Cortana Tile

Why pin Cortana to your Windows Phone 8.1 Start screen?

For those in the US whom also have Windows Phone 8.1 installed, Cortana is probably one of your most frequented new features on your phone. If you’re outside the US, you’ll have to wait a little longer for Microsoft to localize your language (unless you follow our simple tutorial).

When sharing images of my 8.1 screen, a lot of people have asked me why I pin Cortana as a wide Tile. After all, I could just hit the dedicated Search key (Tip: you can long press the Search key on the Lock screen to call up Cortana). On the surface, it’s seems like a simple question, but I’ll explain why if you have Cortana, making her a permanent Tile on your screen may be a good idea.

Cortana Text

Benefits of pinning Cortana to your Start screen

  1. Cortana behaves differently – When you tap the Search key, Cortana goes right to ‘search mode’. That makes sense, as you probably want to hunt for something. However, tapping the Tile puts Cortana into ‘Daily Glance mode’, where she presents the latest news, weather and info that you may need right up front. You could search from this screen, just like you can always bring up the Daily Glance (Tip: swipe up from the bottom of Search). The point is, she acts differently.
  2. Live Tile – Cortana has a Live Tile. An awesome one, at that. For instance, her ‘Halo’ icon pulsates and frankly it looks awesome. The Tile will also flip to deliver the latest headlines and information you may need, making it useful and cool looking
  3. Live Tile #2 – Cortana’s Tile is also transparent when using a background image, which may be useful if you’re setting up your Start screen to be as ‘see through’ as possible to reveal your personalized image
  4. Showoff – Cortana is pretty cool, let’s face it. And there’s no reason to now have Microsoft’s new personal assistant plastered across the screen. It’s a fun talking point and there’s nothing wrong in having a little pride!

Cortana Pin to Start

To pin Cortana to your Start screen, simply navigate to the app listing and long press on the Cortana icon. A menu will pop up with a ‘pin to start’ option. From there, you can make the Cortana tile small, medium or wide, depending on preference. A cursory glance from how users are pinning Cortana suggests most opt for the more useful wide tile.



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Kashyapjani says:

I completely agree with the article!
Her live tile with that pulsating animation is too awesome to avoid.
I love my L925 more now. xD

Crap. Now I have to rearrange my Home Screen for the fourth time today. lol

Me too. Thinking about turning on the extra tiles too.

Jan Tomsic says:

I already turned them on, can't go back anymore, it's just too huge and there's no space for tiles! :D

dazorange says:

It took me a day or so to start getting used to the extra row as the tiles ar pretty tiny compared to not having the row. I have the 928 so only a 4.5in screen. But after a day I am pretty happy with the look. Now it will just take some time to figure out the perfect setup and background image for the tiles as I have been arranging them on a consistant basis since yesterday.

Yup! Agreed! I also have Cortana as a double wide tile :) love it

thaman04 says:

Mmm... Cortana pulsating sounds hot.  :)

greedypnguin says:

Correction: Nothing *Wrong* with a little pride :P

Aniket Bhat says:

Could you give us the link to that tileground?

Kashyapjani says:
Didn't have link but WP 8.1 can upload things now!

JoRdaNeK says:

I don't fully grasp what this means??? Upload how and to where?

Kashyapjani says:

Uploaded image to imgur directly from internet explorer 11 instead of using an app!

Th3 I3LooD says:

OMG dude!! IE 11 rocks! Finally you can upload pictures in comments on the full Facebook site, IE can finally access your local pictures hub! Been crying for this feature FOREVER!

Kashyapjani says:

Haha.. Not just photos, you can upload and download any kind of file through the new IE.

kenzibit says:

Saw people pinning but never did. Finally this article backs my decision.

Novron says:

Program your home and work commute into Here Drive. Bring up pinned Cortana, she'll ask you if one is home and one is work. Not sure what she does with that info from now on but will be pleased if she uses it to give me commute times on her live tile when it's time.

Kenny Pea says:

That's how you use the geofence feature. So you could ask her to remind you to do something when you get home. And when you arrive, a notification will appear much like an appointment would. She can also tell you the time it will take to get there with traffic if you ask.

Kashyapjani says:

Yeah, geo fencing is cool. It even switches on the Wi-Fi and gets connected when I reach home or office.

kahligula says:

Cortana will also tell you when it's time to leave to make it to an appointment with an address in your calendar based on traffic. Caught me by surprise today. Great feature

JNate says:

Wooow mind = blown

Novron says:

Daniel really needs to do an article on the geofencing.

theonedunn says:

Kashyapjani, does your sound silence pin still work? What app? I noticed the two I had no longer silenced the volume

Kashyapjani says:

I'm using the one from status tiles and it's working.
You can even shout at Cortana to stop the music.. but I prefer saying please. ;)

trinkner says:

I'm guessing that the 8.1 APIs for the separate volume controls broke volume apps designed for 8.0.

McDaddyMike says:

Thanks for that background/tileground.. I was searching for some nice backgrounds and this one is great.

Kashyapjani says:

Yeah its great. I should mention that I got it off in case you want some more.

This whole category is awesome:

Tansen says:

Now that I have WP 8.1 (developer preview) on my L925, I'm not sure I could EVER go back to old WP8. It finally feels completely mature, for the most part.

Sarang68 says:

Even if you wanted to you can't!;)

Yes you can, with some Nokia PC tools...just take a back-up first....
who on their right mind could ever give up Cortana !!

DanielAlt says:

Te informo que si se puede volver al SO anterior ...cambiando nuevamente la firmaware del equipo ;)

Miki Oravec says:

Hey mate, could you please tell me what shortcut app du you use, because I cant find one which has transparent background. Thanks.

zikifer says:

I had it pinned for a bit but took it off. The third row on my 8x makes things too small, and I don't want to take up the space otherwise.

anmol_gamer says:

Pressing Windows Key doesn't work outside US. I tried many times but it doesn't wakes up Cortana.

So try pressing the Search key, like I mention ;)

Th3 I3LooD says:

..... GAaaaawwwwwddd

buggyglint says:

Huh? Its the search key...

Turn on the loctaion & Internet !

QilleRz says:

Haha. Read tutorial. ;)

Why can't the facebook app install after the update??

You should uninstall Facebook Beta before installing the "new" Facebook. At least it worked for me!

Correct. I was unable to even open any Facebook app with the beta installed

flyinion says:

Is there a reason to go from the beta to the official app on 8.1?  I went to the beta when I got my phone a few months ago under the impression it was a way to get the latest & greatest features for the FB app.  I'm confused on which one is better for 8.1 now though after reading quite a few comments about the apps since yesterday.

morpheus1982 says:

Yes. The official one on 8.1 links to the people hub. Native Facebook has been removed, so functionally is gained by piggybacking off the official app.

flyinion says:

Thanks, switching over to it then.

Kurtz1993 says:

That's weird, I have the Facebook App installed on mine.

marantaz says:

And it's stuff like this that is why I go to WPC for my WP tips and info! Thanks, Daniel!

AhmedEltawil says:

Hey Daniel, Can you post a picture of what you see after you tap the Cortana tile?

Kashyapjani says:

I don't know about him but I see this:

zdentonz says:

So basically..

1. It behaves differently

2. 3. 4 - It looks cool

Kinda. Though the Cortana live tile with personalized info is more than 'looking cool', imo. It's sort of the point of Cortana.

joeonsunset says:

The Cortana tile also pops up with information at various times. So its not *just* a spinning globe...

zdentonz says:

Hey, I know.  Those were just the examples Daniel gave for pinning it.  We could have just done without the numbering system lol.  3/4 of the reasons were "it looks cool" (or "pride").

LTTG says:

When I pin her to the start screen my phone begins lagging :(

Kashyapjani says:

Which phone is it? Mine doesn't. Try a hard reset perhaps?

jorime says:

Same :( Makes start screen animations super laggish on my 620. Probably an issue on low end Phones only. I unpinned "her" :|

mpelti says:

Question: is cortana always a long press of search, or also a tap when unlocked?

Nokia's hair trigger search key is already a frustration, I'd hate it if it launched directly into cortana by grazing that button

Kashyapjani says:

A tap opens up Cortana but she isn't listening. A long press on the other hand is like going close to her ear cause she is ready to listen! xD

I must remind you that in full screen apps, search key is locked. Even action center requires to be pulled twice to open when in full screen.

CJ Thunder says:

Did ms change how to setup search from lock screen? I can't find that option.

Kashyapjani says:

I'm not sure but there's an option in speech settings which allows 'speech above lock'. That should be it.

CJ Thunder says:

Nope, mine is checked. Maybe...a...bug...

Kashyapjani says:

You long press the search key over locked screen and not the glance screen, right?

CJ Thunder says:

Yes the lock screen, I don't have glance on.

Shawn Healey says:

I am still using a Lumia 900 from ATT. I'm due for an upgrade in about 2 weeks...I wish they'd hurry up and announce some new WP 8.1 devices so I can get my Cortana on...

I have to recommend at least trying the Lumia 1520.  Once you get used to it you will wonder how you even survived with a small phone. 

Shawn Healey says:

I know this is really off-topic, and I apologize. I just can't bring myself to use a Lumia 1520... it is just too big. I can't believe that ATT hasn't given me any other viable options besides these "Niche" devices like a 1520 and 1020.

I've been thinking about getting a 925 for zero dollars, because I am itching to try 8.1. How much longer can I be expected to wait for an ATT device on par with the Icon?

I thought the same thing.  I wish they would bring something else because my wife is in the same boat as you.  However ATT gives you 14 days to bring back a device so you could give the 1520 a chance and if after 2 weeks you still feel it is too big you can swap it for a 925.  The only reason I said that is I know a lot of people with giant phones and they all thought they would not like the size but every one of them now wouldn't go back to a small phone. 

Shawn Healey says:

I would really only choose the 925 due to lack of options. The 1520 is simply too large for a daily device for me. Even a 5" device feels clumsy in my little baby hands. I can't imagine strapping a tablet-sized device to my arm and going to the gym or out for a jog. I think I'm going to hold out for the summer, and see if my dreams come true...

Went not a 1020 then it's reasonable!

Kashyapjani says:

Miracast support and always on speech support will be missed on 925 in the coming days. I hope that's not an issue for you. I bought a 925 few months ago and I'm loving it but I know what I'll be missing.

ktl88 says:

Cortana is draining my battery. I'll keep her aside for a while :D

quantum tao says:

i sent her home also. maybe i'll have her over for dinner when she comes out of beta.

LSDigital says:

Can't.... leave... her..... nooooo :p

NewTincho says:

Wish i could in my country... can't change my phone lenguage :(

amol071 says:

Hey guys I got a problem with ibstalling windows phone 8.1!!! Plz help me...i want this update so badly :( the downloading installing process is normal in the Phone Update screen, but when it goes into the Gear Display it works for 1-2 mins and stops installation itself sending an error "Your phone could not be updated (80070008)"

Plz help !!! :(

Forums. Use them.

Hey,will the official update from nokia n microsoft combined will have any more or extra features from the current 8.1 dev preview?

Just coming from Joe Belfior's WP presentation. We still don't have the moving Lock Screens and there are some options he showed for WiFi that we don't have yet.

On top of that there are the firmware updates per each phone and whatever Nokia will add in the next Update too.

Kashyapjani says:

Why don't you hard reset your phone prior to updating it? Might solve the error.

amol071 says:

Well I Dint go for a hard reset....but I unistalled all apps/games still Dont work for me! :(

Kashyapjani says:

Try hard reset man. Should definitely work and not much to lose if you've uninstalled all apps and games, right? The new store has a section called 'my apps' which you can use to install all your old apps.

rorrr says:

off-topic, but I'm not calling an app "she." did iPhone fans do this when Siri debuted?

JMxJ says:

We're not iPhone fans now, are we?

Aniket Bhat says:

Cortana is not just an app, whereas siri is just a stupid app compared to Cortana.. Cortana is your vitual assistant, It would be rude that she helps you with basically everything and you don't even recognise her as a common noun.  Besides she's also a character in the Halo series..

jhoff80 says:

I've also discovered you can go into specific Cortana interests (but not all of them) and pin those directly.  It seems to work with Headlines and Weather, but not Trip Planner, Sports teams, or Daily Glance.

IceDree says:

"Unless You Follow Our Simple Tutorial"

Unfortunately, I never got it to work. Uh well.
Anyway, Thanks guys I appreciate it :)

It's actually useful! Without prompting me it gave me traffic conditions based upon my calendar!

Jazmac says:

"Just because its cool." Good enough for me.

pookiewood says:

Hmm interesting!  Will do this now.

jlynnm350z says:

Plus it seems faster, oh I went there.

industry86 says:

If you open Cortana with the search button, then wait about 5 seconds, she does the same thing as tapping the tile.

Not saying its better, or even on par with the immediate daily glance info as tapping the tile, but it does end up delivering the same info after a mild delay.

fatrat727 says:

Drains my battery as live tile -_- and I cut off her background task. Its cool as live tile but not a necessity. Holding down search works just fine.

pexbirdxd says:

I don't have Cortana yet.

I still can't update my huawei W1, it says it can't open the file u.u

Gilda675 says:

I tried out Cortana but was disappointed to be honest. To its credit, the app does recognise most of my words but lacks features. Ok it calls people and sms's them but cannot send emails or do things that Indigo does. Too much hype, too little results imho.

Kashyapjani says:

She reminded me to download the apps I had made her note when I reached my workplace she's awesome. xD

industry86 says:

fascinating! what exactly did you say? "Remind me to download my apps when I get to work?" or was it more specific to a wifi name?

Kashyapjani says:

Sounds fascinating but it was easy coz the Wi-Fi part is just text

Gilda675 says:

How did you input the office address? It is not recognising my address when i speak.

Kashyapjani says:

Opened up the map and added my then 'current position' in favorites when I was at work. ;)

industry86 says:

OK, so it was just a reminder to do so when you get to work. Thats cool still. love that it knows where you set work (and that its supposedly restricted to your device and not available outside of it).

vakama94 says:

I don't use it as a wide tile because I don't have enough space but I agree the tile is very useful and cool to look at

Awesome, thanks for this tip

MikeSo says:

It looks nice with a transparent tile. Too bad the Xbox Music tile isn't transparent too. The Podcast app tile is transparent, ferchrissake!!!

Sorry, but all the good things about this update are almost outweighed by the suckiness that is Xbox Music. :)

hs k says:

Yeah unfortunately true. I'm using
Nokia mix radio and music match player, they both are faster than the Xbox music app

2Suave says:

How about fixing your own live tile? It doesn't stay transparent. What up wit that?

Kashyapjani says:

Yeah! How about that, Daniel?

chad08er says:

It's transparent in the vids,but not on my 1520.

Racxie says:

I'm having this problem too. Only way we I'm able to get it transparent is if I replace one type of live tile for another then the first one becomes completely transparent i.e. no logo!

Heramb Dave says:

cortana doesn't currently tell jokes or respond to "do you love master chief" like windows phone had shown on their windows phone youtube

Heramb Dave says:

She doesnt on mine. when I ask her something she searches it on the internet, and like if I say tell me a joke, so trys to text someone saying a joke. How do I fix this?


RoboMWM says:

Same here. I know Joe Belfiore tweeted something about the chit chat service yesterday but some reported success with a hard reset... Something I'm not willing to do (I still hold some unpublished apps, etc.)

Kashyapjani says:

She tells a joke only when you ask her to do so through speech. And the other question's answer is complicated and personal and I don't wanna upset her anyway.

Heramb Dave says:

She doesnt on mine. when I ask her something she searches it on the internet, and like if I say tell me a joke, so trys to text someone saying a joke. How do I fix this?

Kashyapjani says:

Maybe she has to like you to tell you a joke.. :p

twelvetudors says:

Speaking of transparent live tiles, when will wpcentral get one? I unpinned it and I'm just relying on toasts for now.

I didn't know it could do this, which is why I didn't pin it to my start screen. Now I see. :)

MaulerX says:

Not to mention that the Cortana tile is transparent so it goes great with those using the picture background feature.

pazces84 says:

Conrtana found a new home right smack in the middle of my home screen.

cybermoose89 says:

I will when us stops hogging it ! Lol

RayWP7 says:

Ahh, helpful to know. Thanks Daniel.

I'm so glad you guys wrote this: I didn't even think about the Live Tile and I have been hunting and hunting on how to add Plane Flight Tracking to Cortana. It's odd that it's not available as a voice command, but only through the Live Tile settings. But now I have it! Thanks!

terencechan says:

Finally get Cortana and store to work. However, I discover that the phone appear to be more laggy than before and the benchmark reduced for about 1000 scores

Kashyapjani says:

When you load 8.1 for the first time, it is doing a lot of work in the background updating apps and what not. Should not lag after a while. That's my experience. I updated 4 phones to 8.1 lol

I saw Daniels start screen with Cortana and thought I'd see how it is. Definitely like having it there now.

I have upgraded and can access Cortana with search button but she is not in my app list

alv3st3r says:

Cortana picks up my accent just fine. I'm glad I ain't a South Indian. No offence to my south folks.

Rod Hull says:

Who not whom.

Nejcooo says:

Find me the way to use it without changing my language to english, and I'll pin it on start screen for you

Gorki247 says:

I have the Cortana pinned to my start screen, but am using the medium tile. The wide tile takes up too much space for what it is. On the other hand, the formatting on the medium tile is all wrong, so it doesn't really show the information in a useful way. But like you said, the pulsating halo on a transparent tile is pretty cool, so that's enough reason for now.

siddhant_96 says:

Show off... That was the best part xD

There's something wrong with my Cortana since this morning.. No matter what i ask her.. The only reply i get is ' sorry i didn't catch that' ever she does reply in text when i type in my query.. Could you guys suggest what the problem might be..

rendell ray says:

Maybe your mic is having issues.

I thought so too..but then that would have caused me problems while being on calls as well.. But I can talk all right.. What else do you suggest

rendell ray says:

Your accent and pronounciation?

Don't forget you can also pin interests from the notebook. Like weather (see through weather) news etc

avigyan says:

I dunno if it is a common problem or if it is just me. After pinning the Cortana live tile when I unlock the phone the icon on the the tile shows up a second later.

Reason number 5: Looks pretty

MICROV91 says:

And look how cool is she this way :D : 
edit: now its her tile instead of Me tile even better :) . 

Kashyapjani says:

Cool.. You should bring that me tile down, near her eye. Should look even more cool. Haha

Any fix for interests only being available when NOT on wifi?

Aashish13 says:

Not getting new feeds on live tile notifications of WP central

Slovenix says:

Love 8.1 and Cortana :) but it drains my battery very much having it on .. Anyone?

Aashish13 says:

Its a major update new features it will definitely drain battery. But the firmware will fix that thing too.

jhornberger says:

I have no self control. I need you to stop posting awesome tips so I can get some work done.  Never mind, I can work tonight when things slow down.

Hector Cantu says:

with wifi and mobile data, my baterry just cant handle having cortana (gps) all thay available. 

Oxymoron428 says:

Just put your location in the action center and turn it on once you wanna talk to her.

My icon can handle the battery drain. I just don't like giving my location out all the time like that.

Mavee Shah says:

How to get Cortana

Tech Hunter says:

Dan, any news on blackberry messenger coming to wp?? Thanx..

Aashish13 says:

Will take time still in beta mode

There is no option to share the photos under screenshot album to services other than Email , Facebook , OneNote . Does anybody noticed it .? Or it was like this earlier .?

Yeah, you can share to all services in WP8! Wierd.

Kashyapjani says:

Nah, you can't share screenshots to all services in WP8 as well. I don't know why they don't want us to share them ss on other services. Privacy eh?

JocSTAT88 says:

I have a unlocked 1520 and it's telling me Cortana isn't available in my region... Anybody else having the same problem?

Mavee Shah says:

I'm from Pakistan i had upgraded to 8.1 but couldn't get Cortana...that's annoying

DJCBS says:

And by "If you’re outside the US, you’ll have to wait a little longer for Microsoft to localize your language" what Microsoft means is "a couple of years...with any luck".

MikeSo says:

Is there a way to change the news sources in Cortana, so I don't have to put up with Fox News propaganda and CNNs desperate hunt for viewers and that f**king Malaysian plane? Any way to select my own news sources like in Bing News?

Kashyapjani says:

That and wanted to know if anyone managed to get temperature shown in Celsius

I am with you 100% MIKE! Has ANYONE found an answer to this yet? Having FOX 'News' headlines flip up on my Cortana tile makes me cringe. 


pdt says:

Completely agree. Having Fox News come up on my phone would completely negate the coolness of having a Cortana live tile. It would also be unprofessional and embarrassing, not to mention distracting. I need to be able to control what's on the tile or no go.

Yugiro says:

I have pinned Cortana in wide tile.

slipslip says:

I wish that there was more control over what shows up in Daily Glance (and the Live Tile, I guess). Frankly, I don't want to wake up and have all the day's horrible news be the first thing I see! I'm happy to have the weather and commute information, but I don't want to be bombarded with Ukraine and Boston Marathon bomber. (pun totally not intentional, but now that I realize what I "did there", I'm keeping it!)

Also, the first time I opened Cortana this way, it showed 3 sets of "cards"-- weather, headline news, and tech news (the last of which I added as an "interest"), but I clicked on "Hide" for the 2 news-related cards. Now I can't figure out how to get them back. Anyone know how to reactivate those?

Kashyapjani says:

If you go in interests and click on the card you hid, you should be shown a switch to turn it on again.

slipslip says:

Eureka! Yes, the toggle switch does appear if you do what you suggested. (Just be sure to press "save" after flipping the toggle--- I forgot to do that the first time and then wondered why it didn't show up when I went back to the main Cortana cards screen. (Is there a name for that interface? the one that shows up after it says "Getting things ready")

Kashyapjani says:

What should be the name of that interface? Tough question. The interface shows us details based on our interests, right? Interest cards maybe? Information at a glance? Daily glance?

mildor says:

How do you open bing search nor that cortana using the search key?

Pulsates?! Definitely goes to my Start Screen

naz92 says:

I feel like it drains my battery quicker

kidjenius says:

Yup, she's quite the thirsty little assistant

Oxymoron428 says:

I agree 100%! I pinned her for the pulsating icon, and kept her there for the daily glance lol

Double wide for the win :)

Kinda stupid that Quiet Hours requires Cortana which requires US.

ScubaDog says:

Well, it's not when you realize Cortana is ONLY released as a beta in the US Region.  You have to understand that Inner Circle is tied to Quiet Hours is tied to Cortana.  They all rely on each other now.

Viipottaja says:

Agree. Don't really see why most if not all of what Quiet Hours does be done separate from Cortana.

strikeswp says:

Subtle marketing. "On the surface" I caught you!

rickyb1106 says:

Can cortana be asked to play music in your music library?.. Just curious....

strikeswp says:

Yes! "Cortana, play When I come Around by Green Day" or simply "Play Green Day" to have her randomly select a song by said artist.

Kashyapjani says:

Yeah.. I simply say her 'please play some music' :) she can even be asked to stop it..

xmarklive says:

What's a cursory glance ??? Can Daniel see me right now ???

BataBole says:

Did anyone with HTC got Cortana? Please help! I have set everything to USA and I don't have her on my phone. Help!

strikeswp says:

I'm rocking Cortana on my HTC 8xt. Are you sure you got the 8.1 developer update? There were two updates, the first one which "prepares" your phone for the update and then the actual update. Try searching for updates, but first make sure you are enrolled in the dev preview program.

BataBole says:

I got both updates, I'm enrolled in the preview, and I have set everything to USA (region, language and speech) and I don't have Cortana, don't know why. Btw I have HTC 8s.