FIX: Can’t activate Cortana in Windows 10

Ivan Jenic
by Ivan Jenic
Troubleshooting Expert
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  • If you can't activate Cortana on your device, make sure the assistant is available in the region. 
  • We're showing you what other things you can try to be able to use this app.
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can't activate cortana

Windows 10 brought so many improvements and features, and one of the most anticipated was Microsoft’s personal assistant called Cortana.

With all the excitement around the launch, activating Cortana in Windows 10 proves troublesome right from the start for some users.

Here are some system errors that one can face when trying to activate the OS assistant:

  • Cortana missing Windows 10 
  • Can’t find Cortana 
  • No Cortana Windows 10 
  • Can’t turn Cortana in Windows 10 
  • Can’t enable Hey Cortana 

So, we’ve put together a few solutions that should help you deal with this issue.

What can I do if Cortana won’t activate on Windows 10?

  1. Check the region settings
  2. Disable the antivirus
  3. Check for updates
  4. Check your Microsoft account
  5. Run the Search troubleshooter
  6. Turn on the location
  7. Reset the Cortana process
  8. Reinstall Cortana

1.  Check the region settings

According to Microsoft, Cortana is available in the USA, UK, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Japan, Australia, India, and China.

So if Cortana isn’t working for you, you probably aren’t located in the country that supports it.

But there’s a simple trick to still enable the assistant and here’s what you need to do:

  1. Open Settings and go to Time & Language.
  2. Click on Region and Language from the sidebar.
  3. Find Country or region option, and select a country from the list that supports Cortana. Can't find Cortana 
  4. Save your settings.

This is a neat little trick that lets you try Cortana even if you’re in a country that doesn’t have support for it.

We have to warn you that changing your system country or region might have some consequences such as a change in the default currency, or time and date format.

In addition, Microsoft Store might show you the apps designed for your newly-selected country.

If you need to download an app available only in your initial country or make a purchase, you can easily switch it to your original country as we showed before.


2. Disable the antivirus

fix cortana activation

Third-party antivirus programs are sometimes a silent blocker of Windows 10 features. Sure, the antivirus will keep you safe from malicious attacks, but it can also disable some vital system functions.

To see if Cortana is among those functions, disable your antivirus for a couple of minutes, and try to activate Cortana again.

If you succeed, your problem is solved.

However, it is dangerous to leave your device unprotected especially since you can find tools such as VIPRE that protect your system without much interfering.

This antivirus offers powerful real-time protection against all kinds of known and emerging online threats, with little false positives. In other words, it won’t mistakenly block safe apps to be threatening ones.

So when it comes to new apps, VIPRE will scan them before installation to ensure they are safe, but won’t interfere unless it’s strictly necessary.

VIPRE Antivirus Plus

VIPRE Antivirus Plus

Choose this powerful antivirus that protects your system without blocking the installations of new apps or features.
Free trial Visit website

3. Check for updates

manually update cortana

Microsoft delivers Cortana updates through Windows Update. So, if there’s something wrong with the virtual assistant, there’s a good chance Microsoft is working on a fix and will push it through Windows Update.

You can also manually see if any updates are available, by going to the Update & Security section of your system Settings and hitting the Check for updates.


4. Check your Microsoft account

check your Microsoft account

Just like it’s the case with numerous other Microsoft features and products, Cortana is tightly connected to your Microsoft account.

So, if you’re not signed in properly, you won’t be able to take the full advantage of using Cortana.

To remove the doubt, log out and log back into the Microsoft account, and try to activate Cortana once again.

If you’re having problems signing in with your Microsoft Account, check this article.


5. Run the Search troubleshooter

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Head over to Updates & Security, then to Troubleshoot.
  3. Click Search and Indexing, and click Run the troubleshooter.Can't enable Hey Cortana 
  4. Wait for the process to finish.
  5. Restart your computer.

6. Turn on the location

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Head over to Privacy, then to  Location.
  3. If the Location service is turned off, you’ll see the message Location for this device is off. 
  4. Click Change, and toggle location On.Cortana missing Windows 10 
  5. Restart your computer.

7.  Restart the Cortana process

end cortana from task manager

  1. Right-click the taskbar, and go to Task Manager.
  2. Scroll down through the list of processes, and locate Cortana.
  3. Click the Cortana process, and go to End Task.
  4. Restart your computer.

8. Reinstall Cortana

  1. Go to Search, type powershell, and open PowerShell as Administrator.
  2. Type in the following command, and press Enter: Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register "$($_.InstallLocation)AppXManifest.xml"}Can't turn Cortana in Windows 10 
  3. Wait for the process to finish.
  4. Restart your computer.

Let us know if one of these solutions helped you activated Cortana on your Windows 10 devices. You can use the comments sections.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2015 and was completely revamped and updated in October 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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  • I had tried this method a few weeks ago & Cortana was successfully activated. As I didn’t find her useful, I decided to revert back to the original Region & Language settings to “deactivate” her. This screwed up my Windows 10 as Cortana refused to “go away” and the graphics on the Cortana UI (those buttons on the left side) all went black/blank and I was unable to fix it. I tried reinstalling drivers, or resetting the Region & Language back to United States but to no avail.

    I couldn’t stand using a broken Windows 10 & went back to Windows 8.1.

    Peace at last.

  • On the Windows sign in states you can use password are the pin I created this a farce no dialog box opens for the pin he placed the pen in the password box, it still wants the very! very! Very!!!! old password I’ve already stated was forgotten it’s lost it’s gone the pin never comes up to be used. Thought Windows 10 was supposed be something special it’s crap. I no longer feel secure had to enter so many passwords create pins, nothing works why I’ve now been working on this issue 48 hours if it doesn’t start working soon I’m going back to Google are buy an Apple.

  • I’ve been trying to activate many of the features in Windows 10 found it difficult since what ever password it alleges is a matter I no longer have. I’ve had such difficulty signing in and I’ve change that passwords least 10 times this last password I’m only able to sign in but not access anything because he wants my old password, I do not remember its been changed so many times I have no clue as to what they’re asking for I cannot active anything very frustrated need help if the old password is dead whatever it is I’ve set a new one please stop asking for old password.