How to Turn Off Cortana in Windows 10 Versions 1703, 1607, 1511, 1507 ?

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To disable Cortana in Windows 10 there are several ways. But, before that, we must make sure it doesn’t interfere with the search feature. It only takes around 30 to 40 MB of RAM memory and not much of processing power. So think twice, before turning off Cortana in Creators update, as it is difficult to get it back again.

What is Cortana?

Cortana is a digital assistant provided in the new Windows 10 OS. You use your speech to search for anything on Internet and your PC using Cortana.

For example, if you want to know the temperature of the day. Then simply you can talk through your mic and ask the question, “What is today’s temperature “. If location services are enabled and your location is San Francisco, then Cortana will search in Bing and answer the results in voice mode.

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But this personal digital assistant is being used for the wrong reasons. This can collect some personal information, for better suggestions, advertising related, marketing purpose etc,  if the default values are left alone. Sometimes it is much easier to type then talking.  Sometimes, the Cortana search results are also absurd.

If you want to disable Cortana after Windows 10 Creators update, for all the above wrong reasons, then you can do it like this.

How to Turn off Cortana after Windows 10 Creators Update?

On April 5th, 2017 the third major update of Windows 10 was released code named – Creators update. The following are the different methods to turn off Cortana in this version.

Method #1 : Using Registry Editor (All Windows 10 Editions)

  1. Open Registry Editor. (Press Win + R key and in the run box type “regedit”. In my computer, the reg window is not automatically activated, but sits in the taskbar. You just have to click on reg icon in the taskbar, to activate it).
  2. Go to the following Registry key:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Windows Search (By default the last key – Windows Search is not there for most of the users. Then you have to create that key).
  3. Select “Windows Search” key and Right-click on the right.
  4. Select New – DWORD (32-bit) value in the menu as shown below.
  5. Create a new 32-bit DWORD value here named “AllowCortana” and leave its value data as 0.
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Note: Even if you are running Windows 10 64-bit, you need to create a 32-bit DWORD value.
Now, restart Windows 10 and you are done.

Cortana will become disabled. While the SearchUI process will still remain in the process list, Cortana won’t be functional and won’t consume system resources. This will work for all editions of Windows 10 like Home, Pro and Enterprise.

Method #2: Using Group Policy Editor (For Enterprise and Pro Editions only)

  1. Click Start, type gpedit.msc and hit enter.
  2. Navigate to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Search.
  3. Locate Allow Cortana on the right hand side panel and double-click on it to open the relevant policy.
  4. Select Disabled.
  5. Click Apply and OK to turn off Cortana.

Method #3: Renaming Cortana System Apps folder

The Cortana app will still run in the background, though not using any resources, using the above two methods.

You may absolutely want it to be disabled, though it is not of much problem. Actually it is the “SearchUI.exe” service that runs using the Cortana name.

For complete disabling  Cortana app, you need to rename “Microsoft.Windows.Cortana_cw5n1h2txyewy” folder in “C:\Windows\SystemApps” folder.

But SearchUI.exe file still runs in background. Since it is an active process, Windows 10 will not allow you to rename this folder. You’ll get an error message that “The action can’t be completed because the folder or a file in it is open in another program. Close the folder or file and try again.”.

Keep the error message dialog box opened.

  • Open Task Manager by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Esc keys together or by right-clicking on Taskbar.
  • Select “Task Manager” option.
  • Now select Cortana from the background processes list.
  • Press Delete key or click on “End Task” button.
  • Now immediately (literally like within 1 or 2 seconds) click on “Try Again” button present in “Folder in Use” error message dialog box.
  • You can now rename Cortana folder.

The SearchUI.exe file and Cortana process will no longer run in background.

Method #4 : Using PowerShell and Elevated Command Prompt to Deregister Cortana App

In elevated PowerShell:

Get-AppxPackage | Select Name, PackageFullName
Remove-AppxPackage Microsoft.Windows.Cortana_1.4.8.176_neutral_neutral_cw5n1h2txyewy

Download the tool called win6x_registry_tweak. Now open a command prompt with admin rights in the folder of the downloaded exe and run this command:

install_wim_tweak.exe /o /c Microsoft-Windows-Cortana /r

This command removes the 3 cortana packages (Cortana main package, language pack and PAL package):


After a reboot your Windows is cortana free.

WARNING – This will totally eliminate and disable Cortana. It’s not easy to get back the Cortana app feature again.

So, make a full backup or create a system resotre point, if you later want to restore it.
If you have not done any backup, use those steps to generate the CABs for your Build. Replace Flash with the MUM names of the Cortana packages. You need to generate CABs for all Cortana MUM files like here the x86 MUMs for Build 14393.


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Method #5 : Using Cortana Trough Registry

Moreover, you can make a simple registry tweak to resolve Cortana issues. According to some users, this proved as a most fruitful solution for the multitude of issues. Follow these instructions to perform this simple registry tweak:

  1. In the Search Windows bar, type regedit.
  2. Right-click regedit and Run as Administrator.
  3. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER > SOFTWARE >Microsoft >Windows > CurrentVersion >Search.
  4. Change the BingSearchEnabled value from 1 to 0.
    Make sure all of the Cortana flags are set to 0 instead of 1.

Restart PC and check out Cortana again.


Method #6 : Sign out of Microsoft Account in Cortana

  1. Click the Cortana icon in the task bar.
  2. On the left hand side, you see the notebook icon.
  3. On the top is the “About me” section.
  4. If you are already using Cortana, then you are already signed into your Microsoft account in Cortana.
  5. To disable Cortana, just sign out of it.

In Windows 10 latest version, Cortana will not work without the Microsoft account. But you can use it for local personalized searches.

The above YouTube shows the way to turn off Cortana in Windows 10 Creators update using group policy editor.


How to Turn Off Cortana after Windows 10 Anniversary Update?

On Aug 2, 2016 a new feature update was released to the 350 or so million users, who have installed or upgraded to Windows 10. This new version is called as Anniversary Update and given the version number 1607.

Earlier when Windows 10 was initially released, there was a switch to turn off Cortana. But in 1607 update, you have to go round about to stop Cortana from running in the background.

The steps for Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise edition are the same as mentioned for Creators update. (method #2 mentioned above)

For this you need to use the Group Policy Editor provided in Windows. This is available when you have administrative privileges on your computer. But if you are using Windows 10 Home, then you need to use method #1, mentioned above.

You can also try the other methods of 1703 version, if they are possible in Anniversary Upgrade version.


How to Turn of Cortana in Windows 10 Threshold 1 (1507) and Threshold 2 (1511) versions ?

There are two methods that work in the initial release of Windows 10.

Method #1

  1. Open Cortana, click the Notebook icon in its left-hand options pane.
    Select Settings from the list.
  2. A bunch of options will appear.
  3. You’ll want to slide “Cortana can give you suggestions, ideas, reminders, alerts and more” to off.
  4. This disables the assistant on the PC and removes all locally stored data she knows about you.

The above YouTube video shows the options to switch off Cortana in Windows 10 release and November update version.

But Cortana services are based in the cloud. You also want to wipe out your privacy data saved till now, from Microsoft’s servers also.

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To do this, you can do the following.

  • Click the “Manage what Cortana knows about me in the cloud” link.
  • Your default browser will open to your personalization settings page in Bing.
  • Now press the Clear buttons in the “Clear personal info” and “Other Cortana data and personalized speech, inking and typing” sections.
  • Also, if you allowed Cortana access to your location info, consider following the link to Bing Maps to wipe that, as well.

If you strictly concerned about your Privacy and personalized data stored in Microsoft’ servers, you can do the following.

  • Open the Start menu and head to Settings > Privacy. Switch off the options that allow Windows 10 to collect your personal data.
  • Also, the “Sync your settings” submenu in Start menu > Settings > Accounts switch can help you there.

Method #2

The second option is by launching the Settings app > Privacy > Speech, inking, & typing.
Click “Stop getting to know me“.


Knowledge Tips on Cortana

While different websites and forums provided different methods to turn off Cortana based on Windows 10 Versions 1703, 1607, 1511, 1507, some unknown information about it, is also to be noted.

  • One can only disable Cortana per device.
  • You disable the digital assistant in Windows 10 PC and cannot expect to be turned off on Windows 10 Mobile.
  • The name you set Cortana in notebook setting, to call you is also set per device, not globally.
  • You can clear data and personal information that Microsoft collects using Cortana. But there is no magic button to stop collecting information globally in your Microsoft account.
  • To stop Microsoft to store personal information in the cloud, turn off Cortana on all your devices. Then clear all your personal information from your Microsoft account.
  • If you disable Cortana in one device, then you clear your information stored online. But if you have another device using Cortana, then that personal data will once again be uploaded and stored in your account.
  • Turning off Cortana will make Windows 10 less efficient in trying to make better suggestions for you. The simple search bar on the taskbar will still continue to work.
  • Since you disable Cortana, the search icon and feature won’t disappear. Simple searches (locally and from the web) will still work.
  • If you are using Windows 10 1507 or 1511 version, you can always turn on Cortana by opening search on the taskbar, going to the Settings section of the left panel, and sliding the pill switch to the On position. You can also do it via the Settings app > Privacy > Speech, inking, & typing and clicking the “Get to know me” button.
  • But in 1607 and 1703 version, you need to re-install and re-register some Cortana packages to make it work again. There is no simple solution.

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