Cortana may not be the personal assistant she once was, but a new update as part of the Windows Insider Dev Channel means that her capabilities to find files have improved.
The new “File Skill” in the Cortana app appears in the new Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 20270, part of the Dev Channel. (Dev Channel releases publish test code that may or may not end up in a future release.) In this experimental app, Cortana’s skills have been honed to the point where she can find files in the cloud, with a better understanding of what you’re looking for.
If your PC is enrolled in the Windows 10 May 2020 Update or later, some of these capabilities will already be available. As long as you have speech recognition enabled on your PC, you can ask Cortana “find my recent files,” and it should unearth the last two or three files you’ve used on your PC. What Microsoft is trying with Cortana in this beta is the ability to search corporate SharePoint and OneDrive files stored in the cloud on a work account. (You’ll need to be signed into a work account, too.)
If you’re participating in the Windows 10 Insider Dev Channel, Microsoft recommends that you try out a few commands with the new 20270 build:
- Parts of file names (Example: “Hey Cortana, opening marketing deck.”)
- Author names (Example: “Hey Cortana, open budget Excel from Anthony”)
- Find a document you have been editing (Example: “Hey Cortana, find my recent files”)
- Find a document of a particular type (Example: “Hey Cortana, find my recent pdfs”)
Cortana continues to evolve, becoming less of a personal assistant and more of a productivity tool. Finding recent files without having to pore through File Explorer could save some time if it eventually became part of Windows proper.