Some Everyday Uses for Cortana on Windows 10

How to put Cortana to work for you on a daily basis

Cortana gretting
Cortana, Microsoft's digital personal assistant, is built into Windows 10. Microsoft

I've always been a fan of personal digital assistants like Google Now and Siri, but they didn't really become part of my productive workday until Microsoft built Cortana into Windows 10. Now I have an automated assistant that's always with me on whatever device I'm using.

If you haven't tried Cortana yet on a Windows 10 PC, you really should. Even if you don't have a microphone to use the "Hey Cortana" command, you can still type requests into the Cortana search box in the taskbar.

Here are some ways you can use Cortana on Windows 10 every single day.

"Hey Cortana, Remind Me To..."

For me, the most important Cortana feature is the ability to set reminders. Let's say you need to buy milk after work. Instead of reaching for your phone, just use Cortana on your PC to set a reminder.

Cortana will ask if you want to set the reminder based on a time or place such as when leaving the office. Select the place-based reminder and on the way home you'll get a notice on your smartphone to pick up milk--as long as you have a Windows phone or the Cortana app for Android or iOS.

The neatest reminders feature, however, only works on Windows 10 mobile and PCs right now. Upon request, Cortana can flash a reminder when you next communicate with someone. Imagine you wanted to talk to your cousin Joe about going to Florida in the summer. Just say, "Hey Cortana, the next time I talk to Joe remind me to mention Florida."

Cortana would then search your contacts for Joe and set a reminder. A week later when Joe calls or sends a text, Cortana will pop up the reminder.

Missed Call Alerts and SMS on Your PC

Cortana on your PC can alert you whenever you miss a call on your phone. Once again, you'll need the Cortana app on a Windows or Android phone--this feature is not available on iOS.

To set it up click on Cortana on your PC, and then click on the notebook icon on the left-hand side.

Now choose Settings and scroll down to the heading, "Missed call notifications." Move the slider to On and you're ready to go.

The Cortana phone-PC combo can also send SMS messages from your PC via your phone. Get started by saying "Hey Cortana, send a text."

Open an App

When you're in the middle of a focused work session it's often faster to let Cortana open programs than doing it yourself. This can be for something as frivolous as launching a music app such as Spotify to more productive uses like opening Outlook.

Send an Email

When you need to fire off a quick email Cortana can do it for you by just typing or saying "send an email." I wouldn't advise using this feature for long messages, but it's a great feature for confirming a meeting time or asking a quick question. If that quick message becomes more involved Cortana has an option to continue in the Mail app.

News Updates

Cortana can also help find the latest news about a politician, a favorite sports team, a specific company, or many other topics.

Try something like, "Hey Cortana, what's the latest on the New York Jets." Cortana will show a selection of recent stories about the football team and even read the first headline to you.

This feature works for most subjects, but sometimes Cortana will push you off to a web search in the browser instead of presenting top news stories.

Those are just some of the features you can use every day when you're at your desk, but there's far more to Cortana for PCs. Check out everything Microsoft's digital personal assistant can do by clicking on the Cortana search box or icon on the taskbar. Then click on the question mark icon on the left-hand side of the panel that pops up to get a helpful list of possible Cortana commands.