Cortana is Window’s virtual assistant developed by Microsoft. Though it has been around in Windows for quite some time, it really wasn’t able to charm the people with its skills.
However, even without a significant number of users using the feature on their computer, Microsoft didn’t kill it and it has made its way to Windows 11; though it has lost its omnipresent space on the taskbar and is available just as an app in this iteration of the operating system.
Cortana is designed to be a hands-free assistant and does meager tasks for you such as setting up reminders, opening files & folders, and checking your schedule. But if you feel uncomfortable giving your machine permission for a microphone or you just wish to have some fun with Cortana; you can use it without giving it access to your phone as well. However, revoking auditory access of Cortana will mean you will have to issue commands using your keyboards.
Since Cortana is a pre-installed service and activated with the Microsoft account you use to log in on Windows 11, chances are it will already have access to your Microphone. Hence, you need to revoke the microphone access and turn of the voice activation (if turned on) and only then you can have your peace of mind.
Revoke Cortana’s Access to Microphone
You can revoke Cortana’s access to the microphone just like any other app on your system from the Settings app.
First, head to the Settings app either from the pinned apps on the Start Menu or by searching for it. Alternatively, you can also press Windows+I keys together on your keyboard to open the app.
Then, click on the ‘Privacy & security’ tab from the left sidebar of the Settings window.
Next, from the right section of the window, click on the ‘Microphone’ tile from the list.
After that, click on the ‘Let apps access your microphone’ tile to expand the section.
Then, locate ‘Cortana’ from the list and click on the toggle switch present on the far right edge of the tile to bring the switch to the ‘Off’ position.
And that’s it you have now revoked the microphone access to Cortana. Now, if voice activation of Cortana is also enabled on your machine. You will have to turn it off.
To turn off Voice Activation for Cortana, from the Settings window, click on the ‘Privacy & security’ tab situated on the left sidebar.
Then, from the right section of the window, scroll down to locate the ‘App permissions’ section and click on the ‘Voice activation’ tile to continue.
Next, locate the ‘Cortana’ tile under the ‘Apps that have requested voice activation access’ and click on the switch present on the far right edge of the tile to bring it to the ‘Off’ position.
Type Away your Commands to Cortana
Now that you have revoked Cortana’s access to the microphone and Voice activation, you can be assured there’s no eavesdropping on your conversations. Though there’s going to be a learning curve to use Cortana the new way.
To use it this way, head to the Start Menu, and type
Cortana. Then, click on the ‘Cortana’ tile from the search results.
Next, on the ‘Cortana’ window, instead of speaking to Cortana, click on the ‘Ask Cortana’ label and type your desired command.
To launch an app using Cortana, click on the ‘Ask Cortana’ label and type “Open <app name>” and Cortana should open the app for you. For e.g “Open Chrome Beta” and Cortana shall launch the app for you.
To open a file or folder, click on the ‘Ask Cortana’ label and type “Find <Document name> <document type>; for e.g “Find Report PDF file” and Cortana should return with a hyperlink to the local or OneDrive file. Click on the file tile to open it.
Along with launching apps and finding files for you, Cortana can also check up on your schedule and make changes to it if you wish to do so.
To check your schedule on a particular day, type “Am I free on <day name> <time>” (For e.g “Am I free on Monday at 3 PM?“) to let Cortana go through your calendar and inform you about your schedule.
To set a reminder for yourself, type “Remind me to <task you need to be reminded of> on <day and time you wish to be reminded on>”; for e.g. “Remind me to call Michael at 3 PM on Monday” and Cortana shall set the reminder for you.
You can also ask Cortana for quick conversions, just type “How many milliliters in an ounce?” or “How much is 264 x 367?” and Cortana should return with an exact answer.
If you have been worried about protecting your privacy to the maximum extent, now you know how to make sure nobody is listening to your conversations and at the same time not losing the convenience of Cortana on your Windows 11 PC.