How to ask Cortana to lock, sign out, shut down or restart your Windows 10 PC

Cortana, you favorite virtual assistant from Windows 10, learns new things every day. She knows how to schedule appointments for you; she knows how to tell whether you need to take your jacket tomorrow morning, she even knows jokes to change your mood. What she did not know, however, at least not until recently, was to do things like locking or shutting down your PC. In Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, she gets to do that too. If you have the latest version of Windows 10, here’s how to ask Cortana to lock, sign out, shut down and restart your PC:

Open Cortana

To be able to ask Cortana to do anything, you must first make her listen to your voice. There are two ways to do that:

  • You can click or tap on the microphone found on the right side of Cortana’s search field from your taskbar, or
  • You can say “Hey Cortana!” using your voice. For this to work, you must have already configured Cortana to listen for this command (“Hey Cortana!”).

Note that if you want to enable Cortana to answer when you say “Hey Cortana,” you must open the Settings app and go to “Cortana -> Talk to Cortana -> Hey Cortana” and enable the switch that says “Let Cortana respond to ‘Hey Cortana.'”

Be careful what you do though because Cortana uses more battery if you enable her to respond when you say “Hey Cortana.”

How to lock your PC using Cortana

If you want to lock your PC, you can ask Cortana something like this: “Hey Cortana, lock my PC” or “Hey Cortana, lock my computer.” Cortana does that immediately, without asking for any additional confirmation.

If you do not want to use your voice, you can also type the command “Lock my PC” in Cortana’s search field. When you do that, Cortana gives you a search result called “? lock my pc - Help from Microsoft”. Although it looks a bit awkward, if you click/tap on this result, Cortana locks your PC.

How to sign out your PC using Cortana

If you want Cortana to sign you out of your PC, ask her a command like this: “Hey Cortana, sign me out!” or “Hey Cortana, log me out!”. Sounds a lot like Star Trek, right? :)

When you ask Cortana to sign you out, she asks for your confirmation first. If you answer Yes, you are logged out of your account. If you say No or Cancel, Cortana does not log you out.

You can also type the command “sign out” in Cortana’s search field from the taskbar on your desktop. From the list of search results, you must click/tap on the “sign out - I can help with this” result. Then, Cortana will ask you whether you are sure that you want to log out from your PC.

How to shutdown your PC using Cortana

To shut down your PC using Cortana, use your voice to ask her to do that, with your own words. For instance, she knows what you want her to do if you ask her “Hey Cortana, shut down my PC” or “Hey Cortana, power off my computer.” After she identifies your wish, Cortana asks for an additional confirmation: answer Yes if you still want to shut down your PC, or No or Cancel if you changed your mind.

If you prefer asking Cortana in writing, use her search field from the taskbar to enter this command “shut down.” From the list of results, click/tap on “shut down - I can help with this.” Then, confirm whether you want to power your computer off, or not.

How to restart your PC using Cortana

To restart your PC using Cortana, use your voice to ask her something like “Hey Cortana, restart my PC” or “Hey Cortana, reboot my computer.” Cortana then asks for your confirmation: answer Yes if you want to reboot and Cancel or No if you changed your mind.

If you prefer typing instead of speaking, use Cortana’s search field to enter the word restart. Once the list of results is shown, click/tap on “restart - I can help with this.” Then confirm to Cortana that you want to reboot and she will restart your Windows 10 PC.

That is it!

Conclusion

Cortana gets smarter every day and the fact that she can now control your computer’s running state is a prime example of her power. Whether she will someday be able to beam you up on the Enterprise is another talk. For now, though, she is pretty great as she is. What else would you like her to be able to do? Use the comments below to share your opinions.