How to set an alarm with Cortana

Cortana knows how to sing. She can also tell jokes. She can do a lot of other things, but one feature that we frequently use is setting the alarm. Some of you may know how to do this already, but continue reading if this is new to you. Watch our how-to video after the break.

To get started, press and hold the search button on your device with Windows Phone 8.1 Preview for Developers. When Cortana appears, you can say the following things:

  • Wake me up in 15 minutes
  • Set an alarm for 5:30 A.M.
  • Wake me up at 8 A.M.

If there are any alarms you want to turn off, just say, "Turn off my alarm." Cortana will ask which alarm to turn off. Tell her which one, if you remember. We prefer saying, "Go to my alarms." From there, we can toggle on or off the alarms we've set.

There is another way to bring up Cortana. You can click the live tile if that is set up on your home screen. If you haven't done it yet, here are some reasons why you should pin Cortana to the home screen.

We've tried digging further if we can set alarms for specific dates. It does not work. For example, Cortana does not understand, "Set an alarm for July 10th at 5 A.M." She also does not understand, "Set an alarm at 6 A.M. every Thursday."

Cortana is a feature available on Windows Phone 8.1. It's not widely available yet, but you can try it on your device by installing the Preview for Developers. Another limitation is that Cortana is only available for certain regions. One workaround, of course, is to change the region setting in your device.

Do you think this feature with Cortana is useful on Windows Phone? Will you be setting alarms with Cortana frequently? 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.

  • Too lame. Everyone knows that..
  • Exactly!
  • Agreed, I put an alarm in 2 seconds with the default Alarm app. Asking Cortana, then hoping she understands, then confirming... lame indeed.. like any of this assistants stuff.. I haven't discovered 1 use for Cortana yet.
  • Can you also do it when you dont use your hands?
  • Without ur hands how u will wake up cortana ????
  • U can if your phone is in your pocket and you are using an earpiece, just long press the button on the earpiece and Cortana will go into to listening mode.
  • Here also we need to use hands buddy :-) either pressing the live tile(on an unlocked phone) or long pressing the search button.
  • Exactly, that's why it is a useless routine, to first luanch Corttana and then do all that. Compared to tapping the Alarm tile and swithcing an alarm on.
  • You're assuming the average person even keeps the clock at close hand like that. I know don't. WPC App via Nexus 5.
  • Hmm... Well while reading this post I pressed the search key and said wake me up at 8am.
    That was far faster than going to my apps and choosing Alarm then manually entering a new one.
    And I have no room on my start screen for the alarms tile. It's all about visual balance. My screen only scrolls about 2 inches down.
  • Like a millisecond faster. C'mon man.  Alarm is on the A section so you basically just have to swipe left and tap on Alarm. Turning multiple Alarms on/off is much quicker than talking. 
  • Yeay ,,i agreed . Pure novelty she is.
  • What if your phone isn't with you and you have ur Bluetooth head set can set your alarm through Cortana by long pressing the button on the headset and she will go into listening mode.
  • Where are you from?
    Which country?
    Coz if u are from outside US u might face problems with Cortana's ability to understand your accent.
    But I am from India and Cortana understands my accent perfectly and I have found many useful things with Cortana.
    I mean Hello, I know it takes time but you don't have to touch ur phone to do something.
    That's like a relief when u are using ur phone while driving, walking etc.
  • Sad for you I get tons of use out of Cortana even in Beta, she has already become invaluable
  • Agreed
  • Lame people tell me how to set alarms when location settings is off?
  • Apps>Alarms.
  • Well, did you know that auctioneers make bad grocery store clerks?
  • Ha ha ha
  • As Cortana is still in beta stage, more features will come as she become fully alive, such as waking up Cortana thru voice activation, just like Google's implementation of 'Ok, Google'.
  • Yup.. Already do that.. But its not "lame"... not everyone knows that.
  • Been using it since day 1
  • Same here and use it every day one way or another :D
  • Well let me tell you a time saving trick. Pin Alarms to your startscreen, and you set an alarm in 2 seconds. Much faster. Less toy.
  • I find setting alarm with those sliding numbers painfully slow. That interface is really not well thought out.
  • Wow.... Old, but thanks tho :)
  • How to make her song & tell jokes ?
  • ask Cortanta "sing me a song" or "tell me a joke".. simple!
  • Ithu ethra thavana kaananam ???
  • Malayali??
  • Yup......:D
  • Be nice if we could USE IT in the UK... Starting to consider selling my 1020 for a *as of right now* much more usable Nexus 5 with a personal assistant on it that's actually available in the UK..
  • cYa - no hard feelings mate
  • Remembering your 8.1 OS version is a preview. By the time it's an official release the UK should be supported. Plus your phone has the most kick arse camera out there.
  • Already use it since day 1, but thanks indeed :)
  • Are people who visits this site too stupid that they can't use Cortana properly themselves??
  • There's probably people out there too timid to ask because of reactions like yours. It's informative for those switching over...
  • Clearly there are people who visit this site who were clearly absent during lessons in decency
  • You can always read those posts, they're not going anywhere. I'm saying why posting twice?
  • They have got to find a way to get rid of the need for the search button in this. It should be completely dialogue based, and even work with headphones/mic. That would be awesome. Otherwise with something like this I'd still just go to the app, I have alarms on my first page as I use them a lot for reminding myself of things, so I'd I am still "interacting"with my phone I might as well just go there, especially since a lot of the alarms I set are repeated.
  • I believe I may have read something about future passive voice activation for cortana somewhere on this site... Don't quote me on that as I may be wrong but I have a vague memory of reading something along those lines.
  • Yep, it was here. But I sure hope it is an option to turn off. I don't need my phone constantly listening and then misinterpreting and sending what I don't want sent to someone. Even in that mildly creepy movie Her, people initiated conversation with the OS by pressing the button on their Bluetooth earpiece.
  • if phone is offline she downst allow to set alarm
  • Really
  • Alarms is easy, What I need is to set up call reminders. siri does it flawlessly. example, "remind me to call john at 1 PM today" and when I get the reminder, I get a "call" or "Cancel" button.  Windows phone needs to do this or something similar or better than this!!!!
  • Agreed, as well as Cortana asking if you would like her to remind you later to return a missed call and when (place, time)
  • Sorry but... After today's news... I'm tired of reading about features of a service that is focused on a small market share (US) and is leaving out the rest of the world (and biggest market share)
  • I use it in Australia all the time. You can use it elsewhere
  • Microsoft do need to deploy quickly. But don't forget this is a developer preview at the moment.
  • I've been able to add alarms/reminders using cortana that are repetitive, example, "Remind me to take out the garbage every sunday at 8pm".. and It's been working ever since.
  • That's reminder... And they are talking about alarm.
  • Mine can't set an alarm or wake me up. Each time I say"set alarm....", it responds"something went wrong. Try again in a little bit(8000ffff)
  • there was an article earlier that suggests to delete all third party alarm apps. you shouldn't have any issues then..
  • Is it possible to change the default alarm tone with Cortana? Mine uses 'nokia clock' which is way too soft
  • I could guess. Try to set an alarm with a custom tone and use cortana to set that particular alarm.
  • I use it all the time but only for existing alarms otherwise it's set with the default alarm tone which would never wake me up.
  • This is the #1 thing i do with Cortana.
  • It also works if you say "set an alarm for 7 hours time" or "set an alarm for 7 and a half hours time"
  • Does anybody know how to have it update a current alarm instead of creating a new one every time?  Agreeing with markANTHONY - don't like the nokia alarm, would like to change the default or just have it turn my alarm back on
  • Somewhat off topic, but Cortana is very inaccurate with the weather. I asked her this morning if it was going to rain as it was raining and lightning in my way to work this morning and she says that it's not likely though Bing weather said it was a 70% chance.
  • In weather terms "70% chance" really means 70% of the reporting area is expected to experience the named weather event. I have yet to find a weather app that accurately predicts even the temperature. As example, I will frequently see something like 75ºF at the current time of 6:55 AM, and all weather apps will still show 60-somethingºF for 7:00 AM. That 60-something temperature was from the previous night's forecast. Forecasts in general don't appear to be updated nearly often enough.
  • All weather apps will never be 100% accurate as they are reporting forecasts which is a fancy term for predictions :p.
  • I would like to know "how to get 8.1 non developer for 928?"
  • Step zero: Move to the USA.
  • My first experiences after I updated to 8.1and using 627am with Cortana was it didn't work until I uninstalled 627 then it works great. The more I can use Cortana to do stuff for me the more I like it.
  • Wow -_-
  • Cortana needs to be able to set a count down timer (Multiple Timers) for things like cooking. "Set a timer for 15mins" and show it counting down. 
  • ^This
  • That's not even possible without Cortana so how would Cortana be able to do so?
  • You can say "set and alarm for 15 minutes from now" and the alarm will go off. Repeat steps and there is your multiple timers. Not a count down of course but it will set your alarms.
  • I'm aware that I can do that but when you're cooking it's usefull to view the count down. I'm now thinking that this might be something that the developers of the count down apps need to implament. 
  • Thanks for telling such how to set alarm via Cortana I didn't know that despite using that from day 1 (stupid post)!
  • Not been able to use, tried many times and get the error message below. I have decided that it may have something to do with my third party alarm app of choice or 3rd party alarms in general. Error message: Something went wrong try again in a little bit (8000ffff)
  • Uninstall all third party alarm apps, also some have reported removing clock hub helps.
  • All you "stupid post" readers angry much? Wow. Just wow.
  • I use this feature alot. I need to set random alarms throughout the day and night. Pining an alarm time to start is not feasible for me. Love Cortana and the possibilities it will bring.
  • Mark, This is probably 3rd article on similar feature... could have been a single one like sticky
  • I would use Cortana to set my alarm if it could use my custom alarm tone while creating a new alarm. The default alarm tone wouldn't get my attention even when I'm awake. Which makes me tap on the alarm I created using Cortana to change the tone everytime I create a new alarm. I would rather tap on a tile and quickly add one.
  • Thanks Mark, for this post. And for y'all calling it lame, not everyone knows about this.
  • I use this when I am cooking and parking meters. I say "Set an alarm for 45 minutes from now" and the alarm is set and she will repeat the command back to you. The only problem I have with it is each time you set an alarm with Cortana, once they are used they don't delete so you end up with a pile of old alarms you need to periodically clear out. I wish there was a setting where the alarm would delete once it has been dismissed.
  • I use a specific song for my alarm and when u set one with her. It uses the default. I hate that
  • What I would really like to see is a way to play pandora as an alarm and if for some reason it doesn't work, randomly pick music from my phone to play. What I saw in the past (I haven't used alarms since WP7) was that the alarms are not that different from ringtones. Very simple and basic.
  • Hi guys, I'm developer of Realarm: I'm currently working on voice commands. It would be nice if you could help me and mention all the commands that come into your mind, I will try to cover all of them :) Thanks
  • Does anyone point out that this doesn't work when you have alarms from other apps set? So, for example, I use Z clock + and as long as it has an alarm set, when I try to set anything using cortana it fails and fails consistently. Just a note.
  • I'd like it to understand when I tell it to wake me up a half hour before sunrise
  • That's a pretty cool idea.
  • Agreed!
  • It's bad Cortana has better jokes, and a better singing voice than myself.
  • Cortana should be able to execute my request to turn off all alarms, but it doesn't...sigh.
  • Just say set alarm. Oh that's right you have to hit a numerous amount of buttons in a particular pattern first. My bad, im just so used to my Moto x.
  • Major issue in the functionality: if you reach the max number of alarms, you can't add anymore--and there doesn't appear to be a way to delete them. No go.
  • Delete them by tapping on the alarm you want to remove which will open the details. You can then delete by clicking on the trash can. Not ideal as you will need to do this for each but you can delete them. Hopefully they will offer an option where Cortana alarms delete when they are dismissed or at least give the mass delete option like email and text messages.
  • To everyone complaining that this is old news... It's just old to you. Just because you knew of something doesn't make it common knowledge. Imagine a new convert to Windows Phone came to this site for the first time today... Wouldn't this be helpful to them?
  • Ok, I will use my finger more than depending on Cortana. Can't even understand "everyday". What a joke.
  • Been using it since day 1. Find it super handy for setting impromptu alarms for power naps. Only flaw, there doesn't seem to be a way to clear off alarms easily. Hope they get to it.
  • I tried this - "Set an alarm for 6 am", She says- Something's not right. Try again in a little bit. (8000ffff)
  • I actually use this feature for cooking. It's easier than using the default alarm and trying to do the math of what time it will be in say 45 min. I just say, set an alarm for 45 minutes and Cortana figures it out for me.
  • I am waiting for official update release of windows phone 8.1