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How to set a person-based reminder with Cortana

Last week, we showed you how to set a location-based reminder with Cortana. Did you know you could also set reminders based on people? You can tell Cortana to remind you anything when you send or receive texts, emails, or phone calls from certain people in your phone book. You should try it out!

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. You can also click on her live tile if you have it on your home screen. Tell Cortana to remind you something when talking to certain people. Here are some examples:

  • Remind me to ask about work when Sheila calls.
  • When John calls, remind me to say congratulations.
  • Remind me to ask what time the plane arrives next time Annie calls.
  • When Google calls, ask him if he’s hungry.

Even though the examples above ask for reminders when your contacts call, we have noticed reminders also show up when they send text or email. You also get the reminder when you initiate the text, email, phone call. It seems Cortana converts all the reminder requests above to “next time I talk to” that person.

When you receive a phone call from one of the reminder requests, the alert shows up right above the answer button. That’s a really convenient location, so you won’t miss the reminder. When you receive a text message or email from the contact, the reminder pops up on top of the screen. Click the complete button to stop the reminder from showing up next time. You can also click the “next time” button if you need to be reminded again. You’ll need to click one of the two buttons for the reminder to disappear.

In case you are wondering, people-based reminders are not available on Siri or Google Now. Do you like this feature on Windows Phone 8.1 with Cortana? Let us know in the comments!

Further reading

Mark Guim is Video Editor at Windows Central. He switched to Windows because the MacBook Pro isn't Pro enough. You can follow him on Twitter at @markguim.

108 Comments
  • Calling Google, eh Mark? Isn't that over-the-top now?
  • Google is a dog.
    Coincidence?I think not ;) :P
  • OMG lampard
  • I think it will answer :p
  • One of the reasons Google failed so miserably in China is that their name translated to "good dog".
  • Google is hungry... :)
  • Any update on when Cortana's coming to the rest of the world?
  • Change region to US and enjoy now itself.... why wait ??? ;)
  • Because of Fahrenheit.
  • Just say her to change the temperature to celcius. She'll do the rest.
  • Yup, but I have to tell her to convert everytime. Maybe it's by design that she looks at the regional settings?
  • Possibly, but what if I'm a scientist in the US that prefers my temperature in Celsius (or even Kelvin)? The Bing Weather app allows me to configure it, why not Bing-based Cortana?
  • I am hoping for this feature too. I prefer celcius!
  • It's set roll out to China and the UK by the end of 2014, then continue global roll out through Q1 2015 all the way to mid-2015, when the majority of users should have access. That's the plan, anyways.
  • Well I love this feature!
  • Its nice, but I want more.
    I want more actions than just reminders. For example, "When I leave work, text (person) I'm coming home".
  • This exactly
  • Yes! ➕ 920
  • Ya, Microsoft should interface that on{x} tool they have several years ago into Cortana.
  • Yeah I tried this the other day (Text mum on monday remember to bring something when you visit me in work). Shame it doesn't work..... yet! I'm sure it will come. EDIT: Also tried 'Don't disturb me for 2 hours' but with no luck. That would be handy as I hop into bed, as I rarely go to bed at the same time twice in a row so automatic options are no good to me, plus I want it to be turned off before I wake up so manually turning it on/off is no good either.
  • I want more to. Especially with the quite hours. I would love to have a feature to that gives my phone location awareness. When I get to work automatically silent my phone. When I leave return to normal state. When I get home, set ringer vol to...   etc.   
  • I want this also! Had it on my Nokia 530Xpress and have been trying to get something to do that. Can't because of locked down API.
  • Yeah that's great feature Cortana offer
  • Already using this. SWEET feature right there. I wasn't aware of the reminder when the phone rings of what to ask them. That is a nice touch. Microsoft is truly making this a "smart" phone and not just another cell phone that can run apps.  BTW, do more vids man.
  • that would be a great tagline; Windows phone is not just a phone that run apps, it is the best  and personalizable  stmartphone.
  • Will wpcentral going to repost all these "how to" when the official 8.1 release?
  • Probably a round-up of all the how-to videos and articles would be sufficient.
  • I seriously hope so... When I got my HD7, I had a hell of a time finding how-to articles, because they were already posting a bunch of how-tos for 7.5, which came 6 months later
  • Awesome!
  • That's so cool! Love all these detail in getting about new features!
  • You are the best Mark..I really like the way you make the videos..keep it up
  • Exactly. I loved Mark's videos more than Daniel's.
  • Thanks, Arka. Glad to help =)
  • I have used this and it is great
  • This Cortana is learning fast. Three days ago I'm getting ready to leave work and got an alert that its time to go home and even showed a the route home with less traffic.
    Why am I impressed? I never asked her to do this.
  • It is exactly what I've been talking about. This is becoming the definition of a truly smart phone. Being able to run an app doesn't define smart...Cortana defines it. (On the way that is)
  • Still waiting for this haha :)
  • I have to admit, that's a pretty sweet feature. Looks like both Apple and Google will be in a sense copying this from good ol' Microsoft! "Android is a Robot, not a Galaxy."
  • Droid is shit
  • Android is a shit,junk robot
  • Dang.... No hard feelings, eh? "Android is a Robot, not a Galaxy."
  • Actually, webOS already had person based reminders in 2009. Of course it didn't have something like Cortana. You would set the reminder from a person's entry in the address book.
  • I could swear Siri already did this.
  • You don't have to use the word "call" and you can use nicknames to. My wife is "wife" in my phone and I usually just say "remind me to tell my wife ..." which then reminds me anytime she calls and text. I use it all the time.
  • yes i have my girlfriend set to girlfriend with cortana. in my address book its her name but when i say text girlfriend it remembers. cortana is way ahead of google and siri and love the direction it is going. +925
  • iCloud (and by extension Siri) allowed you to assign special relational statuses to people; you could define contacts as 'wife', 'son', 'father', etc. While this is a handy workaround, I'd love to see MSFT adopt the additional tags.
  • You can do those tags by assigning nicknames in the contact or even easier, by using inner circle tags.
  • This had to extend to ask modes of communication with my People. Not just call, text or email. Even Skype, WhatsApp, Messenger, Twitter, * any mode of communication*
  • I'm loving WP8.1 more and more. Posted via Windows Phone Central App
  • Have been using location based reminders and loving it. Will now try this. Gets better and better.
  • I'll start reading all this when I get 8.1
  • Why haven't you updated yet? It's worth it :)
  • ;) When Google calls, ask why are they so evil.
  • I love this feature  
  • Calling Google who is a DOG!!!LOL
  • This doesn't execute when I talk with that contact on WhatsApp etc
  • Will definitely use this feature
  • Instagram
  • And these reminders also don't fire if locations services are off...MS really needs to change this. There is no reason for this not to work..
  • True.. Cortana completely turns off if you turn off your location which make no sense. Location should be mandatory only while using any location based services.
  • I agree! Cortana also needs some basic commands that work offline. There is no reason why Cortana can't set most reminders / calendar appointment even in airplane mode. Even if she works in text only mode offline, she should still set the reminder. This reliance on a data/wifi connection is limiting and costly.
  • And needs turn on wifi or data when I get to any location
  • Just wished it worked with Facebook messenger
  • Hey guys...i updated my 520 to wp 8.1 in which there was fainal update comes after 3 times...finally updated to wp 8.1 bt its still showing an update ready to be install...what is this ??
  • Maybe you were behind in updates.
  • I am using 8.1 in my 520 and cortana too but why it showing an update ready to be install
  • Maybe it's new update. Update again.
  • does anyone know if u can get cortana to remind u by contact but using geofencing instead? i cant seem to speak the right command
  • Just say 'Remind me to text mum when I get home' and if she doesn't already know she'll ask you where home or work etc is and remind you when you get there. You can add other places too, I added 'mum and dads', so I can say 'Remind me to borrow something when I get to mum and dads' and she'll tell me when I get there :)
  • Cool feature.
  • Can Cortana do a store search?
  • One question, does the phone need to be connected to internet to use this feature?
  • Yes. (Well it does on my 620 anyway).
  • Friend..i am using 8.1 in my phone and cortana also but it still showing an update...
  • I hope Cortana's reminders get a bit smarter in the next few months. We should be able to set reminders such as: Remind me 5 minutes after I leave work to... Remind me when I'm 3 miles/KM/minutes away from work to... Remind me when I get to the intersection of ... and ... to... Remind me when I'm 2 min away from my favorite coffee shop to... Remind me when I'm approaching work on any Wednesday to... (Or every other Wednesday to...) Remind me when I'm near a florist on a day any of my contacts have a birthday/anniversary to pick up flowers. Remind me to send a card and flowers to any of my contacts on their birthday / anniversary. (This should be automatic) etc. Intelligence like this will put Cortana in a world of her own, and might even pull people from other platforms to Windows Phone.
  • I wish MS (Nokia) integrate quiet hours along with the call blocker with the cyan update for rest of the countries who didn't get cortana.
  • Hey Mark, Rich, Dan, etc, I hope you guys are compiling these tips into a single document the rest of us can use when the real 8.1 is released.
  • Please check out the first link in the "further reading" section towards the end of the article. One place for all the Windows Phone 8.1 tips, tricks, and how-to
  • What happened to this on{x} service that they have? Seems like a good tool to integrate into Cortana don't you think?
  • At least once a week I'll call somebody to tell them something or ask a question. They don't answer and call back later when I forget what I wanted to say. This will be perfect.
  • Philippine Airlines promos is on the email inbox! Do you get to visit the Philippines, Mark? :-) WPC App for Android- Lenovo IdeaTab A3000
  • Would love to go back soon!
  • Please do! You're always welcome! :-) WPC App for Android- Lenovo IdeaTab A3000
  • Cortana is putting WP8 ahead of the competition! Great work guys at MSFT.
  • Why i can't get Cortana after setting location to USA???
  • Change your language settings too to US English
  • Worked fine for me on my 920, but no luck with my Dads HTC 8S. I will try on my mums and on my wifes 8S's too. Might be the phone
  • Google is dog lol lmao
  • @ Mark... why you had a Philippine airline in your e mail??? are you planning for a vacay. Juz asking man. God bless...
  • I think I got subscribed to their list after buying a ticket from 2 years ago. Would love to back and visit boracay or Palawan
  • First of all Cortana should be able to respond when a phone is locked. I dont think there are many people say "Cortana" around the phone except you. Also I hope Cortana will be able to recognize a voice in future.
  • This was immediately one of my favorite features along with location reminders. I use both, all the time. I wonder with this whole internet of things, if we will see these reminders when your device (thus you) are in the same proximity as the contact. That would be awesome. Even now they could trigger the reminder of you set an appointment with a contact.
  • Hey guys , running Cortana in the background causes your phone to continuously load on wakeup, just thought you'd like to know
  • NE idea on how to get the Cortana feature again as I had to reset the phone.... Did the change region to US... But it's not enabling the Cortana....i am missing my personal assistant...
  • It would be great to have Cortana read out the reminder (vs just a text-based reminder) while you're in the car/bluetooth, etc. That way, you don't have to look at your phone to see the reminder.
  • This should be automatic when Bluetooth headset is connected.
  • Yes, it's great. I'm sure there will be more actions to come
  • Love ❤ it. Just perfect for staying on,top of business and being more productive.
  • Could you do "text my wife at 1:00am wake up woman!" ?
  • Cortana is absolutely wonderful! Love all of it's features, especially traffic info on a journey I'm about to embark on. This just makes it even better!
  • Siri's on her period. She needs an iPad. :D xD
  • For such systems as Cortana need from a distance, this whole technology derived from military applications originally. Does anyone remembers Auschwitz and the IBM project to inventory prisoners?
  • Very good microsoft! Bravo! Again US only! And as far as i know this is not biggest market for WPhone. If anyone doesn't know how to say "thank you" for something than ask microsoft CEO! I am more than sure that a lot of WPhone owners in the UK will thank you same way. This is my last WPhone for sure and is many more here like me. If micros... trying catch google or apple than this is completly wrong way. People who say to change a region, thanks for idea, have you got any more stupid ideas? I live in the UK and won't have my mobile in the US! LOL
  • Sheila ki Jawani ;D
  • Hi guys
    Well what about Lumia 520?
    I updated my device to 8.1 and can't find the Cortana thing!
    Any answer for that please
  • This link may be of help; http://www.wpcentral.com/want-cortana-outside-us-heres-how Assuming you are outside the USA. Enjoy.
  • The best Cortana feature...
  • Wanted that it works with third party app like what's app and twitter.