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Cortana no longer tracks packages, but the feature lives on in Outlook

Microsoft's Cortana has been undergoing a shift from a centralized storehouse and digital assistant to a more extensive helper with new endpoints in more apps. A clear example of this is with package tracking – a favorite feature that came to Cortana back in 2015 on Windows Phone.

Now, however, people are taking notice that under Cortana's Notebook where tracking a package is still an option the assistant now says "Sorry, Cortana will no longer be able to track packages from your email."

But is the feature gone? Not really. Package tracking is now handled in Outlook and the native Mail and Calendar apps.

Microsoft announced Outlook package tracking back in June 2016 (opens in new tab) along with flight details, rental car reservations, and hotel booking information.

Although Outlook has been handling package tracking for some time the shift away from Cortana is new for many users.

Why Outlook and not Cortana?

Cortana's Notebook telling users that package tracking is no longer an option.

Cortana's Notebook telling users that package tracking is no longer an option.

While the move may seem like a push against Cortana by putting the feature in Outlook, it now has more reach since Outlook is on Mac, web, iOS, Android, and native Windows 10 Mail and Calendar apps. (In fact, Cortana on iOS in Outlook can now alert you when it is time to leave for a meeting). By remaining in Cortana, the feature only works if users on competing platforms install the standalone digital assistant – which is less likely then them installing Outlook (Outlook has over 100 million downloads on Android alone).

There is also the question of calendar support. Currently, when you get an Amazon shipping notification, the information is automatically added to your Outlook calendar – which makes sense for those who like to see an overview of their schedule versus manually looking it up in Cortana.

Still, Cortana on PC, Android, and iOS still reveal upcoming incoming package notifications. For PC, a notification alerts you that it is being tracked while those on Android or iOS can see it in the Cortana app if a user has the app installed.

Much of this also has to do with the shift away from Cortana on PC as a standalone, catchall repository for everything and instead making the OS (and connected apps) "smarter" by naturally serving this information to the user. The method behind what Cortana was doing with package tracking is still present - it's just revealed differently to the user.

One missing feature, however, is now users cannot manually make Cortana track a package like in the past. The other problem is just general reliability as plenty of users still complain of no tracking for flights or packages.

We reached out to Microsoft about the shift away from Cortana and a spokesperson stated:

As with all our tools and services, we are constantly evaluating and finessing the Cortana experience to offer users the most valuable features and capabilities. For package tracking ease, Outlook will continue to manage your package tracking emails, and create events in your calendar with details.

To make sure the feature is enabled users can go to Outlook.com and to their Calendar. From there select Settings > Options > Calendar > Automatic processing and make sure events from email/automatically add is enabled along with the correct categories.

It is worth noting that Microsoft does have a valuable resource of currently supported senders for events from email in Outlook (opens in new tab). While Amazon is the most visible eBay, Walmart, SnapDeal, and Flipkart are also supported. Besides packages, users can find supported senders for flights, lodging reservations, bills, dining reservations, car rentals, and events.

Does package tracking belong in Cortana or does it make more sense to support it directly in Outlook across all devices? Let us know what you think.

Daniel Rubino
Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

90 Comments
  • Stopped working on my elite x3 awhile ago. The phone is the only place my retail only Gmail account emails land in a MS mail app.
  • Go to Outlook.com > Calendar then select Settings > Options > Calendar > Automatic processing and make sure events from email/automatically add is enabled.
  • I assume Dan, that is the same way to turn it off? Is it suppose to be turned off by default? I never remember turning it on. Unless when I enabled through Cortana it just carried over...
  • Flights is not available either.
  • Stupid..... It just makes me sick. I remember when Cortana was something to brag about... Now. SMDH. I miss WP 8.1
  • Yeah, man.
  • Brag? Why would you brag about a faceless company product that is not even owned by you to begin with.
  • Cortana was always inferior to Google's assistant.
  • No, at one time Cortana was well ahead of Google's assistant. I've used both, and can vouch for that.
  • It was never ahead of Google Now or Adsistant. Or even close.
  • Yeah, it was not ahead, because it was close behind, but already on the next round.
    With integration to your services they do the next logical step to integrate intelligence into your information. Eg. now i can make an outlook rule to forward package tracking information to the family calendar, so everyone sees when we receive a package.
  • It was ahead of everything when it first came out. You never used WP so how would you know?
  • Please, only a fanboy would say that. Google was years ahead when Cortana launched as another late, "me too", Microsoft product. Cortana didn't bring anything new to the assistant space.
  • Comment deleted by user.
  • I think it should exist places in both for the cases of manual adding. Either that, or they need to introduce some easy manner of telling cortana to track a package without having an email. If this is the end-all route then they need FedEx, UPS, USPS, DHL, and whatever dominant international services (where sensible) supported.
  • Yeah, I'm surprised they don't support auto emails from UPS/FedEx with tracking info. Seems like a big oversight. I have My UPS and FedEx Manager so get those emails auto-generated - Outlook doesn't do anything with them though. Works great for my flights and Amazon.
  • But you can't say hey where is my package while driving, cooking etc. You should still be able to. Can you say Cortana show me emails about packages etc.
  • Only FedEX US shipments. Canada Post no longer seems to work nor does Purolator either.
  • Perhaps you can make a Flow to do something with them? Just thinking out loud here :-)
  • I understand why adding it to Outlook is great, but why remove it from Cortana? I personally enjoyed Cortana being a "catchall repository for everything" because it did what an assistant is supposed to: keep track of everything and keep it organized in one central location for easy access. Surely they could have managed to add it to Outlook without removing it from Cortana.
  • I think at least for some it's redundancy - not sure getting multiple notifications/alerts for the same event/package is user-friendly. There's also the larger issue of maintaining/improving Cortana for a feature that - I presume - not many were using. Long term, I still see Cortana more of a collection of tools/ML/AI that is found in multiple endpoints in the OS and installed apps (even across devices) that works more in the background rather than a button we hit. Just envisioning AI in the future and the idea of it being just an app seems dated to me. I could be wrong, but I think the idea of a more ambient system rather than a discrete one is potentially more useful and less novelty.
  • Although I don't disagree, that also makes the thermostat, Cortana on iot and the invoke more and more useless as we approach it. Having outlook parse the data is fine as long as I can ask Cortana to retrieve it.
  • It is quite obvious they are decoupling Cortana because they plan to kill her off. Alexa will slowly take over. They have already started the transition.
  • i do not want any of them to be honest.
  • It is quite obvious that you don't know what you're talking about, like usual.
  • Really? What about Microsoft's recent handling of Cortana makes you think they are continuing development? You have to admit these moves really make it look like they are deprecating Cortana.
  • I agree, Cortana is dead.
  • I agree with this and this is what I think Microsoft is doing. Put Cortana in everything instead of it being an isolated app.
  • It's not redundancy for Cortana to be able to look at my calendar, with auto populated shipment information, and tell me about it when I ask. Will I maybe be able to ask Cortana to ask Alexa, 'where's my stuff?'. Will I have any need for Cortana? Will the lack of capability in Cortana result in reduced usage, resulting in the telemetry that MS needs to kill a product no-one uses, according to the telemetry.
  • I agree that it makes sense for a product like Google Assistant to be a one-stop-shop for relevant information. But as Daniel Rubino seems to be saying above Cortana may still retain a lot of those elements in the future without actually being Cortana anymore, no longer a discrete app but a more all-encompassing experience.
  • Just another reason on the giant pile of reasons for why I don't use Cortana anymore.
  • But if you use this feature in Outlook you basically are - it's the same tech, the same option, it's just not overtly called "C O R T A N A" now, so what's the big deal and/or difference? Also, this stuff still shows up in Cortana on Android and iOS. Cortana on PC will notify you about the package too and updates. Cortana is now in Outlook on iOS (see "time to leave" option). Cortana is now in GLAS, a speaker, Launcher, coming to To Do, Xbox, Alexa, etc. I think you're confusing a brand name and an app experience with a feature experience that is less in your face about it. The best part of the Outlook package tracking is I do nothing - it just works and it's added to my calendar.
  • No way to ask with out a video ui. That is my issue.
  • How long before Cortana is no longer a thing? Months or are we talking a year or two? It seems to be coming quickly. It was obvious last year when they didn't have a Cortana Mini to compete with Google and Amazon.
  • Pointless reply... Cortana does absolutely nothing in my country, but packages have begun appearing in Outlook; I'd say the two things are separate enough that it's fair to claim non-dependency on Cortana...
  • I personally find it frustrating that they removed so many features, I understand the move to make the features platform agnostic, however there is something to be said for being able to open Cortana and see key information such as the day planner and delivery schedules. It was at one point a launch pad for my day, now it feels it is moving towards redundancy.
  • Having this stuff added to an Outlook calendar is actually not the same option. Tracking of flights seems to be completely gone. While a flight does show up in Outlook's calendar, the information for the flight is not updated (Is the flight on time? Which gate is it at? Do I get an alert if there is a delay?). This was all functionality that used to exist in Cortana, and frankly was quite good. Cortana now just gives me a random traffic alerts and useless suggested tasks based on my email. It's been killed, and that's a shame.
  • Ugh, Cortana. You had so much promise. Now, as long as these basic personal assistant functionalities remain somewhere in the MS ecosystem I can't complain too much, but other instances of multiple tracks of development for features at Redmond haven't been so promising. To-Do, Cortana Reminders/Lists, Microsoft Launcher To-Do ... why the hell are there three of those? Confusion reigns.
  • That stuff is being rectified. Much of it is lack of someone overseeing everyting. Case in point, it's not like the To Do team signed off on the Launcher team using a generic "to do". They didn't. But once To Do comes to Launcher, "to do" will be removed. In having spent time with the team in Berlin I can say that the challenges of integration are hard. For instance, what about sharing of attachments? Where are they stored? OneDrive? So you force people on iOS or Android to sign up for a OneDrive account to see a shared attachment. That's a choice, but they want to make sure they're making the right one without forcing too much on the user. Having said that, it seems to me the To Do team is now on a "add feature" mode, so we should be seeing this stuff come together in the near future.
  • RIP Cortana. Can we have a normal Window search now?
  • Have you not followed the news on RS5? Because that's the deal.
  • Maybe they are not an insider. I do want to note action center needs more functional control by the user. Maybe I want to see the weather when I open it. Like I used to with Cortana.
  • A search that works with other search engines, not just bang, I mean bing.
  • Can't they do both?
    For heaven's sakes they aren't short of money lol.
  • Because they are killing off Cortana obviously. They won't have that feature by this time next year. Alexa will become the replacement for the few people who want an assistant on Windows.
  • If it is not broken don't try to fix it. The shift was not very smart because now i have to get another app to manage my package tracking. Not to mention email always don't populate tracking numbers, thus it was easier to manually add tracking numbers. so now more steps have to done to manage pages. Stop trying to fix things that are not broken.
  • Outlook has always worked great for me.
  • I wanted Cortana to be the core of everything I do for the most part, but I feel as if Microsoft isn't as dedicated to making Cortana the best she could be, like just think about it for a second she used to be able to control Groove and play music from it and with Groove she was able to identify songs she used to be able to track packages and flights all from one Central hub I didn't need to download five apps when I can have Cortana instead of having Shazam to identify my music I could use Cortana to search the web instead of Google to do my search results I could use Cortana like really use her for something more than one thing so just being a digital assistant she was amazing she also gives a better definition than Google she seems so perfect at the beginning now I'm starting to feel depressed I hope they don't drop her anytime soon she also used to be really good on the Kinect they could have done so much more if only
  • It's presumptuous on MS that all packages are communicated through email, and particularly Outlook. I have multiple emails that don't or cannot connect to Outlook, and people use other messaging systems, Whatsapp, Line, etc. MS is stuck in the previous decade in its world view.
  • Huh...? Then consider using another service? This is Microsofts solution, after all; if you're not using Outlook, then why is it an issue to you?
  • Bc Cortana was something they used and it worked and Cortana was ms's solution
  • Also Cortana Tracking only worked when you had some MS Emailing Service. No matter if Windows Mail, Outlook.com, Office Outlook ... Same it seems to be now, just without showing it in Cortana.
  • Cortana has been pretty much useless in the UK since windows 10. I was surprised how much better Google assistant was when I changed phones
  • A little off topic.. did Microsoft/outlook team just remove the outlook Wear OS app for watch?
  • :))))))))))))))))) PATHETIC!!!! Well...because why does the world need another assistant :)) And they say Cortana is not dead, lol.
  • They should be adding more features to Cortana, not taking them away. It's much easier for the end user to have a one-stop location to surface the data you need.
  • Why would they add features to a service they are ending? They are moving features away from Cortana because they plan on killing her.
  • I don't know why I even feel upset anymore. It is so clear that Microsoft is not a consumer company anymore. Should I now look through my whole calendar when I am expecting a parcel......blah blah the reasons why this is a dumb move are multiple. This scenario has played off so many times the last few years with MS. They will kill off Cortana when is the question. The sad thing is that any idea like Android assistent had to start somewhere, at one stage they had no users, now they have millions, but if you don't spend time to improve it, it will die.
  • Agreed the band was great killed off, cortana was great on 8.1 now being killed off, windows phone was great on 8.1 now killed off. I now have an android phone and Chromebook as it's easier and have apps, windows will be business only before long and what a shame for the people that have stood by them over the years
  • Don't forget Silverlight, the best toolset I've seen in my 50 year programming career. Killed off with no good replacement.
  • I don't even know what they did that. I leant to program apps using that and when I heard they weren't going to support that anymore I was so sad and mad. Well at least NodeJS kinda became what Silverlight was supposed to be in the end.
  • Now I understand why I am seeing bill due notifications on my calendar, which I like! Now I am going to make sure that that everyone that I get a bill from has my email address and send me notification when a bill is due via email.
  • yay, worse user experience. That is what we are all looking for
  • If Cortana doesn't track packages (or flights from what I read) what would be the point of having this? I used to used it a lot for reminders but because it is so hard for it to understand my accent (it has gotten a lot better since I started using it in 2014 but Google's product is just better) I just use Wunderlist.
  • So now, it gets the package tracking from emails and we NO longer have the ability to enter in manually? I would track packages for anyone in the family and anyone could ask Cortana when they would arrive. This is such a step backwards I beleive.. So BAD.
  • Outlook has always supported package tracking
  • Yeah but now his family members have to have him go check the statuses of their packages instead of asking Cortana, the digital assistant who's assisting less and less
  • Cortana, the digital assistant that assists less and less
  • And on the Cortana skills page, it says "You can also add package info manually in the Packages section of the notebook." As Mister Burns says, anyone could ask, now I have to go look :(
  • Beating a dead horse here, but the other nice thing about asking Cortana is, it would tell me where the package actually was, in transit, in my home town or out for delivery. But all gone now or am I missing something here..
  • For most users outside the USA Cortana never did these things anyway. I am in the UK and I used Cortana on my Windowsphone. It was always unaware of many things such as public transport in the UK, locations and much more. It got better over time and the experience of the Lumia 950 towards the end of 2016 was almost usable. However, for me Cortana was an unfinished product that introduced features in the USA that never arrived in my country. It was even worse in other countries and languages. Microsoft often announces these technologies have a big launch and put them out in the USA. Maintaining and improving is not so good outside their enterprise offerings. For most consumers Cortana is dead. Alexa and Google Assistant are the consumer winners. Of course, it's nice to get package information in the email. Never saw that in Cortana but I am now getting Amazon parcel information. I assumed it was Amazon technology. Maybe it's really Microsoft. They haven't really told me. I am expecting a delivery this week so I will look. Cortana may be helping consumers at the back end of servers. In the world of consumer awareness, no one will notice. No one will be aware Microsoft do AI in the consumer world. So it's good news. Cortana is now helping me in a way I didn't know and never saw before. Almost no one will notice her good work.
  • Cortana (on Invoke Speaker): I'm sorry, I can't play music on Spotify. This was 5 min ago. What the hell?
  • No worries. I haven't been hauling my desktop around in my car or where ever I go in order to stay on top of my packages. If Cortana could have signed and secured my packages when I'm not home....
  • Siri, Cortana, Alexa, Google Assistant... A solution for a problem which doesn't exist...
  • My feelings exactly.
  • Cortana solved many problems for me. Just yesterday, i wanted to know what 3729 divided by 3 was, so i just asked her.
  • Because the calc app is SO difficult to use. 🙄
  • Good ol' Microsoft. Start out strong and enthusiastic. Then slowly kill it.
  • Because it is just SO much trouble to paste the tracking number into the UPS website. For Amazon stuff, I can order in the morning and it arrives in the afternoon. Tracking? I don’t need an app or an “assistant” for stuff this simple. BTW, the Outlook Tracking is never correct. The package always arrives days before Outlook claims it will. It obviously uses the guesstimate in the email from eBay.
  • R. I. P Cortana
  • Does MS have any idea what it's doing? Are the underlings trying to second guess Nutty nadella because it sure looks like the ship is rudderless.
  • Microsoft knows exactly what it is doing. It just has nothing to do with trivial things like phones, assistants, and mobile computing in general. They are concentrating on other markets. Markets where they will make money. The ship’s rudder is working perfectly fine. It is steering MS exactly where they need to be.
  • On the back end with no front facing services? Exciting.
  • They should have left the feature in Cortana and let the user decide to turn it on or off via her notebook if they felt it was redundant. It's the same with reminders and upcoming appointments, they are just as redundant but Cortana can be a quick glance of the things that you care about rather than skimming from app to app. And most importantly Cortana's UI is cleaner and more uniform for checking the things that matter to you.
  • I just don't understand why they would fix something that wasn't broken. I use to be able to say "Hey Cortana, where are my packages?" And she would come back and say your package is in Houston and is scheduled to be delivered on Tuesday. The ability to do that no longer exist.
  • Totally agree, my whole family used that functionality on both of our Invokes at anytime
  • Because they are deprecating Cortana. They are moving functionality away to lessen the blow next year when they announce Cortana is being killed. That is the only thing that makes sense.
  • Does Cortana actually do anything?
  • all good things... well you know...
    so begins the Microsoft abandonment of Cortana...
  • So I currently have two FedEx packages arriving tomorrow and next Tuesday. I have emails in my inbox with tracking numbers associated with these two packages. There is absolutely NOTHING happening as far as tracking is concerned. I followed all the instructions the OP gave us and there is NOTHING that happens in the way of tracking those two packages using outlook.