Want to go Cortana-less? Then roll up your sleeves

Patrick Marshall answers your personal-technology questions each week.

Q: I was thrilled when I saw you had the solution to the crazy-making Cortana. Alas, your solution to prevent Cortana from popping up when I don’t want it did not work for me. I’ve got an HP laptop running Windows 10, and I followed your instructions to the T, but Cortana keeps popping up a lot when I’m using either one or two fingers to navigate.

— Bill Shimeall

A: If you want to get rid of Cortana entirely, you’re going to have to roll up your sleeves and edit the Windows registry.

If you’re using Windows 10 Home, you’ll have to make changes to the Windows registry. To edit the registry, right-click on the Windows icon in the system tray and then click on Run. In the field that pops up, type “regedit” (without the quote marks). When Regedit opens the first thing to do is to export a copy of the registry just in case you need to restore it. To do so, click on the File menu, then Export.

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Next, locate the key HKLMSoftwarePoliciesMicrosoftWindowsWindows Search, then go to the DWORD value “AllowCortana” and set it to 0. (If the key isn’t there, you’ll want to create it.) When you next boot up Windows, it should be Cortana-less.

Those who have Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise can do a similar procedure. In the Run field, type “gpedit.msc.” When the Group Policy editor pops open, go to Computer Configuration/Administrative Templates/Windows Components/Search, then find the “Allow Cortana” item and set it to Disabled.

Q: In a recent column you advised against logging into Windows as an administrator. I understand that it’s for security reasons, but I don’t fully understand the mechanics of it. Can you explain further?

— Deborah Stuart

A: The concern is this: If you boot up your computer and log on as an administrator and then someone hacks into your computer, they will be able to do everything on your computer that an administrator can do, including changing or deleting system files that are critical to running your computer, as well as accessing all user data accounts. A hacker can, in short, take complete control of your computer and can configure it to, say, send spam. If, on the other hand, you’re only logged on as a standard user and someone hacks into the computer, they won’t have access to administrator privileges or to data in other users’…

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