How to use Cortana with a local user account in Windows 10

Not long ago, Microsoft released the November fall update for Windows 10, which brings many improvements and also several new features. One of the features many users asked for, is the possibility of using Cortana with a local user account, instead of a Microsoft account. Up until now, logging into Windows 10 with a Microsoft account was a mandatory requirement, without which Cortana wouldn't function at all. Microsoft listened to its users' feedback and now lets you use Cortana even on local users accounts. In this article, we'll show how you can have Cortana on your Windows 10 device, while using a traditional, local user account.

What you should know about using Cortana with a local user account in Windows 10

Before we show you all the steps required for enabling Cortana on a local user account in Windows 10, there is one very important thing you should know:

While you can set Cortana to work on a Windows 10 local user account, you will still need the details of a Microsoft account to activa te and use Cortana. You will keep using your local user account in Windows 10 but, for using Cortana, you also need to provide a Microsoft account. This account won't be used for anything else, except Cortana and there's no reason to switch your local account to a Microsoft account. If we didn't manage to explain things clearly enough, be patient and read the full guide. You will understand things better by the end of it.

How to make Cortana work with a local account in Windows 10

The first thing you have to do is login with your local user account. Then, click or tap on Cortana's search field from the taskbar.

Then, at the bottom of Cortana's dialog box, she'll tell you a bit about herself and then ask you if you want to enable her. Click or tap the Next button.

Cortana will let you know that, in order for her to "do her best work" , Microsoft collects and uses information about you and your devices. This is a glimpse into Cortana's privacy statement and she also provides a link which you can use to open the full Privacy Statement. If you are OK with Microsoft using your information, click or tap Use Cortana to continue with the setup.

After agreeing with its privacy terms, Cortana will ask you to sign in with a Microsoft account. These are her exact words: "Before we get started, I'll need you to sign in with a Microsoft account". Sounds strange, right? After all, we want to use Cortana on a local user account, not a Microsoft account. But, as we mentioned in the first section of this tutorial, Cortana still needs a Microsoft account for her to work. This account will be used only by Cortana, to provide you the services she's been built to provide.

Fortunately, as you will see later on, you will be able to set the Microsoft account to be used only with Cortana, not with any other features or apps from Windows 10. Also, it will not replace your local account in Windows 10.

For now, you will need to press the Sign in button.

Enter the details of your Microsoft account and click or tap on Sign in. If you don't already have a Microsoft account, you can also choose to Create one straight from this dialog box.

At this step, Microsoft will try to convince you to switch your local Windows 10 user account to a Microsoft account. Don't jump to conclusions and read carefully: on the bottom of this dialog box, you'll find a link that says "Sign in to just this app instead". If you click or tap this link, your Microsoft account will be used only with Cortana, not with anything else. Neither Windows 10, nor any other app or feature, will be able to use your Microsoft account. You will keep using your local user account in Windows 10, just like before.

That's it! Now Cortana is enabled and working for your local account on your Windows 10 device.


Being able to use Cortana with a local user account in Windows 10 shows that Microsoft is listening to its users' feedback. And that they are ready to loosen their policies regarding their software products. We're really glad to see this happen and we think this move will increase the number of people using Cortana on a regular basis. Now that you know how to enable Cortana for your local user account, in Windows 10, try her out and let us know what you think. Share your thoughts in the comments below.