Just about every top tech company has launched its own digital assistant for device users. There are common features in all of them and a lot of unique features as well.
Cortana is the digital assistant developed and deployed by Microsoft and is a standard feature on all devices run on the Windows operating system.
If you have Windows 10 on your PC or laptop and would like to make full use of Cortana, here is a step-by-step guide.
First, Ensure Cortana Is Installed and Running
The first step is obviously to be sure you have Cortana on your system. Check it by running a couple of commands.
- Click on the Start button and you will find the Cortana program listed there.
2. When you click on Cortana, the dialogue box opens and you are practically good to go.
3. There are two options from here. One is to type out what you want and the other is to speak out a voice command.
4. You can try out Cortana by doing both. Ask how the weather is by typing it out and put a question through voice.
5. The voice command can be performed through two methods. One is by clicking the Windows key and the C key. Once the box opens, you can ask for the tasks to be done by Cortana.
6. The other option is to say, “Hey Cortana” and the Cortana dialogue box will automatically respond and wait for your next command.
Using Cortana Effectively
“Effectively” is the operating word here. The basic understanding should be: if you have ever had a personal assistant in your workplace and you are used to giving out instructions of a regular nature, it should be a breeze. If you have not been exposed to such working arrangement, you must learn to use this digital assistant to its full potential.
Here are some tips:
- Be clear on what you wish to ask Cortana to do. Artificial intelligence has been used to teach the machine to respond to commands and execute the tasks.
- You must first have an idea of what Cortana could do for you. Fetching information for you from within your system and from online resources is the simplest of tasks it can perform.
- These tasks include opening an application like Word or Excel or PowerPoint; you can ask Cortana to open a particular file you often use; or just ask mundane questions, like the latest news headlines or the next appointment, or even the movie running in a theater and the cuisine served in a restaurant.
- But to use Cortana even more effectively, you must familiarize yourself with the Notebook feature inside it. (More on that below.)
The Use of the Notebook Feature in Cortana
The Notebook is the best part of Cortana. You have to initially spend some time telling Cortana about you, your friends and family, the favorite places you visit, and so on.
Cortana’s Notebook feature is indicated with the three lines on top. Clicking on it will open the drop-down menu with the different categories of information that can be stored by Cortana for easy retrieval later.
- To give an example: You have a category “Lists.” Within this, you can have the Grocery list, a list of other things you wish to buy and then the things to do. You need to keep telling Cortana to add things to any of these lists and it will add to the respective category. At any time you wish, you can ask Cortana to retrieve any of these lists.
2. Some of the other items here within Notebook can be music: You can ask Cortana to play the track of music of your choice.
3. Then, the reminders and appointments category can improve your time management skills. Tell Cortana to remember an appointment; it will ask you if it has to put it in your calendar too. If you are in the habit of forgetting the birthdays of your friends and family, just tell Cortana to remind you and it will take care of the task.
4. If you drive regularly—whether to your workplace, to pick up your kids from school, to the super market, and so on—Cortana can remember these and let you know how the traffic is and if you should take a different route to reach faster.
5. For many such functions, Cortana is integrated with the Edge browser from the Microsoft stable. So, if the traffic map is to be shown to you, the Edge pane will pop up on the side of the screen to provide information.
Have Some Fun with Cortana
Finally, it is not just the operational tasks described above that Cortana is capable of handling.
You can add some fun to the whole experience of using this digital assistant by asking it to tell you a joke. The only difference here is you need to prepare Cortana by telling it that you wish to chat with it rather than asking it to do a search and fetch function. If you tell Cortana to give you answers to a series of questions, it will answer to the extent it has been programmed to do.
Beyond all these, you can use Cortana seamlessly across your devices if you have multiple devices in the same Windows 10 environment. And Microsoft is continuously exploring and expanding the scope of functions that Cortana is capable of delivering.
You have to therefore keep your learning cap on and add to your knowledge of the way the digital assistant can help you do things faster, more efficiently and in a highly personalized way.
You should remember that when you deal with human beings, you can shout at your assistant if he or she does something wrong. But in the case of Cortana or any digital assistant for that matter, it is the way you input the relevant information that it can perform the tasks.