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How to disable Cortana in Windows

It's possible, but not all that straightforward.
By
December 20, 2022

If you don’t use Cortana and find its integration with Windows to be annoying, here is how to disable Cortana on Windows 10 and 11.

Read more: Siri vs Alexa vs Google Assistant vs Bixby

QUICK ANSWER

To disable Cortana when Windows starts, open Task Manager and then, under the Startup tab, look for the Cortana entry. Right-click on the Cortana entry and click Disable.

You can also disable Cortana responding to voice prompts by opening Start > Settings > Privacy. Then, click on Voice Activation. Disable all the options on this page.

To disable Cortana more fully, use regedit by pressing Windows+R to open the application launcher and type “regedit" into the box, then click OK. In the left sidebar, look for the following key: “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Windows Search." If you don't see it, you'll have to create it by right-clicking on the “Windows" folder and choosing New > Key. Name the key “Windows Search." Right-click on the “Windows Search" folder you just created and choose New > DWORD (32-bit) Value. Name the new value “AllowCortana." Double-click the “AllowCortana" value you just created and set its value to zero.

On Windows 10 or 11 Professional or Enterprise, you can use the Local Group Policy Editor. Press Windows+R and type “gedit.msc" in the box, then click OK. Open Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Search. Double click Allow Cortana. Choose Disabled in the pop-up, then click OK.


JUMP TO KEY SECTIONS

How to disable Cortana in Windows 10 and 11

It’s rather tricky to disable Cortana on recent versions of Windows 10 and 11. Updates from Microsoft have made it difficult to use the normal Settings app to disable the voice assistant, so you’ll have to dive into some deeper configuration options. Here’s what you can do. Note that you’ll have to restart for all of these changes to take full effect.

Disable Cortana when Windows starts

A screenshot of the Windows 10 Task Manager app showing the Startup tab and the Cortana entry disabled.
Zak Khan / Android Authority

If you don’t want Cortana to bother you every time you log in, you can prevent it from starting in the first place. Here’s how:

  1. Open the Task Manager app by right-clicking the Start menu and choosing Task Manager or pressing Ctrl+Shift+Esc and launching Task Manager.
  2. Under the Startup tab, look for the Cortana entry.
  3. Right-click on the Cortana entry and click Disable.

Disable Cortana in privacy settings

A screenshot of the Windows 10 Settings app showing the Privacy > Voice Activation options, all disabled.
Zak Khan / Android Authority

Cortana is an avenue Microsoft can use to track your usage, so if you want to prevent that, do the following:

  1. Open Start > Settings > Privacy
  2. Click on Voice Activation.
  3. Disable all the options on this page, making sure that you include Let Cortana respond to “Cortana” keyword and Use Cortana even when my device is locked.

Disable Cortana in the Windows registry

The above options curtail Cortana, but they do not disable it completely. To do that, you’ll have to use the registry editor. Be careful when using this application because you’ll be fiddling with potentially sensitive system files. It’s a good idea to create a system restore point before attempting this. After that, here’s what to do:

  1. Press Windows+R to open the application launcher and type “regedit” into the box, then click OK. You may be asked to allow regedit to make changes to your device; click OK if that happens.
  2. In the left sidebar, look for the following key: “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Windows Search.”
  3. If you don’t see “Windows Search,” you’ll have to create it by right-clicking on the “Windows” folder and choosing New > Key. Name the key “Windows Search” (without quotation marks but with capital letters and space).
  4. Right-click on the “Windows Search” folder you just created and choose New > DWORD (32-bit) Value.
  5. Name the new value “AllowCortana” (again, without quotation marks but with capitalization).
  6. Double-click the “AllowCortana” value you just created and set its value to zero.

Disable Cortana using the Local Group Policy Editor

If you have Windows 10 or 11 Professional or Enterprise, you can use the Local Group Policy Editor to disable Cortana. Much like regedit, this is a powerful tool. So, it’s a good idea to create a system restore point before attempting this.  After that, here’s what to do:

  1. Press Windows+R and type “gedit.msc” in the box, then click OK.
  2. In the Local Group Policy Editor, open Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Search.
  3. Look for Allow Cortana and double-click it.
  4. Choose Disabled in the pop-up window that appears, then click OK.

Read more: How to turn off Google Assistant with just a few taps

FAQs

Ever since the “Anniversary Update” back in 2016, Windows 10 users cannot use the Settings app to disable Cortana.

Yes, but the Cortana icon is hidden from the taskbar by default on Windows 11.

The Windows 10 Education and Windows 10 Pro Education editions do not include Cortana.