A new feature in Windows 10 is Cortana, Microsoft’s personal assistant tool that can do everything from searching your files to checking the weather, to reminding you about an upcoming meeting. Most users will probably find value in Cortana’s capabilities, but one thing that many users won’t like is just how much space the Cortana search bar takes up in the Windows 10 taskbar. Thankfully, you can enjoy all of the features of Cortana in a much smaller package. Here’s how to shrink or hide the Cortana search bar in Windows 10.
If for some reason you find your search bar not working, follow these steps in our guide.
Shrink the Cortana Search Box
To shrink the Cortana search bar, right-click on the search bar itself (or on any blank space in the taskbar) and select Cortana > Show Cortana icon.
You’ll immediately see the Cortana search box disappear, replaced by a much smaller taskbar icon with the familiar Cortana circle logo. Doing this does not affect the capabilities of Cortana; you can still access the full Cortana experience by clicking the Cortana search icon, or by pressing the Windows key on your keyboard.
Hide Cortana from the Taskbar
If you’d prefer to hide Cortana entirely, you can do so by right-clicking the Cortana icon, or the Task view icon in the desktop taskbar and selecting Cortana > Hidden.
This removes Cortana’s presence from the Windows 10 taskbar entirely, but Cortana will still run in the background for things like reminders and notifications.
Taking this one step further, you can disable Cortana completely if you don’t want to use the feature. Just click on the Cortana icon in your taskbar, select the “Notebook” icon from the search box sidebar, and click Settings. Alternatively, you can access this menu by searching for “Cortana & Search Settings” and clicking on the corresponding System Settings result.
The first toggle, labeled “Cortana can give you suggestions, ideas, reminders, alerts, and more” controls Cortana in Windows 10. Set it to Off to disable Cortana completely on your PC. When you do so, you’ll see that the Cortana icon in your taskbar changes to a magnifying glass. This indicates that Cortana has been disabled and that you now have access only to the basic Windows 10 search feature. For some users, this may be all they need.
To revert any of these change and re-enable Cortana, or restore the taskbar search box, just repeat the steps above and choose the desired option for how you’d like search or Cortana to appear in your Windows 10 taskbar.
How do I Permanently Disable Cortana?
Before the Anniversary Edition update for Windows 10, you were able to disable Cortana completely. Now, you’ll have to use a workaround. This can be done using the registry, or by downloading a third-party program.
How to Disable Cortana Using the Registry
Changing anything in your Windows 10 operating system using the registry can prevent your computer from starting. We advise backing up your computer if you’ve never done this before, or to remain cautious. The registry can’t change anything on your computer unless you ask it to. Make sure you know the website you’re using is trustworthy before continuing.
1. Open the registry editor by pressing Windows and R together. A box will appear.
2. Type “regedit” in the “Open” box, then click “OK.”
3. Put the following key in the sidebar without quotation marks. “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Windows Search.”
4. If you can’t see the following screen, right-click “Windows” and select Key > New > and name it “Windows Search.”
5. Right-click your newly created folder and select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value.
6. You can name the new value “AllowCortana.” Double-click it and write “0” to set the value.
7. Exit the editor and restart your computer.
WARNING: Do not restart your computer unless you’re sure you’ve done all of the above steps correctly!
How to Disable Cortana Using the Third-Party Software
Since the registry is a sensitive part of your computer, you may be too nervous to mess with it. If that’s the case, you can download a third-party software called ShutUp10. ShutUp10 allows you to control specific parts of your operating system, including Cortana.
Keep in mind that Cortana will still exist in the background with these steps because it controls your search bar. Windows Indexing will still be in place, but Cortana should no longer access the internet. We’ve tested ShutUp10 and concluded that it does work, but if you want Cortana to disappear completely, you’ll need to access the registry.