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 and third-party services, and skills 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 are 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 Windows Search to search the web, documents, and emails stored in Microsoft services like OneDrive and Outlook and on 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 uses Windows Search to help 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 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 opt in to 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. When you provide Cortana with permission to access your information from a device or service, this information may be used to personalize your Cortana experience on any device or service on which you have enabled Cortana. Once you’ve given Cortana permission to use certain data, whether upon initial device, skill, or app 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 across Cortana-enabled devices. 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. After opting in to Cortana 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. On Windows, your employer’s administrator has the ability to allow or disable your ability to sign in to Cortana with your work or school account. Learn more about your organization’s controls here.

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, which will then also appear in other Microsoft services such as the Maps app. This feature will let Cortana help you in a variety of ways. For example, Cortana can give you traffic alerts before you need to leave for work or send you 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. To provide these benefits, Cortana will periodically download and use the GPS location from your device. She can also download and use other location-related signals, such as when you connect to your Wi-Fi network (including its name) or disconnect from Bluetooth. She will also 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 must be a certain age to use Cortana. When a user tries to sign in to 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. Cortana on Windows will still help younger 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, suffix, first name, last name, middle name, nicknames, and company name. If you call, email, or text someone or they call, email, or text you, Cortana collects that person’s email address or phone number. For example, by accessing your email, Cortana can help keep track of your commitments or packages, and by accessing your calendar, she can provide you with traffic notifications and alert you when it's time to leave for your next calendar appointment. By accessing your contacts, Cortana can help you easily and quickly identify which contacts you'd like to communicate with and how you prefer to communicate with them.. 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.

Connected services and skills

You can give Cortana access to data collected by other Microsoft and third-party services, or share your Cortana information with those services, by enabling or connecting those services with Cortana. When you give permission to connect a service or skill, Cortana shares your request with that service or skill provider to enable your request; Cortana may also share additional information that you have given permission to share with the provider, such as your location. Some services or skills may save information you provided in previous conversations with that service or skill to provide you with better, faster services. For example, a skill that recommends restaurants in your area might remember your cuisine preferences, so it can offer you more relevant restaurant suggestions in the future.

Some services and skills may require you to link an account with a third-party service provider to Cortana upon activation. With your permission, Cortana can also send information about you, such as your email, phone number or other personal information, along with your request to a third-party. For instance, Cortana can send your current location and destination to Uber when you ask Cortana to request a ride. You can manage Cortana's Connected services and skills in Cortana’s Notebook. Note if you share your Cortana-enabled device with other people, they might be able to use your connected services and skills, which may include sharing your information with third-parties.

Cortana may store and use your conversation history with connected services and skills to improve Microsoft speech recognition and intent understanding services, which benefit Cortana and other Microsoft offerings that rely upon speech and intent technologies. Cortana may also use this information to provide more personalized recommendations to you.

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, Cortana’s Notebook will sync with the data in the privacy dashboard, and you can manage data stored in Cortana’s Notebook in the cloud in either place when you’re signed in with your Microsoft account. Note that managing your interests in Cortana’s Notebook does not clear any associated data already stored in the cloud. To clear data that Cortana uses, refer to the details below.

Bing.com, Microsoft apps, and Cortana skills may adjust their behavior based on the changes you make to your interests or favorites in Cortana’s Notebook or on account.microsoft.com/privacy. For example, if you remove a particular sports team as a favorite in Cortana’s 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 the data Cortana collects and uses by adjusting your permissions and Cortana’s Notebook at any time. Note that some of these 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. On a Windows 10 device, open Cortana’s home from the search box on the taskbar.
  2. Go to Cortana’s Settings, and select Permissions & History.
  3. Select Manage the information Cortana can access from this device.
  4. Turn off Location.
  5. 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. On a Windows 10 device, open Cortana’s home from the search box on the taskbar.
  2. Go to Cortana’s Settings, then select Permissions & History.
  3. Select Manage the information Cortana can access from this device.
  4. Turn off Contacts, email, calendar & communication history.
  5. Go back.
  6. Select Manage the information Cortana can access from other services.
  7. Select the name of any Connected Service you use for calendar, email, and contacts (such as Outlook.com or Office 365), and then select Disconnect.
  8. Note

    Turning off Contacts, email, calendar & communication history has no effect on the Connected services you’ve set up (or that were set up for you, like Outlook.com)—for example, any that allow Cortana to access the same or similar communication data.

To stop Cortana from using browsing history:

  1. On a Windows 10 device, open Cortana’s home from the Search box on the taskbar.
  2. Go to Cortana’s Settings, then select Permissions & History.
  3. Select Manage the information Cortana can access from this device.
  4. Turn off Browsing history.
  5. 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 from accessing your voice data you can choose to interact with Cortana with the keyboard. Or you can turn speech recognition off:

  1. If you don’t want Cortana to use your voice data, you can still interact with her using your keyboard. To turn off speech recognition, see Speech, inking, typing, and privacy. If you’re signed in to Cortana with a Microsoft account, you can view and delete your voice recordings at account.microsoft.com/privacy.

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 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. Your data associated with other devices will remain intact until you sign out from Cortana on those devices as well. 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 would prefer not to send any character data to Microsoft, you should choose not to use Cortana. If you would like, you can even hide Cortana. If you want to search for files, such as documents or photos, on your Windows device, 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:
    • Calendar
    • Contacts
    • Location
    • Microphone
    • Phone
    • SMS
    • 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:
    • Calendar
    • Contacts
    • Location
    • 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 and to stop data collection associated with a particular device:

  1. Go to Cortana > Settings > Sign out.
  2. Select Sign out.
  3. 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 Cortana’s Notebook or at account.microsoft.com/privacy. Your data associated with other devices will remain intact until you sign out from Cortana on those devices as well.

Cortana’s Notebook and cloud-based controls:

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

  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.
  5. Select Save.

To manage Skills:

  1. Go to Cortana > Notebook.
  2. Select the Skill you would like to disconnect.
  3. Select Disconnect.

Note

Disconnecting a Skill will stop Cortana’s ability to share information you previously gave permission to share with that Skill in order to receive services. Skills use your information in accordance with their own terms of service and privacy statements. You can review these terms in the Cortana Skills web catalog and on the Store page of each skill. If you need help with your skill, you'll find a developerID associated with your skill in the Manage Skills section of the Notebook that you can use to contact the skill provider.

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

  1. On a Windows 10 device, open Cortana home from the search box on the taskbar.
  2. Go to Cortana’s Settings, then select Permissions & History.
  3. Select Manage the information Cortana can access from other services.
  4. Select your Connected Service and select Disconnect.
  5. For Android and iOS, go to Cortana > Settings > Terms and Privacy.
  6. Select Change what Cortana knows about me in the cloud.
  7. Then review all the available information, including the info in Cortana’s Notebook.
  8. 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 select 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.