Although Cortana is the popular digital assistant Microsoft has embedded into its operating system since the release of Windows 10, users have no obligation to use it. To be fair, the personal assistant is capable of a lot of cool stuff—it is incredibly helpful when users search for things; it assists Windows in showing or accessing notifications in a refined manner, and so on.
Unsurprisingly, the ease of accessibility is directly reflected in how much Cortana can do for you without you having to make much effort. However, the supreme capabilities or powers Cortana possesses come at a price some might consider too steep.
The personal assistant always has to learn as much as possible about you. For example, it is supposed to know and understand your schedule or calendar.
In general, it is programmed to gather a considerable amount of information regarding your person, especially those data it deems relevant. Your location information or details about your movement, for example, are the kind of data we are referring to here.
Well, if you want Cortana to deliver the best experience it is capable of, then you probably might not be that bothered by how much she knows about you. After all, some experts (or users frankly) believe that the more a personal assistant knows about its boss, the better she/he can do its job. Fortunately, the truthfulness of that belief is not of much concern to us for now.
Why can’t I close Cortana?
Have you ever tried closing or disabling the personal assistant? You might be surprised at what you can do, or you might end up being amazed at what you cannot do.
Maybe, you attempted to turn off Cortana but you got nowhere with your action, or you could not even figure out how to get rid of Cortana. If you made some moves and failed at the operations, then you might become more worried about your privacy than before.
You might also be glad to know that you are not the user who has encountered the same or a similar issue. We have seen enough reports online from people who stated that they could not get Cortana to stop working or they could not get the personal assistant to stop listening and waiting to hear their voice and similar complaints.
For one, Microsoft took away the switch that allowed users to quickly turn on or off Cortana when they released the Windows 10 Anniversary. We understand why Microsoft had to make the change at the time, but the average user probably sees things differently.
Hence, it should come as no surprise that the ”What to do if Cortana won’t turn off on Windows 10?” question became a popular query on the Google search page.
In this guide, we will walk you through as many solutions as possible to issues related to Cortana
In other words, we will show you how to forcibly close Cortana, how to temporarily or permanently disable the personal assistant, how to stop Cortana from gathering more data about you, and so on.
How to fix the Cortana refusing to turn off problem and similar issues?
Regardless of the form of problem (involving Cortana) you are dealing with, we ask that you go through the fixes below in the order which we have listed them here. Of course, if a solution does not apply to your situation or if it fails to resolve the issue in your case, then you are free to move on to the next fix.
Disable Cortana the regular way:
Here, we are going to show you how to turn off Cortana through the most basic of operations. Do this:
- Click on the Windows icon always visible on your desktop screen (or give the Enter button on your keyboard a tap). Some figures, programs, and options will appear. Click on the Circle icon (usually on the left side of the search bar on your taskbar)
If this object is missing, then you must perform a search by inputting a reasonable keyword into the text field available. You do not need to bother yourself with the results that show up. The icons on the left are the objects that should be of interest to you.
The second icon there is most likely what you seek. Click on it.
- At this point, we believe you must have found a way to launch the Notebook for Cortana. Continue by clicking on Settings. Windows should present you with some options.
You should see an option that allows you to disable Cortana completely, and at the same time, it helps to get rid of all the features or functionalities that the assistant provides. Or perhaps, you might be interested in the other option that provides a means for Windows to turn off the “Hey Cortana Feature” so that the assistant can stop trying to hear your voice all the time.
If you are strongly worried about your privacy and want nothing to do with Cortana at all, then the first option we described is probably the best fit in your case. Otherwise, the second option (which is obviously milder in terms of its effect) will serve you just fine.
Go a step further to delete everything Cortana knows about you:
Besides you getting Cortana to stop listening to hear your voice or you forcing Windows to limit her activities by disabling her, you might be keen on going the distance to dissociate your personality from the assistant. Here, we will show you how to get rid of any data stored by Cortana on Microsoft servers on your behalf.
Start with these instructions:
- First, you must launch the Settings menu for Cortana. In the first step of the previous operation, we provided instructions on doing this. You might want to scroll up and go through the sentences again
- Once you are in the required place, you should see the Manage what Cortana knows about me in the cloud link, which you must click on; Windows will move to open a link in your browser immediately. You will end up on the Bing personalization settings page.
- On the web page, you must scroll down to see the Clear button. Click on it. All your data that Cortana stored on the cloud or Microsoft servers will be removed now.
There are a couple of other things to do, though. For one, if you enabled location sharing with Cortana, then you must move on to wipe the information Bing maps collected about you. Go through the steps below:
- Open the Settings app this way: press (and hold) the Windows button on your keyboard, then move on to tap the letter I key.
- Once the program window appears as expected, you must click on Accounts. In the current location, you should see some options for the operation you intend to carry out.
To ensure uniformity, you might as well delete the data other Microsoft services or functionalities have collected on your behalf. You could also remove the account that makes such data collecting operations possible. The instructions below will guide you to continue:
- Launch the Settings app once more as you did not so long ago. This time, after the expected program window comes up, you must click on Accounts. There, you should see the profile you plan to delete
- If you want to work on the means other services or functionalities are sending data to Microsoft servers, then you must open the Settings app again, but this time, after you select Accounts, you must navigate to the Sync your settings submenu to see the options you need to alter or disable.
If you later change your mind regards any of the moves you made against Cortana, then all you have to do is go the same steps above to reverse the procedure and return things to the way they were before.
Turn off Cortana through your Local Group policy:
If you tried turning off Cortana through the regular methods but had no luck or success with them, then you must consider other means of doing the same thing. If your system is running the Pro, Education, or Enterprise edition of Windows, then you should be able to control Cortana through operations executed in the Group Policy Editor program.
Group Policy is a feature unique to the stated editions of Windows that helps control the working environment of user accounts and computer profiles. Therefore, if you are using a shared PC or computer on a network interlinked with others, you might want to consult the system administrator before you move on to make changes that might affect the experience of other users.
Once you are ready to begin, here are the instructions that will guide you through:
- First, you must open the Group Policy Editor program. Launch the Run app (press and hold the Windows button on your keyboard, then continue by tapping the letter R key), and after the program window shows up as expected, input the following code into the text field present:gpedit.msc
Hit the Enter key. Windows will act to run the code now.
- Once the Local Group Policy Editor program window shows up as expected, starting on the left pane, you must navigate through the following path:Computer Configuration / Administrative Templates / Windows Components / Search
- In your final location, on the right pane, you should see a list consisting of different policies. Go through them and locate the Allow Cortana policy, which you must click on to edit it.
- After the Allow Cortana window comes up, you must click on the radio button for Disabled to select this option. Round up things by clicking on the Apply button then moving on to click on the OK button
- Now, you are free to exit the program windows active on your system. Restart your PC, and you will see that Cortana is no longer active.
Disable Cortana through your registry:
If you have the Home edition of Windows 10 installed on your PC, then you might struggle to turn off Cortana through the Group Policy program (which is probably missing on your build of Windows). Fortunately, you can do the same thing by performing certain operations through your registry (a program that is accessible or available on all builds or iterations of Windows).
Anyway, users of other editions of Windows 10 are also welcome to turn off Cortana through their registry, but we believe the method described above is still the more straightforward means of getting the job done.
There is one thing you must note before you begin: Since you are about to make changes to the registry, it is only fair we warn you about the risks involved. The registry plays a vital role in ensuring your system functions as it was programmed to, and therefore, its sensitive contents are not to be toyed with in any scenario.
Wrong edits or invalid alterations can do a lot of damage or cause your PC to end up in a poor state. We believe you will try to be as careful as possible while working on the registry to avoid problems or complications, but if you want the closest thing to a guarantee of things turning out well no matter what happens, then you might want to back up your registry.
Once you are ready to work, follow these instructions:
- First, you must launch the Registry Editor app. Here is a swift method: Open the Run app (check the first step for the procedure above), type in the following code into the text field you see and hit the Enter key to run it:regedit
- Once the program window is up, you must navigate through the following path: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SOFTWARE \ Policies \ Microsoft \ Windows \ Windows Search
(Note: If you realize the WindowsSearch key is missing, you must create it. Right-click on the Windows key, then click on New, then select Key. The new key’s name should be Windows Search)
- You must enter the Windows Search key. On the right pane, you must check for the AllowCortana Dword.
If this object is missing, you must create it. Right-click on any area on the right pane free of icons or images, then click on New, then select DWORD (32-Bit) Value.
AllowCortana should be the name of the newly created value
- At this stage, you have to double-click on the AllowCortana value to open its Properties window. There, you must input 0 in the field for its Value data (delete whatever you find there). Click on the OK button. Windows must have saved the changes by now.
- Now, we ask that you close all applications and restart your PC because the changes might become effective only after a system reboot.
Disable Cortana by working on its directory:
If you make the necessary alterations to Cortana’s folder to prevent her from accessing the data she relies on to do her work, then the personal assistant will stop working. With this knowledge, you can achieve the result that has eluded you for quite some time.
Here, we are going to guide you to move Cortana’s folder to another location. Do this:
- Open the File Explorer app by pressing the Windows button on your keyboard, then moving on to tap the letter E key. Once the program window is up, you must navigate through the following path:C: WindowsSystemApps
In your current location, you should see the Microsoft.Windows.Cortana_cw5n1h2txyewy folder, which you must right-click on, then select Properties from the options you see.
- Once the Properties window for the folder in view comes up, you must navigate to the Security tab, and there, you must click on the Advanced button. Click on Change (under the Owner section or menu)
- In the field for Enter the object name to select, you must type in your user account name. Move on by clicking on the Check names button. Click on the OK button too.
- At this point, you must tick the checkbox for Replace owner on subcontainers and objects. Round things up clicking on the Apply button, then clicking on the OK button. Windows will save the changes you just made now.
- It is time you moved the folder. Locate the Microsoft.Windows.Cortana_cw5n1h2txyewy folder in a File Explorer window. Right-click on it, then select Move or Cut. Place or paste the directory somewhere else (any safe location will do as long as it differs from the folder’s current path).
We believe a dialog box seeking permission for the operation should be up by now. Ignore the window for now and continue with the steps below
- Open the Task Manager app (the combination of the CTRL, ALT, and ESC keys does the trick on Windows 10). Under the Processes tab, you should see the SearchUI.exe process. Click on this process to highlight it, then click on the End task button to force Windows to terminate it.
- Now, you must return to the dialog box seeking permission and give the authorization needed to carry on with the operation there
You can also rename Cortana’s folder to get the same result. If the change of the folder location failed to stop the assistant from working, you would have to try this alternative procedure instead anyway.
- Follow the same instructions above to locate Cortana’s folder. Right-click on it and select Rename. All you have to do is add–oldto the current name of Cortana’s folder
Windows will bring up a dialog box stating that the folder is in use. Ignore or minimize the window that appears, then do the following:
- Open the Task Manager app. This time, under the Processes tab, you must check for Cortana. Click on it, then click on the End task button (usually at the lower section of the window)
- Now, you must return to the dialog box that came up earlier. There, you must click on the Try Again button. Windows will execute the operation successfully this time.
Note: Since Microsoft designed Cortana to run as an integral system process, you have to move fast and click on the Try again button because Windows will eventually restart the process you terminated. You might have to redo the operation if you fail at it the first time.
Undoubtedly, given the different fixes or methods we have provided to disable Cortana, you must been successful with at least one of them in getting the personal assistant to stop working. The vast majority of operations we outlined here also reversible. Therefore, if you ever change your mind, you can quickly bring back your old settings for Cortana.
If issues with privacy or collection of data pushed you to disable Cortana, then we have to tell you that such concerns are actually minute in the grand scale of things.
Of course, we understand why people are often wary of big corporations like Microsoft knowing so much about them. However, the most significant risks associated with the harvesting of information that concerns you are usually spyware or malware related.
Having a top security setup that screens and defends against threats as soon as they find their way into your computer should be the item at the top of your priority list. To this end, we believe you might be interested in downloading and running Auslogics Anti-Malware.
We want to assume that you have an antivirus running on your computer as your primary security program. Well, you can easily improve on your current protection setup with an extra line of defense, which the recommended app will provide. Similarly or otherwise, if you have been using your PC without any form of credible protection, you will still find this tip handy.