Playing a game? Cortana won't bug you unless you really want her to

There was nothing worse than accidentally exiting a game on a Windows Phone by hitting the search capacitive button. This turned gameplay into a terrible experience, especially if the game didn't pause and issues arose. It also made it difficult for players to hop back into the gaming seat and pick off where he (or she) left off. This has changed in Windows Phone 8.1.

If you're enjoying a super-addictive play through of Rayman Fiesta Run, or are battling hard through Halo: Spartan Assault, Cortana (or search in general) won't load up should you hit the search button. If you do happen to want to access the search functionality in Windows Phone 8.1, simply double-tap the search key and you're good to go.

Related: Try accidentally pulling down the Action Center and you'll see what Microsoft calls the 'handlebar'. Same concept, you will need to do a double swipe if you're in a game or other 'full screen experience' app.

It's a small tip, but a helpful one nonetheless. Now get gaming in peace, people!

Further Reading

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

  • Been noticing these niceties lately. Good thinking on the usability front from MS.
  • Cortana really makes it hard!
  • That's what she said.
  • Boing oing oing!
  • Yeah, very good idea from MS..
  • Wanted to try this after reading the article and now my games hub won't open :'(
  • Go to the Photos hub and open an image, it works there too.
  • It's good to be a WP 8.1 user.
  • I wish it stayed on the windows key... Thinking of when Cortana comes to tablets, plus ease with other platforms, and I miss the Bing pivots.
  • + ICON That's something. Never thought of that with Windows 8. 
  • " + ICON " Seriously? The +920, +720 stuff was bad enough, now it's just getting retarded.
  • +Monarch
  • + WTF I agree
  • Yeah! Not really sure why they had to change it. I guess having two search functions on three buttons does seem a little redundant.
  • Miss the Bing pivots too. They offered features that have been lost with Cortana. I hope they change the UI to bring back some of those things. Checking the movies etc was very handy.
  • I miss that too.
  • It never made any sense to have it on the windows key in the first place. Search (which Cortana is, basically) on the Search key makes much more sense...
  • Voice makes sense on windows key, only windows keys on tablets as well. Cortana is more than search too.
  • Much Swag.
  • Such Dope.
  • They din't forget that complain, anyway. Em Glad!
  • And I can't try to update again immediately because MS stopped the OTA update. Upsetting... 
  • Candy Crush?
  • Statement or question?
  • Original setence was "If you're enjoying a super-addictive play through of "Candy Crush", or are battling hard through Halo: Spartan Assault" haha
  • Meh, I had Columns for my Sega Game Gear back in '91.  I don't see what the fuss is with that game.
  • Ohhhh Rich!!! You changed =/
  • But Candy Crush... :-(
  • The fact that Microsoft thought about so many of these little things just makes me love the OS even more.  Early adopters from WP7 (or us old fogie hold outs from the Windows Mobile days) are so happy to see Microsoft care about the details again.
  • Slightly off topic, but weren't we supposed to have an xbox music update today? It's 19:45 in UK!
  • This ...
  • Checking for updates continuously. Hard luck.
  • Yeah, the app is so broken at this point, the only way it could get worse is if, upon opening, the app logged into your bank account, stole all your money, and then made your device self-destruct while a troll face appeared. Hope I didn't give them any ideas...
  • Its Tuesday. New music came but the Music Marketplace is so broken and empty I can only see featured albums and artists. Updates need to come quickly.
  • You'd can't search for an artist?
  • Pull out a chair...
  • Awesome! Didn't realize it before. Just tried it, and it sure works. One touch didn't bring up Cortana. Double trap popped her right up.
    The Handle bar I had noticed before but not the search button.
  • Same. I was actually really confused when playing a game and I first experienced this, because I was trying to access Cortana. Thought it was broken, haha. But love this little detail.
  • Wow nice tip ! I don't know this before :D
  • I don't know about Cortana, but what really bugs me is when I'm playing a game and the store decides it's time for updating apps. All of the sudden the game freezes, the sound starts cutting and I have to quit playing until the updates are done. Any chance we can set those automatic updates only for when the phone is not being heavily used?
  • I've been having games lock up on me too, but not sure if the store updating is the problem since its only supposed to update on Wi-Fi and I've had it happen on the road. I'm running an AT&T 1520, anyone else having that problem?
  • Now they just need to make it so you can Skype and do other stuff as well, without bouncing back to Skype each time you accidentally go over the proximity sensor
  • Now, if they only would add an option to the PROJECT MY SCREEN app, so, that I don't always hit the invisible BACK, WINDOWS and SEARCH button with my mouse when I am playing a game and the screen is maximized (after you get rid of the phone border by pressing "P" on your keyboard) then I would be happy. :)
  • Sweet!!
  • Could this possibly work with the start button too in the future? I remember when I used to play fruit ninja I always kept hitting the search button accidentally in addition to the start button and always lost my focus when I got switched to the start screen. I hope they add this since double-tapping start has no function anymore (at least I'm pretty sure it doesn't).
  • She just gets better and better everyday!
  • I hate it (search) most when I take photos.
  • JoRdaNeK approves this post
  •    This is a great idea. I accidentally hit the search button almost every time I play a game where I have to turn my phone on its side.
  • The best part is i can check my battery, time and notifications even when i'm playing so it is the best and waited feature for me.You can't do the same in every android phone while playing games.