How to turn Cortana for Xbox One off and on

Halo (Image credit: Microsoft)

Cortana promises to deliver a range of capabilities on Xbox One, through voice commands. From inviting friends to parties to navigating the Xbox interface, Cortana has a lot to offer – but sometimes falls short. If you no longer use Cortana, she can be disabled on Xbox One.

Turning off Cortana will return your Xbox One to the default voice commands, which are triggered by saying "Xbox..." followed by your orders. Cortana-specific commands, such as "Cortana, what's the weather like?" or other natural language commands will no longer work as a result. Additionally, you will no longer be able to use voice commands via a headset as Cortana will revert to her legacy, Kinect-only implementation.

How to use Cortana on Xbox One: command list, tips and more

How to turn off Cortana on Xbox One

  1. Open the Settings app on your Xbox One console.
  2. Navigate to the System tab.
  3. Select Cortana Settings. Cortana will snap as an overlay to the right-hand side of the screen.

  1. Select the toggle labeled Cortana can give you suggestions, ideas, reminders, alerts and more.
  2. Press the A button to switch Cortana off. You will be prompted that your Xbox will require a restart for this change to take effect.
  3. Select Restart console. Your Xbox One will reboot with the legacy voice commands enabled instead of Cortana.

How to turn on Cortana on Xbox One

  1. Open the Settings app on your Xbox One console.
  2. Navigate to the System tab.
  3. Select Cortana Settings. Cortana will snap as an overlay to the right-hand side of the screen, alongside a privacy agreement.
  4. Select I agree to enable Cortana and accept the terms.

Cortana has promise on Xbox One, but for many, she simply doesn't offer the responsive, more streamlined experience of traditional commands. For utilizing basic features such as navigation, TV, and media control, the traditional Xbox commands still have a lot more to offer.

Do you use Cortana on Xbox One? How do you think she could be improved? Let us know in the comments below.

Updated December 28, 2017: Added the new steps to disable Cortana on the current Xbox One OS.

Matt Brown

Matt Brown was formerly a Windows Central's Senior Editor, Xbox & PC, at Future. Following over seven years of professional consumer technology and gaming coverage, he’s focused on the world of Microsoft's gaming efforts. You can follow him on Twitter @mattjbrown.

  • I do have Cortana settings on Xbox one, but it's not enabled yet in India.
  • Hope she gets over to you guys soon!
  • MS has already conceded the win to Alexa, Cortana is simply wayyyy behind(outside US n few countries).
  • Lol, Cortana is sad
  • I'm looking forward to my Xbox and my phone both responding to "Hey Cortana" and then getting into a fight: "He meant me." "No, he meant ME!"
  • Lol I wish Posted via the Windows Central App for Android (V10 or Nexus 5X)
  • I have a 950 XL, Surface Book, Surface Pro 3 and Xbox One set up in the office with Hey Cortana. It's not fun!
  • Haha don't crush any hearts Jez. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android (V10 or Nexus 5X)
  • Some form of handoff is needed (urgently) - I and friends are also suffering from the multiple Cortana issues. Surface Pro, Phone, Xbox and HTPC (all Windows 10) typically in the same room when I'm playing Xbox... luckily the dated phone has no active listening, so it's only the HTPC and Surface that get annoyed at me.
  • I think I read on WC a little while ago about a patent application from MS about that kind of handoff. Of course that means a lot of work still needed...
  • Yeah, hand offs have been announced as 'in development' several times, but this would be even more complex (for Cortana) with the MS account having to know what the actual 'active' device is at the time Cortana is initiated (e.g. each device calls home to indicate active input, e.g. Touch, Xbox Controller, Keyb/mouse). Possible and needed.
  • All that in your office?? I want to work wherever this is, are they hiring? lol
  • My bedroom, lol
  • Lol. Hmmmm, come to think of it, I prefer my current job...
  • Try an tiny house with 6 windows devices, it's comicly frustrating.
  • In all honesty, most purple don't use assistants on their phones verbally; wet generally use the long press method and purple complained about out on the Xbox, so the only place wee would really use it is on a smart speaker which I do on my Harmon Kardon speaker at home and via my pc at work so I don't have the problem of all of my devices enabling Cortana at the same time. With that being said, is this a human stupidity issue as much as a failure on Microsoft's behalf? I'm by no means defending Microsoft, but simply thinks about how I used her and a common sense question I asked myself; do I need Cortana enable on multiple devices located in the same room?
  • I'm pretty sure that's how her rampancy began.
  • My phone and surface book already got into a 30 minute "I didn't understand that" fight.
  • Hell, I cant even turn Cortana ON not being a damn American..... its about friggin time Microsoft dropped all their useless geblocking
  • They aren't geoblocking Cortana.  They need more time to get her to work better with other languages.  Do you want a retarded Cortana that launches Halo every time you want her to turn your volume up?  
  • What would make me turn off Cortana, I really really love Cortana
  • Thank you, I will be turning Cortana off when I get home. I already have access to her functions on my L950 and my SP3. While I like the possibilities on X1, I do not like the regular "Warming up" before being available for a command and the necessity for an internet connection for Cortana to interpret commands is just time consuming - when playing a game, I often get her remarking that she "can't find the bandwidth." The older voice commands, just worked (when it head correctly) - no unnecessary time spent warming up or interpreting. Optimally, I would want a both the old voice commands and Cortana to work cooperatively - voice commands for basic functions, Cortana for search and advanced function. But for now, simply turning off Cortana will save a good amount of headache.
  • I didn't need this article. I already know how to turn her ON/OFF. Do the dishes and a load of laundry to turn her ON. Ask her to fetch me a beer to turn her OFF. :-o
  • Could we have an article on some of the Xbox commands please!
  • Coming soon.
  • Man, does anyone else get the craziest fonts on the restart notification?
  • I usually dance naked in front of the Kinect to turn on Cortana.
  • My 950XL, SP3 and desktop sit on the other side of the room to my Xbox and TV setup, so far so good, the kinect picks up on Hey Cortana and she turns the TV over without the others chiming in, but at the moment it doesn't work so well if I am sitting at my desk, the kinect mic still picks it up even if the other devices don't................
  • Does any know how to get Cortana to select things in netflix and other apps?
  • Why would you turn Cortana on and Off, she may have feelings you know ;) ?
  • This is definitely necessary when having an Invoke sitting next to the XBox. Cortana on Invoke is excellent. Cortana on my phone, Windows machine or the Xbox aren't nearly as good or capable.
  • Articles like this are the reason things like Cortana and Kinect and Band And Groove and Oh windows Phone die  Microsoft has to stop putting on off switches on things gestures on Xbox one was awesome so much awesome stuff 
  • Getting rid of gestures was big let down, and replacing "Xbox, on" with "Cortana, turn on my Xbox" just didn't make sense.
  • When is microsoft going to allow usb microphone support or release one of their own? Or a media remote with microphone support. Kinect is dead... Doesnt mean cortana and voice commands need to die. My kinect is broke and doesn't turn on 50% of the time and all I really want is a microphone to replace it. As usual, Microsoft was way ahead of the game on voice in the living room and totally missed the point in how they priced and marketed the tech. $30 microphone is all they needed for voice commands, not a $150 kinect. Make both, give people options.
  • This was my biggest gripe with Kinect. It would not turn on all the time or unexpectedly turn off. But when it worked, it was great. If Kinect is truly dead, then they should just provide a relatively cheap alternative for those that want to still use voice commands.
  • Having Cortana functionality on all the devices is nice, but using the same "Hey Cortana" to activate it sucks. They need to let you customize it, so you can say "Hey Xbox", or "Hey Lumia", "Hey Surface Book" or hey B#$%&.
  • Agreed.  I have to whisper to my Invoke when I'm playing Xbox if I want to give it a command without the XBOX chiming in too.
  • Cortana on Xbox and Android is frustrating, while Cortana on the HK Invoke is brilliant.  Before Cortana, voice commands on XBox worked very well.  I could turn on the Xbox, change TV channels or record shows all through voice.  Now, I can't get Cortana on Xbox to do anything except turn on the Xbox.  Somehow MS has crippled the Kinect and IR blasters to where they don't work and I've given up on them. Meanwhile, my HK Invoke links with Spotify and Insteon beautifully and she responds to requests with intelligent answers. Microsoft was SOOOO close on the Xbox.  Just make a Kinect with far-field voice technology, improve camera resolution, tweak the AI and make it affordable.  If they would have done this and had an Invoke and Invoke lite out in late 2016, they wouldn't be losing the virtual assistant race.
  • Disabling Cortana on Xbox will save you huge amounts of frustration and disappointment.