Not everyone finds Cortana, the Windows Virtual and Personal Assistant as useful as it may seem. Even though it might make life easier for some, but it can also annoy someone who isn’t its frequent user.
There was an option before in the form of a toggle to easily disable Cortana but now it looks like there isn’t one, once you update to the Windows 10 Anniversary Update or after. Anyhow, Windows allows you the freedom to do whatever you want, even it means having to use some workarounds. Microsoft does allow you to disable voice recognition or the keyboard shortcut to activate it, but completely disabling Cortana seems to be really difficult.
If you are worried about Cortana collecting your personal data, then you can just disable that feature by going in the settings. Else, you might find one of these ways to be helpful.
Try disabling Cortana Temporarily
In case you do find Cortana helpful sometimes, but don’t want to lose her forever, you can set to activate her manually by disabling her for some time being. Through this measure, Cortana won’t be actually removed from your System but would lie there until you are need of its assistance. To do this, just choose the search box present on the taskbar or press the Windows key which will bring it up automatically.
Now search for Cortana there, and when the search comes up with an option like Cortana & Search Settings, choose that. Then click on Talk to Cortana, and then just toggle the Hey Cortana option to turn it off. You can also toggle the Keyboard Shortcut to off state as well.
Through this way, your search experience would remain intact, only that you won’t be annoyed by unintentional responses by Cortana. This way, you can also turn it on too when you want.
Preventing Cortana from storing your personal habits
In this era, privacy can be an issue since your very own personal assistant is secretly storing all your recording and search habits, along with history. You might trust Microsoft and its employees, but what if this data fell into the hands of someone else. One way is to completely disable Cortana, but you can just turn off the settings that allow Cortana to do so, without disabling it.
Again type Cortana in the Windows Search Box, and then choose Cortana and Search Settings. After that click on Permissions and History and once there you can safely toggle everything off. Though there is more to do. Therefore, at the top of the page, choose to Manage the information Cortana can access from this device. Turn all the toggles off there as well. Then choose Speech, inking, & typing privacy settings. There choose to Turn off speech services and typing suggestions. Go back to the Cortana settings page, and then click on Change what Cortana knows about me in the cloud. It will list up everything that Cortana might have collected about you, and you can simply clear that by scrolling to the bottom and selecting Clear.
This way, you would be able to still use Cortana without any worries about your personal data being recorded.
Completely Disable Cortana
If you aren’t satisfied with the above-mentioned steps and just want to get rid of Cortana altogether, then there is a simple solution: Just Disable it once and for all.
Though, we would still like you to take caution before these steps since they involve tweaking the Windows Registry. Any unintentional changes other than the ones listed below, can corrupt your Registry and leave your computer unstable.
First, of you need to open the Windows Registry Editor. To do bring up the Run Dialog Box, by Pressing Windows Key + R at the same time. Alternatively, you can right-click on the start button, and choose Run from there.
Once the dialog box appears, type in regedit and then press enter. On the User Account Control Window that might pop up, click on Yes.
Alas, you are now in the Windows Registry. There just navigate to HKEY_Local_Machine > SOFTWARE > Policies > Microsoft > Windows.
There, just Right-Click on the Windows Directory and select New > Key, and then name it Windows Search.
Once the Windows Key is created, right-click on it, and this time select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value, and name it AllowCortana.
Now Double-Click on Allow Cortana and the set the value to zero i.e. 0. Once all this is done, just close the Registry Editor Window and properly restart your computer instead of shutting it down and booting up again.
This was it really, even if you don’t know much about the registry, if you follow these steps, you won’t face a problem.