This Windows 10 update might finally give you a reason to bother with Cortana

Cortana in Windows 10
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Microsoft is breathing new life into its digital assistant Cortana in a new build of Windows 10 which is now available for download by Windows Insiders in the Dev Channel.

Since being released on Windows 10 in 2015, Cortana has allowed users to search the web, track flights, set reminders and more. 

While Microsoft's digital assistant used to reside in the taskbar, it became a separate app with the release of the company's Windows 10 May 2020 Update. At the time, users were also given the ability to stop Cortana from running at startup or to turn it off entirely.

However, with the release of Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 20270, Windows 10 users may want to consider giving it another try as Microsoft has added a File Skill to Cortana that allows you to quickly find and open files using its digital assistant.

File Skill in Cortana

Windows Insiders that have updated to the latest build of Windows 10 can now use Cortana to translate their thoughts into direct actions to find and open files which helps save time spent navigating around the operating system.

Enterprise users who have signed into Cortana using their corporate credentials (Azure Active Directory) can search for files saved on OneDrive For Business and SharePoint along with files saved locally on their PCs. Microsoft account users on the other hand will only be able to find files saved locally on their PCs.

In a blog post announcing the new Windows 10 Insider Preview Build, Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc explained that users have several options to use Cortana to open or search for files. They can say parts of file names such as “Hey Cortana, open marketing deck” or use author names “Hey Cortana, open budget Excel from Anthony” to open files. Additionally, users can find a document they've been editing by asking Cortana to find their recent files or find a document of a particular file type.

Searching for documents or files tucked away on your hard drive can be a bit tedious and time consuming, so it's nice to see Microsoft provide a hands-free way for Cortana to do this work for you. At the moment though, Cortana's File Skill is only available to English-speaking Windows Insiders in the US but this functionality will likely be incorporated into a future Windows update.

Anthony Spadafora

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.