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How to enable Hey Cortana on Windows 10 Preview and other cool shortcuts

If you are on the brand new build of the Windows 10 January Technical Preview and you are also in the US with US English enabled, you are lucky enough to have Cortana too. Cortana is Microsoft's increasingly universal personal assistant found on the phone and now Windows (she also powers Maps too in a future update).

Did you know Hey Cortana is also available? Found on the Lumia 930 and Lumia 1520 with the Lumia Denim update (see our demo), Hey, Cortana lets you call up the assistant just using your voice. The feature is disabled by default, but here is is how to enable it.

Cortana settings Windows 10

Enable Hey Cortana (Windows 10 Preview)

  1. Tap in the search area
  2. Tap the hamburger button in the upper left
  3. Select Settings
  4. Scroll down and select 'Let Cortana respond when you say "Hey Cortana"

Enabling Hey Cortana in Windows 10

Interestingly, unlike the current phone version, you do not need to say "Hey, Cortana" and then wait for her to acknowledge before sending your request. Instead, you can just blurt out in one stream "HeyCortanaWhatIsTheCurrentWeather" and she brings up the current forecast. This way is much more natural, although it may throw off those with Hey Cortana on the phone.

Cortana Keyboard Shortcuts

If you do not feel like using your voice and are a keyboard shortcut kind of person, remember these two:

  • Win + Q = Cortana's main screen with interests and news
  • Win + S = Right into Cortana's search engine

Both are very easy to remember and use, and for some who love their shortcuts, we are sure you'll get great use out of them.

If you do not yet have Cortana in Windows 10, don't fret as Microsoft is sure to roll out the service in later updates throughout the year.

Find any other neat tricks? Let us know in comments!

Thanks, @silviub88, for the shortcut tip!

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.

134 Comments
  • Oh no... Please Microsoft do not change the UI of your toggle buttons. Good thing I use Telerik Rad ToggleButton anyway.
  • Right, why all these rounded buttons and round profile pictures everywhere? Windows is losing its visual identity.
  • Yeh, square I up!!
  • Feed it back through the preview and tell them you don't like where they are going with it
  • What am I missing? I don't see this "rounded stuff".
  • The oval shaped toggle button for cortanas settings.
  • LOL! I see. I couldn't help but laugh. They look fine but I guess if it's all about consistancy then they should make them look like the rest of the settings buttons. Maybe it's because Cortana's special. :o)
  • Lol im glad you got a good laugh my friend xD. I agree though, all UI functions and features should be signature to each aspect.
  • At this point, Microsoft is kinda forced to choose between identity and sucess. There's always Windows Feedback though.
  • you cant JUST have squares everywhere. I like the round profile pictures. One key to any design language is you cant overuse the same things; gets boring.
  • You have a point, I agree. Idk, I guess just see where they go with it and I might like it. I remember at first use, it was incredibly annoying but now im in love.
  • As weird as it may sound, those are actually the default toggle button styles Microsoft have in WinJS for quite a while now (and Cortana's UI is built on WinJS, to allow easy delivery of new layouts as opposed to a hardcoded layout that requires updating)
  • Well crap, as long as its not on WinRT or Silverlight based applications idc..
  • Square has always been ugly. Bring on the round.
  • Honestly, if they put round objects such as buttons or HubTiles in your UI toolbox next deb tools release, ill do it. Its modern and it does look nice I guess..
  • Next thing we'll know tiles would have rounded edges.
  • I'd hate Microsoft... However, if it was an OOTION, I wouldn't mind it.
  • Do you mean LOTION?
  • *Option sorry
  • I like it much better this way. Those rounded toggles look awesome!
  • Can I just set my pc to US english and have cortana activated? Would be great..
  • Yes you can. Got it work here in Canada
  • Good to hear :-). Setting it to US as soon as it's done setting up.
  • But all the spelling will be wrong like 'colour' or.... that's all I can think of right now
  • Neighbour, aluminium and saying "hey" as a greeting which is beyond rude. With every excellent technological advance the US gives us we are all being forced into their ugly culture. Such a double edged sword.
  • It's actually pretty common in the US. Not so much as Hey YOU. But just a friendly greeting as Hay. However, I recommend you design your own OS if you don't like this one. The you'll have complete control of everything, including perfect UK English. Good luck!
  • There's so much wrong with this post you could write a series of novels about it.
  • Being an Australian I want Cortana to open by saying "G'day Mate" :-)
  • I could not agree more
  • The most important word septics (Cockney rhyming slang for Americans) spell wrong is "humour". They mis-spell it "humor". No "u" in "humour" explains perfectly why Americans can't do irony.  Take this example: SAN FRANCISCO MAN BECOMES FIRST AMERICAN TO GRASP SIGNIFICANCE OF IRONY Jay Fullmer, 38, yesterday became the first American to get to grips with the concept of irony. "It was weird," Fullmer said. "I was in London and, like, talking to this guy and it was raining and he pulled a face and said, "Great weather, eh?" and I thought "Wait a minute, no way is it great weather." Fullmer then realised that the other man's 'mistake' was in fact deliberate.
    Fullmer, who is 39 next month and married with two children, aged 8 and 3, plans to use irony himself in future. "I'm, like, using it all the time," he said. "Last weekend I was grilling steaks and I burned them to shit and I said, "Hey, great weather!". Courtesy of Sickipedia.org: http://www.sickipedia.org/racism/american/san-francisco-man-becomes-first-american-to-grasp-significance-of-29746#ixzz3PgvdFpn5 Two countries separated by a common language?
     
  • You do realize how pretentious you all sound, right? You're really judging someone based off the way they say hi and the way they spell their words? Christ, people.
  • But, at least we have sarcasm down pat! Posted via my HTC One (M7)
  • Well now that I have started WW3 with a well intentioned but misplaced comment, lets get back to talking to our computers and see if Cortana can find out how to survive nuclear war. And it's all because of u (as in the missing letter)
  • yeah just set US eng as your primary keyboard/language
  • You can enable Cortana if you setup your pc USA BUT the problem is Windows store delete your payment card. So this is BIG problem for me. Cortana enable OR buy stuff from Windows store? :)
  • Hooray!! Cortana can track packages in windows 10!
  • How? :-o
  • My comments were based from the info in one of the article screen shots. I haven't installed the preview yet.
  • The same way you enable Hey Cortana. The option directly above it allows you to enable flight and package tracking. 
  • I hope they will implement something like turning your phone face down to make it ignore the "hey Cortana" prompt. I don't want all my devices chiming at me in unison.
  • That's a good idea, actually.
  • agreed but the quicker he sends it into the feedback, the higher the probability it'll get implemented unless of course you deliver the message for us personally Daniel ; )
  • http://cortana.uservoice.com/forums/249009-general-cortana-feedback/sugg... Vote for it! :)
  • Could you please explain why "Hey, Cortana" isn't working for me in the tech preview? Is it a hardware issue?
  • Put it on the Uservoice! Great idea!
  • It'd be fantastic in Windows 10 (on phones) if we could speak "Hey Cortana" commands without pausing.
  • You can do that with the denim update if you have a higher up windows phone already haha (:
  • Nope
  • Do you think the m8 will get hey Cortana?
  • I don't understand what is going to happen when you have your phone sitting on your computer desk and you say "Hey Cortana". Will it be picked up by both devices?
  • Yes. Try having four of 'em.
  • Lol first world problems for Daniel :)
  • Lol, that's bad :D . Four Cortana's answering , that's creepy :D . They need to find a way to fix that. The one Johnny  suggested is pretty good solution. 
  • @MICROV91
    http://cortana.uservoice.com/forums/249009-general-cortana-feedback/sugg...
    Vote for it :)
  • Daniel make us a video with 4 hey cortana :))
  • There gonna be a Cortana cat fight! :D
  • Hey cortana does not work here. All she says somthing went wrong
  • At least you can activate her. I have her turned on in the settings menu, but whenever I say, "Hey Cortana" nothing happens. I tried plugging in a Beats Audio heaphone set to see if it was an issue with the mic to no avail :-(
    "
  • I am having the same issue. Recording properties shows my microphone is picking up sound and i was able to get through the speech input setup fine, but i just cannot get Cortana to hear me. Clicking the mic or saying "Hey, Cortana".
  • That's nice to know will try it in a minute
  • Is there a way to enable continuum feature? When I flip my yoga2pro it doesn't automatically go to tablet. Or maybe this isn't supported yet?? Cos my physical keyboard doesn't work either
  • I was told hardware OEMs need to implement it, like via firmware. Only Surface Pro 3 will have it now, because, you know, Microsoft.
  • Do 1st gen surface support continuum?
  • Sp2 receives a windows system update after the new build is installed. After the update it works.
  • yes, it works great  on my SP1.
  • I think that existing hybrid devices need a firmware upgrade to let Windows 10 manage Continuum. At this moment seems that only Surfaces have this feature enabled.
  • Is there a way to disable continuum?
  • You can manually go to tablet mode, it's a quick-action on the notifications-menu
  • The Cortana menu seriously needs to be integrated into the Start Menu. Having a search bar take that much taskbar space is horrible, and search was always in the Start Menu before! Pressing Win+S then typing something to open is much worse than simply hitting the Windows key as before :(
  • You can resize it to the search button it was
  • Even then I'd hide it completely - need all that taskbar space for my pinned apps XD But it makes a whole lot more sense to integrate it with an adjacent menu that and keep the look more consistent. Generally all the UI needs a lot more tidying.
  • You can do that as well. If you right click on the taskbar there's an item called 'Search', inside is 'Disabled', 'Show search icon', and 'Show search box'. 'Hey Cortana' and Windows + S still work with it fully disabled.
  • Also if you press start and start typing your query is handled in the Cortana search box
  • If it's current it's not a forecast, Daniel
  • I currently have Win+S on muscle memory for searching apps without launching the full screen start menu. I wonder if this will be just as quick though Cortana or if I should train it back to just Win > Type.
  • I created a login just to say "OMG. How did I not discover this before?" Cheers, Nik!
  • You're welcome ;-)
  • Just press the windows key and start typing, that uses Cortana as well
  • It would be cool if Windows Central could interview the team that designed this build of Windows, as I wonder what motivated some choices like round profile pics, rounded toggle buttons, etc.
  • just make a comment in the insider program if you dont like it.
  • Hey Rama!
  • Huhh, google chrome...
  • Running VMware on a MacBook Pro (work computer) and Hey Cortana doesn't work. Come on Verizon, give us Denim!!! I want this for my Icon.
  • Gah.. Setting up takes a long time!
  • Hey Cortana doesn't work reliably on my laptop. Works one of four times at best. Even when she wakes up correly, subsequent query words are often cut off or messed up.
  • Wait, who here uses Windows 10 as their main OS? Is it that polished? Our should we wait a bit more?
  • Wouldn't recommend it as your main o/s, either dual boot (use bcdedit or a bootmanager) or run it in a vm machine.
  • I have the mic working in every application except Cortana. For some reason she just doesn't hear anything - even if I manually click the mic button on the search bar. I can see in the recording devices dialog that the mic is picking up my voice. "OK Google" works on Chrome. Not really sure what else I can do...
  • "Hey Cortana, find me some porn" actually works. lol
  • No way!
  • Those damn ugly toggles and menu's. They better change the UI before final.
  • Help me please. (http://goo.gl/iZ8NT3​)    
  • Cortana can only listen to you if you are set up like you are in the US. Sorry. 
  • Anybody install Windows 10 on a Dell Venue 11 Pro yet?
  • Best use the forums.
  • I installed it on my Venus 8 Pro. Runs great!
  • Thanks..
  • This function is currently awful on the DellVenue8Pro. Why did I do this to such a useful little guy? Oh well.
  • Don't say that as I am installing it on my DVP8 as I type.  You are already making me regret it. Is it really that bad?
  • He said this function, so maybe it's just Cortana that isn't working great - There are still other things to install it for. I put a previous build on my DV8P and HATED it, as it had no touch friendliness, which is why I've waited until this build to put it on my SP3
  • Downloading on my S3 and updating my desktop build. Cant wait!!!
  • How does it coexist with Skype desktop?
  • This was working perfect until the hotfix rolled out, now she doesn't respond - at all.
  • Yeah Cortana is cool.
  • I wish on desktops you could have Cortana speak back to you if you opted to type instead of asking, being that I don't have a mic. It would be a toggle switch I assume.
  • Hey Cortana doesn't appear to be working for me, despite turning the option on. :/
  • So when set to United Kingdom do we not get Cortana in this build? I'm not necessarily complaining....this is pre-release software, but if it's the case, it's more so a sense of surprise - Since the UK already has Cortana on phones, I don't see why this build wouldn't.
  • no luck in Canada she doesn't work in my region. yet.
  • I gave up. I just switched my region to usa for now to try her out.
  • Has anyone gotten Cortana to open apps, folders, or search your PC?
  • That looks really great!
  • I don't think this feature works if you have a USB camera/mic :/
    Cortana hears me when I click on the microphone in her search box, but won't respond automatically to "Hey Cortana!"
  • Cortana now will not work on the tablet or PC for Kids under 13 !!! this is why my kids want to use google tablet because they can talk to it for example searching the store for free school bus game . google and apple do not require kids to be 13 to use voice on their OS and google has now added voice to all chromebooks in all the K12 schools ... is there really a law or are google and apple just egnoring the rules.  
  • Submit feedback within the Windows feedback app and remember that this is a early build and meant for testing. 
  • I hope "Hey Cortana" feature also works in mobile device without Nokia sensor core.
  • Cortana is not able to open any apps by voice command yet. I tried quite a few... says 'Check Back after future updates.' Not complaining though. My laptop's like a transformer now. Talks to me, mostly does what I say. :D
  • Does "Hey Cortana" work on Intel first gen core i7 pc? I tried it on this machine but it did not work even though it is activated. I am using a logitec webcam and it only responds to my voice search when I click the mic icon but not the hey Cortana.
  • I downloaded the Windows 10 preview, am in the US with language set to English and Cortana does not work. It says "Cortana Can't Listen right now...Make sure your mic is working, or wait a while a try again. Error Code: 0x80070102" Anyone else seeing this?
  • Me too, Cortana can't listen to me.
  • OHH., damn, me too.
  • Same problem here ..........
  • I had problems with hey Cortana.but in control panel sound settings I choosed set as default communication device.now ir works like a charm
  • Can't we enable Cortana outside US ?
  • I'm wondering this as well. I change my region to the US and language as well, but no Cortana... (this trick did work on windows phone).  
  • Why MS wants me login to use Cortana? Seems epic fail for me.
  • Cortana uses your Bing settings so you'll need to login
  • We do not have cortana here though we are using English. Why do I have to be forced to change my region as if I paid for this phone less than those regions being given first priority. What we are just asking is for Microsoft to enable Cortana as long as one is using English be it us, uk or any other language which Cortana is available without the need to change regions
  • In my laptop it doesn't respond always.
  • I know this is not related to the topic, but where can I get that beautiful wallpaper? Thanks :)
  • After playting around with "hey, Cortana!" I noticed something a bit strange.  Try this.  "Hey, Cortana, text [insert contact name]" and watch what happens.  Seems they lifted it from Windows Phone.  Or they are getting things setup for Skype integration more.  Kinda neat...
  • Not aviable for Mexico :(
  • just a note... Om writing this om my lumia 930, and useing a keyboard. and still under W 8.1
  • Don';t know if anyone can help, I installed windows 10 but Cortana is not working says it is not supported in my language which should work as it's UK English my son installed windows 10 and his is working ok.  
  • **** YOU, THIS ISNT WINDOWS 10
    I CAN TELL BY THE PICTURES YOU PHOTOSHOPPED IT
    TELL ME NOW HOW TO ACTUALLY DO IT