Your personal virtual assistant, Cortana, is one of the best, if not the best new feature brought to us by Microsoft in their latest operating system, Windows 10. If you read our previous articles about Cortana, you know by now how to go through her first time setup process, and you also know how to interact with her. You've seen that Cortana can help you in numerous ways, and you've seen that she knows plenty of stuff about you. But how does she know so much? And how do you configure how she acts and what she knows about you? These are questions we'll answer to in this tutorial.
Where To Find Cortana's Settings
The answer is simple: Cortana keeps most of her settings inside its Notebook. So in order to get to them, first launch Cortana, and then open the Notebook.
If you don't know how to get to the Notebook, check the "How To Use Cortana's Interface" section from this tutorial: How To Use Cortana On A Windows 10 PC, Notebook Or Tablet.
Once you've opened Cortana's Notebook, the first thing you'll notice is that it's split into two major sections:
- The first one is all about you, and it holds the entry points for things like your name, your favorite places, your connected accounts and basic Cortana settings.
- The second one is the place where you can set what kind of information Cortana is allowed to access, monitor and offer to you.
Let's start with the first section of the Notebook. Inside it, you'll find three options: About Me, Connected Accounts and Settings.
How To Change Your Name & Favorite Places
The About Me section allows you to change the name by which Cortana knows you and edit your favorite places, like your home, your workplace and any other significant location.
To change your name, click or tap on the Change my name button.
Enter the name by which you'd like Cortana to call you, and then click or tap on the Enter button.
On the next step, you can hear how Cortana will say your name. If you're happy with it, click or tap on Sounds good. Otherwise, click or tap on That's wrong to go back to the previous step.
Finally, click or tap on Done to finish the process of changing your name.
Going back to the About Me section of Cortana's Notebook, the other available option we have is called Favorite Places. Click or tap on Edit favorites to manage your places.
Once you do that, you'll get to see a list with all your favorite places. If you want to add a new favorite place, click or tap on the + Add button.
Then, enter the address of the place you want to add as favorite and select it from the results list.
If you want to, you can set a nickname for the place, and if it's your home or workplace, you can set it accordingly by using the available Set as home or Set as work switches.
To complete the process, click or tap on the Save button from the bottom right corner - the one that looks like a floppy disk.
How To Manage Your Connected Accounts
The Connected Accounts section of the Notebook lets you manage the accounts to which Cortana is connected. The only option available for now (at least on our test computer) is Office 365.
To connect Cortana to your Office 365 account, click or tap on Connect.
Then, Cortana will ask you to login to your Office 365 account. Once you've been authenticated, if everything worked right, your accounts should be connected. However, we didn't manage to get our accounts to work, no matter what we tried. The process would eventually finish with the same error:
How To Change Cortana's Settings
Next in Cortana's Notebook comes the Settings area, which lets you change some of the most important aspects of the way Cortana works.
The first thing you can set is whether Cortana is enabled or not. If you don't want Cortana to work for you, simply press the switch that comes after her foreword: "Cortana can give you suggestions, ideas, reminders, alerts and more".
Next, you get a link called Manage what Cortana knows about me in the cloud. If you click or tap on this link, Windows 10 will launch your main browser and take you to your Bing account personalization webpage, where you can manage all the personal information gathered by Cortana.
Going back to Cortana's Settings, we get to a section called Hey Cortana.
By default, Hey Cortana is disabled. If you chose to enable this option, Cortana will be able to respond whenever you say Hey Cortana.
If you want her to best respond to you, click or tap on the Learn my voice button. Cortana will start the learning process and she'll ask you to say six phrases in order to get familiar with your voice.
Click or tap on Start and say the six phrases Cortana asks you, in a natural and normal tone. When done, she will let you know that she learned how you say Hey Cortana.
Now, let's go back to the Settings area. The next thing you can set at how Cortana works is whether she can detect tracking information, such as flights, in the messages found on your Windows 10 device. If you want her to be able to do that, leave the switch on, otherwise turn it off.
From time to time, Cortana can use its search field from the taskbar to show you bits of various information or just say Hi to you. To enable this feature, switch the Taskbar tidbits option on.
Next comes the Bing SafeSearch settings. This is a link that will take you to your Bing settings webpage, where you can set how will Bing filter inappropriate content from your search results.
Then, we have a link for Other privacy settings. This one opens the Settings app and takes you to the Privacy section.
Here, you can set whether the SmartScreen filter is enabled or not, you can let apps use your advertising ID and so on.
And finally, the last option available in the Settings area is a link called Learn more about Cortana & Search. If you click or tap on this link, Windows 10 will open your main browser and take you to the Cortana Privacy FAQ webpage.
How To Change What Kind Of Information Cortana Is Allowed To Access, Monitor And Offer To You
The second main section of Cortana's Notebook lets you set and manage all kinds of information related to your interests: Eat & Drink, Events, Finance, Getting around, Movies & TV, Music, News, Sports, Travel and Weather.
Each of these areas contains specific details and settings which you can configure to your liking:
- Eat & Drink lets you set whether Cortana will offer you recommendations for such places, whether she'll collect information from Foursquare or how far are you willing to go in order to get a lunch or have a drink.
- Events lets you set whether you'll get suggestions for local events, and you can also add your own events categories.
- Finance gives you the opportunity to track stocks that interest you.
- Getting around offers you traffic and route suggestions.
- Movies & TV lets Cortana to show you trailers and showtimes that might interest you, and also predictions on who will win certain awards.
- Music lets Cortana offer you recommendations and suggestions about popular music tracks and albums.
- News is the place where you can set what your news interests are, and what kind of news and headlines you want Cortana to show you.
- Sports lets you configure the sports you want Cortana to watch for and also track your favorite teams.
- Travel sets how Cortana will help you when you have a flight to catch or a trip to make.
- Weather lets you configure forecast settings, like what cities will Cortana monitor the weather for.
And that's it! We've seen all the available configuration options available for Cortana.
Cortana can do lots of things, and to be able to do that, she must be complex. The direct result is that she has lots of configuration options which you can fiddle with in order to make her work just the way you like it. However, once you've taken the time to do all that, interacting with Cortana will be a very personal thing, for both you and her.