Microsoft has been diligently integrating generative AI into a multitude of its products, ranging from Bing search to the Windows operating system. The latest development in this endeavor is the introduction of Copilot, available to all Windows 11 users with the most recent update. If you’re new to Copilot, think of it as akin to the AI you interact with through Bing search, but with some Windows-specific functionalities, such as the capability to launch applications or manage copied screenshots.
In its official announcement, Microsoft highlights Copilot’s unique ability to assimilate information from the web, your work data, and your ongoing PC activities, all in real-time, to offer more effective assistance. However, it’s essential to recognize that Copilot is still in its early stages, and you can’t entirely rely on it to handle all your computing tasks just yet. With that in mind, here’s how to get started.
Initiating Copilot Before you dive in, ensure you’re running the latest version of Windows 11, as Copilot is part of the September 2023 Windows update.
- Open the Settings menu and select Windows Update.
- Depending on your geographic location and your position in Microsoft’s update queue, you may need to enable the ‘Get the latest updates as soon as they’re available’ toggle switch.
- To launch Copilot, which appears in a panel on the right side of your screen, click the Copilot button on the taskbar or press Win + C on your keyboard.
If you prefer Copilot not to appear on the taskbar, you can disable it by navigating to Personalization > Taskbar in the Settings menu.
Using Copilot to Manage Windows Don’t expect Copilot’s Windows integration to be seamless just yet; at the time of writing, it’s still labeled as a “preview” feature. Here are some useful actions you can perform with it:
- Type “turn on dark mode” to switch to Windows dark mode.
- Type “open Windows Settings” to access the main Settings panel.
- Type “launch File Explorer” to initiate file browsing on your PC.
However, these integrations aren’t entirely smooth. In each case, you’ll need to confirm the action by clicking ‘Yes,’ and Copilot tends to provide unnecessary explanations before reconfirming your action, even when it’s already executed. It’s important to note that results may vary; some users have reported issues with certain commands.
One feature that works seamlessly is typing “take a screenshot,” which launches the Snipping Tool without additional prompts. Similarly, requesting Copilot to “change the wallpaper” directs you to the Personalization page in Settings without extra steps.
When it comes to integrating with Windows’ native apps, Copilot has a long way to go. For instance, if you ask Copilot to “duplicate a slide” in PowerPoint, it will offer instructions rather than executing the action. The same applies when instructing the bot to “create a presentation on the benefits of Copilot,” which results in generic AI-generated suggestions. It’s worth noting that Microsoft apps, including PowerPoint, are expected to receive Copilot integrations in the future, though these features may come with an additional fee.
Copilot and Beyond If you’re familiar with ChatGPT, Bing Chat, Google Bard, or similar generative AI text tools that have emerged recently, you’ll understand what else you can do with Copilot in Windows. You can ask it to write poetry, predict fashion trends, compare smartphones, generate ideas for a kids’ party, simplify complex concepts, find recipes, and much more.
To start a new conversation with Copilot, click the three dots at the top of the panel and select ‘Refresh.’ This not only clears the previous conversation but also provides suggestions for your queries. You can choose from ‘More Creative,’ ‘More Balanced,’ and ‘More Precise’ options, depending on whether you prefer imaginative or accurate responses. There’s also a microphone icon for voice input.
Currently, Copilot has only one setting, which is quite significant. You can access it by clicking the three dots at the top of the panel and selecting ‘Settings.’ This setting, ‘Let Copilot in Windows use Microsoft Edge content,’ allows Copilot to ‘see’ what you’re viewing in Microsoft Edge. For instance, you can ask it to summarize a news article or describe content on a page. However, this feature may not always provide accurate results, with occasional errors or inability to view content.
Additionally, you can provide Copilot with images to work with. Click the square icon in the lower-left corner of the input box, and you can select an image from your system or provide a web link to an image. Afterward, you can ask Copilot to identify the image or find similar images online.”
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