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.
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
• Change your background
• 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.