How to Disable Cortana in Windows 10

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

Cortana is Microsoft's virtual assistant that comes integrated into Windows 10. If you're having problems with Cortana, or if you don't want it recording and storing your personal information, there are a few ways to temporarily or permanently turn off Cortana in Windows 10.

Instructions in this article apply to Windows 10 Home Edition, Windows 10 Pro, and Windows 10 Enterprise.

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. Type Cortana in the Windows search box and select Cortana & Search Settings.

    Type Cortana in the Windows search box and select Cortana & Search Settings.
  2. Select the Talk to Cortana tab and make sure the Hey Cortana and Keyboard shortcut switches are set to Off.

    Select the Talk to Cortana tab and make sure the Hey Cortana and Keyboard shortcut toggles are set to Off.

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 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 Cortana in the Windows search box and select Cortana & Search Settings.

    Type Cortana in the Windows search box and select Cortana & Search Settings.
  2. Select the Permissions & History tab, then scroll down the page and set all options to Off.

    Select the Permissions & History tab, then scroll down the page and set all options to Off.
  3. Scroll back to the top of the page and select Manage the information Cortana can access from this device.

    Scroll back to the top of the page and select Manage the information Cortana can access from this device.
  4. Set all options to Off.

    Set all options to Off.
  5. Scroll down the page and select Speech privacy settings.

    Scroll down the page and select Speech privacy settings.
  6. Set the Online Speech Recognition switch to Off.

    Set the switch under Online Speech Recognition to Off.
  7. Select the back arrow in the top-left corner of the window twice to return to the Cortana settings page, then select Change what Cortana knows about me in the Cloud.

    Select Change what Cortana knows about me in the Cloud.
  8. Your Personal Information page will load in the Start panel. Scroll to the bottom of the window and select Clear.

    Scroll to the bottom of the Personal Information window and select Clear.

Cortana will still be 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.

How to Disable Cortana Permanently in Windows 10 Home Edition, Pro, and Enterprise

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.

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.

How to Disable Cortana in the Windows Registry

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

Disabling Cortana via the Windows Registry Editor is irreversible in some cases without 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 on the keyboard.

    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 Turn Cortana Back On if You Disabled It via Regedit

If you change your mind about disabling Cortana, or if something goes wrong, then 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 Disable Cortana Permanently in Group Policy Editor

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

  1. Press Windows + R to open the command prompt, type gpedit.msc into the box, 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.