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9 Useful Cortana Voice Commands for Windows 10 That You Need to Know


Say what you will about the Start menu in Windows 10, but we say its return is overrated. What people should be more ecstatic about Microsoft’s latest and final operating system is Cortana. She’s the virtual assistant built directly in Windows 10 that offers a multitude of services.

With Cortana, you can…

Set reminders and to-do lists

If you keep forgetting to buy milk when you’re at the grocery store, let Cortana remind you. She can help you remember what you’re supposed to do based on your current location, what time it is, or when you’re communicating with someone.

Here are some things you can say to Cortana:

  • Remind me to buy milk at the grocery.
  • Remind me to call my mom at 3 p.m.
  • When Susan calls, remind me to call John.

Examples of location-based cues are “when I’m at work,” “when I get home,” and “when I’m near any ATM.” You can assign specific addresses for places you frequently visit, such as the mall, gym or school. For time-based reminders, Cortana recognizes phrases such as “every Tuesday afternoon,” “in seven days,” “on December 25 at 7 a.m.” and so on.

Cortana’s reminder feature works across devices, which means she can remind you through your phone about a reminder you made in your laptop.

Launch applications

Instead of browsing the Start menu to look for that one app you want to run, just let Cortana launch it for you. Simply say “open Microsoft Word.” Voice commands “launch” and “run” have the same effect.

Find files

Have you ever had that moment when you can’t find a file just when you need it the most? It’s a common problem. As you keep using your device, you’ll gather several files and eventually forget their existence.

You don’t have to inspect every folder to retrieve files that you need. Let Cortana perform a faster search using its natural language recognition. You can say “find pictures from last month,” “show me my school documents,” or “search the last video I played.”

Add events to the calendar

Make the most of your time every day by planning ahead. Add events to the native calendar app by giving Cortana voice commands such as “put bowling on my calendar for next Monday,” “move my Friday 2 p.m. event to 4,” “add book club on Sunday,” and “schedule piano lesson for tomorrow.” Or you can just say “schedule something,” and Cortana will ask for the specifics.

To know what is in your calendar, just ask “What’s happening today?” or “What do I have next?”

Send email

Assuming you’ve already set up the native Mail app, say “send email.” Cortana will then ask you who the email recipient is, what the subject is about, and what to enter in the message.

Similarly, if your Windows 10 device has call and text functionality, you can say “call Mark” or “text Mark.” Otherwise, Cortana will apologize and say she can only send text messages or make calls from a phone.

Set alarm

Can’t wake up without an alarm? Windows 10 has a built-in alarm app, and you can order Cortana to set it for you. You can say “wake me up at 7 a.m.,” “set an alarm at 4 o’clock” or “turn the alarm on eight hours from now.”

You can say “turn off my alarm” to disable your alarms, or you can go to the Alarms & Clock app to do it yourself.

Check the weather

If you can’t somehow stick your head out the window to check the weather outside, say “weather” to Cortana. The questions “Should I bring an umbrella today?” and “Is it hot outside?” also work. Maybe you’d like to know what the weather will be like tomorrow, in which case you should say “weather tomorrow.” State a specific location if you’re curious about the weather somewhere else.

Search the Web

Anything you ask Cortana that she doesn’t recognize or can’t provide results on her own is automatically turned into a Web search query. One habit that some Windows users might find annoying is Cortana’s preference for using Bing as the search engine no matter which Web browser is your default browser.

Some browser extensions offer a workaround to make Cortana use another search engine. For instance, the Chrometana extension for Google Chrome redirects all Bing searches (including ones initiated by Cortana) to your preferred search engine. Developers of Mozilla Firefox, on the other hand, are currently working on a similar feature for their browser.

Have fun chatting with her

Cortana is quite unique from the competition in that it features unique, entertaining abilities. You can ask her to tell a joke, sing a song, say something funny, and so on. Listen to her witty remarks about Microsoft and its past—ask “where’s Clippy?” and “Who’s your daddy?” Ask for facts, such as “Who won the first Super Bowl?” Or just say you’re bored, and she’ll come up with some trivia games. Lastly, if you don’t know what to say, just say “help” to retrieve the list of voice commands.

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