How to Use Cortana with a Local User Account in Windows 10

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You’ve created a local account in Windows and you want to use Cortana. However, you need a Microsoft account to activate and use Cortana, but you don’t want to convert your local account to a Microsoft one. What a dilemma.

Cortana uses and stores information about you through your Microsoft account. And, thanks to the recent Windows 10 update in November, there is a way to log in to your Microsoft account for Cortana only, while preserving your local Windows 10 account. You don’t need to convert your local Windows account to a Microsoft one.

That means you’ll still have to use a Microsoft account, but you won’t have to use it system-wide. It isn’t a perfect solution, but it’ll do.

To log in to your Microsoft account for Cortana only, click in the Cortana search box on the Taskbar.

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Click on the “Cortana can do much more” box at the bottom of the Cortana search panel.

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Cortana tells you what type of information about you will be collected and used. Click “Sure” if you still want to let Cortana use your Microsoft account to customize searches for you.

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Then, click “Sign in”.

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If you originally created your Windows account as a Microsoft account and then reverted to a local account, you’ll see the following dialog box with your Microsoft email account listed. Click on your account to automatically log in for Cortana. This will not convert your local account back to a Microsoft account.

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If you originally created your Windows 10 account as a local account, the Add your Microsoft account dialog box displays. If you don’t have a Microsoft account, click “Create one” and follow the instructions on the dialog box. Otherwise, enter your Microsoft email address and password in the boxes and click “Sign in”.

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Microsoft will try to convince you to convert your local Windows 10 account to a Microsoft account. You don’t have to do this to use Cortana. Instead of entering your current Windows password, click the “Sign in to just this app instead” link below the box. This dialog box will automatically close and you will be signed into your Microsoft account only for Cortana. Your Microsoft account will not be used by any other app or feature and your local account will stay local.

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Once you’re signed in, Cortana may try to convince you to get Cortana on your phone. If you don’t want to do that right now, click “Not now” at the bottom of the Cortana pane.

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Now, you’re ready to use Cortana to not only search your apps and files on your computer but also search the web, create reminders and events, track flights, and more.

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Cortana can be useful, but if you don’t want the personal information about you to remain stored on your PC or in your Bing account, you can clear it. If you don’t want to use Cortana at all, you can disable it.

Lori Kaufman is a writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.