Cortana is an excellent addition to any Windows 11 or Windows 10 computer or device. She’s 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 based on your willingness to offer personal information about yourself, which privacy-concerned users don’t like. So if you don’t want her to meddle in your “private life,” and don’t want to use Cortana at all, here’s how to completely disable it:
NOTE: This guide works for both Windows 11 and Windows 10, and the steps you need to take are identical in each operating system.
To disable Cortana on your Windows 11 or Windows 10 PC or device, you must add a custom entry in the Windows Registry. It’s a key that takes the name of AllowCortana and has to have the value 0. This registry key will tell Windows that Cortana is not allowed to work on your PC or device.
There are two ways to do that. The first one is to add the key to the Windows Registry manually - if you want that, follow the next section of this guide. The second method is to download and install the DisableCortana.reg file that we prepared for you by following the third section of this tutorial.
To disable Cortana from Windows 11 or Windows 10, you need to add a special key in the operating system’s Registry. So, start by opening the Registry Editor: a quick way is to use Search to look for regedit and click or tap on the relevant result.
When Windows asks you whether you want to allow the Registry Editor to make changes to your device, click or tap Yes.
In the Registry Editor, navigate to this path: Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows.
Next, right-click or press-and-hold on the Windows folder and, in the contextual menu, select New > Key.
Name the new key/folder Windows Search and select it.
On the right side of the Registry Editor, right-click or press-and-hold on any empty space. Then, in the contextual menu, select New and click or tap on DWORD (32-bit) Value.
Name the new key “AllowCortana.”
Now, double-click or double-tap on the AllowCortana key and ensure its value is set to 0 (zero). If it’s not, set it to 0 (zero) yourself.
Now you can close Registry Editor. Cortana is now turned off and can’t be used on your PC, but Windows 11 or Windows 10 might still launch it on startup. So make sure you follow the steps from the third section of this tutorial to disable it from being loaded on startup as well.
Going through the Windows Registry and adding or modifying values is not something most users are comfortable doing because it’s pretty tricky and easy to make mistakes. That’s why we thought it would be a good idea to create a simple registry file that you can download and run on your PC/device. No prior knowledge is required, and it’s completely safe.
Start by downloading this ZIP archive that we made for you, called TurnOffOnCortana.zip. You can save it anywhere on your computer. For example, on your Desktop.
Unzip the turnoffcortana.zip file, and you’re going to find two registry files inside it: the first one is called DisableCortana.reg, and the second is called EnableCortana.reg. If you want to turn off Cortana, double-click or double-tap on the DisableCortana.reg registry file.
Windows might display a security warning asking whether you are sure 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 PC or device, you are asked if you want to “[...] allow this app to make changes to your PC”. Once more, click or tap on Yes.
Then, the Registry Editor wants to know if you are sure about adding the information from the file to your Windows Registry. Click or tap on Yes.
After adding the information (the AllowCortana key we talked about in the first section of this guide), the Registry Editor lets you know about it. Then, click or tap on OK.
Cortana is disabled, and you can no longer use it on your PC. However, Windows 11 or Windows 10 might still open its process at startup. To stop it from doing that, follow the steps from the next section of this tutorial.
Although Cortana is now disabled and inaccessible to the user(s) of your computer or device, the operating system might still be loading the Cortana process on startup. To ensure it doesn’t, turn it off following the steps from this tutorial that apply to Windows 11 and Windows 10: How to view and disable startup programs from Windows 10's Task Manager. If you don’t have the time to read that guide too, the quick steps are these:
Open the Task Manager (Ctrl + Shift + Esc), and click or tap on More details to show all the tabs and settings available in it. Then, switch to the Startup tab, select Cortana in the list of apps, and click or tap on Disable to stop it from being loaded on Windows startup.
Now you can close the Task Manager and move on to the final step illustrated in the next section of this guide.
The last and final step of the process is to reboot your Windows 11 or Windows 10 PC. Once you do that, the operating system reloads all the information from its Registry. That includes the AllowCortana registry key (with a zero value) that you created or added in one of the first chapters of this tutorial. If you followed the steps from the previous section, Windows also stops its process from being loaded on startup.
So, Cortana is now effectively disabled. You can’t use her, and Cortana’s process is not running in the background anymore. If you try to run her, she gives you a blunt message like this one:
If, later on, you change your mind and want Cortana back on your Windows PC or device, all you have to do is change the value of the AllowCortana key from the Registry to 1 (one), or run the other registry file from our ZIP archive.
Restart Windows 11 or Windows 10, and Cortana is ready to serve again.
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 11 or Windows 10 PC. Unfortunately, you can’t do it by just turning a switch on or off. Follow the steps we’ve shown you, and you’ll get rid of Cortana in no time. If you know of other ways to do the same thing, don’t hesitate to let us know in a comment below.