Your privacy is important to us. That’s why we give you control over your privacy settings for online speech recognition and inking and typing personalization features in Windows. To learn more about these features, read the following sections.

Speech

Microsoft provides both a device-based speech recognition feature and cloud-based (online) speech recognition technologies. 

Turning on the Online speech recognition setting lets apps use Microsoft cloud-based speech recognition. Additionally, in Windows 10, the Online speech recognition setting makes it possible to use dictation within Windows.

Turning on speech while setting up a HoloLens device or installing Windows Mixed Reality allows you to use your voice for commands, dictation, and app interactions. Both device-based speech recognition and online speech recognition settings will be turned on. With both settings turned on, and while your headset is turned on, the device will always be listening to your voice input and will send your voice data to Microsoft cloud-based speech recognition technologies. You can turn off these settings at any time by going to Start > Settings > Privacy > Speech on your HoloLens or Start > Settings > Mixed Reality > Audio and speech if using Mixed Reality on a Windows device. Learn more about speech in Windows Mixed Reality

When you use cloud-based speech recognition technologies from Microsoft—whether enabled by the Online speech recognition setting or while you interact with HoloLens or voice typing—Microsoft collects and uses your voice recordings to provide the service by creating a text transcription of the spoken words in the voice data. Microsoft will not store, sample, or listen to your voice recordings without your permission. For more info, see How does Microsoft protect my privacy while improving its speech recognition technology? 

You can use device-based speech recognition without sending your voice data to Microsoft. However, the Microsoft cloud-based speech recognition technologies provide more accurate recognition than the device-based speech recognition. When the Online speech recognition setting is turned off, speech services that don’t rely on the cloud and only use device-based recognition—like the Narrator app or the Windows Speech Recognition app—will still work, and Microsoft won’t collect any voice data.

To learn more about the speech data that is collected when you use Cortana, see Cortana and privacy.

When we collect data, even when it’s to make your device work better for you, we want to make sure you have the information necessary to make choices about how and when that data is used. Here are steps you can follow to manage your settings for speech recognition.

To control online speech recognition

  1. Do one of the following:

    • In Windows 10, go to Start > Settings  > Privacy > Speech.

    • In Windows 11, go to Start > Settings  > Privacy & security > Speech.

  2. Change the Online speech recognition, setting to On or Off.

To control whether voice clips are contributed for improving online speech recognition in Windows 10

  1. Go to Start > Settings  > Privacy > Speech.

  2. Under Help make online speech recognition better, select one of the following:

    • Start contributing my voice clips

    • Stop contributing my voice clips

Note: This setting is not available on all versions of Windows 10. Where the setting is not available, your voice clips will not be contributed to improve speech recognition. To learn more about contributing voice clips, see How does Microsoft protect my privacy while improving its speech recognition technology?

To control speech recognition on HoloLens

  1. Go to Start > Settings > Privacy > Speech.

  2. Under Speech recognition, switch the setting to On or Off.

To control speech recognition for Mixed Reality

  1. Go to Start > Settings > Mixed Reality > Audio and speech.

  2. Under Speech, change the Use speech recognition setting.

Voice typing

In Windows 11, dictation has been updated and renamed as voice typing. Like dictation, voice typing uses online speech recognition technologies to power its speech-to-text transcription service. You no longer need to turn on the Online Speech recognition setting to use voice typing. You can also choose to contribute voice clips to help improve voice typing. If you choose not to contribute voice clips, you can still use voice typing. You can change your settings anytime in voice typing settings. Microsoft will not store, sample, or listen to your voice recordings without your permission. For more info, see Learn more about Microsoft and your voice data.    

To start using voice typing

  1. Press the Windows logo key  + H or select the mic button on the touch keyboard.

  2. Select the mic button .

To control whether voice clips that are used for voice typing are contributed for improving online speech recognition in Windows 11

If you are using a hardware keyboard

  1. Open voice typing by pressing the Windows logo key + H.

  2. Select Settings  and do one of the following:

    • To start contributing voice clips, select Learn how to start contributing voice clips

    • To stop contributing voice clips, select Learn how to stop contributing voice clips

If you are using the touch keyboard

  1. Open voice typing by selecting the mic button on the touch keyboard.

  2. Select Settings  and do one of the following:

    • To start contributing voice clips, point to Help us improve voice typing, and then select Learn how to start contributing voice clips

    • To stop contributing voice clips, point to You’re contributing voice clips, and then select Learn how to stop contributing voice clips

Note: If you’re using a work or school account, the ability to share voice data isn’t available, but you can still use voice typing.

Voice activation

Windows provides supported apps with the ability to respond and take action based on voice keywords that are specific to that app—for example, allowing Cortana to listen and respond when you say “Cortana.”

If you’ve given permission for an app to listen for voice keywords, Windows will be actively listening to the microphone for these keywords. Once a keyword is recognized, the app will have access to your voice recording and can process the recording, take action, and respond, such as with a spoken answer. The app may send the voice recording to its own services in the cloud to process the commands. Each app needs to ask you for permission before accessing the microphone. An assistant app may send voice recordings to its services and collect the recordings for other purposes, such as improving its services. For more details, see the privacy statement for the assistant app. Microsoft does not collect voice recordings on behalf of any third-party apps for which you have allowed voice activation.

When an app's voice assistant is ready to be activated with a spoken keyword, the microphone icon will appear on your taskbar. In Windows 11, it looks like this:

Screen shot of the microphone icon on the taskbar.

Once an app's voice assistant is activated and actively listening to provide a response, the info on your taskbar will change to look like the following screenshot for Windows 11, which in this case shows that Cortana has been activated:

Screen shot of the microphone icon on the tasskbar.

Voice activation can also be turned on when the device is locked and the screen is off. Once an app is activated with a voice keyword, it will be able to continue listening to the microphone. Even when your device is locked and your screen is off, the app can activate for anyone who speaks near the device and have access to the same set of capabilities and information as when the device is unlocked.

Voice assistant will behave differently depending on the sleep setting you've chosen for your device or the type of device you're using. 

If you have a laptop or tablet

Sleep setting

Voice activation availability

Voice assistant behavior

Go to sleep after a period of time

When the screen is on (default)

Voice assistant won't respond after the device goes to sleep

Never go to sleep

When the device is plugged in

Voice assistant will always respond if the device is plugged in


If you have an all-in-one

Sleep setting

Voice activation availability

Voice assistant behavior

Go to sleep after a period of time

When the screen is on

Voice assistant won't be able to respond after the device goes to sleep

Never go to sleep

When the device is plugged in (default)

Voice assistant will always respond if the device is plugged in


There are a few exceptions to the behavior described above:

  • If you have a laptop or tablet and your device is in battery saver mode, voice assistant will not be able to respond.

  • If you have a laptop or tablet that comes with a built-in virtual assistant that supports hardware keyword detection—such as Alexa or Cortana—voice assistant will always respond, and will even wake up your device when it's on battery power and asleep.

Notes: 

  • To view and change your sleep settings, do one of the following:

    • In Windows 10, go to Start > Settings  > System  > Power & sleep.

    • In Windows 11, go to Start > Settings  > System  > Power & battery.

  • To view and change your voice activation settings, do one of the following:

    • In Windows 10, go to Start > Settings  > Privacy > Voice activation.

    • In Windows 11, go to Start > Settings  > Privacy & security > Voice activation.

  • To see what permissions have been given to the app that would be available when the device is locked, do one of the following:

    • In Windows 10, go to Start  > Settings  > Privacy  and check the different settings under the App permissions pages.

    • In Windows 11, go to Start  > Settings  > Privacy & security and check the different settings under the App permissions pages.

To change whether the apps listed on this settings page can be activated using a voice keyword 

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

  2. Switch the Allow apps to use voice activation setting to On or Off.

To change whether the apps listed on this settings page can use voice activation when the device is locked 

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

  2. Switch the Allow apps to use voice activation when this device is locked setting to On or Off.

To change whether an individual app can be activated using a voice keyword 

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

  2. Turn each app on or off where it appears under Choose which apps can use voice activation. If Allow apps to use voice activation is turned Off for your user account, you will need to turn it On before you can turn this setting on or off.

  3. Under Choose which apps can use voice activation, select the app and switch the setting that allows the app to respond to keywords to Off.

To change whether an individual app can use voice activation when the device is locked 

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

  2. Turn each app on or off where it appears under Choose which apps can use voice activation. If Allow apps to use voice activation when this device is locked is turned Off for your user account, you will need to turn it On before you can turn this setting on or off. 

To change whether the apps listed on this settings page can be activated using a voice keyword 

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

  2. Switch the Let apps access voice activation services setting to On or Off.

To change whether the apps listed on this settings page can use voice activation when the device is locked 

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

  2. Expand the Let apps access voice activation services setting.

  3. Switch the Let apps use voice activation when device is locked setting to On or Off. If Let apps access voice activation services is Off, you will need to turn it On before you can turn this setting on or off. 

To change whether an individual app can be activated using a voice keyword 

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

  2. Turn each app on or off where it appears under Apps that have requested voice activation access. If Let apps access voice activation services is turned Off for your user account, you will need to turn it On before you can turn this setting on or off.

  3. Under Apps that have requested voice activation access, select the app and switch the setting that allows the app to respond to keywords to On or Off.

To change whether an individual app can use voice activation when the device is locked 

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

  2. Expand an app where it appears under Apps that have requested voice activation access.

  3. Select or clear the Use even when my device is locked check box for the app. The setting for the app will need to be turned On before you can select or clear the check box.

Inking & typing personalization

As part of inking and typing on your device, Windows collects unique words—like names you write—in a personal dictionary stored locally on your device, which helps you type and ink more accurately.

To turn off inking and typing personalization and clear your personal dictionary

  • In Windows 10, go to Start > Settings  > Privacy > Inking & typing personalization and under Getting to know you, switch the setting to Off.

  • In Windows 11, go to Start  > Settings  > Privacy & security > Inking & typing personalization and switch the Personal inking and typing dictionary setting to Off.

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