Disable Cortana in Windows 10

If you try to disable Cortana in Windows 10, you’ll find that the easy toggle setting was removed in Windows 10’s Anniversary Update. However, if you don’t like Cortana, you can still disable her completely.

Cortana is Microsoft’s virtual digital assistant. She’s Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s Siri and Google’s Assistant. Cortana can help you with many different tasks, such as reminders, managing your calendar, tracking packages and flights, and finding information. But she can also be annoying if all you want to do is a simple search.

Cortana on the Taskbar

You used to be able to turn Cortana off in Windows 10’s settings, but Microsoft doesn’t want you to turn her off. So they’ve made it less obvious how to do it.

Switch Between The Cortana Icon & The Cortana Search Box

You may see the full Cortana search box, instead of the Cortana icon, on the Taskbar. To switch between the two, right-click on any empty spot on the Taskbar.

Then, go to “Cortana” > “Show search box” to show the full Cortana search box on the Taskbar. To go back to the Cortana icon, select “Show Cortana icon“.

Switch to the Cortana search box

Disable Cortana Using The Local Group Policy Editor

If you’re using Windows 10 Professional or Enterprise, you can use the Local Group Policy Editor to disable Cortana. This is the easiest method.

To open the Local Group Policy Editor, press “Windows key+R” to open the “Run” dialog box. Then, type “gpedit.msc” (without the quotes) in the “Open” box and click “OK” or press “Enter“.

Open the Local Group Policy Editor using the Run dialog box

In the Local Group Policy Editor, use the left pane to navigate to the following branch:

Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Search

Double-click the “Allow Cortana” property in the right pane.

Double-click on the AllowCortana property

On the “Allow Cortana” property sheet, select the “Disabled” option and click “OK“.

Select Disabled for the AllowCortana property

You can view the state of the “Allow Cortana” property. Click the “Standard” tab at the bottom of the right pane to hide the description to the left of the list of properties.

Click the Standard tab

Notice that the “State” of the “Allow Cortana” property is listed as “Disabled” now.

State of the AllowCortana property

To close the Local Group Policy Editor, go to “File” > “Exit” or click the “X” button in the upper-right corner of the window.

Close the Local Group Policy Editor

You have to sign out of your account and sign back in for the change to take effect. To sign out, open the Start menu, click the user icon, and then select “Sign out” from the pop-up menu.

You can also restart your computer to finish disabling Cortana.

Sign out of your Windows user account

When Cortana is disabled, the Search icon is available in its place.

Search button on Taskbar

To enable Cortana again, simply select “Enabled” or “Not Configured” on the “Allow Cortana” property sheet in the Local Group Policy Editor.

Disable Cortana Using The Registry Editor

If you’re using Windows 10 Home, you will need to make a change to the registry to disable Cortana. The change we’re going to show how to make is a simple one, but if you’re not comfortable manually changing the registry, you can use our registry file discussed in the next section.

NOTE: You can also use the registry method if you’re using the Professional or Enterprise versions of Windows 10, if you’re comfortable using the registry.

To open the Local Group Policy Editor, press “Windows key+R” to open the “Run” dialog box. Then, type “regedit” (without the quotes) in the “Open” box and click “OK” or press “Enter“.

Open the Registry Editor using the Run dialog box

If the User Account Control dialog box displays, click “Yes” to continue.

NOTE: You may not see this dialog box, depending on your User Account Control settings. We don’t recommend disabling UAC entirely, however.

User Account Control dialog box for Registry Editor

In the Registry Editor, use the left pane to navigate to the following key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Windows Search

Then, double-click on the “AllowCortana” value in the right pane.

NOTE: If you don’t see the “Windows Search” key or the “AllowCortana” value, skip to the “Create a New Key And Value In The Registry” section following this one.

Navigate to the Windows Search key

On the “Edit DWORD (32-bit) Value” dialog box

Change the AllowCortana value to zero (0)

Create a New Key & Value In The Registry

If you don’t see a “Windows Search” key below the “Windows” key, right-click the Windows folder and go to “New” > “Key“.

Go to New > Key

Name the new key “Windows Search”.

Rename the new key

Then, right-click the “Windows Search” key in the left pane and go to “New” > “DWORD (32-bit) Value“.

Create a new DWORD value

Name the new value “AllowCortana”.

Rename the new DWORD value

Change The AllowCortana Value

By default, the “AllowCortana” value is set to “0“, which disables Cortana.

The AllowCortana value is zero (0) by default

Close The Registry Editor

To close the Local Group Policy Editor, go to “File” > “Exit” or click the “X” button in the upper-right corner of the window.

Close the Registry Editor

Sign Out Of Windows

You have to sign out of your account and sign back in for the change to take effect. To sign out, open the Start menu, click the user icon, and then select “Sign out” from the pop-up menu.

You can also restart your computer to finish disabling Cortana.

Sign out of your Windows user account

To enable Cortana again, open the Registry Editor, return to the Windows Search key and set the “AllowCortana” to “1“.

Disable Cortana Using a Registry (.reg) File

If you’re uncomfortable manually editing the registry, you can download our registry file to automatically make the change. The .zip file contains two .reg files, one to disable Cortana and one to enable it.

To disable Cortana, extract the files from the “Disable-Enable-Cortana.zip” file and double-click on the “Disable Cortana.reg” file.

Double-click the .reg file

If the User Account Control dialog box displays, click “Yes” to continue.

NOTE: You may not see this dialog box, depending on your User Account Control settings. We don’t recommend disabling UAC entirely, however.

User Account Control dialog box for .reg file

A warning dialog box displays warning you about making changes to the registry. We tested our .reg files and they work just fine. So, click “Yes” to continue.

Registry Editor confirmation dialog box

Once the change is made, a confirmation dialog box displays. Click “OK” to close it.

Registry keys successfully added

Disable Cortana On The Lock Screen

The Windows Anniversary Update enabled Cortana on the lock screen, assuming you didn’t disable it completely using one of the above mentioned methods.

If you like using Cortana, but you don’t want it bothering you on the lock screen, you can disable it there without removing it from the Taskbar.

You may not see Cortana in the upper-left corner of your screen. If not, you can talk to activate it.

Cortana on the lock screen

To disable Cortana on the lock screen, open Cortana on the Taskbar and click the gear icon.

Click the Cortana Settings button

Click the “Use Cortana even when my device is locked” slider button.

Disable Cortana on the lock screen

The slider button will turn black and read “Off“. To return to Cortana, click the “Home” button.

You can also click anywhere outside of the Cortana pane to close it.

Now, you won’t see Cortana on the lock screen. If you didn’t disable it on the Taskbar as we described earlier, Cortana will still be available on the Taskbar.

Cortana disabled on lock screen

Do you use Cortana or do you find it annoying? Do you like the addition of Cortana to the lock screen in the Windows Anniversary Update? Let us know in the comments.

Lori Kaufman
Freelance technical writer living in the Sacramento, CA area. A gadget and tech geek who loves to write how-to articles about a wide range of topics. Loves watching and reading mysteries, cross stitching, attending musical theatre, and is an avid Doctor Who fan.