Most people think that Cortana is just a tool to help you search the web for information, or your computer for files. Microsoft market Cortana as your personal digital assistant, and there are a whole host of useful things that you can do with Cortana, and here are some of our favourites.
If you have the ‘Hey Cortana’ voice shortcut enabled, Cortana is able to launch programs for you. For example to start Microsoft Word simply say “Hey Cortana, Launch Word” and Word will launch. This should work with pretty much any app or program on your device / PC.
Perform Calculations and conversions
Cortana is able to perform a whole host of calculations and conversions ranging from currencies to physical units, you can for example ask her to convert “55 degrees Fahrenheit to Celsius” or “100 Pounds Sterling to US dollars. For mathematical calculations something like “432 divide by 17” would give you the correct answer.
Identify a song
Many people will have used the Shazam app which allows you identify pieces of music simply by ‘listening’ to it, but you can also replicate this functionality with Cortana – simply type or say the phrase “What is this song” and hold your devices microphone up to the music source and Cortana will tell you what song this is.
Set Reminders For People, Places and Times
Cortana has a very versatile reminder feature, but most people don’t use it to its full potential. To set a reminder either click / tap the ‘Reminders’ or say ‘Remind Me’, you can then create a reminder and ask Cortana to remind you about something when you are at a specific location, at a specific time, or even when you are talking to a specific person if you are using a Cortana enabled Windows phone.
In addition to reminders, Cortana can also set alarms, simply activate Cortana and say “set alarm for…(Date & Time), and an alarm will
be created. If you omit the date then the alarm will be set for the next occurrence of the time you specified. The Alarms are saved in the ‘Alarms & Clocks’ app from they can be managed.
Cortana is able to utilise the Bing search engine to give you real world information, requests such as “What is the tallest mountain in the world” or “Who is the current President of the USA” will all yield the correct answer.
If you have the maps app, a GPS and a data connection you can also ask Cortana for directions to anywhere you want to go. After activating Cortana simply say “Directions to..(your chosen location)” and you will get a msp with directions back immediately.
One thing that Cortana is very good at is giving you updates on the current weather situation for most places in the world. Phrases such as “What is the weather like in London today” will give you a current and short range weather forecast. Just remember to be specific about where you want your weather forecast for – getting Perth in Scotland mixed up
with Perth in Australia could lead to a bit of trouble.
Add events to your calendar
If you use the Windows 10 calendar app Cortana can create events for you. Once activated simply say something along the lines of “add a meeting at 10am on Monday” to have it added to your calendar. If you’re not sure what information Cortana needs, just say “add meeting” and Cortana will prompt you for the information.
Have a chat
This last one is a bit of fun more than anything else – it’s actually possible to have a simple conversation with Cortana by asking her questions, try saying “tell me a joke”, or “open the pod bay doors”, try experimenting with different things to see what she has to say.