Windows 10 Tip: Get Cortana Insights with Sticky Notes

Posted on October 2, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 20 Comments

Windows 10 Tip: Get Cortana Insights with Sticky Notes

With the Anniversary Update for Windows 10, Sticky Notes get a nice Ink-enabled update, but the biggest change, perhaps, is support for Cortana Insights, which lets you set reminders, call written phone numbers, send an email message, view web address, and more.

Note: This tip is derived from my e-book, Windows 10 Field Guide, which is being updated for the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. That update is almost complete, and we’ve moved on to new topics, like Windows Ink. –Paul


Your basic sticky note.

Sticky Notes works much like it did in previous versions of Windows. But it now sports additional capabilities thanks to a feature called Cortana Insights. The first time you run Sticky Notes, you will be asked to enable Cortana Insights. You will need to do so to access the new Sticky Notes features. If wish to enable this later, run Stick Notes, choose Menu (“…”) then Settings (gear icon) and enable the option “Enable Insights.”

Set a reminder

If you’ve enabled Cortana Insights, you can create Cortana reminders using Sticky Notes.

Note: Actually, there is one more caveat. You must live in the United States to use Cortana reminders with Stick Notes. If you don’t live in the U.S., you can change your country or region to “United States” in Windows 10 Settings.

To create a reminder using Sticky Notes, write text on a sticky note that includes a time or date. As you write, you will see that the time or date is highlighted in blue. In Sticky Notes, blue text is actionable using Cortana Insights, and in this case, you will be able to create a reminder.

For example, text with the word “tomorrow” can be converted into a Cortana reminder.


When you select the blue text, an “Add Reminder” button appears.


Select that button to launch Cortana and edit and then complete the reminder.


As you might imagine, various date-related words will trigger Cortana Insights and let you create reminders. You can also use terms like “Tuesday,” “at 10 am,” and so on.

Do more with Cortana Insights

Cortana Insights isn’t just about reminders. If you write text that includes things like a phone number, address, or web address, and more, that text will likewise by highlighted in blue, indicating that it is actionable.

A few examples:

Phone number. When you write a string of numbers that is identifiable as a phone number, Sticky Notes will let you select that string of numbers and call it using Skype. (Note that you must have Skype credit associated with your Skype account to use this functionality.)


Address. If you add an address to a sticky note, you can select that address and launch Maps to get directions or learn more about the location.


Web address. Web addresses (text that ends in .com or similar) will be highlighted in blue. You can select this text to view the web address (URL) in your default web browser.


And more… Cortana Insights has other interesting capabilities: You can also do things like write a flight number to track the flight or a stock symbol to see how your shares are doing today.



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  1. 4 | Reply
    skborders Alpha Member #1309 - 3 months ago

    This is interesting. I already have cortana picking up flight information from, I guess, my email confirmations. I need to use this as well. Thanks


    On a side note. I would like to see some features on the site that teach you how to do things like edit a simple video, rip the audio file from a video or simple photo editing.

  2. 3 | Reply
    Finley Alpha Member #1029 - 3 months ago

    MSFT has to get there stuff together and bring all these features to users outside the US. I live in Canada, I have Cortana on my PC but this sticky note feature is not available. I can't get Cortana on my Xbox One or my Android phone. If there is a reason for the region locking they need to let us know. I read all these articles about all the great things Cortana, Bing, etc. But it all only for the US. It a real p@#s off, and will push me to be use only Android / google. At least their features work (almost) everywhere.

    1. 1 | Reply
      WP7Mango Alpha Member #2513 - 3 months ago

      Agreed. I can understand them restricting it to English language, but why restrict it to the USA alone? Makes zero sense!!!

    2. 0 | Reply
      Finley Alpha Member #1029 - 3 months ago

      That being said I was able to side load the cortana app onto my android phone through the Microsoft Apps app. The pay store still says the app is not available in my country. I set it up and will test it this week. Maybe put something up on the forums next weekend about this.

    3. 1 | Reply
      ponsaelius Alpha Member #1328 - 3 months ago

      I can only agree. Everytime I try a new "Cortana feature" in the UK it turns out to be US only. Cortana for Android, unless you side load is US only, Bing Rewards.... etc etc.



    4. 0 | Reply
      jboman32768 Alpha Member #1082 - 3 months ago

      Agreed - they just keep on punching themselves in the face with all this US only stuff. In Australia Cortana still doesnt track flights, packages etc. I dont follow it closely, but I dont remeber hearing Apple or Google doing this.

    5. 0 | Reply
      Waethorn Alpha Member #2235 - 3 months ago

      Google Flights works in Canada.  Bing doesn't.  

      They had more stuff in Cortana for Canada in Windows Phone 7.x, but when they went to Windows Phone 8.x, they dropped all kinds of stuff.

      Bing Search, before Cortana, in Windows Phone 7.x even had a QR code scanner and music search (ala Shazam) before they dropped it in Cortana.  

      Every time Microsoft resets/rebrands something, they also reset it back to US only after adding in regionalization in the former version.

  3. 0 | Reply
    jean Alpha Member #2159 - 3 months ago

    quote: Note: Actually, there is one more caveat. You must live in the United States to use Cortana reminders with Stick Notes. If you don’t live in the U.S., you can change your country or region to “United States” in Windows 10 Settings.

    Country is set to Switzerland and it does work on 14936, Cortana is set to US English

  4. 0 | Reply
    Narg Alpha Member #420 - 3 months ago

    I keep hoping that basic personal computing AI will get smart.  In a useful sense.  Glad to see some improvements...

  5. 0 | Reply
    Pargon Alpha Member #1281 - 3 months ago

    Insights is a rather cool feature, but I wonder if it's also a feature to have the sticky notes slow to a crawl.  There is a 10 second delay in text popping up on the note when I have Insights enabled.  It's unusable for it's exact purpose, making a quick reminder - even running on a quad-core processor....and will remain turned off until they fix this.  Anyone else have this issue?

    1. 0 | Reply
      Stoffel Alpha Member #679 - 3 months ago

      I just gave it a try, and it takes about 2 to 3 seconds for me until an item turns blue and is actionable

    2. 0 | Reply
      Nickel Alpha Member #343 - 3 months ago

      Nope, for me text immediatly appears, insight highlight appears quickly maybe a second after I type a number date....