An Overview of Cortana - dummies

By Nancy C. Muir

Cortana is a personal assistant feature that’s part of Windows 10. Cortana resembles apps on smartphones such as Siri on iPhones that reply to your voice requests for directions, a list of nearby restaurants, current weather conditions, and more.

Cortana is also your central search feature in Windows 10, which can give you requested information verbally or take you to online search results. You can also set up reminders using Cortana and even access Cortana from the Windows Lock Screen.

Where Cortana goes beyond smartphone apps is in integrating your daily activities and interests to anticipate the type of information you might need. You can set up your preferences in Cortana, help her learn your voice, and have her integrate with apps such as Calendar, Mail, Music, and more.

When you open Cortana, you see information in the Cortana panel that might be useful, depending on settings you’ve made, such as information about your local weather or traffic conditions or sports teams.

Beyond that, Cortana is kind of like the computer in a Star Trek movie that you can command to do various tasks. Although Cortana can’t fire a photon torpedo or transport you to a nearby planet, it can make your life easier. Here are just some of the things Cortana can do, from either a voice command or text that you enter in her search box:

  • Set appointments and reminders
  • Search for information online
  • Open apps
  • Play and identify music
  • Search for files on your computer
  • Get directions using the Maps app
  • Send an email