Cortana can't hear me

Applies to: CortanaWindows 10

If Cortana doesn't respond when you speak into your PC, try these steps to resolve the most common causes:

Check to make sure you have a working microphone


Cortana will not respond if your microphone does not work. To check if it's working:

  1. Check that your microphone is enabled and set as the default device:
    • Right-click (or press and hold) the volume icon on the taskbar and select Sounds.
    • In the Recording tab, check that your microphone is enabled and set as the "Default device".
  2. Make a test recording:
    • Right-click (or press and hold) the volume icon  on the taskbar and select Sounds.
    • In the Recording tab, look for green bars rising as you speak into your recording device.  If the bars are moving, your device is connected and working properly.
    • You should also consider using the Voice Recorder app that is included in Windows 10 to create a test recording.  Distortion or excessive noises may indicate a faulty microphone or a need to install updated audio device drivers.

Check your privacy settings (Windows 10, May 2020 Update and later versions)


Your privacy settings can prevent Cortana from responding to your voice. Note that the instructions in this section apply to Cortana in Windows 10, May 2020 Update and later versions. 

  1. Check to make sure Online Speech recognition is turned on:
    • Open Cortana and select Settings  > Permissions  .
    • Select Speech
    • Under Online speech recognition, switch the setting to On.
  2. Check to make sure Cortana has permission to access your microphone. Many apps and services request to use the camera or microphone, and Windows settings give you control over which apps can use them. 
    • Open Cortana and select Settings  > Permissions  .
    • Select Microphone
    • Under Choose which Microsoft Store apps can access your microphone, look for Cortana within the list of apps and services and make sure the switch is toggled to On.

 

Screenshot of the Microphone Privacy Setting

Check your privacy settings (Windows 10, November 2019 Update and earlier versions)


Your privacy settings can prevent Cortana from responding to your voice. Note that the instructions in this section apply to Cortana in Windows 10, November 2019 Update and earlier versions. 

  1. Check to make sure Online Speech recognition is turned on:
    • Go to Start , then select Settings  > Privacy  > Speech .
    • Under Online speech recognition, switch the setting to On.
  1. Check to make sure Cortana has permission to access your microphone.  Many apps and services request to use the camera or microphone, and Windows settings give you control over which apps can use them. 
    • Go to Start , then select Settings  > Privacy  > Microphone .
    • Under Choose which Microsoft Store apps can access your microphone, look for Cortana within the list of apps and services and make sure the switch is toggled to On.

 

Screenshot of the Microphone Privacy Setting

Check that "Cortana" mode is turned on


Note: The wake word has been re-enabled in the latest version of Cortana in Windows. If you're on Windows 10, May 2020 Update, be sure that you've updated to build 19041.329 or later to use the wake word with Cortana. For earlier builds, you can still click on the microphone button to use your voice with Cortana.

Open Cortana, select Settings , and then under Talking to Cortana switch the wake word toggle to On.

Check that the proper speech language is installed


Cortana is supported in many different languages. If you want to use Cortana in your desired language, you need to make sure that that you have downloaded and installed the required speech language.

To identify and set the current speech language:

  1. Go to Start , then select Settings  > Time & Language  > Speech .
  2. Under Choose the language you speak with your device, set the dropdown to your desired language.

If you need to install a new speech language:

  1. Go to Start , then select Settings  > Time & Language  > Language.
  2. Under Preferred languages, select Add a language .
  3. Browse and select the language that you want to download and install. Make sure that the language you select includes speech recognition support (indicated by a microphone  icon). Select Next.
  4. On the next screen, make sure the check box for Speech recognition has been selected. When ready, select Install.
  5. Restart your device.

Make sure you're finished with setup


If you're going through the set up experience, there may not be an issue with your computer or microphone. Cortana's ability to recognize incoming speech comes from cloud-based Microsoft Speech Services, which is only activated after you've given consent and are connected to the internet. As a result, it may appear that Cortana is not hearing you correctly. You can complete the process with text if necessary.