A while back we wrote an article on how to deflect Microsoft’s new browser Edge when searching through Cortana, as well as avoid getting the search results from their search engine Bing. Even though a lot of people don’t like using Edge or Bing, Cortana is one of the many products of Microsoft that can be very handy when used the right way.
A little refresher: Cortana is an AI like voice assistant developed by Microsoft implemented into Windows 10 as well as Windows Phone. Similarly to other voice assistants, such as Google’s voice assistant, Siri, Alexa etc. you can use Cortana to increase your productivity or just for fun. She comes packed with a lot of features and we will try to outline most of them today.
In order to use Cortana on your computer you need a few things. First and foremost you need a computer with Windows 10 installed. Next, to get the maximum out of Cortana’s features you need to be signed in with your Microsoft account. It is essential to own a microphone so that you can use the voice commands. Finally, you need a will to make your life easier.
Getting information from Cortana
Cortana’s most basic feature is searching the web. You can get this with most of the voice assistants out there, but it’s a good start. Activate Cortana and ask her to search the web for something, for example you can say “Search the web for tech recipes”. Or, if you are interested at a certain fact you can ask “When was the Eifel Tower built”. Also, you can do a follow up question on the previous one and ask “How tall is it?” and get the information. Note: this doesn’t work every time, so if Cortana doesn’t answer the follow up question you can ask “How tall is the Eifel Tower”.
Since Cortana “downloads” the internet during the initial setup, at least that’s what she says, you can interact with her to get other kind of information. You can ask her “What is the weather like in Paris” or “What time is it in Dubai” or “Will I need a jacket tomorrow” and get that information spoken by Cortana. If you are in a foreign country, or you are just interested in the exchange rate you can ask her to “Convert 1 us dollar to euro”. Speaking of converting, if you are looking at a cooking recipe and want to convert the units you can ask “convert 100 grams to ounces”. Cortana will be able to convert any unit, length, weight, area, volume etc.
If you are the type of person that reads the news during your morning routines, Cortana can certainly help. “Show me the latest headlines” is something you can say to get Cortana to show you the latest headlines. Or if you are looking for something specific you can say “Show me financial news” and Cortana will filter out all the other news.
Cortana is a math genius, which is no surprise, she is basically a talking calculator. You can ask her to calculate anything that you would normally do on a regular calculator. Cortana can calculate simple math equations such as “What is 2 + 2” or “How much are 15% out of 500” even “How much is square root of 938 divided by 21 and multiplied by 6”.
If you are traveling to a different country Cortana can be very handy for her translating knowledge. Even though she can’t translate to every single language in the world, you can still use her for the more “popular” languages. Just ask her “Translate apple to French” or if you need an entire phrase ask “Translate how are you today in Italian”. Apart from translating, Cortana can define words. Let’s say you read a word in a book that you don’t know what it means exactly, just ask her. Say “Define computer” and she will explain what the word means. Getting around Is very easy with Cortana. If you are in London and you don’t know your way around, just ask her “Show me a map of London” or “Show me directions to Big Ben” and using the built-in map application you will get the route.
Among the fun things that you can do with Cortana is to listen to her tell a joke or sing. Asked her “Sing me a song” or “tell me a joke” and spend the rest of your day talking to your voice assistant.
These are just a small portion of what Cortana is capable. Tomorrow we will continue with the more advanced and productivity related commands.