Human language is the new UI layer, bots are like new applications, and digital assistants are meta apps. Intelligence is infused into all of your interactions.

 Satya Nadella

A lot has been written about Cortana since it debuted with Windows 10. By this point, everyone probably knows what it can do and how to make it do those things. Microsoft, on their part, makes regular adjustments to Cortana with each update. It is one of the biggest features in the OS designed to give users maximum satisfaction as vocal elements assume more importance in computing.

Even so, an assistant is probably not of much use if they cannot be saddled with errands when you’re in certain locations. Imagine suddenly losing the convenience of being able to say “Hey, Cortana” and get a quick response to your query, just because you’re in Muscat, Oman, rather than Melbourne, Australia.

That is exactly what has happened to some Windows 10 users. They discovered that Cortana stopped responding in some situations or at certain locations. While that isn’t much of an issue to those who don’t mind typing their requests, a lot of people have become accustomed to just voicing orders for their trusty digital assistant to fulfil.

If you find yourself in a situation where you want to use Cortana but it isn’t available on your Windows 10 PC, you don’t have to despair. There is a way to make Microsoft’s digital assistant available to you no matter where you’re domiciled in the world. You just need to adjust a few settings on your computer and you’ll be good to go.

Why Isn’t Cortana Available on My Windows 10 PC?

For those who have somehow been living under a rock and never heard of Cortana, here is what Microsoft has to say about it:

Talk to Cortana for almost anything you need – she’ll answer your questions, give directions, play music, tell you the weather and more. Cortana takes care of the details so you can start your day and do more with less effort.

Like the best real-life assistants, Cortana helps wherever life happens. She works with everything from your calendar to your music and smart home services.

Use Cortana to set reminders based on time and location. Ask her for a preview of your day and reschedule when you’re double-booked. Add items to your lists and cue photo reminders.

There is also a little tidbit at the bottom of the Cortana page on the Microsoft website that explains why some people cannot access the feature on their systems. It says “¹Cortana is available in select markets; experience may vary by region and device”.

In other words, Cortana isn’t available in every market in the world. So, if you’re in Abuja, Nigeria or have bought a Windows 10 laptop while on an extended trip in Warsaw, Poland, don’t expect to be shouting “Hey, Cortana!” from across the room anytime soon.

That is, unless you change your language and region settings to a language and a country where Cortana for Windows 10 is available. Until you do, you might not be able to enjoy everything Cortana has to offer, even if you download the Cortana app for Windows 10.

How to Fix Cortana not Working on Windows 10

As mentioned in the previous paragraph, your language and region must be supported for Cortana to work on your Windows 10 PC. If you’re in a region where Cortana is available but your PC is set to an unsupported language, Cortana might not work. If your language is supported but you choose a region that isn’t, you’re likely to get equally negative results.

For the avoidance of doubt, here are the regions, along with the languages, for which Cortana is available:

Australia: English

Canada: English

China: Chinese (Simplified)

France: French

Germany: German

India: English

Italy: Italian

Japan: Japanese

Spain: Spanish

United Kingdom: English

United States: English

What you should do from this point is fairly obvious — adjust your language and region settings to match one of the pairs listed above. You also need to change your speech settings if necessary. In the rest of this guide, we will show you how to change each, in turn.

How to Change Windows 10 default language

You can use either the Control Panel or the Settings app to adjust your language settings. After doing this, your Windows display language will be changed, and you’ll be able to speak to Cortana as well — provided you selected one of the supported languages.

Here’s how to change default language in Windows 10:

  • Open the Settings application.
  • Select Time & Language.
  • Click Language. Your default language will be displayed here. If it is one of those listed above as a supported language, you don’t need to do anything else.
  • If your default language isn’t supported, click the “Add a preferred language” button under the Preferred Languages section.
  • You have to search for the language you wish to use as system default language. Click it when you find it to add it to your system list.
  • Click Next.
  • Click “Set as my display language”.
  • In some cases, you have to download a language pack for the language you’ve chosen. The pack contains vocal and written entries in the selected language that will enable you to use that language on your computer. To download an accompanying language pack, tick the “install language pack” checkbox.
  • Review your settings and select extra features that you need.
  • Click Install.
  • You’ll get a prompt to sign out of your account. Sign out by clicking the “Yes, sign out now” button.

When you log back in, your Windows display language will change to your new preference.

If you wish to use the language throughout your Windows 10 system, including on the sign-in screen:

  • Return to the Language section of the Settings app.
  • Find the “Related settings” option in the right pane and click “Administrative language settings”.
  • Click the Administrative tab.
  • Click the Copy Settings button.
  • Tick the “Welcome screen and system accounts” checkbox.
  • Tick the “New user accounts” checkbox.
  • Click OK.
  • Click OK again.
  • Click Restart Now.

How to Change Windows 10 Default Region

 There is more work to do before you can regain the ability to use Cortana. Next thing is to change your region if it isn’t currently set to a supported location.

  • Open the Settings application.
  • Select Time & Language.
  • Click Region.
  • Click the “country or region” dropdown arrow to display a list of countries/regions. Scroll up or down and choose one of the supported regions. Ensure the region you choose aligns with the language you previously selected. For example, if you selected English as your language, you must choose your region from Australia, Canada, India, United Kingdom, or the United States.
  • If you wish, you can use the “Regional format” option to set the format for date and time.

Finally, you need to set up speech recognition on your Windows 10 PC if you haven’t already done so. Note that not all available Windows display languages also have speech recognition capabilities. However, as long as you’ve selected one of the languages for which Cortana is available, there shouldn’t be any issues.

  • Open the Settings application.
  • Go to Time & Languages.
  • Click Language.
  • Find the language you’ve previously chosen as your display language. Click it and select Options.
  • Click Language Options.
  • Click Speech.
  • Select Download.
  • When the speech pack has been downloaded, reboot your system.

Now that you’ve completed all the steps, Cortana will become available on your PC no matter where you are. Of course, it does help if you speak the chosen language fluently, otherwise she might have difficulty carrying out your commands.


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With your newly found mastery of the fixes for when Cortana is not available on Windows, you can bring your digital voice assistant with you wherever you’re going. You’re welcome to use the knowledge to help your friends living in countries where the service isn’t supported by default.