Cortana, Microsoft’s virtual assistant, is getting better by the day. She learns new things and can answer all sorts of questions and commands from you. That is why we thought it would be a good idea if we summed up the most useful commands and questions you can ask Cortana to do or answer. As you will see in this article, she is not only able to understand what you tell her in writing, but she is also quite talented when it comes to understanding spoken commands or questions.
Important things you should know about Cortana
Before being able to command or ask questions to Cortana, you need to know a few things:
- First of all, you must go through a first-time setup for Cortana. Do not worry though; it is a fast and easy process. We covered all the details in this tutorial: How To Setup Cortana For The First Time, in Windows 10.
- Secondly, interacting with Cortana is easier if you already know and understand the way she works. To get a better idea of how you interact with Cortana and her interface, we recommend that you first to read these guides: How To Use Cortana On A Windows 10 PC, Notebook Or Tablet and How To Configure Cortana On A Windows 10 PC, Notebook Or Tablet.
You should keep in mind that Cortana is learning new things every day, so the list of commands we are going to show in the next section of this article might not cover everything she can do. However, we will try to update this article on a regular basis, so that we include the useful things Cortana learns over time.
Which are the most useful Cortana commands and questions?
Cortana can do lots of stuff for you. Here are some of the most useful commands and questions you can ask Cortana:
1. Cortana can launch apps. Do you want to launch a specific app? Tell Cortana to open it, like: “Open Camera.”
2. Cortana can search through your files. Tell Cortana the name of the document you want her to find and she will immediately start searching for it, both on your computer and on your personal cloud storage space – OneDrive. If you do not know the name of your document, Cortana can also do contextual searches, like “documents from last month.” When done, she will show a list with all the documents matching your query.
3. Cortana can search the web. If you want to search the internet, Cortana can do this. All you have to do is ask her. Any request similar to “Find me [anything you want]” will do. Even more, if Cortana cannot answer a question or do something you ask her to do, she will automatically do a Bing search and show you the results.
4. Cortana can make changes to some Windows 10 settings. Whether you want to turn Wi-Fi off or Airplane mode on, command and Cortana will obey. All you have to say is something like “Hey Cortana, turn WiFi off!”.
5. Cortana can turn the volume up or down. When listening to music or watching a movie on your PC, one of the most useful things Cortana can do for you is turn the speaker volume up or down. You can simply say something like “Hey Cortana, turn up the volume!” without having to get up of your favorite armchair.
6. Cortana can tell you the weather. You can ask her about the weather, and she will immediately tell you what the weather in your location is. You can even ask her what the weather is in a certain city or on a specific day. Just say “What’s the weather Cortana?”.
7. Cortana can show you the news. You can ask Cortana to show you the latest headlines and news, be they local, national or even international. Use a command like “Show me the latest news!”.
8. Cortana can keep track of your calendar. Want to know what is next on your agenda? Cortana can collect and tell you every event you scheduled. Use your own words for asking her something like “Hey Cortana, what’s on my schedule today?” or “Hey Cortana, what is my schedule on Friday?”.
9. Cortana can add events to your calendars. All you have to do is tell Cortana to schedule an event and add it to your calendar. For more details on how this works, check this guide: How to schedule and manage appointments with Cortana.
10. Cortana can set reminders for you. Cortana can remind you about a specific thing. To be able to do that, tell her what you want to be reminded of and when you want her to do that for you. She will remember and let you know when the time comes. Use commands like “Hey Cortana, please remind me to call Karen tonight!”.
11. Cortana can set alarms. Is tomorrow going to be a busy day? Ask Cortana to set the alarm for 5 AM. For this, use a command like “Hey Cortana, set an alarm for 5 AM tomorrow”.
12. Cortana can play music. Feel like listening to music? All you have to do is ask: tell Cortana to play music, and she will immediately shuffle the audio tracks from your music library, load them in the Groove Music app and then start playing them. Here is a guide that will give you more details on how this works: The complete guide to playing music with Cortana and Groove Music, in Windows 10.
13. Cortana can do music recognition. A song you like is being played on the radio, but you cannot remember its name? Ask Cortana to identify it by using a command like “Hey Cortana, what song is this?” or “Hey Cortana, what’s playing?”. After listening to the song for a short while, she will most probably guess it right.
14. Cortana can make mathematical calculations. Got a simple or a complex math problem? Easy… ask Cortana the answer. For example, if you want to know what 16 multiplied by 25 is, ask her just like that “Hey Cortana, what is 16 multiplied by 25?” and she’ll tell you the result in an instant.
15. Cortana can convert units. If you want to know how many meters a mile has or how many Canadian dollars you get for exchanging 50 American dollars, ask Cortana and she will promptly tell you the right answer. Use a command like “Hey Cortana, how many meters in a mile?”.
16. Cortana can give you directions. Whether you just want to find where you are or you want driving directions to a specific location, you can ask Cortana for help. Use commands like “Hey Cortana, give me driving directions to Bucharest!”.
17. Cortana can define words. If you do not know the meaning of a certain word, ask Cortana to explain it to you. She will do her best to enlighten you whenever you’ll ask her things like “Cortana, what an epiphany?”.
18. Cortana can lock, sign out, shut down or restart your PC. With a simple command, Cortana can handle these common tasks for you. Ask her to reboot your PC, and she will do that; ask her to power it off, and she will do that also. That makes us love her more than ever when we feel too lazy to get out of bed to shut down our devices at night, after watching a movie or two. 🙂 You can read more about how this works in this guide: How to ask Cortana to lock, sign out, shut down or restart your Windows 10 PC.
19. You can ask her to send emails for you. With only a few words, you can ask Cortana to write and send an email on your behalf. She even lets you make changes to the message if you need to. Use a command like “Cortana, send an email to [someone]” and then Cortana will ask you the details: what email account to use and what the message is. When done, you can agree to send the message or cancel it if you changed your mind.
20. Cortana can offer you quick help. When you do not know how to connect a new printer, for example, you can ask her for help. All you have to do is say “Hey Cortana, how do I [do something]?”
21. She can show you images of what you want to see. Whether you ask her to show you pictures of people, animals, places or any other things, Cortana uses Bing to do a quick search and display the results for you. Just say “Hey Cortana, show me some pictures of [someone or some thing]”.
22. Cortana can also find videos for you. Ask her for that, and she will promptly give you results, mostly from YouTube. Say something like “Hey Cortana, show me videos of [someone or some thing]!”.
23. Cortana can find and tell you recipes for food and beverages. Some might want to know how to make a beef steak, and other might want to know how to make a certain special cocktail. Either way, you can ask Cortana how to cook or prepare a meal or a drink. She will know how to answer you. Even if you ask her how to make a Big Stick cocktail. 🙂
24. Cortana can help you learn a new thing every day. Ask her “what’s up?” daily, and she will tell you a new thing every day.
25. Cortana knows how to translate. When you are in doubt on how to say something in a different language, ask Cortana to translate by simply telling her “Cortana, how do you say [something] in [some other language]?”. She can translate that, quite well actually.
As you have seen, Cortana is a very knowledgeable assistant. She can do plenty of things, and she can give you answers to more than a few questions. We hope that you will enjoy using Cortana as much as we do, and we also hope that the list of commands and questions we showed in this article will prove useful to you. If you know of other useful things Cortana can do, do not hesitate to share them, in the comments form below.