August 12, 2022

How to Fix Cortana’s Voice Commands When They Stop Working

Cortana can be handy, but it’s only at its best when it can receive commands. Here’s how to get Cortana’s voice commands back.

There are two types of people when it comes to using Cortana; you either don’t use it at all or use it on a daily basis to launch an app, make a list, set an alarm, and more. If you are in the latter category, you know how annoying is when Cortana voice commands stop working.

There could be several reasons for this. It could be due to Cortana being outdated, some privacy settings blocking your voice commands, or Windows simply can’t understand what you’re saying. To help you fix this problem, we have put together a quick guide to make Cortana responsive to your words again.


1. Test Your Microphone

The first step is to check if this isn’t a problem with your microphone. Open Skype, Voice Recorder, or any other app that uses a microphone and test it.

What you’re listening for are any signs of distortion or lowered audio quality that may prevent Cortana from properly hearing what you’re saying. And sometimes you’ll find that your microphone has stopped working altogether, which would definitely explain why Cortana doesn’t respond to you anymore!

Related: How to Fix Microphone Problems in Windows 10

2. Update Cortana

If you are running an outdated Cortana version, you might encounter various issues when using it. Sure enough, voice commands not working is one such issue. Here is how to update Cortana manually and solve this problem:

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  1. Launch the Microsoft Store app.
  2. Click the three-dot icon from the top-right corner and select Downloads and updates.
  3. Look for Cortana in the Available updates list.
  4. Click the Download icon next to it.

Microsoft Store's available updates list.

Once Windows finishes downloading and installing the update, test if Cortana voice commands work.

Related: How to Customize Cortana in Windows 10

3. Check Your Privacy Settings

Cortana’s voice commands might’ve stopped working because you’ve changed the Privacy settings. Here is how you reconfigure them:

  1. Right-click the Start button and open Settings.
  2. Select Privacy.
  3. In the left pane, head to App permissions and click Voice activation.
  4. Turn on the toggle below Allow apps to use voice activation.
  5. Scroll down to Choose which apps can use voice activation and turn on the toggle for Cortana.



Voice activation settings in Windows 10

If the toggles for Cortana are greyed out, it means Cortana can’t access your computer’s microphone. Follow these steps to allow Cortana to access the microphone:

  1. Go to Settings > Privacy and select Microphone.
  2. Click the Change button below Allow access to the microphone on this device and turn on the toggle.
  3. Turn on the toggle for Allow apps to access your microphone.
  4. Scroll down to the list of apps that can access your microphone and allow Cortana access.
  5. Restart Cortana and check if the voice commands are now working.

Microphone access settings in Windows 10

4. Run the Speech Troubleshooter

There is a chance your computer can’t hear you properly, which is why your Cortana voice commands have stopped working. Fortunately, you can use a built-in Windows tool to fix it.

  1. Press Win + I to bring up Settings.
  2. Head to Update & Security > Troubleshoot.
  3. Click Additional troubleshooters.
  4. From the Find and fix other problems section, select Speech > Run the troubleshooter.


Running the Speech troubleshooter in Windows 10

5. Run the Windows Store Apps Troubleshooter

If Cortana is still ignoring you, try running the Windows Store Apps troubleshooter.

  1. Right-click Start and head to Settings > Update & Security.
  2. Select Troubleshoot > Additional troubleshooters.
  3. Click Windows Store Apps > Run the troubleshooter.

Running the Store Apps troubleshooter in Windows 10

Once Windows 10 finishes the troubleshooting process, restart Cortana and check if the voice commands are now working.

6. Repair Cortana

There is a chance voice commands are not working anymore because of missing or corrupt files. In this case, you should repair the app. Here is how you can do it:

  1. Press Win + I to open Settings.
  2. Go to Apps > Apps & features.
  3. Select Cortana > Advanced options.
  4. Scroll down and click the Repair button.

Cortana settings in Windows 10

If this didn’t fix the problem, go through the above steps again. But this time, reset Cortana.

Get Your Virtual Assistant Back

Hopefully, Cortana is now responding to your voice commands and is helping you with your tasks and activities. And if you’re not a huge fan of Cortana, you may be missing out on how powerful it can be. In fact, it’s one of the more overlooked productivity tools on Windows 10.


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