This document refers to Cortana consumer experiences in Windows 10 and Windows 11.

For information about Cortana enterprise services, see Cortana in Microsoft 365. Or, learn more about how Cortana handles your data in Cortana in Windows, and the Briefing email.

Cortana is a cloud-based digital assistant that works across your devices and other Microsoft services. Depending on the capabilities of your device and the version of Cortana you’re using, Cortana can provide a range of features, some of which are personalized.

How and why Microsoft processes personal data

Get help with other Cortana questions

Cortana in Windows is available in certain regions and languages. To use Cortana you must sign in with your work or school account or your Microsoft account. When signed in, Cortana learns how to better serve you by using data such as your searches, contacts, and location. You can clear your chat history with Cortana on a device by signing out or by going to Cortana > Open Menu Settings Privacy. Then, under Chat history, select the Clear button. See the section about Windows in the Microsoft Privacy Statement for more information. 

Select any of the following sections for more details about how to control Cortana's collection and use of your data:

How Cortana uses data to work for you

On Windows, Cortana helps you search with Bing as well as your Windows device; offers quick answers, translations, and calculations; sets alarms and timers for you; and performs other tasks.

When you are signed in to Cortana on Windows, you grant permission to access your information on that device. This information may be used to personalize your Cortana experience on any device or service on which you’ve enabled Cortana. Even after you’ve given Cortana permission to use certain data, whether upon initial setup of the device, skill, or app, or later as you start using Cortana, you can always manage those permissions so that Cortana will stop collecting data.

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Signing in

In the May 2020 Update and later versions of Cortana in Windows, you must be signed in to use Cortana. When you’re signed in, Cortana accesses certain data about you, such as your contacts and calendar details. You can learn more in the Microsoft Privacy Statement.

In Windows, your employer’s administrator can allow or disable your ability to sign in to Cortana with your work or school account. To learn more see, Configure Cortana in Windows 10 and Windows 11.

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Search and ads

To give you search suggestions as soon as you start typing or speaking, Cortana sends what you type or say to the Bing service, which interprets your query in real time and provides auto-suggestions.

Cortana does not use the data you share to target ads to you. Ads may accompany search results that Cortana delivers, just as they do when you search on Bing.com. Even if Cortana does the searching for you, your web search queries will be treated as described in the Bing section of the Microsoft Privacy Statement.

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Voice input

If you agree to allow Microsoft to collect speech and text data, the data is used to improve language understanding and machine learning models. Participation in this program is voluntary and you can opt-in or opt-out at any time by going to Cortana > Open Menu Settings Privacy and turning the Speech & text logging setting On or Off. To learn more, see Speech, voice activation, inking, typing, and privacy.

Cortana is activated only when you select the microphone button or if you have Voice activation turned on and say, “Cortana.” Cortana only collects your voice input when active, and stops collecting it once you’ve completed your query.

To turn Voice activation on or off in Windows 10

  1. Go to Start > Settings  > Privacy > Voice activation.

  2. Turn on Allow apps to use voice activation.

  3. Turn on Let Cortana respond to "Cortana" keyword.

To turn Voice activation on or off in Windows 11

  1. Go to Start > Settings  >  Privacy & security  > Voice activation.

  2. Turn on Let apps to access voice activation services.

  3. Turn on Cortana.

Note: When voice activation is turned on, Cortana might misunderstand spoken words and activate inadvertently. This is typically due to background noise that led our automated speech recognition technology to believe the wake word was triggered. We continue to strive to improve our technology and prevent these inadvertent activations. When the wake word is detected, the listening icon will appear on the taskbar while the speech service processes the audio, and launches the Cortana app once the application validates that the wake word was understood.

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Location data

When you ask a question, Cortana uses the Bing service, which can estimate your location based on your IP address to provide answers contextually to your location. For more information on how Cortana uses the Bing service, refer to the Microsoft Privacy Statement.

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Browsing history

If you choose to allow Cortana to help you pick up where you left off on websites, Cortana will use your browsing history in Microsoft Edge, and provide you with more personalized suggestions.

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Cortana and kids

Users must be above a certain age to use Cortana. When a user tries to sign in, Cortana checks the age setting for that particular Microsoft account, and anyone who is identified as being too young cannot sign in.

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Contacts, calendar details, email, and communication history from messages and apps

In the May 2020 Update and later versions, you must be signed in to use Cortana. When you’re signed in, Cortana learns from certain data about you, such as your searches, calendar, contacts, and location. You can learn more in the Microsoft Privacy Statement.

To personalize your experience and provide the best possible suggestions, Cortana accesses your email and other communications, calendar, and tasks. Cortana also collects data about your contacts (People), such as their title, first, middle, and last names, suffix, nicknames, and company name. 

By accessing your email, Cortana can help keep track of your commitments. By accessing your calendar, Cortana can inform you about what you have coming up next. By accessing your contacts, Cortana can help you easily and quickly identify which contacts you'd like to communicate with, and can learn how you prefer to communicate with them.

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How to control Cortana’s collection and use of your data

In the May 2020 Update and later versions, you must be signed in to use Cortana. 

When signed in with your Microsoft account, Cortana learns from certain data about you, such as your searches, calendar, contacts, and location. You can manage information Cortana has stored about you in the cloud by going to the privacy dashboard.

Cortana stores your chat history as long as you are signed in. You can clear your chat history with Cortana on a device by signing out or by going to Cortana > Open Menu Settings Privacy. Then, under Chat history, select the Clear button.

To stop Cortana from accessing your voice data

  • Interact with Cortana only using the keyboard.

  • Turn off speech and text logging in Cortana by going to Cortana > Open Menu Settings Privacy and turning the Speech & text logging setting Off.

  • Turn off access to the microphone for Cortana in Windows 10 settings by going to Start > Settings  > Privacy > Microphone and in Windows 11 settings by going to Start > Settings  > Privacy& security > Microphone.

On Windows, even after you’ve signed out of Cortana, characters you type using search on the taskbar are automatically sent to Bing to help enable better search recommendations. Your typed characters and searches will continue to be collected and used as described in the Privacy Statement. If you would prefer not to send any character data to Microsoft, you can choose not to use the search box. You can also hide Cortana in Windows, as described below. If you want to search for files, such as documents or photos, on your Windows device, you can use the search feature in File Explorer.

To remove Cortana from the taskbar in Windows 10

  1. Right-click anywhere on the taskbar.

  2. Select the  Show Cortana button.

Cortana is no longer pinned to the taskbar in Windows 11. If Voice activation is turned on, you can invoke Cortana by saying, “Cortana” or by going to search from the taskbar and typing Cortana.

To pin Cortana to the taskbar in Windows 11

  1. Select Search on the taskbar and type Cortana.

  2. Right-click Cortana in the search results, and then select Pin to taskbar.

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Other controls

To turn off Cortana’s help in Microsoft Edge Legacy

  1. Open Microsoft Edge Legacy.

  2. Select Settings and more > Settings .

  3. Select Advanced and turn off Have Cortana assist me in Microsoft Edge.

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