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How to enable and disable Cortana in Windows 11

Microsoft silenced Cortana in Windows 11, but you can get the digital assistant back. Here’s how.

Windows 11 logo
Image: Microsoft

Digital assistants are popping up on every platform, but Microsoft has chosen to silence its little helper with the release of Windows 11. Cortana is no longer active by default, and you’ll need to enable her yourself if you want to bring her back.

We can only guess why Microsoft gave its AI assistant a reduced role in Windows 11.

However, privacy concerns could be one reason, and self-esteem issues could be another. Perhaps she (Microsoft) thinks she’s not as good as the other offered assistants.

READ MORE: How to change the scroll direction in Windows 11

Whatever the reasons for Cortana’s demotion, you can reinstate her with just a few clicks. Let’s discuss how.

Enable Cortana in Windows 11 through the app

One of the simplest ways to enable Cortana is by launching the application in Windows 11 and signing in. Here’s the quickest way to make it happen:

Click the taskbar search icon and type Cortana

Select Cortana when it appears under Best matchWindows 11 cortana

Sign in using your preferred Microsoft account

Click Accept and continue to grant Cortana permission to invade your privacyMicrosoft cortana terms of service

READ MORE: How to change your username in Windows 11

Once you’ve signed in and accepted the terms, the app should launch, and Cortana will be ready to serve.

Enable or disable Cortana in Windows 11 on startup

If you want to alter Cortana’s startup behavior, you can do so by flicking a switch or two. The method you use doesn’t matter too much, as both tactics will achieve the same outcome.

Enable or disable Cortana through the Settings app

Cortana advanced settings
Image: KnowTechie

READ MORE: How to create a virtual desktop in Windows 11

You can alter Cortana’s startup behavior in the Settings app by following these steps:

  1. Navigate to Settings > Apps > Installed apps
  2. Locate Cortana and click the More options (…) icon
  3. Click Advanced options
  4. Toggle the switch under Runs at log-in to the desired position

Enable or disable Cortana using Task Manager

Cortana in the start up menu
Image: KnowTechie

You can also alter Cortana’s startup behavior through task manager using these steps:

  1. Launch Task Manager by pressing Ctrl + Shift + Escape
  2. Select the Startup tab
  3. Right-click Cortana and choose Enable or Disable

If you don’t plan to use Cortana, disabling her on startup is a good move. Fewer processes launching when your PC boots can make the system run a lot smoother. In fact, disabling any unnecessary startup items is a good way to boost performance.

Cortana is here to help

Cortana isn’t the pillar of Windows she once was, but Microsoft giving us options and not ramming her down our throats is a welcome move.

While you can quit and disable Cortana at any time, you can’t remove her completely from the system, so she’ll always be there, watching and waiting for the right opportunity to strike. What will she strike with? Helpful advice and expert assistance.

Have any thoughts on this? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Matt is an Australian writer with a degree in creative and critical writing. Prior to commencing his studies, he worked in tech support and gained valuable insights into technology and its users. He is also an editor and author coach at Dean Publishing.

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