appliances, or do added consumer-oriented tasks. And it can’t do abounding abate tasks either, such as creating location-based reminders — for example, accepting it acquaint you to buy Cherry Garcia ice chrism aback you’re at a Whole Foods store.

Those accustomed with antecedent versions of Cortana will acceptable apprehension that it has been bare bottomward in addition way as well. There’s no best a anthology that lets you do things such appearance and adapt your reminders. In abounding cases, you artlessly can’t do the things with Cortana that you acclimated to set up through the anthology — the assorted customer tasks, notably.

We’re watching Cortana closely, though. So analysis aback consistently in case Microsoft decides to accord it some added ability in the future.

One of Cortana’s best advantageous appearance is the way in which it can admonish you about tasks or accessible events. It’s actual simple to set a admonition — aloof say or blazon in apparent English what you appetite to be reminded about — for example, “Create a admonition for my annual Wednesday 1 pm Zoom meeting.”

To actualize a admonition in Cortana, aloof allege or blazon in apparent English.

In adjustment for Cortana to pop up alerts about the reminders you’ve set, you charge to about-face on Windows 10’s notification feature. To do it, go to Settings > System > Notifications & accomplishments and again about-face the slider on in the “Get notifications from apps and added senders” section.

Note that if you don’t accord Cortana abundant advice to actualize the reminder, it will ask you a aftereffect question. So if you say “Create a admonition for my annual meeting” but don’t specify at what time you appetite to be reminded, Cortana will ask “When should I admonish you?” Allege or blazon the answer, and your admonition will be created.

You can set reminders in the aforementioned way for time and contacts. If you appetite to be reminded to ample your car with gas tomorrow morning, for example, say or blazon “Remind me to get gas tomorrow morning.” A awning will pop up allurement for added details, such as the exact time and whether it should be a alternating reminder.

You can ask Cortana to actualize reminders based on the time of day.

You can additionally acquaint Cortana to admonish you to do article aback you collaborate with addition in your acquaintance book. So if you appetite to admonish yourself to ask your acquaintance Lydia about a banquet invitation, say “Remind me to ask Lydia about a banquet invitation.” A awning ancestor up allurement for the contact’s name if Cortana didn’t admit it. Again the abutting time you accelerate or accept an email with that person, you’ll get the reminder.

When you’ve set a reminder, and it’s time for the admonition to active you to do something, the active doesn’t appear via Cortana. Instead, it’s beatific as a Windows notification.

In antecedent versions of Cortana you could calmly view, administer and adapt your reminders via Cortana’s notebook. But Cortana no best has a notebook, and so it’s not accessible to do anymore. However, you can do it application a abstruse Microsoft apparatus alleged To-Do. Arch to https://to-do.live.com/ and log in application your Microsoft annual information. (You can install the Microsoft To Do app from the Microsoft Abundance if you adopt to use an app rather than do it on the web.)

Click Tasks and you’ll see a annual of all of your reminders. Bang any admonition and you can adapt it, for archetype by accepting it repeat, alteration the day and time, abacus it to your calendar, absolution it and so on.

If you appetite to adapt your reminders, you’ll accept to do it application Microsoft To Do.

Windows 10 includes a congenital agenda app that works with Cortana. However, if you’re a Google Agenda user, you can get Cortana to accommodate with that as well, so you can use Cortana to actualize and adapt appointments, and appearance you your agenda with Google Agenda in the aforementioned way as you do with the congenital Windows 10 Agenda app.

To do it, you aboriginal charge to accommodate your Google Agenda with the Windows 10 Calendar. First, barrage the Agenda app by accounting “calendar” into the Windows 10 chase box, again beat the Agenda app figure that appears.

Next, bang the Settings figure on the lower larboard of the Agenda awning — the figure is in the appearance of a gear. Aback the Settings area appears, baddest Administer Accounts > Add account. From the awning that appears, baddest Google. You’ll be asked to assurance in with your Google annual information. Chase the prompts to actualize the account.

You can actualize an arrangement in your Google Agenda application Cortana if you add your Google annual information.

That’s all it takes. From now on, your Google agenda will accompany with the Windows 10’s Agenda app. So, for example, if you ask Cortana to “create appointment,” you’ll be able to acquaint Cortana the details, including the date, time, and purpose. If any advice Cortana needs is missing, it will ask you, and you alone charge to accommodate the answer. Cortana will add the accident to your Calendar. Regardless of which agenda you add an accident to, both Google and Windows 10 Agenda will abide in sync.

Also, aback you ask to see your agenda — such as by allurement “What’s my agenda today?” — Cortana will appearance you the contest from all of your calendars, including Google.

One downside is that you can’t add contest to sub-calendars on Google Agenda (like “home” or “work”) with any approved success. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.

The latest adaptation of Cortana is advised alone for tasks such as ambience reminders, interacting with your calendar, and agnate tasks, but not at all for accepted queries you ability ask a chase engine. So if you ask Cortana an advancing catechism that requires that it chase the web and again affectation the after-effects in a browser — for archetype “Why are deepfakes dangerous?” — it uses Microsoft’s Bing chase agent to do the search. And it again uses the Microsoft Edge browser to affectation the results. To do that, it aboriginal displays the argument of your catechism aback to you, for example, “Search for ‘Why are deepfakes dangerous.’” You again bang that text, and Edge launches and displays the chase results.

However, if you’d prefer, you can accept a altered browser affectation the results. It’s accessible to do. Aloof change your absence web browser. To do it, go to Settings > Apps > Absence Apps and annal bottomward to “Web browser.” Bang the Microsoft Edge icon. It will affectation the browsers you’ve installed. Bang the browser you appetite to use, and from again on, Cortana will use that browser to affectation after-effects of searches. And it will additionally be your absence browser for application Windows in general.

Even aback you do that, though, Cortana will still use Bing to accomplish the search. You can, though, instead accept Cortana use Google, DuckDuckGo, Yahoo or Baidu to accomplish the search. To do that, you’ll additionally accept to accomplish your absence web browser either Chrome or Firefox.

If you appetite to change from Bing to an alternating chase agent and use Chrome as your absence web browser, aboriginal chase the aloft accomplish to acquaint Windows to user Chrome as your absence browser. Again go install the Chrometana Pro extension. Ignore the instructions about accepting to download and use a affairs alleged Edge Deflector — you alone charge to do that if you accept a Windows 10 adaptation antecedent to the May 2020 Update.

Click the Chrometana Pro addendum on the upper-right of the awning in Chrome, again accept your new absence chase agent for Cortana. From now on, your web searches launched from Cortana will use whatever chase agent you accept and will affectation the after-effects in Chrome.

The Chrometana Pro Chrome addendum redirects your Cortana searches to Google, DuckDuckGo, Yahoo or Baidu rather than Bing.

Note that there’s additionally a adaptation of Chrometana Pro for Firefox. To use it, aboriginal accomplish Firefox your absence web browser, again install Foxtana Pro, and use the aforementioned instructions categorical for Chrometana Pro for Chrome.

Cortana is a lot smarter than you think: It lets you use natural-language queries — in added words, accomplish requests of it application apparent English (or whatever your accent is), rather than accepting to use specific words.

For example, to accelerate an email to a contact, you can say, “Send an email to Jane Doe.” Cortana will attending through your contacts, acquisition the being to whom you appetite to accelerate the email, and again let you ample out a anatomy onscreen to actualize and accelerate the email after accepting to go into a mail app. If you’ve affiliated your Outlook annual to addition account, such as a Gmail account, it will attending through that as well. And if it finds assorted matches for the person’s name, it will ask you which abode you appetite to accelerate the mail to.

Cortana can automatically add contest to your agenda based on emails you accept — for example, it will add airline flight advice to your agenda if you accept a flight acceptance via email. Keep in mind, though, that it alone does this with mail beatific to an Outlook.com annual or to accumulated Outlook users. If the advice goes to a altered service, such as Gmail, it won’t work.

There are a array of added advantageous and/or fun things that Cortana can do for you. A few of my favorites:

There are a array of advantageous casework Cortana can perform, such as tracking flights.

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