How to disable Cortana after Windows 10 Anniversary update (with screenshots)

Bradley Wint
Oct 2, 2016 1:53am AST
Photo: Microsoft

If you’re not a fan of Cortana, it can get in the way of simple searches such as “notepad” or “cmd” because of the query time between your PC and Microsoft’s servers.

When Windows 10 was first launched, disabling Cortana was relatively easy once you knew where to look for the option. However, the Anniversary update has removed this feature. They also re-enabled Cortana in the process. It’s now a bit trickier to disable the search option, but we have a quick guide on how to disable it.

Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise edition

If you have either of the above versions of Windows 10, the process is still relatively simple.

  1. Launch the Group Policy Editor by typing gpedit.msc in the run field within the start menu (click the Windows button and just start typing)
  2. Go to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Search > Allow Cortana
  3. Set the option to disabled.
  4. Log off and log back in. The option would take effect across all profiles on the machine (or network) as the case may be.

Windows Home edition

Most of us (like myself) have the home edition, which does not have a Group Policy Editor. This means we’re going to have to get down and dirty with the Registry Editor.

Before we proceed, always make a back up of your registry configuration in case you mess up the settings.

As most ‘regular’ Windows users may be unfamiliar with editing their registry, I will provide some screenshots as well, just so you can’t mess anything up.

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First, open your start menu and type regedit

cortana-win-annivsary-01

Click on the regedit app. You should see something like below.

cortana-win-annivsary-02

Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > Software > Policies > Microsoft > Windows

Look for a folder called Windows Search. If you find it, skip the next step and go straight to adding a DWORD value.

If you can’t find the folder though, continue by right clicking on the Windows folder and creating a new Key as follows.

cortana-win-annivsary-03

A new Key folder will be added to the list. Rename it to Windows Search

Once that’s done, it should look something like this.

cortana-win-annivsary-05

Click on the Windows Search folder. In the right hand column, right click and choose New > DWORD (32-bit) value.

cortana-win-annivsary-04

The new value option will appear. Immediately rename it to AllowCortana

Right click on it and choose Modify. Then set the value to 0 (it usually is 0 by default any way).

cortana-win-annivsary-06

Close the editor, then log off and log back in. That’s it!

As above, this change will affect all user accounts on the machine.

Once you log in again, Cortana should be disabled, making offline Windows searches the only option (which I personally prefer).

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