How to enable Hey Cortana for the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL

If you are thinking about getting a new Lumia 950 or Lumia 950 XL (or you already have one), you may want to remember to enable Hey Cortana. For those who are not familiar Hey Cortana is Microsoft's hands-free solution to activating the Cortana personal digital assistant. Simply calling out 'Hey, Cortana' while your phone is in standby (the display is off) summons the helper to do your bidding. Once activated, you can then dictate a text message, check the weather, or activate an programs that utilizes commands like the Windows 10 Weather Channel app.

For those already used to Hey Cortana you may be think that enabling the feature is obvious. However, Microsoft did change it on the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL when compared to the Lumia 1520 and Lumia 930. This change is actually welcomed as it now matches Windows 10 desktop.

Under Nokia Hey Cortana was located under Settings > Extras > Hey Cortana. Those 'Extra' settings were Nokia customizations that fell outside the default settings of the OS. However, with Windows 10 Mobile Microsoft has the chance to start to build those features into the OS itself. As a result, there simply is no Hey Cortana configuration under Settings anymore as it has moved directly to Cortana.

Here is how to turn it on!

Enable Hey Cortana (Lumia 950, Lumia 950 XL)

1. Launch

Hit the search button to launch Cortana (or choose the Tile or Cortana from the app menu)

2. Menu

From the upper left split-view menu (aka Hamburger button) choose Notebook

3. Settings

In the top area of the Notebook select Settings

4. Enable

From the menu items listed enable Hey Cortana. You also have the secondary option to train Cortana to recognize just your voice or anyone. To train for your voice select To me and the program will walk you through the steps to learn your manner of speaking.

That's it! Once completed, you can now just say Hey Cortana anytime you are near your Lumia. Cortana will pop up on the display, and you and you will hear a beep letting you know that you can speak your command. This behavior differs from the desktop version where you can just say "HeyCortanaRemindMeToGetSomeBreadTonight" with no pauses.

[Edit: Turns out, another change with the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL is you do not need to pause after saying 'Hey Cortana'. Cool!]

It should be noted that using Hey Cortana requires some extra battery as the microphone needs to stay on when the display is off. Although the battery usage is exceedingly minimal if you find yourself struggling to get by through the day without recharging you may want to consider disabling it.

Do you plan to use Hey Cortana on your Lumia 950 or Lumia 950 XL? Let us know in comments!

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Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central. He is also the head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007, when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and watches. He has been reviewing laptops since 2015 and is particularly fond of 2-in-1 convertibles, ARM processors, new form factors, and thin-and-light PCs. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.