Let Win­dows 10’s Cor­tana Show Me be your fam­ily’s tech sup­port

About the only hic­cup in this Win­dows how-to app is that it needs to be in­stalled.

PCWorld (USA) - - Here’s How - BY MARK HACHMAN

Most how-to ar­ti­cles on a given sub­ject walk you through a se­ries of steps, per­haps with a video at­tached. Win­dows 10’s new free help fea­ture, Cor­tana Show Me, is dif­fer­ent: It ac­tu­ally per­forms ba­sic Win­dows tasks for you on your PC while you fol­low along.

Even bet­ter, Cor­tana Show Me strikes a nice bal­ance be­tween show­ing you what to do, ac­tu­ally per­form­ing those steps, and pro­vid­ing an “es­cape hatch” if you need to slow down. All you need to do is wig­gle your mouse, and Cor­tana Show Me will stop. Mi­crosoft’s free app is part of the Win­dows 10 April 2018 Up­date ( go.pc­world.com/ap10), and in­cludes walk­throughs for many ba­sic tasks—we show the full list in this ar­ti­cle.

Let’s be clear, though: Most ad­vanced users won’t need to use Cor­tana Show Me. In gen­eral, if you’re fa­mil­iar with the Win­dows 10 Set­tings, you’re al­ready fa­mil­iar with what Cor­tana Show Me can do. This is an app for users who can nav­i­gate Win­dows but need some help div­ing deeper into what Win­dows can do.

The only thing we wish Mi­crosoft would change is Cor­tana Show Me’s im­ple­men­ta­tion. In­stead of build­ing in Cor­tana Show Me as a bun­dled Win­dows 10 app, Mi­crosoft an­noy­ingly chose to make it a down­load­able app from the Mi­crosoft Store. That’s the sort of ba­sic task Cor­tana Show Me’s user base may strug­gle with.

HOW TO GET COR­TANA SHOW ME

The quick­est way to down­load Cor­tana Show Me ( go.pc­world.com/cshm) is to click the link in this sen­tence (you’ll need to sign in to your Mi­crosoft ac­count if you haven’t al­ready). That will open Mi­crosoft Edge, with a bright blue Get The App but­ton. (For some rea­son, the Cor­tana Show Me app didn’t ap­pear when I searched for it within the Mi­crosoft Store app.) The app’s file size is only about 14MB, so it should down­load in a snap.

HOW TO USE COR­TANA SHOW ME

Once in­stalled, Cor­tana Show Me can be launched by click­ing the app in your Start menu. As part of the Fall 2018 fea­ture up­date for Win­dows 10 (what­ever it ends up be­ing called), Mi­crosoft plans to add voice con­trols, so you’ll sim­ply be able to trig­ger your mic and orally or­der Cor­tana to, say, “Show me how to change my screen bright­ness.” For now, how­ever, you’ll have to se­lect which tu­to­rial you’d like to view man­u­ally.

Cor­tana Show Me isn’t the most thought­ful app at present. It’s a rather dull col­lec­tion of boxes at the mo­ment, and there’s no in­tro­duc­tion to wel­come you.

Upon open­ing it, the app dis­plays a hand­ful of the most com­mon tu­to­ri­als, along with a list

• Change mouse set­tings

• Con­nect to a wire­less dis­play

• Dis­cover Blue­tooth de­vices

Net­work and In­ter­net:

• Change your Wi-fi set­tings

• Set up a mo­bile hotspot

• Turn on Air­plane mode

Per­son­al­iza­tion:

• Change your back­ground

Apps:

• Change your de­fault apps

• Check if an app is in­stalled

• Unin­stall apps or pro­grams

Ease of Ac­cess:

• Turn on high con­trast

• Turn on Mag­ni­fier

• Turn on Nar­ra­tor

• Turn on the on-screen key­board

Time and Lan­guage:

• Change or add lan­guages

• Change time set­tings

• Up­date and Se­cu­rity

• Ac­ti­vate Win­dows

• Back up your com­puter

• Run a se­cu­rity scan

• Turn off Win­dows De­fender Se­cu­rity Cen­ter

• Turn off Win­dows Se­cu­rity

• Up­date Win­dows

HOW COULD COR­TANA SHOW ME BE IM­PROVED?

Adding voice con­trols to fu­ture ver­sions of Cor­tana Show Me demon­strates that Mi­crosoft con­sid­ers the app to be a work in progress. Prob­a­bly the most im­por­tant work that needs to be done is to in­te­grate it more tightly within Win­dows, so that a novice user can eas­ily find it if they get stuck. (If they do, Mi­crosoft can add a tu­to­rial about down­load­ing and in­stalling apps from the Store as well.)

At times, Mi­crosoft seems par­a­lyzed, torn be­tween pla­cat­ing a user base that de­mands con­stant im­prove­ment with­out al­ter­ing the fa­mil­iar way in which Win­dows works. But en­cour­ag­ing new users to find their way within Win­dows is an im­por­tant re­spon­si­bil­ity, too.

With Cor­tana Show Me, Mi­crosoft has clearly built a frame­work that could be pushed as far as it likes. Some, more-com­plex con­tent works bet­ter within the frame­work of a video, such as cre­at­ing a de­tailed scene within Paint 3D. But sim­pler cre­ative tasks, such as drop­ping an aug­mented-re­al­ity di­nosaur into a photo taken with Mixed Re­al­ity Viewer, is well within Cor­tana Show Me’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

For now, though, Cor­tana Show Me serves an im­por­tant niche: free­ing you up from play­ing tech sup­port at fam­ily gath­er­ings. In­stead of try­ing to teach a cousin how to set up a mo­bile hotspot, sim­ply make sure they have Cor­tana Show Me in­stalled, then grab an­other slice of pie. Why not let Cor­tana do all the work?

Cor­tana Show Me is de­signed to walk you through com­mon tasks au­di­bly and vis­ually, so make sure your au­dio is on.

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