Cortana and privacy

Cortana is your cloud-based personal assistant that works across your devices and other Microsoft services. Depending on the capabilities of your device and the version of Cortana you’re using, Cortana can provide a range of features, some of which are personalized. Cortana on Windows is available in certain regions and languages. If Cortana isn’t available for your Windows device, you can still search for files on your device in the search box on the taskbar. Cortana is also available on other platforms, such as Android and iOS, in select markets.

Cortana works best when you sign in and let her use data from your device, other Microsoft services, and third-party services you choose to connect. To provide you with personalized experiences, Cortana learns from certain data about you, such as your searches, calendar, contacts, and location. You’re in control of how much data you share. If you choose not to sign into Cortana on Windows, you can still chat with Cortana and use her to help you search the web, documents stored in Microsoft services like OneDrive, and your Windows device. See the section about Windows Search in the Privacy Statement for more information. If you don’t sign in, or you choose to sign out, your experiences will be more limited and they won’t be personalized with your Cortana data. On iOS and Android devices, Cortana only works when you sign in.

Whenever we collect data, we want to make sure it’s the right choice for you. That’s why we provide information and choices, like the controls described on this page. To learn more about Cortana and your privacy, please see the information in the Cortana section of the Microsoft Privacy Statement.

How Cortana uses data to work for you

On Windows, Cortana helps you search the web and your Windows device; offers quick answers, translations, and calculations; sets alarms for you; and performs other tasks that don’t require personalization, even when you aren’t signed in and haven’t given Cortana permission to use your personal Cortana data. Cortana can give you search suggestions as soon as you start typing or speaking. To do this, she sends what you type or say to the Bing service, which interprets it in real time to provide auto-suggestions.

After you allow Cortana to use some of your data, if you ask Cortana to do something that requires more data, she’ll ask you for permission and you can decide then what to allow going forward. Once you’ve given Cortana permission to use certain data, whether upon initial device setup, or later as you start using Cortana, you can always manage those Permissions to stop collecting data. See the following info for more details about how to control Cortana’s collection and use of your data.

Cortana does not use the data you share with her to target ads to you. Ads may accompany search results that Cortana delivers, just as they do when you do a search on Bing.com. And your Bing search queries—even if Cortana does the searching for you—are treated like any other Bing search queries and used as described in the Bing section of the Microsoft Privacy Statement.

Using Cortana when your device is locked

Cortana can help you out with some tasks even if your device is locked, including setting a timer, playing music, or taking a quick note. This feature is on by default, but you can turn it off at any time in Cortana > Settings. In addition, in Settings you can choose to allow Cortana to access your calendar, email, messages, and other content data when your device is locked.

To use Cortana on the lock screen, tap Cortana or say "Hey Cortana." (The “Hey Cortana” feature allows you to access Cortana with your voice and can be turned on in Cortana’s settings.) If you don’t see Cortana’s icon on your lock screen on Windows, go to Settings > Personalization > Lock screen, set your background to Picture or Slideshow, and turn on Get fun facts, tips, and more from Windows and Cortana on your lock screen.

Voice input

When you use your voice to ask or tell Cortana something or invoke Skills, Microsoft uses your voice data to improve Cortana’s understanding of how you speak to keep improving Cortana’s recognition and responses, and to improve other Microsoft products and services that use speech recognition and intent understanding. If you use voice input with Cortana while signed in with your Microsoft account, you can manage the voice data stored by Microsoft by going to account.microsoft.com/privacy. Note that when the “Hey Cortana” feature is on, Cortana wakes up when she hears the words “Hey Cortana” and only collects your voice input after she hears those key words.

Signing In

Once you sign in, Cortana can keep track of what interests you, save your nickname or favorite places to the Notebook, give you your notifications from other devices, and share data you’ve saved between Windows and non-Windows devices with Cortana enabled. On Windows, you can decide to give Cortana permission to use other data, including your location and location history, contacts, browsing history, calendar details, and content and communication history from messages, apps, and notifications. On Android and iOS, you can control some of these permissions through the app permissions in the system’s settings. To help you follow things that interest you, such as your favorite sports teams, stocks you are tracking, interesting news, and restaurants, you can add and remove items from the Notebook. When signed in, Cortana displays and uses interests from other Microsoft apps or services like the Sports and News apps. Using Connected Services or Skills, Cortana can also connect you to services from other companies, like Uber, for additional personalized experiences using data shared with or received by the other company.

Location data

To help you get around when you visit places, learn your routines by collecting changes in your location, and learn which places are important to you, Cortana needs your device location data. Cortana can save commonly visited places as your favorites, and these also appear in other Microsoft services such as the Maps app. This feature will let Cortana help you by giving you traffic alerts before you need to leave or sending reminders based on location like “You’re near the grocery store, where you wanted to buy milk.” Cortana collects your location periodically even if you’re not interacting with her, as in when you connect to Wi‑Fi or disconnect from Bluetooth. When using Cortana, she also has access to your device location data and will automatically send it to Bing when Cortana suggests web search terms and results for Bing to use, as described in the Privacy Statement.

Browsing history

If you choose to allow Cortana to help you pick up where you left off on websites when using Microsoft Edge and provide you with more personalized suggestions, Cortana will use your browsing history in Microsoft Edge.

Microsoft Health

If you choose to connect Cortana to Microsoft Health, Cortana can provide insights and recommendations that help you reach your fitness and wellness goals within your Cortana and Microsoft Health experiences. To do this, Cortana can access data associated with your Microsoft Health account, like your profile data, activity history, location, steps and calories, plans, goals, and insights such as how your activities compare to people like you. Cortana’s health-related insights, such as your health trends, when you’re out of routine, and other health-related info, will also be available through Microsoft Health. You can disconnect Cortana from Microsoft Health at any time by going to Cortana and selecting Cortana’s Notebook > Connected Services.

Cortana and kids

Users have to be a certain age to use Cortana. When a user tries to sign into Cortana, she checks the age setting for that particular Microsoft account, and users she identifies as too young cannot sign in or have a personalized Cortana experience. But Cortana on Windows will still be there to help those users search the web or perform other tasks that don’t require any personal data.

Contacts, calendar details, email and content, and communication history from messages and apps

To personalize your experience and provide the best possible suggestions, Cortana accesses your email and other communications and collects data about your contacts (People) like their title and/or suffix, first name, last name, middle name, nicknames, and company name. If you receive and/or call, email, or text someone, Cortana collects that person’s email address or phone number.

Cortana helps you bridge the gap between text messaging on your phone and instant messaging on your PC (mobile messaging rates may apply). When you’ve signed in on your PC and your phone with the same Microsoft account, you can create a new text message on your PC and Cortana will help you send the text from your phone. In the same way, Cortana can notify you on your PC when you miss a call on your phone and help you reply to the caller with a text message right from your PC.

How to control Cortana’s collection and use of your data

In general, to control what’s in Cortana’s Notebook, you can add or remove individual items in the Notebook, such as interests or places that Cortana shows you. You can manage your interests and some other info Cortana has stored about you in the cloud by going to account.microsoft.com/privacy. To make it easier, the Cortana Notebook will sync with the data in the privacy dashboard, and you can manage your Notebook data stored in the cloud in either place when you’re signed in with your Microsoft account. Note that managing your Notebook interests does not clear any associated data already stored in the cloud. To clear data that Cortana uses, refer to the details below.

Bing.com and Microsoft apps may adjust their behavior based on the changes you make to your interests or favorites in the Cortana Notebook or on account.microsoft.com/privacy. For example, if you take a particular sports team off your Notebook, Cortana and your Sports app will show you less information and fewer suggestions about that team.

Here is some information about how you can manage the data you allow Cortana to use or stop the use altogether.

You can manage what data Cortana collects and uses by adjusting your permissions and your Notebook at any time. Note that the permissions are device-specific, so if you choose to turn off individual permissions on one device, Cortana may still have access to that data on another device if you have given her those permissions on the other device. Note also that even if you use Cortana without signing in on Windows, your searches in the taskbar search box are treated like any other Bing search. On Android and iOS, refer to the app permission settings in the system settings.

To stop Cortana from using your location:

  1. Go to Cortana > Notebook > Permissions.
  2. Turn off Location.
  3. Note

    Some location data may still be collected by other apps and services. For example, location accompanied with your searches will continue to be collected and used as described in the Privacy Statement.

To stop Cortana from seeing data in your calendar, email, contacts, and text messages:

  1. Go to Cortana > Notebook > Permissions.
  2. Turn off Contacts, email, calendar, & communication history.
  3. Note

    Turning off Contacts, email, calendar, & communication history has no effect on the Connected Services you may have set up (or that were set up for you, like Outlook.com)—in particular, any that themselves allow Cortana to access the same or similar communication data.

To stop Cortana from using Browsing history:

  1. Go to Cortana > Notebook > Permissions.
  2. Turn off Browsing history.
  3. Note

    Turning off Cortana’s use of browsing history has no effect on the use of browsing history for diagnostics or tailored experiences with diagnostic data. For more information, see the Diagnostics section of the Privacy Statement.

To stop Cortana’s tracking of flights, packages, commitments, and other data:

  1. Go to Cortana > Notebook > Permissions.
  2. Turn off Contacts, email, calendar, & communication history.

To stop Cortana from accessing your voice data you can choose to interact with Cortana with the keyboard. Or you can turn speech recognition off:

  1. Go to Cortana > Notebook > Permissions.
  2. Scroll down and select Speech, inking, & typing privacy settings to go to Getting to know you in settings.
  3. Under Getting to know you, select Turn off speech services and typing suggestions.
  4. Note

    Any voice data that was already sent to the cloud will also be dissociated from your device.

To turn off Cortana’s personalization, to stop data collection, and to clear all of the data Cortana has associated with a particular device:

  1. Go to Cortana > Notebook > About Me.
  2. Select your Microsoft account.
  3. Select Sign out.

Signing out of Cortana clears the data Cortana has associated with that device. Your data associated with other devices will remain intact until you sign out from Cortana on those devices as well. Signing out of Cortana on your device stops Cortana’s data collection and use on that device and clears the interests and data on that device, but signing out won’t clear the data that’s already saved in the Notebook or at account.microsoft.com/privacy. On Windows, even after you’ve signed out of Cortana, characters you type into the taskbar search box are automatically sent to Bing and offer search recommendations. Your typed characters and searches will continue to be collected and used as described in the Privacy Statement. If you prefer not to send any character data to Microsoft, choose not to use Cortana. If you like, you can even hide Cortana. And if you want to search for files on your device, such as documents or photos, you can always use the search feature in File Explorer.

To hide Cortana:

  1. Press and hold (or right-click) anywhere on the Taskbar.
  2. Select Cortana.
  3. Select Hidden.

Cortana on Android and iOS:

The Cortana app is available for download on Android and iOS devices. Cortana’s data collection and controls may vary based on these platforms’ capabilities and the version you’re using. This may include both system-level prompts to allow Cortana to access certain types of data and the first-time prompts when Cortana requires specific data to provide you with relevant features. Settings apps may also be included, where you can later disable or enable Cortana’s access to certain data. Refer to Android and iOS device settings to determine what controls you have over Cortana’s permissions to access your data.

For Cortana on Android v.6 or later:

  1. Go to Settings on your device, locate App Permissions or Permissions Manager
  2. Turn on/off Cortana’s device data collection for:
    1. Calendar
    2. Contacts
    3. Location
    4. Microphone
    5. Phone
    6. SMS
    7. Storage
  3. Select OFF or move the switch to the left until it turns gray for those data features you don’t want Cortana to access from your device. Note that Cortana may still have access to some of this data (e.g., Calendar, Contacts) from other devices with Cortana enabled or from Connected Services.

For Cortana on iOS:

  1. Go to Settings > Privacy > Permissions.
  2. Turn on/off Cortana’s device data collection for:
    1. Calendar
    2. Contacts
    3. Location
    4. Microphone
  3. Enable or disable Cortana’s access to those data features you don’t want Cortana to access from your device. Note that Cortana may still have access to some of this data (e.g., Calendar, Contacts) from other devices with Cortana enabled or from Connected Services.

To turn off Cortana’s personalization, to stop data collection, and to clear all of the data Cortana has associated with a particular device:

  1. Go to Cortana > Settings > Sign out.
  2. Select Sign out.
  3. Signing out of Cortana clears the data Cortana has associated with that device. Your data associated with other devices will remain intact until you sign out from Cortana on those devices as well. Signing out of Cortana on your device stops Cortana’s data collection and use on that device and clears the interests and data on that device, but signing out won’t clear the data that’s already saved in the Notebook or at account.microsoft.com/privacy.

Cortana’s Notebook and cloud-based controls:

To clear data from Cortana’s Notebook about a specific interest:

  1. Go to Cortana > Notebook.
  2. Select the category you want to clear data from, like News or Finance.
  3. Select the individual item, interest, favorite, or preference that you want to clear.
  4. Select Delete to clear it.

To manage or clear data that’s saved by Microsoft in the cloud:

  1. On Windows, go to Cortana > Settings. For Android and iOS, go to Cortana > Settings > Terms and Privacy.
  2. Select Change what Cortana knows about me in the cloud.
  3. Then review all of the available information, including the info in Cortana’s Notebook.
  4. Note

    While selecting Clear Cortana data will clear your Microsoft Health data from Cortana, Microsoft Health may still retain and use the health data shared with Cortana. Learn other ways to manage your Microsoft Health data in the Microsoft Health FAQ.

Other controls

To turn off Cortana’s help in Microsoft Edge:

  1. Open Microsoft Edge.
  2. Go to Settings .
  3. Go to Advanced Settings and press View advanced settings.
  4. Turn off Have Cortana assist me in Microsoft Edge.

To manage which notifications you receive on a device:

  1. On the device where you don’t want to see notifications, go to Cortana > Settings.
  2. On Windows, under Send notifications between devices, select Edit sync settings. On Android, select Sync Notifications.
  3. Select the device you want to edit.
  4. Turn off the kinds of notifications you no longer want to receive.

To turn off all notifications for a particular device:

  1. On your phone, go to Cortana > Menu > Settings .
  2. Turn off Send notifications between devices.

To disconnect Cortana from Microsoft Health or any other Connected Service:

  1. Go to Cortana > Notebook > Connected Services.
  2. Select the desired account and select Disconnect.