Cortana Location Reminder
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How to set a location-based reminder with Cortana

One of our favorite features on the Windows Phone 8.1 Preview for Developers is setting up location-based reminders with Cortana. You can tell your Windows Phone device to remind you certain things when you leave or arrive at certain locations. Head past the break to watch our how-to video.

To get started, bring up Cortana by holding the search button for a few seconds. Tell Cortana to remind you something when arriving or leaving certain places. Here are some examples:

  • Remind me to walk the dogs when I get home.
  • Remind me to buy a tripod when I leave the house.
  • Remind me to buy milk and bread when I get to Fairways Market.
  • Remind me to get cash when I’m near any Chase Bank.

Cortana Location

Cortana will figure out where you work and live over time, but you can manually add favorites and nicknames in Cortana’s Notebook. It’s the button on the top right corner when you’re using Cortana. Click ‘places’ to edit or add your favorite places with nicknames that you want to use.

If the location isn’t immediately recognized from your favorite places, Cortana performs a search for it. In one of the examples above, Cortana searches for a Fairways Market and asks you which one you want. Select the right place and confirm to set the reminder.

Another great feature is that you can select “any place” for reminders. In one of the examples above, I’ve asked Cortana to remind me to get cash when I’m near any Chase Bank. She lists nearby banks, but you can choose “any Chase bank” from the list.

Cortana location reminder

These location-based reminders perform surprisingly well. We have noticed immediate notification of reminders when arriving at home, but it took a few minutes sitting in the Chase Bank parking lot before the reminder came up.

Have you tried setting location-based reminders with Cortana on Windows Phone 8.1? Has she been successful? Let us know in the comments!

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Reader comments

How to set a location-based reminder with Cortana

142 Comments

Not much luck with this.

I wanted a reminder when I got to work. Bing maps thought I was down the street all day. :-(

 

Also, GPS thinks I am 6 houses down from my (home) address when I am home.

Addresses from GPS locations are generally right, the issue comes when the Cell Tower Triangulation comes into play as well. .

I'm from India and I've already set up many location based reminders for my home & office and they all work great.

Although I wish MS adds an option to have something like a daily location wise reminder instead of just 1 instance of the reminder

.

I am wondering if it is possible to set reminder to be repeated (Daily, Workdays, Weekly etc.)?

It would also be great if one could set a range to the geo fences like 5km or include a whole city. When I ask Cortana to 'remind me to grab a Burger at Shiso Burger the next time I am in Berlin' she just does not get the City part; trust me I tried several different ways even narrowed it down to Alexanderplatz or Rosenthaler Platz ... nothing (although the text shows it correctly). I could also not manually enter the location (try say Shiso Burger and she thinks I mean She's a Burger or Chizzle Burger x'D)

If you don't choose a day, it is a one-time alarm. If you choose one or more days (Sunday, Monday, etc.) the alarm is for every Sunday, Monday, etc. When I tried asking to set/update an alarm for multiple days, Cortana generally turned the alarm back into a one-time alarm (removed all days).

I have one set to remind me to lock the door when I leave work, I just tell her to remind me next time each day.  It doesn't kick off immediatly on leaving work, but I've barely made it down the street before it does and if I forgot or can't recall if I locked the door, it's no big deal to turn back from there.  A lot better than getting home and suddenly realizing I don't recall if I locked the door :)

In my tests this has worked rather well.

However -- I am curious about the potential it has to kill the battery.  If you add a location based alert for it to work it has to query your location.  How often does it do this?  Does it use GPS or just Cellular?  Etc...

I was wondering about this too but the life battery on my 1020 had been pretty phenomenal and I can afford giving up some more juice. I'm at work most of the day and play with my phone very frequent (wireless stand is next to me all day).

My experience seems to indicate the phone is gets a location every X seconds anyway, so I haven't really seen any extra hit on the batter for this.

Yes and no. GPS isn't completely accurate and id hate to have my alerts trigger if I drive by a place but not necessarily going to it. Guess it would be nice\ cool to have option to set boundaries limits though.

The point of location reminders is for Cortana to remind you to do something when you get to a certain place, not before you get there as that would just be a reminder and not a location reminder based on you currently being at said location.

 

True story: on Monday, I asked Cortana to remind me to get distilled water when I get to Wal-Mart. Tuesday, my wife had the flu so she asked me to go to Wal-Mart for cold medicine. As soon as I walked into Wal-Mart, Cortana reminded me to get distilled water! I HAD TOTALLY FORGOTTEN ABOUT THE DISTILLED WATER!

I was going to walmart for one purpose, cold medicine.

The command is to ask Cortana to do something when you get somewhere. Just because I am two or three blocks from Wal-Mart does not mean I am going to Wal-Mart or even want to or have the time to go to Wal-Mart. If it was designed as you suggested, I would have to cancel the reminder becaue I am not going to Wal-Mart at that time.

The way Microsoft made it is logically perfect, when you get somewhere, Cortana will remind you to do whatever you told her to remind you. This isn't about reminding you to GO somewhere when you get close.

For the Dunkin Donuts example, he could have asked Cortana to remind him to get a Jelly filled donut for Deaconclgi when he got to DD. :)

 

Now, your idea is sound as well but it would be an additional feature or setting/something different. I would like to be able to set the reminder radius so that I can set it to remind me to go and do something. Sort of like "Remind me when I am NEAR a gas station to buy a 5 hour energy drink." That way I am reminded to actually go to the gas station and buy it instead of WHEN I get to a gas station. Even being able to pinch and zoom the triangulation circle on a map to show how far away you would like to be for Cortana to remind you to GO somewhere.

Currently, I have set a reminder to remind me to go somewhere at a certain time of day and then a location reminder so that when I get there, Cortana will help me not forget everything I am supposed to do.

With all of this automatic reminders, our brains are going to turn to mush from so little use. What were we talking about???? "Cortana, remind me the next time I talk to herbertsnow, that we were talking about reminders and that his idea is good."  :)

Something I haven't yet seen listed is that you can also open any app on your phone using Cortana..."Open WPCentral", for example. So far it's opened every app I have asked it to.

That's not new - WP8 could start apps that way, using either "open" or "start".  But what may be new in WP8.1 is that "go to" also works - like talking to the XBox One.  (Found that one by accident, just gotten used to "go to" for starting apps.)

Cortana does more than just open app. You can say "WPCentral show latest forum", "WPCentral read me the headlines", "WPCentral go to search", etc...

I understand, but the app specific stuff hasn't really been focused on much, even isn't listed in the suggestions from Cortana. I would think they would list Open "app name" along with everything else to make it more explicit.

I set a reminder to get a drink at a restaurant I frequent this past Monday. Last night as I was walking into the restaurant and my reminder went off. It was awesome!!

Anyone from Ireland having issues getting Cortana when they set their region etc. to US? I cant get it, all it leads to is a fuckload of pointless reboots

Did you download English USA language pack first, after you do that set language region etc to USA and It will work perfectly. I'm in Ireland too and works top class

Sound, I'll give it a lash. Any other oddities you noticed after switching region apart from the €s becoming $s? Does search, location, app stuff work alright okay? Basically, can you use the phone to ita full extent even if you've switched regions?

How do I get Cortana to tell me what time it is when I ask her? Phew. This is definitely a BETA RELEASE. Might need to rethink any serious comparison between Cortana and Siri if she can't even do that at this point. Yikes

If you're going to touch your phone to launch cortana while driving i'm sure you'll see the clock on the lock screen.

Hahahaha, I have an action button on my stereo, only a cycle button to get to the time. Get out of your own little world and think about others. Two people just said they want it. Damn.

One use case would be a biker or runner wanting to know the time with bluetooth. It's something that could easily be implimented but probably not thought of. He is just over reacting

Why would you want Cortana to tell you the time of you still have to touch and look at your phones screen? The only time "ask Cortana for time" feature will truly be useful and makes sense is when we can trigger Cortana without ever touching the phone. Just like how "Ok, Google!" command works on the Moto X.

Have you ever thought about someone that has their phone in their pocket and has a Bluetooth earpiece or Bluetooth headphones and want to know the time without taking the phone out of their pocket?  Or better yet when I am running and I have my phone in one of the arm bands and I want to know the time since it can be kind of hard to bend your arm and head around enough some times to look at the phone screen to see the time when you are running.  Also the sunlight also makes it hard to see the phone screen at certain angles.  It would find it very helpful to be able to press the button on my Bluetooth headphones to ask and get the time while I'm running.  By pressing the button on my Bluetooth headphones and asking what time it is then I would never have to touch my phone to get the time whould I?

I don't know why it is so hard for people to understand or think of a reason why someone may want to ask the phone the time before they start acting like it is a dumb idea and nobody would want to be able to do that.

Your reply is directed to me, I assume? So, here is my answer.

Did you actually read and comprehend what I wrote? All those examples you provided require us, the users, to be able to wake Cortana without touching the phone at all. That's why I gave Moto X as an example. As of now, WP has no way of waking Cortana up without having to touch the phone. So, since you still end up having to touch your phone and wake the screen up anyway, why would one need to ask Cortana what the time is? You might as well open your eyes big, look at your lockscreen, and see that big clock being displayed right in front of your eyes.

And, like I said in my previous reply, the only way that "what time is it, Cortana?" can be useful is when WP users are able to wake Cortana up without touching the phone, just like how it works in Moto X.

So, using your own examples, let's say I am wearing my Bluetooth hands-free device. Here is a little scenario:
- Me: (Without touching the phone at all) Hi, Cortana!
- Cortana: Hi, Chief. What can I do for you?
- Me: What time is it?
- Cortana: It is eight fifteen in the morning.
- Me: Ok, thanks. You're dismissed.
- Cortana: My pleasure, Chief. (Goes to stand by again)

Make sense?

Hans Tj, your assumption that you cannot wake Windows phone and activate Cortana without touching the phone is incorrect.  I read and comprehended what you wrote just fine; maybe you will want to do some research or testing before you post incorrect comments on the capabilities of Windows Phone and Cortana. 

I have a pair of Jaybird Bluebuds X headphones (http://www.jaybirdsport.com/bluebuds-x-bluetooth-headphones/) and I am able to press and hold the Play/Pause & Phone button on the headphones and I will hear a sound the headphones makes, a second later I then hear the sound that Cortana makes when she starts listing.  I then give a command to Cortana and she then responds which I hear through the Bluetooth headphones.  I can do all of this without ever touching the phone to give the command and get a response from Cortana.  The only thing I have to touch is the one button on my headphones.  I have already used this a few times and the Bluetooth headphones work with waking the phone and activating Cortana with no issues.  So your comment about Windows Phone having no way of waking Cortana up without having to touch the phone is completely wrong.  I can post a video of it working if need be.

So below is a corrected series of events you gave if Cortana could just answer the simple question of what the current time is.   The list I have is how it would work with my Bluetooth headphones without ever having to touch my phone or move my eyes off of the path that I’m running.  Also half of the commands and response you have is not even necessary because you don’t have to say Hi to Cortana and wait for her to say Hi back and ask you what she can do for you before you ask the time.

Step 1) Me: Press and hold the button on my Bluetooth headphones, the headphones plays the tone that it activated WP, Cortana then plays the tone that indicates she is listening.

Step 2) Me: What time is it?

Step 3) Cortana: says the time
 

For example I just tired this and it worked without ever having to touch my phone and the phone was in sleep mode when I did this:

Step 1) Me: Press and hold the button on my Bluetooth headphones, the headphones plays the tone that it activated WP, Cortana then plays the tone that indicates she is listening.

Step 2) Me asking: What is your name?

Step 3) Cortana responded through the Bluetooth headphones with: My name is Cortana.

Again I did the above test all without having to touch my phone and I was over 10 feet away from my phone when I did this!  So I was able to ask Cortana a question and get a response from her without having to be near my phone!  My phone and I could have easily been in different rooms and have done it.

Damn, Dude. Are you serious? That is actually really cool. I absolutely stand corrected. Thank you very much for the clarification. You got me really excited now.

Did you have to program your Bluetooth headphone to understand that pressing and holding that button mean waking up Cortana? Or did it have that function by default?

The hands free function has worked with bluetooth devices from the beginning, I'm assuming you've never paired to a car. In addition, how many times have you had the phone say "I didn't understand you" from inside your pocket? LOL, it's actually quite easy to turn on the phone and activate the search button (even accidentally) without needing to look at the phone. For example you can enable the double tap to wake from touch settings, and then you could just hit the search button. Very easy muscle memory. I'd love to see them add a feature that if I hold the search buton it wakes the phone up directly to Cortona, like the options exists for the camera button. Ultimately she's in beta, so we should probably avoid speculation.

No I did not have to program the Bluetooth headphones; they were able to activate Cortana on their own.  The headphones have a control panel below one of the ear pieces that has three buttons on it and a microphone.  One button is the volume up button with a short press and the next track button with a long press.  The middle button is the play/pause and phone button (to answer calls when you receive them) with a short press and the on button, if in a phone call it then becomes the end call button with a long press.  The middle button is also turns the headphone off with a really long press.  The other button is the volume down with a short press and the previous track button with a long press.  This page shows the button and what they do:  http://www.jaybirdsport.com/bluebuds-x-bluetooth-headphones/details-specs/

The middle button on the headphone I have is the one that can wake WP and active the TellMe feature in 8.0 or Cortana in 8.1.  This was working with the phone before I had 8.1 also.  What you get with Windows Phone 8 is the TellMe voice command option when doing the long press of the middle button, like what you get when you press and hold the Windows button on the phone with 8.0.  With 8.1 press and holding the button on the headphones does the same function as press and holding the search button to activate Cortana.  So it will wake the phone and activate the TellMe feature on 8.0 and with 8.1 it now wakes the phone and activates Cortana. 

I've asked Cortana to remind me about something when I got to work...Sure nuff...She prompted me right at the front door. :)

I tried but it never works... I set quite some reminders but none of them ever went off :/

also the"any" trick never works for me :/

Mark, maybe a dumbass question, but when Cortana is released worldwide will these articles be re-released or should us people outside the USA bookmark these articles?

I want this feature to be according to wifi instead of location based. Then when I was on my home network, or work network, it would remind me accordingly, and use less battery. But as is, it is pretty damned sweet.

That's a really good reason to add it. I was wanting it cause it felt like that would be more accurate than GPS based, but it would cost less battery to run.

Tested out the location based reminders for the first time yesterday and it worked like a charm. As soon as I got to work I had 2 reminders on my phone.

Cortana's preprogrammed sassy/smug comments get all the headlines but this feature along with, my favorite, the contact based reminders make Cortana top notch.

I didn't get my reminder when I went to Walgreens today. However, I left my phone on the "Ok I'll remind you" screen so maybe it won't remind me if that screens on?

I also didn't get my reminder when I pulled up to the house, but I'm ok with that cause I got it when I walked in the door.

I'd like to see them update reminder sounds. It would be neat to hear Cortana say "I have a reminder for you." or something along those lines.

Please post about the error 80183309! Everyone needs to know!! There's many of us that can't update yet!!

That's a good idea. Especially in large places. My school has one huge network but on the maps I'm not in school, so I can't set any reminders...

What about malls and shopping centers? Remind me to go to penny's next time I'm at Westfield, how does that work?

I have tried this and sometimes it works great. Where I have had a problem is with the "near" functionality. It hasn't let me use that as an option, it always converts it to a specific address and since I never specifically get there, it never reminds me. In your pictures it doesn't look like it took the "near" either.

It needs relative geofencing. I should be able to say "Remind me to stop at store when I am 5 miles from home".

I know, I just got a new feature and I am already complaining about it. But real world, I quite often need to be reminded on the way to somewhere, not when I get there.

 

I think this was demonstrated by USA Today guy. You can set that by x miles away from home or x minutes away from home. How well does it work, I have no idea. She can't even find my home yet!

The next step should be to have the possibility to take favorite addresses from the Here maps automatically. The current system of inserting or searching addresses is extremely complicated and not very effective.

It didn't notice that I'd left home when I left home yesterday, and it took a while to notice when I left home today. It seems to be very slow, maybe it's not checking often enough because it's trying to save energy.

I've tried two. One worked great, the other not so much.

The one that didn't work was an airport one. "When i get to the airport" -- the problem being when i was outside of the airport it didn't detect i was there (i was just dropping someone off, so it wasn't a huge deal) -- but i think that GPS won't actually work IN the airport to where that would trigger. not a huge deal, just sharing experience.

Logging GPS location periodically, relating it to what time you spend there and when during the day. She connects the dots basically, quite clever.

Interesting indeed. When ever I've tried when I am at work ... or When I reach home... she comes back asking "Where should I remind you?" or "Sure, what's the location?"

That's because you haven't set where home is in Cortana.
And she may be waiting to confirm the location with you. Go into Cortana, swipe down and at the bottom you may see a prompt asking you to add home to Places.
If not, give it some time and check later..

Yes, Cortana figures out "home" and "work" through a combination of GPS, time spent at a certain GPS coordinate range, and finally the time of day that you spend that time at that specific GPS range. Before any of our resident Smart Donkeys on WPCentral chime in with the obvious "what if you work at night?", they might do well to remember a certain key question Cortana asks when she interviews you at setup time, right after she's "absorbed the entire internet". ;-)

In India it doesn't work. It would be great if it has a functionality that once you reach a place and feed current location with some name and from next time onwards just refer to that location.

Go to the build in Map App -> search for the address or place -> save as favorite and give it a Nickname ... Cortana will find it when you call the place by the nickname you have it. You are welcome. ;)

I don't care if GNow is already doing this or who did it first, I'm just glad to have it now. This is a killer feature, killer.

I just asked Cortana to remind me the next time I go to "West Marine" to do something. She was unable to find the location no matter how many different times tried. However, i backed out of the task, and then just did a regular voice search for West Marine, and she (it) found it on the map. I then returned to Cortana to perform the same task and she did it correctly this time. Love this feature, and it's easy to excuse the mistakes when the potential is just staring you in the face, this is awesome stuff.

The function hasn't worked for me. I set a reminder to call my mum when I got back home. Waited for half an hour but Cortana was quiet.
I did the same with WiFi; it to turn on when I got back home too; the same story.

I deleted home and work because the location service is off. I typed in my address as home, say 3155 xx street, however when I am at home and say where am I it says something like 3203 xx street so I do not get reminder. Hopefully deleting will find home / work.

Since I deleted home/work, just noticed Cortana asked me in news if xxx was home and xxx was work, told yes, will try that since map (where she thinks i am) based and not typing in home address.

 

***I am glad cortana can't track phones..with the address off (5 houses) I could see my wife asking Cortana "where is my Husband?" and it shows I am at the lonely divorcee's house down the street. :) when I am really upstairs playing xbox one :)

This DOESNT work for me, though I am in Canada. It can find the locations, it displays the address, I can select which one I want to use, but when it always fails in the final step saying it cannot map that location. Wtf. Such a great feature and I can't use it.

Used this feature twice last night. Once when I was going to Safeway, and then again when I was going home. They both went off when I got in the parking lot

I actually used this the other day.  I said, "Remind me to pick up some shoe polish the next time I'm at Walmart".  Cortana then showed a list of Walmart stores within driving distance, but put the nearest one at the top and asked me if this one was the one I would go to.  I said yes and the reminder was set up.  Later, after I'd gone inside the store, sure enough, up popped a reminder to pick up shoe polish.  Absolutely cool.

Cool stuff. Need to be able to set recurring ones and sync with outlook though. Seems as if tasks has stayed the way they were once implemented, unfortunately. Haven't found a really good outlook/exchange/wp combo yet. :/

The reminders work great!!! Sometime it struggles with the syntax but that can be fixed.

They work every time.

I've tried them with Google Now on my MotoX and it would never work. It would tell me like an hour after I got somewhere.

The reminders have been my favorite part so far. The leave and arrive reminders work just fine if a little delayed. The delay feels like a feature to me, I have time to settle in at home and put my bags down before she bugs me to do something. I like that. Unfortunately the "near" reminders are useless. I finally get the reminder several minutes after passing the place if at all. Usually I just don't get one.

I have already set 3 reminders that I actually need, let's see if she'll remind me when I leave the house.

 

Also whats that music icon next to the notebook icon? I don't have it.

Is there a way to do a Geofence + Time reminder? For example: "Remind me to record my mileage every friday when i get home"

When I try that it just makes a one time reminder & ignores the day part completely.

Other than that, I love the remind me feature. Really looking forward to see what kind of stuff MSFT adds to it.

Surprise surprise, I set up a location based reminder and it didn't work.  That along with the "wake me up at 7am" and the HORRIBLE battery life....this update sucks so far. 

I work on a big corporate campus. There are buildings with no addresses, e.g. the gym at work or a certain conference room, office. How do I address these without specific addresses.

Reminders work fine for me but there is no alarm of any kind that I can find to go along with them so unless I remember to look at the phone I wont be reminded...quite the dilema.

That's what I don't get. How are these reminders supposed to remind me of things? Do they show in notifications?

These have worked so far for me. Remind my wife when I get to work, and remind my wife when I leave work. How do I make sure they repeat everyday though? Once I get the notification, I get "completed" or "next time" - feel like competed clears it appropriately, but will it still go off? So I hit next time. Also, I thought I read somewhere that Cortana will actually send messages automatically? Anyone? Can't figure that out...

Used it, but just like you, it took about 5 minutes for her to realize I had left my location to remind me of what I wanted to do.

How exactly are these reminders supposed to go off? Toast? Alarm? Because I set a reminder to call someone yesterday, and the reminder is in there in the list in Cortana. I just have not actually seen, you know, a REMINDER to do this, so I missed it. Am I supposed to check the reminder list? What is supposed to happen?

I tried it as well but had no luck with it. I defined home in my favorite places and added a reminder but simply nothing happened when I came home

Doesn anyone else find themselves wishing you could interface Cortana on your desktop or tablet? Especially for reminders, I want reminders to be more assertive, it just goes "ba-bing" and it's basically lost to the chaos of the day if I don't have my phone in my hand. It doesn't repeat the alert. A real assistant I could say, bug me until I actually do this. I also dislike that when she pops up the reminder she dosen't do it verbally. "I have a reminder, do you want to hear it or snooze?" ..  I think an ultimate integration would be to have her add it to my exchange calendar or have some Cortana windows tray apps that knows which device I'm actively using and bugs me there. I know, she's beta. lol

for me it doesn't work out at all.

I am located in austria, cortana has my home and my work saved as a favourite place and I can setup reminders, for e.g. "remind me to go for a walk with my dog when I arrive at home". But Cortana isn't reminding me at all. I tried several times already without success....

anyone else experiencing this issue?

Yes, here in Hungary doen't work. I set all favorit places, but she didn't remind me :(
But the time based reminders are working.

Me too. I live in Brazil and I try use the reminder by favorit places all time, but it never work!!!

Friends I'm new to wpcentral. Please help me what can I'd do if I want to take screenshot on my NL 520 and WP 8.1. I have tried but in vain as each time pressing the up volume and power key my phone goes to lock position. Neither I've getting any screenshot nor creating any screenshot photo hub on my phone. What I've to do now.

I think the Windows Phone Application Development team did a brilliant job by giving granular controls for Individual Apps on how they send notification. I can not only disable them from appearing them in the Action center but also control about showing banner or the toast notification, sound and vibration. Depending upon what I choose different sound for different app - that's just awesome!

Mark Simon
Windows Mobile Apps Development | Windows Application Development | Agile Infoways

Love this reminder. Use it all the time for grocery list. Pops up right when I get to my local Safeway. Wish you could directly copy from OneNote Shopping List instead of having to copy and paste though.

Works...was travelling to Edinburgh from Geneva and asked Cortana to remind to ask a about restaurants when I got to the hotel there. When I got to the hotel, there was my reminder. Very cool.

Unfortunately my house is off the main road so I am having trouble listing my home maybe a "set current location as..." feature?