Bitter Grounds Magazine

espresso fueled ramblings

Written by catpaw

July 15, 2016

Using Win10’s Cortana for fast online searches

There’s been a lot of chit chat lately about Microsoft Cortana’s voice activated help. What isn’t talked about, as much, is how you can use it for quick searches via Edge browser using only your mouse.

example of Microsoft Cortana search results Here’s how it works:

1 – highlight a word or phrase

2 – right click on the highlighted section

3 – tap “Ask Cortana”

A window will slide open on the right of the screen with the results. Keep Cortana open by pinning it (top right corner, tap the thumbtack). This allows you to scroll through all the offerings without having to redo the right click ask routine.  When you click a search result, it shows up in the main window (on the left), leaving the rest of the list accessible.

You can even use this Cortana search for info on images you see on any webpage. Right click on a photo/image -> Ask Cortana and it will pop up information. This doesn’t always work and occassionally can spit up a rather wonky result (see here: Fun with Cortana and More fun with Cortana). Accuracy will depend entirely on whether the page designer setup the image tags correctly.  At the very least, it can be entertaining.

When you are finished, either leave Cortana pinned to the side of the browser or tap the X and close it off. Just highlight -> right click->Ask Cortana for the next search. Doesn’t matter which you choose, it’s up to you. I prefer to close the Cortana window off because I don’t like so much of my browser real estate to be used up.

Cortana uses Microsoft’s Bing (of course) so if you’re a Google fan, the lack of customization will be a bit irritating.  It also works exclusively with Edge. If you are a hard core Firefox or Chrome user, this isn’t going to be an option. Bing (like Edge) has shown a great deal of improvement over the last year and is now my go-to search engine.  However, I realize both search engines and browsers engender fierce brand loyalty and it’s difficult to get people to test drive different ones. The streamlined Bing, Cortana and Edge search mode speeds up searches and works seamlessly, making it worth checking out.


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