Microsoft doesn’t want you to disable Cortana. You used to be able to turn Cortana off in Windows 10, but Microsoft removed that easy toggle switch in the Anniversary Update. But you can still disable Cortana via a registry hack or group policy setting. This transforms the Cortana box into a “Search Windows” tool for local application and file searches.
Cortana has become increasingly restrictive since Windows 10’s release. It was previously updated to ignore your default web browser. Cortana now always launches the Microsoft Edge browser and only uses Bing when you search. If that sounds like something you wouldn’t want to use, here’s how to turn it off.
Home Users: Disable Cortana via the Registry
If you have Windows 10 Home, you’ll have to edit the Windows Registry to make these changes. You can also do it this way if you have Windows 10 Professional or Enterprise, but just feel more comfortable working in the Registry as opposed to Group Policy Editor. (If you have Pro or Enterprise, though, we recommend using the easier Group Policy Editor, as described in the next section.)
Standard warning: Registry Editor is a powerful tool and misusing it can render your system unstable or even inoperable. This is a pretty simple hack and as long as you stick to the instructions, you shouldn’t have any problems. That said, if you’ve never worked with it before, consider reading about how to use the Registry Editor before you get started. And definitely back up the Registry (and your computer!) before making changes.
First, open the Registry Editor by pressing Windows+R on your keyboard, typing “regedit” into the box, and pressing Enter.
Navigate to the following key in the left sidebar:
If you don’t see a “Windows Search” key (folder) below the Windows folder, right-click the Windows folder and select New > Key. Name it “Windows Search”.
Right-click the “Windows Search” key (folder) in the left pane and select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value.
Name the value “AllowCortana”. Double-click it and set the value to “0”.
You can now close the registry editor. You’ll have to sign out and sign back in or restart your computer before the change takes effect.
To undo your change and restore Cortana in the future, you can just return here, locate the “AllowCortana” value, and delete it or set it to “1”.
Download Our One-Click Registry Hack
Rather than editing the registry yourself, you can download our Disable Cortana registry hack. Just open the downloaded .zip file, double-click the “Disable Cortana.reg” file, and agree to add the information to your registry. We’ve also included an “Enable Cortana.reg” file if you’d like to undo the change and re-enable Cortana later.
You’ll have to sign out and sign back in–or restart your computer–before the change will take effect.
These .reg files just change the same registry settings we outlined above. If you’d like to see what this or any other .reg file will do before you run it, you can right-click the file .reg and select “Edit” to open it in Notepad. You can easily make your own Registry hacks.
Pro and Enterprise Users: Disable Cortana via Group Policy
If you’re using Windows 10 Professional or Enterprise, the easiest way to disable Cortana is by using the Local Group Policy Editor. It’s a pretty powerful tool, so if you’ve never used it before, it’s worth taking some time to learn what it can do. Also, if you’re on a company network, do everyone a favor and check with your admin first. If your work computer is part of a domain, it’s also likely that it’s part of a domain group policy that will supersede the local group policy, anyway.
First, launch the group policy editor by pressing Windows + R, typing “gpedit.msc” into the box, and pressing Enter.
Navigate to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Search.
Locate the “Allow Cortana” setting in the right pane and double-click it.
Set the Allow Cortana option to “Disabled” and then click “OK”.
You can now close the group policy editor. You’ll have to sign out and sign back in–or restart your PC–for this change to take effect.
To re-enable Cortana, return here, double-click the “Enable Cortana” setting, and change it to “Not Configured” or “Enabled”.