It's time to make Cortana work for you.
Microsoft's voice-activated virtual assistant is more than just a direct link to Bing (or whatever search engine you've got her to use) -- she's, well, an assistant. That means she can do everything from scheduling meetings and setting alarms to delivering a decent joke. You probably know several of Cortana's hidden talents, but there's always more to discover. So here are 15 cool things you can ask her to do in Windows 10.
Editors' note: This article was originally published on March 22, and was updated on October 6, to reflect changes made in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update.
Need to perform a simple calculation? Cortana can perform simple math right inside her search box. You can either say the sum aloud ("Hey Cortana, what's 35 times 22 plus 861 minus 4?") or type it directly into the search box.
Sure, you can plug your currency conversion into Google, but why bother when you can do it right from your desktop? Just type in the amount, original currency, and currency you want to convert it to, and Cortana will answer your currency question right inside her search box. (You can also ask her to convert something, such as "What is 260 euros in dollars?") Other conversions Cortana can tackle for you include temperature (Celsius to Fahrenheit and vice versa -- nothing crazy, like Kelvin or Romer), weight, volume and height/length.
Launch a program
Say "launch [program]" and Cortana will open the program for you. Cortana can also open specific websites -- for example, say "open CNET.com" and Cortana will open this very site in your default web browser.
Ask Cortana "Where are my packages?" and she'll pull up package tracking info from your email account. You will need to have an email account configured in the Mail app for this to work.
Manually track packages
If you don't have an email account configured in the Mail app, no problem -- Cortana can still track your packages if you give her the tracking numbers. To add tracking numbers to Cortana, open the Cortana menu, click the Notebook icon and click Packages. You can add a tracking number to the list by clicking Add a package under Packages you're tracking. Cortana will keep a running list of the packages you add, so this is slightly different from simply looking up individual tracking numbers on Bing.
Control your music
If you listen to your music in the Groove Music app, Cortana is actually a big help. She can pause and resume your music, skip a track or go back to a previous track, and play specific songs ("Play 'Email My Heart'"), artists ("Play Britney Spears"), albums ("Play '...Baby One More Time'"), or genres ("Play pop"). If you use a different music app to get your groove on, Cortana will still be able to perform some basic commands, such as skipping a song or pausing the track.
Write an email
Cortana can draft and send quick emails for you -- just say "write an email" or "write an email to [contact] saying [email message]." If you need to add more to your email (such as an attachment), Cortana offers up a link to Continue in Outlook so you can add any bells and whistles. If you're using Cortana on a phone, she can do the same thing with text messages.
Find pictures from last week
Looking for photos you uploaded to your computer or took with your device in the last week? Just say or type "search pictures from last week," and Cortana will show you all the photos from the last week. You can do this with other types of files (videos, documents and so on) and you can also search within a different time frame (yesterday, last month or a specific date).
Turn on Airplane Mode
Cortana can even dig into your device's settings -- just say "turn on Airplane Mode," and she'll turn off your Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and cellular data. At the moment this appears to be one of the only settings Cortana can manipulate, but in the future we may see more functionality.
Bored? Cortana can play games like rock, paper, scissors or movie trivia with you. For rock, paper, scissors, just say "rock, paper, scissors." For the movie trivia game, say "play the movie game." Cortana can also do a virtual coin toss ("heads or tails") or dice rolls ("roll a die/dice" for one die, or "roll dice" for two dice).
Cortana -- or rather, the voice actor who plays her -- can totally sing you some tunes. To check out her singing voice in action, try "sing me a song," "sing me a lullaby" or "what does the fox say?"
Microsoft Edge may not be the browser to end all browsers, but it does have an advantage over third-party browsers like Chrome and Firefox: Cortana. Cortana is so integrated into Edge that she'll automatically search the web for coupons when you land on a retail site. If she finds any, you'll see a notification in the URL bar alerting you to her finds -- just click on this notification to open a coupon sidebar. (If you're not seeing these alerts, you may need to turn Cortana on in Edge -- go to the Edge settings menu and click View advanced settings, and then turn Have Cortana assist me in Microsoft Edge on.)
Find your phone
If you have a Windows 10 phone or an Android phone, you can ask Cortana to remotely locate and ring your device from your PC. To see your phone's location on a map, ask Cortana to "Find my phone." To have Cortana ring your device remotely, say "Ring my phone." For this to work, Android users will need to install the Cortana app (and sign in using the same Microsoft account you use with your Windows 10 PC).
Mirror Android notifications
If you have a Windows 10 or Android phone, Cortana can sync up your notifications so they appear on your Windows 10 PC. She can alert you to things like incoming texts and emails, missed phone calls and app notifications (you can toggle specific app notifications on or off), and she'll even include a quick response box so you can easily respond to texts or other notifications. Android users will need to set up this notification syncing through the Cortana app (check out our piece on how to do that here).
Call an Uber
Need a lift? Cortana integrates with a variety of third-party apps, including ride-sharing service Uber. Simply ask Cortana to "order an Uber," and she'll put in the call. You'll need to sign into your Uber account, but Cortana will automatically fill in fields like location. (This is probably more convenient for mobile Windows 10 users than desktop users.)