How to Install Cortana in Windows 11

Microsoft's voice assistant is no longer built into the OS (kinda)

What to Know

  • Windows 11 includes Cortana, but it's not active by default.
  • Open the Cortana app and then sign in to begin using the voice assistant.
  • Cortana will respond to 'Hey Cortana' but is no longer a part of Windows Search.

Many users of Windows 11 install the operating system believing it no longer includes Cortana. This is not quite right. Cortana is included but isn't activated by default. Here's how to "install" Cortana in Windows 11 and how it has changed in Microsoft's new operating system.

How to Install Cortana in Windows 11

As mentioned, Cortana is installed in Windows 11 but not active by default. You must launch and sign in to the Cortana app before you can use it.

  1. Perform a Windows Search for Cortana.

    Alternatively, you can launch Windows Start, tap All Apps, then open Cortana.

    Windows 11 start menu with a Windows search result for Cortana highlighted.
  2. The Cortana app will open and display a sign-in prompt. Select Sign In and enter your credentials.

    Cortana app in Windows 11 with the Sign in screen highlighted.
  3. A screen will appear to warn you Cortana needs access to personal information to function. Select Accept and Continue.

    Cortana app in Windows 11 with the privacy notice screen shown and "Accept and Continue" highlighted
  4. The Cortana app will launch. You can now activate Cortana using the "Hey Cortana" phrase or by entering text into the Cortana app.

    Be sure Cortana is also enabled in the Voice activation area of Settings so that Cortana will wake when you speak.

    A screenshot of the Cortana app in Windows 11.

Does Windows 11 Have Cortana?

Windows 11 does include Cortana. However, Microsoft has changed how Cortana works.

Cortana is no longer a part of the default installation or boot experience. You will no longer hear Cortana introduce itself when you begin to install Windows and you won't see Cortana on the Windows taskbar after you install the operating system. You must sign in to the Cortana app before you can use Cortana by speaking the 'Hey Cortana' activation phrase.

After you sign in, Cortana will respond by appearing in a small pop-up window will appear just above the center of the Windows taskbar. It may also open other apps, if necessary.

However, Cortana no longer integrates with the Windows Search experience even after you sign in to the Cortana app. Cortana won't respond to anything you type into Windows Search. You instead must launch the Cortana app and type your query into the app's chat window.

How Do I Uninstall and Reinstall Cortana?

Windows 11 does not let you uninstall Cortana, which means you can't reinstall Cortana, either. The uninstall option is blocked in Windows 11's settings menu.

Why Does My Windows 11 Not Have Cortana?

Windows 11 does include Cortana, but you must launch and sign in to the app before you can use it. Follow the steps at the beginning of this guide.

Can't find it? While Cortana should be included by default, the app can in theory go missing due to a bug or a configuration decision made by a PC manufacturer.

If this happens, launch the Microsoft Store from the Windows Taskbar and search for Cortana. Tap Cortana in the results menu (it should be listed first) and select Install. Windows 11 will download and install the Cortana app.

Once installed, you can sign in to Cortana with the steps at the beginning of this guide.

  • How do I disable Cortana in Windows 10?

    To disable Cortana in Windows 10 temporarily, open Cortana, select the three-dot icon, then select Settings > Keyboard shortcut and toggle off Keyboard shortcut. Reboot your computer, navigate back to Cortana Settings, and select Voice activation > Voice activation permissions, and then toggle off Let Cortana respond to "Cortana" keyword.

  • How do I remove Cortana from Windows 10?

    Windows 10 Home Edition users can disable Cortana permanently with the Registry Editor tool. Navigate to the command prompt, type regedit, and press Enter. Go to HKEY_Local_Machine > SOFTWARE > Policies > Microsoft > Windows, and then right-click the Windows directory and select New > Key. Enter Windows Search as the folder name, then right-click and select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value. Enter Allow Cortana as the filename, then double-click Allow Cortana, set the value to 0, and select OK. Restart your computer, and Cortana should be gone.

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