Cortana is Microsoft’s answer to Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa. The personal assistant is fully integrated into any Windows 10 machine. It can send emails, search apps, and files, and search the Internet.
Just like any personal assistant, not all people use it. Moreover, it raises privacy and security concerns. In an older machine or those with lower computing power, running Cortana can significantly reduce the performance of your system.
What Cortana Collects About You?
A significant issue with Cortana is the amount of information it collects about you. Naturally, it needs private information for the assistant to function correctly. By default, Cortana knows about your location, browsing history if you are using Microsoft Edge and any information from any connected services.
Moreover, it has access to your email, calendar, Messages history, and contacts. More private information is also available to Cortana such as your devices’ microphone, typing history, and even handwriting patterns. It also takes note of the places you visit, including your home and work locations.
Many users find such information collection intrusive. While the most antivirus and anti-malware software block privacy threats, it cannot protect you against Cortana as it is a legitimate part of the system.
So, the only solution is to limit Cortana’s function or disable it altogether.
Prevent Cortana From Collecting Personal Information
What if you want to use Cortana without the intrusive information gathering? You can limit the personal assistant’s monitoring.
In most Windows 10 devices, including Home and Pro, you can limit how the system collects information. Click the Search icon on the taskbar, then click the gear icon to open Settings.
On Settings, choose Permissions & History on the left side menu. For Windows Cloud Search, View activity history, My device history, and My search history turn the dial to Off.
Next, click Home, then choose Privacy.
Click Speech, inking, & typing on the left side menu. Then, Turn off speech services and typing suggestions.
If you have Windows 10 Pro, open Cortana’s settings by clicking the gear icon. In the next settings panel, turn off every toggle.
At the very top, click on Change what Cortana knows about me in the cloud. Your operating system will fetch your Personal information in the Start panel. After loading, scroll to the very bottom, then click Clear.
Disable Cortana Completely
If you are not reliant on Cortana, you can disable it completely. Completely disabling Cortana is a little tricky. You will also have to follow different methods if you have Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro.
Disable Cortana in Windows 10 Home
In Windows 10 Home, you will have to venture into the Windows Registry. It can be intimidating to edit data in the registry. If you are still unsure, it is a good idea to back up registry keys or better yet create a restore point in case something breaks. However, if you follow the instructions below carefully, you will be able to disable Cortana in Windows 10 Home.
First, hit the Start Key, type regedit, then open it.
On the Registry Editor, navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > SOFTWARE > Policies > Microsoft > Windows. Make sure to select Windows. Right-click on the right panel. Choose New, then hit Key.
Rename the key into Windows Search, then hit enter.
In the right panel, right-click on an empty space. Choose New, then DWORD (32-bit) Value.
Rename the new entry as Allow Cortana.
Double-click the new entry. Then, enter 0 under Value data.
Restart your computer and Cortana will be replaced with “Search Windows.”
Disable Cortana in Windows 10 Pro
Disabling Cortana in Window 10 Pro is simple. Hit Window key + R on your keyboard, then type gpedit.msc.
Navigate to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Search. Look for Allow Cortana on the right pane and double-click it.
On the next window, choose Disabled. Then, click OK. It should disable Cortana on your system.
While having Cortana is convenient, you need to be more aware of how much information it gathers about you. Your operating system allows fine control of the personal assistance service so you can protect your privacy and personal information. Before doing any of the steps in this article, ensure that you create a restore point in case of problems.