Basics: Finding information on the Web and in Windows using Cortana

Technical Level : Basic


We use computers to create and analyze information. Windows over the years has provided built in tools for finding our information which is sometimes difficult to discover if we have a lot of it on our hard disk. Earlier releases of Windows included basic tools for finding files, the most concerted effort at making it easy to find information on our computers and Internet was the introduction of Instant Search in Windows Vista. Windows 10 introduces some major advances that bridges the world of artificial intelligence with the power of the Internet.


Search the web and Windows

When Windows 10 is installed and you log in for the first time, one of the new additions you will see is a Search box on the Taskbar. Labeled 'Search the web and windows', this is where you start, click it to begin.

If you are connected to the Internet, the Search box will display up to date information about what is happening around the world wide web.

Finding information

Lets find a file I need access to. The name of it is Kingston library.

Immediately I am presented with a database named Kingston Library. So, immediately, we see the familiar benefits of Instant Search. If I am not looking for something specific, I can simply enter a query and a list of relavant results will appear. If I want to expand my search query, just click the My stuff button. In this view I can choose to filter down where Search looks, in this case 'My Stuff'. When I click that, I am presented with all the relevant files for 'resume', in my case Word documents, PDFs, not only on my local drive but also on my OneDrive if I have that setup.

Search incorporates results not only from your local drive, but also your OneDrive.

Search also lets you easily define locations too so you can make your results as precise as you want them to be.

Introducing Cortana - Digital Assistant

The biggest improvement to Search is the addition of the Cortana Digital Assistant. First made available in Windows Phone 8.1, users can talk to Windows and receive relevant feedback. You can also use it to control applications such as the Music Player and prepare an email message or track a package or flight. Before you begin using Cortana, you need to set it up.

Setup Cortana

To setup Cortana, click the Search box and click the Settings tab then click the on switch to enable it. Cortana will guide through a few quick steps so you can introduce yourself and then you can start using it.

Enabling Cortana

Introducing yourself to Cortana

After you have setup Cortana, you will notice changes to the Search menu itself, additional tabs are now added. To activate Cortana, just say 'Hey Cortana'. Cortana will begin listening; ask your search query and Cortana will begin looking for it. This will immediately be presented in the Microsoft Edge browser.

Some other cool things you can do with Cortana include finding the name of a song. Just click the Music tab and Cortana will listen to the song that is playing and find it. Its very accurate! In addition to these helpful task, you can use Cortana to create reminders, ask questions, do calcuations and list of other fun and mundane activities. Here are a few questions you can try:

Cortana can listen and find the name of a song too

Weather – “Nassau Weather”
Finance – “MSFT stock”
Dictionary – “define amazing”
Calculator – “9+1”
Flight Status – “UA 238”
Reference – “how old is jennifer lopez”
Showtimes – “movies near me”
Tech Help – “memory in my computer”
Time Zone – “time in seattle”
Unit Conversion – “42 ft in meters”
Chit Chat – “tell me a joke”

Customizing Search Settings

If you don't want the Search Box to be displayed on your Taskbar, you can easily remove it or just display an icon.

Right click the Taskbar
Click Search and choose the most suitable option which includes Disabled or 'Show search icon'

If you choose Show search icon, depending on whether Cortana is enabled or not, you will see Cortana's logo or a magnifying glass.

Turn off Cortana

If you don't want to keep Cortana on all the while, you can easily turn it off.

Click in the Search box and click the Settings tab and click the on switch.

You can also choose additional settings from here too include changing the name Cortana knows you by, click Change my name.


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Forum Article Info

Last updated November 12, 2019 Views 3,359 Applies to:

I have Windows 10 on my laptop. I live in the UK, however i can't use Cortana.

Please could you help.

It's not supported in the UK yet. But you might be able to use it if you change your region to the US.
I have both my laptop and tower set to UK and my laptop allows cortana to be used.   So i can confirm it was supported in the UK from day 1,  

Audio speech listener completely dead when click to wake up Microsoft 950XL that fix issue facing after the resetting the device country and speech settings absolutely okay try again and again but failure to connect speech

OS build installed 10.0.15254.248