Before its appearance in Windows 10, Cortana had its debut as the personal digital assistant on Windows Phone 8.1. As a voice-activated search tool—and more—Cortana made hands-free operation simple when you were looking for a resource ("Where is the nearest Thai restaurant?") and didn't have time to search with a text-based tool.
Cortana not only delivers search results (and fast!) but also helps you schedule appointments, figure out a song you heard on the radio, decide whether to wear a coat today, and much more. On your tablet, Cortana reduces the need to do a lot of typing as you look for information. You can simply say, "Hey, Cortana!" and then ask the question or give the command you want Cortana to help you with. If that sounds too good to be true, try it a few times. You might be pleasantly surprised by the smooth functionality of Cortana and the quick and targeted responses you get.
Your first task in waking Cortana involves tapping the Search tool on the taskbar on the Windows 10 Start menu. Then, when the Search box appears, you can tap the microphone and speak your question to Cortana. You might ask things like
- What are the top headlines today?
- How does the traffic look this morning?
- Do I need a coat today?
- What time is my first appointment?
- Where is the nearest Starbucks?
Searching with Cortana
After you have Cortana's attention, you can ask its help in searching for anything. You can also ask a variety of other questions that can help you organize and manage your day. Phrase your request as a regular sentence-style question, and Cortana will ask for more information if it doesn't understand.
- Speak your question clearly. Cortana shows the question you ask in the Search box.
- Depending on the type of information requested (and where Cortana locates your answer), the results may be displayed in your browser window or in the Cortana panel.
Learning the Cortana Tools
Along the left side of the Cortana panel, you see a number of tools. To learn the name of each of the tools, you can click the hamburger menu at the top of the tools row. Each of these tools adds significantly to the types of information Cortana can help you organize.
- Tap the Cortana menu to display the names of all the tools in the tools row.
- Tap Home to see a mix of current information tailored to your local area, including weather conditions, top headlines, nearby restaurants, and more.
- Tap Cortana's notebook to see an overview of what you have planned for today, as well as favorite places, traffic conditions, restaurants, headlines, and more.
- Tap Reminders to see a list of all reminders you've asked Cortana to keep track of for you.
- Tap Feedback to send Microsoft your thoughts and suggestions about Cortana.