How to Disable Cortana in Windows 10

If Microsoft's voice assistant annoys you, turn it off

What to Know

  • Disable temporarily: Open Cortana > select three vertical dots > Settings > turn off Keyboard shortcut > reboot PC.
  • Open Cortana again > Settings > Voice activation > Voice activation permissions > turn off Let Cortana respond to "Cortana" keyword.
  • Disable permanently: Use the Registry Editor to create a new key. Rename DWORD (32-bit) Value to AllowCortana and set value to 0.

This article explains how to temporarily and permanently disable Cortana in Windows 10. Additional information covers how to prevent Cortana from recording and storing your search habits and history.

How to Disable Cortana Temporarily

If Cortana sometimes activates when you don't want it to, but you still want to be able to activate it manually, the first step is to make sure that Cortana won't respond to your voice:

  1. In the taskbar, select the Cortana icon (small circle) to open it.

    Selecting the Cortana icon in the Windows 10 taskbar.
  2. In the upper-left corner of the Cortana app, select the three vertical dots.

    Selecting to open the menu in the Cortana app.
  3. Select Settings.

    Selecting Settings in the Cortana app in Windows 10.
  4. Select Keyboard shortcut.

    Selecting Keyboard shortcut setting in Cortana in Windows 10.
  5. Turn off Keyboard shortcut. You'll need to restart your PC to apply the changes.

    Turning off the Keyboard shortcut setting in Cortana.
  6. After rebooting, repeat steps 1-3. Select Voice activation.

    Selecting the Voice activation setting in Cortana.
  7. Select Voice activation permissions.

    Selecting Voice activation permissions in Cortana.
  8. Turn off Let Cortana respond to "Cortana" keyword.

    Turning off voice activation for Cortana.

For most users, disabling Cortana's ability to automatically respond to a voice command or a keyboard shortcut is enough. This will prevent Cortana from ever activating accidentally, but it won't affect your search experience, and everything will continue to operate as normal.

How to Disable Cortana Permanently Using the Windows Registry

Cortana is heavily integrated into the Windows 10 search functionality, so fully disabling it may impact your user experience. Nonetheless, users of Windows 10 Home Edition can disable Cortana with the Registry Editor tool. Users of Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise can use either the Registry Editor or the Group Policy Manager.

After you've created a system restore point, and you're absolutely sure you want to disable Cortana permanently, then you will need to open the Registry Editor:

Disabling Cortana via the Windows Registry Editor is often irreversible unless you performing a clean install of Windows 10.

  1. Right-click the Windows icon and select Run to open the command prompt.

    Alternatively, use the keyboard shortcut Windows+R.

    Right-click the Windows icon and select Run to open the command prompt.
  2. Type regedit and press Enter.

    If a User Account Control (UAC) window appears, select Yes to proceed.

    Type regedit and press Enter on the keyboard.
  3. Navigate to HKEY_Local_Machine > SOFTWARE > Policies > Microsoft > Windows, then right-click the Windows directory and select New > Key.

    Navigate to HKEY_Local_Machine > SOFTWARE > Policies > Microsoft > Windows, then right-click the Windows directory and select New > Key.
  4. Name the new folder Windows Search.

    Name the new folder Windows Search.
  5. Right-click the Windows Search folder and select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value.

    Right-click the Windows Search folder and select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value.
  6. Name the new file AllowCortana.

    Name the new file AllowCortana
  7. Double-click the AllowCortana file to open it, set the value to 0, then select OK.

    Double-click on AllowCortana, set the value to 0, then select OK.
  8. Close the Registry Editor and restart your computer.

How to Disable Cortana Permanently in Group Policy Editor

While Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Enterprise users can disable Cortana through the Registry Editor, they have another option that's a little safer. To turn off Cortana using the Group Policy Editor:

Before using the Registry Editor or Group Policy Editor methods, consider setting up a system restore point. Your system may become unstable or even fail to boot if you make a mistake.

  1. Press Windows+R to open the command prompt, type gpedit.msc into the command line, and then press Enter.

    If a User Account Control (UAC) window appears, select Yes to proceed.

    Press Windows + R to open the command prompt, type gpedit.msc into the box, and then press Enter.
  2. Navigate to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Search, then double-click Allow Cortana in the right pane.

    Navigate to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Search, then double-click Allow Cortana in the right pane.
  3. Select Disabled, then select OK.

    Select Disabled, then select OK
  4. Close the Group Policy Editor and restart your computer.

If you want to turn on Cortana in the future, follow the steps above, but set the Allow Cortana setting to Enabled.

How to Turn Cortana Back on If You Disabled It via Regedit

If you change your mind about disabling Cortana, or if something goes wrong, the easiest way to turn Cortana back on is to use a system restore point. You can also try going back into the Registry Editor and deleting the AllowCortana file you created.

How to Prevent Cortana From Recording and Storing Your Search Habits and History

Some users have privacy concerns about Cortana and Microsoft keeping track of their search histories and habits in the cloud. Completely disabling Cortana is one way to deal with this concern, or you can turn off each setting that allows Cortana to record and store information about you:

  1. Type Permissions and history in the Windows search box and press Enter.

    Type permissions and history in the Windows search box and select Permissions & history.
  2. Scroll down to History and turn off Search history on this device. Select Clear device search history to clear Cortana search history.

    Select Search history on this device.
  3. In the Find a setting search, enter speech privacy settings and select Speech privacy settings.

    Searching for Speech privacy settings,
  4. Turn off Use your voice for dictation and other apps using Microsoft's online speech recognition technology.

    Online speech recognition toggle.

Cortana will remain installed on your computer, but it will not be able to gather information, report information to Microsoft, or interact with you in any way. If you wish to use Cortana in the future, change all of the settings back to the On position.

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