Cortana is one of the most useful features of Windows 10. But if you weren’t previously introduced to the Microsoft digital assistant via Windows Phone, you might have little idea how to take advantage of it. Here are a few ways you can use Cortana to streamline common tasks.
1. Call on Cortana with your voice
Cortana is always at your fingertips in Windows 10. But while you can type Cortana commands in the taskbar search box, it’s much more efficient to use your voice.
To enable voice input, type Cortana settings in the taskbar search field and select Cortana & Search settings from the results. Under Hey Cortana, toggle the switch to On. If you don’t want to share your assistant with anyone else, you also have the option to have Cortana respond only to your voice. Just be aware you’ll need to train it with some exercises to recognize you.
2. Create notes in OneNote
With voice input enabled, you’re more likely to capture to-do’s and ideas as they pop into your head because you won’t have to interrupt your current task each time you need to call on your assistant. Creating notes is a perfect example.
Next time inspiration strikes while you’re working, just say “Hey Cortana” followed by “write this down” or “new note.” After Cortana responds with “What’s your note?,” dictate the content. Your note will be automatically saved to your OneNote account.
3. Dictate texts and emails
How many times have you been immersed in a task when you remember you need to email someone? With Cortana, you can dictate and send your message without even opening your email app.
To send a message, say “Hey Cortana” followed by “send an email.” Cortana will open the quick-message window and ask whom the message is going to. Say the name of the recipient—they need to be in your contact list—then dictate your message and send.
You can also send SMS text messages by saying “send text” and following the same steps as for an email.
4. Set reminders
Like a flesh-and-blood assistant, Cortana can help you meet deadlines, tackle to-do’s, and generally stay on top of things. It can send you reminders at designated times, when you’re in particular locations, or when you’re interacting with someone in your contact list.
To set reminders, say “Hey Cortana,” and tell it what you want to remember in natural speech. For example, “Call Melissa today at 4 o’clock,” “Buy milk when I’m at Trader Joe’s,” or “Follow up on project next time I talk to Tom.” When the relevant circumstances are met, you’ll get an alert on your PC or Windows Phone. For example, a person-based reminder will pop up next time you receive an email, phone call, or text from that person.