Voice-activated virtual assistants like Cortana, Alexa, Siri, etc are wonderful to keep up with your busy schedule. They make our work easier and quicker and thus they have become a very important part of our daily routine. But do you know these virtual assistants with the voice-activation feature are also digital spies?
Since you have given them access to your microphone, they can hear everything you say or talk in front of your PC or mobile device. This luxury can actually cost you privacy. Here we are talking about Cortana, it is indeed one of the best features of our Windows PCs, it’s convenient and also helps in increasing productivity. I myself have been using Cortana for many things like performing web searches, searching or opening files from my computer, getting the weather update, and much more but lately I realized that Cortana can hear everything I say and that’s a kind of breach in my privacy.
Well, what to do then? Shall we stop using Cortana?
No, absolutely not. You can simply use it without voice commands. Yes, you can turn off the Voice Activation feature for Cortana and still use it as your virtual assistant.
How to turn off Voice Activation for Cortana
Cortana is simply an app on your PC and you can turn off the voice activation feature for Cortana just like any other app. Press Win+I to open your PC Settings.
Go to Privacy & Security and from the right pane, scroll down and go to App Permissions and click on Microphone.
Under Microphone, go to the apps that have access to Microphone and locate Cortana. The apps here are displayed alphabetically so you can easily locate Cortana. Toggle the switch off as shown in the screenshot below.
This is how we can revoke Cortana’s access to our microphone. Now we have to check if the voice activation is enabled for Cortana and turn it off. Go to the Privacy & Security tab once again from your PC Settings and click on Voice Activation from the right pane.
Here you can check what all apps from your PC have requested the Voice Activation feature. Cortana will certainly be on the list. Toggle the switch off and close the Settings.
Use Cortana without Voice Commands
Now the voice activation feature and microphone access are turned off for Cortana, that doesn’t mean that you cannot use the service anymore. You can still enjoy the convenience of Cortana in a new way.
Type Cortana in the Windows Search box to open it, or if you are a regular user of Cortana, you must be having it pinned on your Taskbar.
Open the Cortana app and instead of using the microphone or voice activation feature, you can simply type your commands.
Perform a Web Search using Cortana
If you want to search for anything over the web, simply type your search in the given box and Cortana will open the results with Bing, which is the official search engine of Microsoft. If you want to use Google, you can first give a command to Cortana ‘Open Google’, and then type your search keyword.
Create an appointment using Cortana
To create an appointment and make Cortana remind you, you can click on Add an appointment for tomorrow, Cortana will go through your Calendar and create the appointment accordingly.
Or you can simply type your event or appointment and Cortana will add it to your Microsoft To-Do List and will automatically create a reminder too.
Find files or folders with Cortana
If you want to find any file on your PC, type Find followed by the document name and document type. For example, if I want to look for the resume stored as a PDF file on my PC, I will type Find Resume PDF and Cortana will open all the PDF files with the Resume title.
Similarly, you can perform all your tasks with your virtual assistant Cortana without using the voice command. Yes, it won’t be as convenient as giving voice commands but when it is about our privacy, I think it’s a good option.
Where is Cortana data stored?
Your Cortana data is stored in the Microsoft Cloud and you can check it from your dashboard. Apart from your data like your searches, calendar, contacts, and location, Cortana also saves your chat history which you can delete from Settings. Click on the three dots on the Cortana app and go to Settings->Privacy-> Clear data/Clear chat.
Is Cortana always listening?
By default, Cortana is not always listening but If it is open and you have permitted it to access your microphone, it is listening, no matter whether you are giving it the command or talking to anyone else. You can easily revoke the microphone access from the Settings and protect your privacy.