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July 9, 2014

5 tips for using Cortana reminders

You might think you’re “forgetful” or “scatterbrained” or “have a mind like a sieve.” But how many times have you remembered that you’re supposed to collect your kid from the bus stop right up until it’s time to go—and then gotten distracted by some shiny object? Leaving your innocent child standing alone under a broken streetlamp with tumbleweeds blowing all around? For me, the answer is a number between 1 and 50.

Lately, I’ve been relying on Cortana—the new digital assistant in Windows Phone 8.1—to prevent such unfortunate events. I press and hold the Search button, and Cortana pops up, ready for my commands. “Remind me to pick up Louie at 3:20,” I say to her, or “Remind me to take my memory-boosting herbal supplement every morning at 8.” She can even give me reminders based on location (“Remind me to call Suze when I leave work”) or person (“Remind me to ask about summer vacation next time I talk to Mom”).


These reminder basics are awesome enough. To get even more out of reminders, try the following power tips:

1. Say “Any” thing – If you tell Cortana, “Remind me to get eggs next time I’m at the supermarket,” she’ll show you a list of nearby stores to choose from. Tap Any and she’ll remind you the next time you’re at any supermarket.


2. Lose the snooze – Sometimes you need more than a five-minute snooze delay. When a reminder pops up at an inconvenient time, tap the reminder’s title and you’ll be able to set a new time.


3. So many memories – To see (and reactivate) completed reminders from your past, press the Search button, tap Cortana’s Notebook > Remind me, and then tap More > Reminder history. Tap a reminder to reuse it. This is great when you accidentally tap Complete on a reminder you still need—something I seem to do on a daily basis.


4. Pin the Tile – I generally like to use voice commands to order up my reminders, but my husband doesn’t much appreciate that when I wake up at 3 A.M. stressing about something I need to do. So I use my Remind me Tile from my Start screen to (silently) add a reminder in Cortana’s Notebook. To pin the Tile to Start, press the Search button, tap Cortana’s Notebook > Remind me, and then tap Pin.


5. Set some nicknames – Use nicknames when you set up your inner circle (Mom, Louie, Pookie) and favorite places (gym, school, bakery). Then you can use the nicknames when you set reminders (and when you call and text people, too).