Fix: Can’t activate Cortana in Windows 10

By: Ivan Jenic
4 minute read

Windows 10 brought so many improvements and features, and one of the most anticipated was Microsoft personal assistant called Cortana. Although Cortana sounds amazing, some users are reporting that they can’t activate Cortana in Windows 10, so let’s see if we can fix that.

But first, here are some more examples of this problem:

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

Unable to activate Cortana in Windows 10: What to do?

Table of contents: 

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

Fix: Unable to activate Cortana in Windows 10

Solution 1 – Check the region settings

According to Microsoft, Cortana is available in USA, UK, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, and China. Microsoft plans to expand the number of supported countries in the following months by adding support for Cortana to Japan, Australia, Canada (English only), and India (English only). In addition, later this year Cortana should be available in Brazil, Mexico, and Canada (French). 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 enable Cortana even if aren’t located in a country that doesn’t have Cortana support.

So, 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. For example, if you want to use Cortana in English, select United States.Can't find Cortana 
  4. Save your settings, and that’s it.

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. If you country gets Cortana support, you can just repeat the process, but instead of United States, you need to select your original country.

We have to warn you that changing your Country or region might have some consequences. Don’t worry, it’s nothing drastic, but your default currency might change, time and date format etc. In addition, Windows Store might show you the apps designed for your currently selected country, but you if you need to download an app available only in your country, or make a purchase, you can easily switch it to your original country like we showed before.

Solution 2 – Check for updates

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.

To check for updates in Windows 10, go to Settings > Updates & security.

Solution 3 – 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, just make sure you’re signed in properly with your Microsoft Account, and try to activate Cortana once again. If you’re having problems signing in with your Microsoft Account, check this article.

Solution 4 – Run the Search troubleshooter

Maybe there’s something inside your system that’s preventing you from activating Cortana. If that’s the case, you can use Windows 10’s own troubleshooting tool. This troubleshooter is designed to deal with various internal errors, and it might be helpful in this case, as well.

Here’s how to run Windows 10’s troubleshooting tool:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Head over to Updates & Security 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.

Solution 5 – Turn on the location

Just like it needs to know your Region, Cortana also needs the Location service to function properly. If you’re still having problems activating Cortana, make sure the Location is on. Here’s how to check it:

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

Solution 6 – Disable Antivirus

Third-party antivirus programs are a silent nemesis of Windows 10 and its 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.

Solution 7 – Restart the Cortana process

The next thing we’re going to try is restarting the Cortana process from the Task Manager. Here’s how to do that:

  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.

Solution 8 – Reinstall Cortana

And finally, if none of the solutions from above helped you resolve the Cortana activation issue, let’s try and reinstall Cortana. Here’s how to do that:

  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.

If you have any other Windows 10-related issues you can check for the solution in our Windows 10 Fix section.

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

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