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How to uninstall Cortana

Cortana appearing in the start menu in Windows 10 on a Surface Pro
(Image credit: ymgerman / Shutterstock )

Want to uninstall Cortana? You've come to the right place, and we've got good news. It's pretty simple to shut down Microsoft's digital assistant, as the company continues to make it less and less prevalent on devices. 

Whether they're surrendering territory to Alexa, Google Assistant and (possibly?) Siri is a question to be answered another day: we've got complete instructions for both regular folks and power users alike, to help you uninstall Cortana to your liking. 

And now that Windows 11 is out, we can now confirm you have to enable Cortana in the new OS, as it isn't on by default. So, when you set up a new Windows 11 PC for the first time, you won't hear that annoying voice chime in with phrases such as "A little sign-in there, a touch of Wi-Fi there." And so we've now got instructions for how to enable and disable Cortana in Windows 11.

This feature is welcome news, as Windows 10 headlines continue to be more about frustrating updates that lead to bugs that crash systems and break functionality. But giving power back to the users? We're all in favor for these new options, which let you either uninstall the assistant's app or brave the command line to remove it like you're clearing gunk from the gutters.

It seems that Microsoft's not giving up on Cortana, though. Instead, we're seeing Cortana show up in other locations, such as Microsoft's mobile Microsoft 365 apps. So, yes, even though you can remove Cortana from PCs, it's still showing up inside the company's Outlook and Teams apps. 

There are two ways to disable Cortana, as outlined by Windows Latest. You can either stop it from automatically opening when you boot your PC (the easier way), or remove the new Cortana app from Windows 10 (which is a little harder). We've got full instructions below.

How to disable Cortana in Windows 10

  1. Use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Shift + Esc.
  2. In Task Manager, click the Startup column.
  3. Select Cortana.
  4. Click Disable.
  5. Then, open the Start menu.
  6. Find Cortana under All Apps.
  7. Right-click on Cortana.
  8. Select More. 
  9. Click on App settings.
  10. Turn off the switch next to 'Runs at log-in.'

How to uninstall the Cortana app in Windows 10

These steps require a little tinkering, so a word of caution. Since you're going to be poking around in PowerShell, back up your system first. Our best cloud backup solutions provide easy ways to protect your data.

  1. Open the Start Menu and type in PowerShell.
  2. Right click on Windows PowerShell.
  3. Select 'Run as administrator'.
  4. Type the following text (minus the ' marks) in: 'Get-AppxPackage -allusers Microsoft.549981C3F5F10 | Remove-AppxPackage'
  5. Press Enter.

Of course, power users set on eradicating Cortana will need to dive even deeper into Windows Registry — which is even more risky for everyday users. Since it's less necessary and a bit dangerous, we recommend skipping that part. 

You've already shut Cortana up and removed its app presence. That should be enough for some extra peace of mind. 

How to install Cortana in Windows 11

Windows 11 doesn't even have Cortana active by default. But, what if, just play along with us here, you wanted to enable Cortana in Windows 11?

Fortunately, it's really easy. 

  1. Click Windows + I (that's an I not an L) to open Settings.
  2. Select Apps from the left menu. 
  3. Select Apps and Features on the right menu.
  4. Scroll to Cortana, click the three dots icon and select Advanced options
  5. Turn the "Run at Log-in" toggle to the ON position.

How to disable Cortana in Windows 11

Realized you are already sick of Cortana? You can disable it just as easily.

  1. Click Windows + I (that's an I not an L) to open Settings.
  2. Select Apps from the left menu. 
  3. Select Apps and Features on the right menu.
  4. Scroll to Cortana, click the three dots icon and select Advanced options
  5. Flip the "Run at Log-in" toggle to the OFF position.
Henry T. Casey

Henry is a senior editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past six-plus years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.

  • dark lord of ram
    Now if only they could release an update that allows you to turn off windows update. and microsoft security essentials. and all the other garbage they have installed on most pre-builds! Ha
    Reply
  • gernot66
    Thanks a lot, it's always cool to receive an advice which really works.
    Reply
  • ryanthack
    So I do everything and I still get Cortana show up in my Processes under the Task Manager. I've done everything and it still pops up under

    C:\Windows\SystemApps\Microsoft.Windows.Cortana_cw5n1h2txyewy

    I'm trying to delete the whole folder. Changed permissions and all but it won't delete. Some advice would be really appreciated.

    Even when I give my user account full access to the folder and subfolders and try to delete it, it says along the lines "need permission from your user account to delete" when it's exactly the account I'm logged into. What gives?

    Ending the process on task manager just makes it come up again as well.
    Reply
  • gernot66
    hmm... i never saw this "girl". there is a reason i use the "win 10 debloater" it's recently a quite comfortable java script (last year it was a script to be executed by commandline) which will disable cortana and other annoying stuff ppl like me don't like to see or don't like to have running in background. but of course "at your own risk" you can find the debloater here: 8E6OT_QcHaUView: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8E6OT_QcHaU
    Reply
  • DevilByMoonlight
    ryanthack said:
    So I do everything and I still get Cortana show up in my Processes under the Task Manager. I've done everything and it still pops up under

    C:\Windows\SystemApps\Microsoft.Windows.Cortana_cw5n1h2txyewy

    I'm trying to delete the whole folder. Changed permissions and all but it won't delete. Some advice would be really appreciated.

    Even when I give my user account full access to the folder and subfolders and try to delete it, it says along the lines "need permission from your user account to delete" when it's exactly the account I'm logged into. What gives?

    Ending the process on task manager just makes it come up again as well.

    timing is key to kill this one... this is how I did it:

    locate the cortana folder - rename it - a 'requester' will pop up , click through it the rename will fail and you will get a 'retry' one... dont cancel it! leave it open - at this point you want your task manager open select the cortana process and kill it and quickly click ok on the retry requester - if your quick enough you will rename the folder before the process has a chance to start back up and cortana will not be able to restart - but bare in mind the string gadgets used for file searches on your windows explorer windows will no longer work but I can live with that rather than have that self corrupting, file system mangling pain in the butt running
    Reply