How to enable and use Cortana straight from the Windows 10 lock screen

The Anniversary Update for Windows 10 brought lots of improvements and new features to Microsoft’s latest operating system. One of the most interesting things we’ve seen is the ability to use Cortana while your Windows 10 PC or device is locked. That means that you no longer have to unlock your PC or device in order to be able to talk to her. If you enable “Hey Cortana” , you don’t even have to get to your PC - you can simply ask her nicely what you want. Here’s how to enable and use Cortana on the Windows 10 lock screen:

A few things you should know about Cortana

First and foremost, we will assume that you already have Cortana enabled and working for you. If you don’t, or if you simply want to find out more about her and what she can do for you, please browse through our collection of articles: Cortana Guid es.

If you enabled Cortana on your Windows 10 PC or device, and you have installed the Anniversary Update , then go ahead and follow the steps from this tutorial.

How to enable Cortana on your Windows 10 lock screen

Start by clicking or tapping on the Cortana search box from the taskbar.

Click or tap on Cortana’s Settings icon from the left column.

Cortana will now display a list with all its settings. You should first decide if you want to be able to use Cortana on your lock screen, hands free, by enabling “Hey Cortana” . If you want to be able to yell at her from your bathroom just to ask her how the weather is outside, enable the switch that says “Let Cortana respond to Hey Cortana” .

Then, in the Lock screen section, you will find a switch that lets you “Use Cortana even when my device is locked” . As you can see in the screenshot below, it’s set Off by default.

Turn the switch On and Cortana will instantly become available from your lock screen.

Right underneath Cortana’s lock screen switch, you’ll see another very important setting: “Let Cortana access my calendar, email, messages, and Power BI data when my device is locked” .

If you ignore this setting and choose not to enable it, Cortana will be able to work for you under lock screen, but she will have greatly restricted abilities. She will be able to do things like playing music for you, or telling you what the weather is outside, but she will not be able to do things like adding reminders for you, sending emails, adding events to your calendar and so on.

If you are sure that your Windows 10 PC or device is safe from prying eyes and want to get the most out of Cortana even when used from the lock screen, enable this switch.

Finally, there’s one more thing that you should know about Cortana and what she can do while your Windows 10 PC or device is locked: Cortana can show tips on your lock screen from time to time but, in order for her to be able to do that, you must set your lock screen background to be a Picture or a Slideshow .

If you don’t know how to change the background of the lock screen, this guide should help: How to customize the look of the Lock Screen in Windows.

How to use Cortana from the Windows 10 lock screen

Once you made Cortana available on your lock screen, all you have to do is call her by saying “Hey Cortana” while your Windows 10 PC or device is locked, and ask her what you want to know or do. Here’s a glimpse of what she’ll display on screen if you ask her about the weather, for instance:

Here’s another screenshot of how Cortana will respond if you ask her to play some music:

And in the picture below you can see how Cortana will act if you ask her to remind you of something. However, keep in mind that this is one of the things that you can do only if you enable Cortana’s access to your “calendar, email, messages, and Power BI data when [...] device is locked” .

Finally, if you also set your lock screen background to a picture or a slideshow, Cortana could display some various bits of information on it, from time to time. Like these ones:

That’s it! Cortana is all yours now, even if your Windows 10 PC or device is locked. Have fun!

Conclusion

We fell in love with Cortana since we first encountered her. And now that she is present on our lock screens, we like her even more. But what about you? Do you like the fact that she can work for you even if you don’t unlock your Windows 10 PC or device?