Cortana is a great addition to any Windows 10 PC or device, a personal assistant that can give you lots of information tailored to your needs, and one that can help you do all sorts of stuff faster and easier than you would do alone. However, Cortana is also a feature that’s based on your willingness to offer personal information about yourself, which is something privacy concerned users don’t like. If you are such a person, and don’t want to use Cortana on your Windows 10 PC or device anymore, here’s how to completely disable it:
NOTE: The screenshots used in this article are from Windows 10 with Anniversary Update. Windows 10 Anniversary Update is available for free, to all Windows 10 users, as of August 2nd, 2016.
Step 1. Add a special entry to the Windows Registry
In order to be able to disable Cortana on your Windows 10 PC or device, you will have to add a custom entry in the Windows 10 Registry. It’s a key that will take the name of AllowCortana and which will have to have the value 0. This registry key will tell Windows 10 that Cortana is not allowed to work on your PC or device.
Going through the Windows 10 Registry and adding or modifying values in it is not something that most users should do, because it’s quite tricky and easy to make mistakes. That’s why, we thought it would be a good idea for us to create a simple registry file which you can download and run on your PC/device. No prior knowledge required and it’s completely safe. At the end of this guide, you’ll find a small ZIP archive, called TurnOffOnCortana.zip. Download it anywhere on your computer. Even the Desktop will do, as you can see in the screenshot below.
Inside the ZIP archive there are two registry files: the first one is called DisableCortana.reg and the second is called EnableCortana.reg.
If you want to turn off Cortana completely, double click or double tap on the DisableCortana.reg registry file.
Windows 10 will display a security warning in which it will ask whether you are sure that you want to run this file. The file is safe, take our word for it, so click or tap on Run.
Then, if User Account Control is enabled on your Windows 10 PC or device, you will also be asked if you want to “[...] allow this app to make changes to your PC”. Once more, click or tap on Yes.
The Registry Editor will want to know if you are sure about adding the information from the file to your Windows 10 Registry. Click or tap on Yes.
After it adds the information (the AllowCortana key we talked about in the beginning), the Registry Editor will tell you so. Click or tap on OK and move on to the next section of this guide.
Step 2. Reboot Windows
The second and final step of this process is to reboot your Windows 10 PC or device. Once you do that, it will reload the all the information from the Windows 10 Registry , including the entry which you just added - the AllowCortana key with the value 0.
Once it does so, Cortana is disabled, and its place on your taskbar is taken by the simple Search Windows field.
How to t urn Cortana back on, in Windows 10
If later on, you change your mind and want Cortana back on your Windows 10 PC or device, all you have to do is run the other registry file that we have include in the ZIP archive at the end of this article. Extract the EnableCortana.reg file and follow the same steps from the previous sections of this article. The registry key will then take the value of 1 and will result in the activation of Cortana, after you reboot Windows 10.
As you’ve seen in this guide, it takes only a few steps and a couple of minutes to get rid of Cortana on your Windows 10 PC or device. Unfortunately, you can’t do it by just turning a switch on or off. Hopefully, the registry files you’ll find at the end of this guide will make it easier and safer for you to do this whole thing. Use them and you’ll get what you want in no time. If you know of other ways to do the same thing, don’t hesitate to leave us a comment below.