Cortana is your personal assistant on your Windows Phone. She's there to help make things easier for you and keep you up to date on the things that matter to you.
Cortana is only available on phones with Windows Phone 8.1, and in some countries or regions. Check to see which software version you have and find out if an update is available.
Some features for Cortana may not be available in all countries or regions.
If Cortana isn't available, or you don't want to use it, you can still use the Speech functionality on your phone.
Whether it's to keep you looped in with your world or help you manage your everyday life, Cortana is there for you.
Cortana is your personal assistant on your Windows Phone 8.1, ready to help you with all kinds of tasks and keep you up to date on the things that you care about. Check out the Where's Cortana? section to learn more.
Before you can get all the goodies Cortana has to offer, you'll need to make sure she's on. If you like, you can help her get to know you a little better too.
You may have turned Cortana on when you set up your phone. If you did, you'll see her when you press the Search
If you press the Search
If you turn Cortana on, for her to work for you, Microsoft collects and uses your location, contacts, voice input, info from email and text messages, browser history, search history, calendar details, and other info.
To set up Cortana for the first time, you can either tap the Cortana Tile on the Start screen or press the Search
If you'd prefer not to answer, it's perfectly fine to skip. You can just tell Cortana what you'd like her to know as you go.
You can change what Cortana calls you any time you'd like. Go to Cortana > Cortana's Notebook
Looking for Cortana on your Windows Phone 8.1? You can find her in a few ways.
When you press the Search
Not finding Cortana? It's possible that she isn't on. To learn how to turn Cortana on, see the Start using Cortana section.
When you press and hold the Search
In the App list, tap the Cortana app to see various interests throughout your day. See the My interests and Cortana section for details. Or, if the app is pinned to Start, just tap the Live Tile.
Say the words, and Cortana can help you do all sorts of things on your Windows Phone 8.1, whether it's making calls, reminding you to pick up your dry cleaning, getting answers about sports scores, stock prices, or random trivia—you name it. She'll even chat with you. If Cortana isn't sure what you mean, she can usually help you figure out how to say things in a way she'll understand.
Press and hold the Search
Here are some ideas for what you can say to Cortana, and how she can help out.
Task or subject
Some ideas to get you started
Maps and directions
Places to go
Health and fitness
One advantage of a digital personal assistant is that she won't take it personally if you want to adjust her settings and how she works. To get to Cortana's settings on your Windows Phone:
Cortana's Notebook is a handy place on your Windows Phone 8.1 where Cortana keeps track of and tweaks things that you tell her about yourself, what you like, and what you'd like done.
You can turn Cortana off or back on again any time you'd like. Turning her off won't delete anything from the cloud or from Cortana's Notebook, so if you turn Cortana back on, you'll still have access to anything you did before.
To turn Cortana off, open Cortana's Notebook
If you'd like, Cortana can detect if you get an email about a flight and automatically add that information to your interests. For flights, she can send you alerts to let you know whether the flight is delayed. When you go to Cortana you'll see the flight's progress and other information.
If you'd prefer that Cortana not detect flights automatically, clear the Detect tracking info, such as flights, in email on my phone check box. (If you're using Windows Phone 8.1 Update or later, this option will appear as Detect tracking info, such as flights, in messages on my phone.)
Cortana will call you whatever you'd like, as long as she can pronounce it. If you didn't tell Cortana what to call you while you were setting things up, you can open Cortana's Notebook
If you'd just like to use a new name (Snoop Lion?), or adjust how she pronounces your name, open Cortana's Notebook
You can use Cortana to sign in to Facebook to let Cortana and Bing.com give you more personalized, tailored suggestions by allowing Microsoft to access certain Facebook information. Check Cortana's Notebook
From Cortana's settings, you can also change Battery Saver, Speech, and Search settings so they're just the way you like them.
Cortana continually grows and evolves. Here are some of the latest things she can help you with.
Say what? Try chit-chatting with Cortana and see what she might say. Press and hold the Search
Here are a few other starters:
Just say, "Hey Cortana." For Lumia phone owners, depending on your phone model, there's an update that lets you activate Cortana by saying "Hey Cortana"—no button presses necessary. If you have a Lumia phone that supports "Hey Cortana" and you've installed the Lumia Denim update, go to Settings
Lights. Camera. Action. This one is for all you movie buffs out there. Cortana has the hottest new trailers and showtimes for your area. To get trailer recommendations and showtimes, go to Cortana > Cortana's Notebook
Get your workout on. Cortana will work with you to understand things that are important to you, including frequently visited places like your gym.
If you frequently visit a location (like a gym), Cortana might ask you if you'd like to label and save that location. If you choose to label and save a location, Cortana will store it in your favorite places.
After you save your gym to your favorite places and then go back to the gym, Cortana will ask you if you'd like her help with maintaining a fitness routine.
Once you accept Cortana's offer, she'll leave workout reminders in your daily glance.
Miss a workout? No problem. Simply reschedule.
Just say, "What's up?" Like fun facts and trivia? Press and hold the Search
Cortana makes air travel easier. Summer is here, and that means sun screen and barbecue are out in full force. It also means people are traveling more. But don't worry, Cortana's here to help you keep your travel plans organized.
When you add favorite places to Cortana, and you add traffic as one of your interests, Cortana can let you know when you should leave to make sure you get there on time. Cortana can also get a sense of where your home or work might be, although she'll be sure to ask you before adding them to your favorites.
You can also add your favorite places to Maps, and those places will sync between your Maps and Cortana experiences when you're signed in with your Microsoft account. In the App list, go to Maps and tap More
When quiet hours are turned on for your Windows Phone 8.1, Cortana will make sure calls or texts don't disturb you. But there are some people you may want to hear from, even during quiet hours. Adding people to your inner circle tells Cortana which people to let through and who can wait a bit.
If you'd like, you can also give those people nicknames so Cortana always knows who you mean when you say you want to call them (Hi, Mom! Hi, Pop!). You can then set some guidelines for Cortana to follow during quiet hours. To learn all about that, see the Quiet hours and Cortana section for details.
Sometimes, Cortana automatically adds people to your inner circle from your Rooms in the People Hub. If you want, you can remove them anytime.
Sometimes you just don't want to be disturbed. Unless, of course, it's really, really important or you're waiting to hear from someone. Cortana can manage quiet hours for your Windows Phone 8.1 when you'd prefer to be left alone. When it's on, any phone calls you get will go straight to voicemail and all notifications will be silent (unless you've told Cortana you'd like to hear from the people in your inner circle.) For details on how to allow certain people to reach you anytime see the My inner circle and Cortana section.
In Cortana's Notebook, you can turn on quiet hours any time you'd like and it will stay on until you turn it off. See the Cortana's Settings section for details. You can also have Cortana turn it on automatically at specific times (say, from 11:00 P.M. until 6:00 A.M., for example), or turn it on for you whenever you're in a meeting that's marked "busy" on your calendar.
In addition to making an exception for your inner circle, you can also choose to have Cortana make other exceptions too, such as letting through calls from anyone who calls twice within three minutes. For more options, in Cortana's Notebook, go to Quiet hours and then pan down to Calls and Texts.
Cortana can filter your incoming text messages during quiet hours. Who breaks through is up to you.
Cortana can send a text message to anyone who isn't in your inner circle and texts you during quiet hours.
Interests are a way for Cortana to keep you up to date on things that, well, are interesting to you. She can also send you timely notifications so you don't miss a beat on the things you care about most.
You can add or remove interests, turn updates and notifications on and off, and more from Cortana's Notebook.
Cortana's Notebook includes some interests that are turned on for you by default. You can turn them off or remove them at any time. (You can also add your own interests, like sports and finance.) Some of those default interests are:
There are a few ways you can check out your interests:
It's simple to add an interest in Cortana's Notebook.
Some interests also give you the option of letting Cortana notify you if something timely or important happens. She can tell you if your flight is delayed, when your team scores, if there's breaking news, when it's time to leave based on traffic, and more.
To-do lists and notes on your Windows Phone 8.1 are helpful, but reminders work best if you get them exactly when you need them. Cortana is great at that. She can remind you of something based on the time of day, the place you're going to or leaving, or the person you're in contact with.
Tell Cortana to remind you at a specific time. Need a reminder at 7:30 A.M. tomorrow? 10:00 P.M. every night? 4:33 A.M. on Tuesdays? It's up to you.
Some reminders are only useful if you're at a particular place. When you get to the hardware store, for example. Or as you're leaving work. You can have Cortana remind you when you arrive or leave somewhere.
For extra efficiency, you can designate some favorite places (like "gym" or "grocery store"). You can use those nicknames when you want Cortana to remind you about something there and in other situations as well.
Cortana can remind you of something when you call or text someone or when they call or text you.
You can reuse or edit a reminder you've already completed as long as you completed it less than six months ago.
Cortana can help you figure out what song is playing, whether you're in your car or at the bar, and then help you get that song in Xbox Music. She also keeps track of the songs you've asked her to find for you so you can revisit the list later and decide if you really do want to add some Vivaldi or Herman's Hermits to your collection.
Cortana also saves the search for you in case you want to come back to it later. You can see the songs in Cortana's Notebook
Did you know Cortana can help you play your local or streaming music on your Windows Phone 8.1? It really is as simple as saying, "Play."
Here are some things you can say to Cortana to help you play your tunes in Xbox Music. Press the Search
These also work on Xbox Music and other music apps:
Take Cortana on the road with you so your personal assistant is always there to help. Just pair your Windows phone with the Bluetooth hands-free system in your car to get things set up, and then ask Cortana whatever you want.
The way you pair your phone with the hands-free system in your car depends on your car and the hands-free system in it. Check the documentation for your car or hands-free system for more info.
If your phone has Windows Phone 8.1 Update but doesn't have Cortana, a contact named Speech is downloaded to the contact list in your car instead. You can then tap the contact named Speech in your car to start Speech on your phone.
If you're having problems using Cortana in your car with Bluetooth, your phone may need to use a different kind of Bluetooth audio connection. Go to Settings
If you're having problems with Cortana on your Windows Phone 8.1—or you're unsure about some of the finer details—here's some info that might help you out.
To turn Cortana on, on Start or in the App list, tap Cortana to get started.
To turn Cortana off:
Yes. For Cortana to be the most helpful, be sure to connect your Windows Phone to a Wi-Fi or cellular data network that has a strong Internet signal.
Yes. To use Cortana, you'll need to sign in with your Microsoft account.
In the App list, go to Camera > Lens
If you suspect that Cortana isn't hearing you when you speak to her, there could be dust or debris blocking the microphone on your phone. Try using a can of compressed air to clean the microphone port and then try again. If you need help with finding the microphone on your phone, go to your phone manufacturer's website for more info.
If you've got multiple accounts on your Windows Phone 8.1, it's possible you may see incorrect calendar info when you go to daily glance in Cortana. We're aware of the problem and are working on a fix-please check back for an update. You can also turn off calendar info from the daily glance anytime. Press the Search
If you're wondering why you didn't get a reminder in a timely fashion from Cortana, there are some things you can try on your Windows Phone 8.1 to fix this problem.
If you're encountering reminder problems, we encourage you to go to Cortana's Notebook first. Reminders you create with Cortana's help are stored in the Remind me section of the notebook, and errors that require your attention will also appear there. Press the Search
If you're not getting time-based reminders you've created with Cortana's help, it's possible that your reminders calendar is turned off. To turn on your reminders calendar:
If you're not getting person-based reminders, it's possible that you may have deleted a contact or an account that has that contact.
If you're expecting a location-based reminder and you haven't gotten it, be sure your phone is connected to a Wi-Fi or cellular data network with a strong Internet signal. Also, make sure that location services are turned on. In the App list, tap Settings
Article ID: 11694 - Last Review: May 17, 2016 - Revision: 23