Use your voice with HoloLens

You can use your voice to do almost anything on HoloLens, such as taking a quick photo or opening an app. Many voice commands are built into HoloLens, while others are available through Cortana.

This article teaches you how to control HoloLens and your holographic world with your voice and with Cortana.


Speech is only supported in some languages. The speech language is based on the Windows display language, not the keyboard language.

You can verify the Windows display language by selecting Settings > Time and Language > Language.

Built-in voice commands

Get around HoloLens faster with these basic commands. In order to use these you need to enable Speech during first run of the device or in Settings > Privacy > Speech. You can always check whether speech is enabled by looking at the status at the top of Start menu.

General speech commands

Use these commands throughout Windows Mixed Reality to get around faster. Some commands use the gaze cursor, which you bring up by saying “select.”


Hand rays are not supported on HoloLens (1st Gen).

Say this To do this
"Select" Say "select" to bring up the gaze cursor. Then, turn your head to position the cursor on the thing you want to select, and say “select” again.
Open the Start menu "Go to Start"
Close the Start menu "Close"
Leave an immersive app Say "Go to Start" to bring up the quick actions menu, then say "Mixed reality home."
Hide and show hand ray "Hide hand ray" / "Show hand ray"
See available speech commands "What can I say?"

Hologram commands

To use these commands, gaze at a 3D object, hologram, or app window.

Say this To do this
"Bigger" Make it bigger
"Smaller" Make it smaller
"Face me" Turn it to face you
"Move this" Move it (follow your gaze)
"Close" Close it
"Follow me" / "Stop following" Make it follow you as you move around

See it, say it

Many buttons and other elements on HoloLens also respond to your voice—for example, Follow me and Close on the app bar, or the Back button in Edge. To find out if a button is voice-enabled, rest your gaze cursor,touch cursor or one hand ray on it for a moment. If the button is voice-enabled, you'll see a voice tip.

Dictation mode

Tired of typing? Switch to dictation mode any time that the holographic keyboard is active. To get started, select the microphone button or say "Start dictating." To stop dictating, select the button again or say "Stop dictating." To delete what you just dictated, say "Delete that."


To use dictation mode, you have to have an internet connection.

HoloLens dictation uses explicit punctuation, meaning that you say the name of the punctuation you want to use. For instance, you might say "Hey comma what are you up to question mark."

Here are the punctuation keywords that you can use:

  • Period, comma, question mark, exclamation point/exclamation mark
  • New line/new paragraph
  • Semicolon, colon
  • Open quote(s), close quote(s)
  • Hashtag, smiley/smiley face, frowny, winky
  • Dollar, percent

Sometimes it's helpful to spell out things like email addresses. For instance, to dictate, you'd say "E X A M P L E at outlook dot com."

Do more with Cortana

Cortana can help you do all kinds of things on your HoloLens, from searching the web to shutting down your device. She can give you suggestions, ideas, reminders, alerts, and more. To get her attention, select Cortana on Start or say "Hey Cortana" anytime.

Hey Cortana!

Here are some things you can try saying (remember to say "Hey Cortana" first).

Hey, Cortana...

  • What can I say?
  • Increase the volume.
  • Decrease the brightness.
  • Shut down.
  • Restart.
  • Go to sleep.
  • Mute.
  • Launch <app name>.
  • Move <app name> here (gaze at the spot that you want the app to move to).
  • Go to Start.
  • Take a picture.
  • Start recording. (Starts recording a video.)
  • Stop recording. (Stops recording a video.)
  • What time is it?
  • Show me the latest NBA scores.
  • How much battery do I have left?
  • Tell me a joke.

Some Cortana features that you're used to from Windows on your PC or phone (for example, reminders and notifications) aren't supported in Microsoft HoloLens, and the Cortana experience may vary from one region to another.

Turn Cortana off

Cortana is on the first time you use HoloLens when you enable speech. You can turn her off in Cortana's settings. In the All apps list, select Cortana > Settings. Then turn off Cortana can give you suggestions, ideas, reminders, alerts, and more.

If Cortana isn't responding to "Hey Cortana," check that speech is enabled on Start and go to Cortana's settings and check to make sure she's on.