How to set timers and alarms using Cortana in Windows 10

Because it's integrated with the Alarms & Clock app, you can use Cortana to set timers and alarms on your Windows 10 computer or device. Microsoft's virtual assistant is also useful when it comes to managing your existing alerts, helping you stick to your schedule without missing a beat. This tutorial shows you how to use Cortana to access, set, and manage your Windows 10 timers and alarms. Make sure Cortana is listening and give these voice commands a shot:

NOTE: The features presented in this guide are available in Windows 10 November 2019 Update or newer. If you're using an older version of Windows 10, you might not have access to all the features. Check your Windows 10 build and, if necessary, get the latest Windows 10 update available for you.

How to access timers and alarms using Cortana in Windows 10

As your virtual assistant, Microsoft's Cortana can open any app. To access Alarms & Clock, the app that includes the timers and alarms in Windows 10, make sure Cortana can hear you, and say "alarm."

Say alarm to open Alarms & Clock

You can also say "timer" to access the app.

Say timer to open Alarms & Clock

The app opens, displaying your saved alarms and timers. You can edit them manually or continue reading to learn how to have Cortana do it.

How to set and manage timers using Cortana in Windows 10

If you tend to get lost in your projects, the Timer in Windows 10 is a great way to make sure time does not slip you by. Cortana comes in particularly handy if you've got your hands full cooking, watching over your kids, or doing something else. First, make sure Cortana is listening. Then, say "set timer," "start timer," "add timer," "create timer," "enable timer," or "Cortana's timer."

Tell Cortana to set the timer

Cortana asks you how long to set the timer for. Tell her the amount of time.

Tell Cortana the duration for your timer

The timer is set for that duration, and Cortana lets you know while counting down.

Cortana lets you know the timer is set

TIP: Click or tap on "Open in Timer app" to access the Alarms & Clock app. It opens to display your timer expanded and taking up the entire window, which can be quite useful if you want to keep an eye on it at all times.

When you set a timer using Cortana, you don't get to name it. You can only use Cortana to create one timer named Cortana's Timer. You can also set Cortana's Timer with one voice command instead of the lengthier method illustrated above. The easiest way to do this is to say "timer," followed by the duration you want. We said "timer five minutes."

Set a timer with one voice command

If Cortana's Timer is already counting down, any attempt to set a new one through a voice command causes Cortana to attempt overwriting it. The value you chose for your new timer is displayed, and you are asked if you want to restart the timer. Answer "Yes" or "No" depending on your needs.

Restart Cortana's Timer

To avoid confusion, you can ask Cortana at any time to "check timer," "show timer," "view timer," or "how much time is left?". She tells you the exact time left, while displaying Cortana's Timer counting down.

Check Cortana's Timer

To stop Cortana's Timer, say "end timer," "stop timer," "cancel timer," "remove timer," or "turn off timer." Cortana lets you know she turned off your timer.

Turn off your timer

TIP: You can replace the word "timer" with "countdown" in many of the voice commands for the same result.

Cortana's Timer behaves like any other timer. You can see it counting down and interact with it in the Timer tab of the Alarms & Clock app.

Cortana's Timer displayed in Alarms & Clock

When you turn off the timer using spoken commands, Cortana's Timer also disappears from the Alarms & Clock app.

How to set and manage alarms using Cortana in Windows 10

Alarms are a useful way of making sure you remember your schedule. You can set an alarm manually, or you can ask Cortana to do it. Make sure the virtual assistant is listening and say

"create alarm," "add alarm," "set alarm," or "turn on alarm."

Tell Cortana to set an alarm

Cortana asks you the time for the alarm. Answer, telling her what time you want your alarm to sound.

Tell Cortana the time for your alarm

An alarm is set for that time, and Cortana lets you know.

Cortana lets you know the alarm is set

TIP: Unless otherwise instructed, Cortana uses the default settings for your alarm, leaving the name blank. Click or tap on your alarm in Cortana's window to open the Alarms & Clock app. It opens in the Alarms tab, displaying a list of your saved alarms, and allowing you to manually edit previously created alarms.

Alarm created with Cortana displayed in Alarms & Clock

It is simpler to create alarms with one voice command, without answering further annoying questions from Cortana. We found it easiest to say "alarm," followed by either the exact time for the alarm or the duration until you want it to go off. So if it's currently 8 AM and you want to set an alarm for 10 AM, you can use both the voice command "alarm 10 AM" and "alarm two hours" with the same result.

Set an alarm with one voice command

Since alarms are used mainly to wake people up, the command "wake me up at/in..." is also valid.

TIP: If you don't specify the period (AM or PM), Cortana assumes you mean the first time the clock shows that time. So if you want an alarm for 8 AM, you can simply say "alarm 8," as long as the current time is past 8 PM. However, if it's 7 PM, the same voice command sets the alarm for 8 PM.

One voice command is all you need if you want your alarm to repeat. Say "alarm," followed by the weekday you want it to repeat and the time for it. For instance, we said "alarm Thursdays 5 PM" for the result below.

Be specific with your alarm

You can't vocally set more than one weekday for your alarm, so, sadly, if you say "Mondays and Tuesdays" instead, Cortana only creates an alarm for Tuesdays. However, you can also use the parameters "every day" and "weekends."

Set an alarm for the Weekends

You can add as many alarms as you want with Cortana. To view all the alarms that are on, tell Cortana to "show alarm," "check alarm," or "view alarm." All active alarms, whether they were set with Cortana or not, are displayed in Cortana's flyout.

Cortana shows active alarms

If you want to turn off an alarm, say "cancel alarm," "disable alarm," "remove alarm," or "turn off alarm." Cortana displays your active alarms and asks which one to disable.

Turn off an active alarm

Answer with the time of the alarm you want to remove. We answered "2 PM." Cortana lets you know she disarmed that alarm, so you are no longer alerted when the time comes.

Cortana informs you the alarm is turned off

Similar to setting an alarm with one voice command, you can ask Cortana to get rid of a particular alarm. Use any of the vocal commands for turning off an alarm that we discussed earlier, followed by the time of the alarm.

We said "cancel alarm 2 PM" and got the same result as above.

Do you use Cortana often?

To be perfectly honest, Cortana would starve as an actual personal assistant, as she can move slowly now and then, is at least partly deaf, and sometimes disregards your commands entirely. However, she tries her best and does work for free, so you let her hang out in the office just in case. How do you feel about Cortana? Do you use her often? Let us know in a comment below.

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