Microsoft Cortana voice commands to control Windows 10 PC

Microsoft’s digital assistant, Cortana, is one of the best features of Windows 10. Cortana is very similar to Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri, it can perform a variety of functions like open an application, search for files, check the weather, or translate words to different languages – and all of it is just a “Hey Cortana” away.

Microsoft Cortana

Get started with Microsoft Cortana

If you haven’t activated Cortana yet, you will first need to follow the below steps to turn it on:

Microsoft Cortana

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Click the Cortana icon.
  3. Turn on Hey Cortana to let Cortana respond to your commands.

How to use Cortana with voice commands

Before diving into voice commands, it is first important to the know the different ways in which Cortana can be invoked on your Windows 10 PC:

Click on the microphone icon appearing on the taskbar right next to the Start menu option.

Use shortcut Shift + Win Key + C to open Cortana in listening mode.

Microsoft Cortana

To use this keyboard shortcut, you need to ensure this feature is enabled in the Cortana settings.

Microsoft Cortana voice commands

Simply, use the command Hey Cortana to invoke the assistant followed by the command. For example, Hey Cortana: Will it rain today in Bangalore?

Microsoft Cortana

Read: List of Apps that work with Cortana Voice Commands.

Cortana voice commands for Windows 10 PC

Here are some extremely useful Microsoft Cortana voice commands that you should be using when working with Windows 10.

  1. Find documents, videos, photos
  2. Search the web
  3. Control your PC settings
  4. Set reminders for the future
  5. Calendar voice commands
  6. Cortana technical support voice commands
  7. Track deliveries and flights
  8. Look up words or phrases
  9. Get quick math calculations or currency conversions
  10. Check directions and traffic status
  11. Hands-free control to entertainment

Let’s look at what these Cortana voice commands do when you use them:

1] Find documents, videos, photos:

Cortana can find files, documents, photos or videos stored on your Windows 10 PC. Here are a few examples that you can try to look for your valuable documents:

  • “Find photos from last month” or “Find videos from (mention date)”. Example: “Hey Cortana find videos from June 2014.”
  • “Find document (mention document name)” or “Find a file (mention name)”. Example: “Hey Cortana, find a document called test123.”

2] Search the web:

You can give Cortana voice commands to search directly from the web, it could be for finding some facts, discovering good food places, or simply looking for the meaning for a word or synonyms for the same.

Finding Facts:

  • “Hey Cortana, how tall is (popular celebrity/landmark)? Example: Hey Cortana, how tall is Mount Everest?
  • “Hey Cortana, who is (name of a known person)?”. Example: Hey Cortana, who is Albert Einstein?
  • “Hey Cortana, who is (company) CEO?”. Example: Hey Cortana, who is Facebook’s CEO?
  • “Hey Cortana, when is (festival name)?”. Example: Hey Cortana, when is Christmas?

Searching for a specific term

  • “Hey Cortana, search the web for (term)” Example: Hey Cortana, search the web for Microsoft.

Discovering places to eat

  • ” Hey Cortana, find good restaurants near me.”
  • ” Hey Cortana, find food places near me.”
  • ” Hey Cortana, find bars near me.”

3] Control your PC settings:

Using Cortana to open settings apps is much faster than manually navigating through the ‘Start Menu’, here are a few examples:

  • “Hey Cortana, open Settings.”
  • “Hey Cortana, open Action Center.”
  • “Hey Cortana, Disable/Enable Bluetooth” or “turn on/off Bluetooth.”
  • “Hey Cortana, turn on/off Wi-Fi.”

4] Set reminders for the future:

Cortana can be used to set reminders for a future time. For example:

  • “Hey Cortana, remind me to (action).” Few examples: “Hey Cortana, remind me to call Joe at 3 PM” or “Hey Cortana, remind me to watch the cricket game at 7 PM.”
  • “Hey Cortana, show me my reminders.”

Note, reminders can also be manually created by opening Cortana, and clicking on the ‘Notebook’ icon on the left menu and then tapping ‘Reminders’.

5] Calendar voice commands:

Managing your schedule on Windows 10 can’t get easier than this. You can control your calendar events by adding, moving, and viewing all of it with Cortana. Here are a few examples:

  • “Hey Cortana, how is my schedule looking today.”
  • “Hey Cortana, show me my schedule for (today/this week/next week)”
  • “Hey Cortana, add (mention event/appointment) for (mention time and date)”
  • “Hey Cortana, move (mention appointment/event) to (mention date and time)”

6] Cortana technical support voice commands:

When it comes to technical support on Windows 10, the first option is to look for it on the Internet. But, why look beyond when Cortana can do it for you within a matter of seconds? Here are some general technical support voice commands:

  • “Hey Cortana, how do I install a printer?”
  • “Hey Cortana, how do I change my background image?”
  • “Hey Cortana, how do I project my screen?”
  • “Hey Cortana, how do I take a backup?”
  • “Hey Cortana, how do I update Windows?”
  • “Hey Cortana, how do I change Privacy settings?”
  • “Hey Cortana, how do I connect a wireless device?”

7] Track deliveries and flights:

If you wish to track your flight status or a package that is due for delivery. Just copy and paste the PNR for your flight or the tracking number into Cortona’s search field. Cortana will keep you posted on any potential flight delays or package location changes.

8] Look up words or phrases:

If you love using the Microsoft Edge internet browser, you will love this feature. Cortana can be used from directly within the Edge browse so you can quickly look up for words or phrases without having to open a new tab or browser. To do this, just highlight the word or phrase on the webpage, ‘right-click’ on it with the mouse, and hit the ‘Ask Cortana about’ prompt. Cortana performs a Bing search and displays the result in a small window within the Edge browser.

9] Get quick math calculations or currency conversions:

Microsoft Cortana supports conversions for almost every major currency; in addition, it also includes a variety of common cryptocurrencies like Litecoin and Bitcoin. So, if you ever need to do any quick currency conversions just say ask Cortana, example “Hey Cortana, how much is 100 euros in American dollars?” Also, Cortana can perform calculations related to math, weight, temperature, and finance within a few seconds, so you don’t have to open the calculator.

10] Check directions and traffic status:

Asking Cortana for directions and traffic status can be an extremely useful thing when traveling. Whenever you need check directions to a specific place, you can use the following commands:

  • “Hey Cortana, how can I get to (mention place name)”
  • “Hey Cortana, where is (mention place name)?”

For checking traffic status:

  • “Hey Cortana, what’s the traffic like on the way home?”
  • “Hey Cortana, how long would it take to drive to (mention location)?
  • “Hey Cortana, how do I get home.”

11] Hands-free control to entertainment:

When you are busy doing some important work or maybe cooking, getting hands-free control to some entertainment can be both convenient and stress relieving.

Voice commands to play music

  • “Hey Cortana, play (mention artist).”
  • “Hey Cortana, play (mention genre)”
  • “Hey Cortana, play (mention album name) by (mention artist).
  • “Hey Cortana, stop/pause music/song.”
  • “Hey Cortana, play next track.”
  • “Hey Cortana, skip this track.”

Detect what’s playing

  • “Hey Cortana, what is this song?”
  • “Hey Cortana, what’s playing?”

Find movie details:

  • “Hey Cortana, what movies are playing near me?”
  • “Hey Cortana, what are the showtimes for (mention movie name)?”
  • “Hey Cortana, how long is (mention movie name)?”
  • “Hey Cortana, who was the director for (mention movie name)?”

Some more basic Cortana voice commands

There are so many things this voice assistant can do for you. After the complex commands, not its time to list down the most basic ones.

  • Get time for any location – “Hey Cortana, what time is it?” or “Hey Cortana, what time is in (mention location)?”
  • Get weather info for any location – “Hey Cortana, what is the weather like?” or “Hey Cortana, how’s the weather in Hillsboro?”
  • Open apps and websites – “Hey Cortana, open/go to (mention app name)
  • Get top news info – “Hey Cortana, get me the top headlines?” or “Hey Cortana, show me the latest news.”

Final Thoughts

You can now go about using your computer as you normally do, but whenever you need Cortana to perform a task, start by saying, “Hey, Cortana.”

I hope this list was helpful.

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Ankit Gupta is a writer by profession and has more than 7 years of global writing experience on technology and other areas. He follows technological developments and likes to write about Windows & IT security. He has a deep liking for wild life and has written a book on Top Tiger Parks of India.