Why Cortana can’t take a screenshot for me?


While playing with Cortana (full description of the tests in the next article TBR), I found out it can't take a screenshot. If you ask Miscrosoft's personal assistant "Take a screenshot", it will simply reply with apologies:

"Sorry, I can't take screenshots for you"

So I did wonder why this exact answer. It's not that Cortana didn't understand my question, but that nope, no screenshots for you. Also note that if you don't ask exactly this (like "Take screenshot"), you'll be redirected to a beautiful bing search.

First option is Cortana literally can't take a screenshot.

It's easy to guess there is a way to programatically take a screenshot, with C++ or C#, the two main Microsoft programming languages, you can do that in less than 10 lines of code and it'd strange that developers at Microsoft spent time to write this specific answer instead of implementing a new feature.
But maybe, Cortana is written as a Windows Univeral app. This is a special kind of app that, as it's called Universal,  works with both Windows Phone (8+) and Windows 8, 8.1 & 10. Theses applications can be written in C#, C++ or Javascript, using the a specific version of the Microsoft .NET Framework. This special version of the framework is a lighter version of the classic .NET framework, made for mobiles, tablets and other devices. That would also make perfect sense for a such app. So maybe, in this truncated version of the framework, there is no method to make a screenshot.

And there might be the answer, I looked how to do a such thing using a the Universal Framework and couldn't find it. There are some ways to do a a screenshot  with Windows Phone apps (as mentioned here), but the screen capture remains within the running application, it's not a full, real, screenshot. However, I might missed something, so if anyone can find a way, I'd glad to update this article. But if Cortana is actually made using this reduced version of the framework, we can imagine as well reduced (client side) functionalities.

Second option is Cortana can take a screenshot, but not for me.

Wait a minute... What does this mean? For whom Cortana can take a screen capture then?
Well, I don't want to raise the paranoia level, but we know that Microsoft can have today access to a lot of information from its users since windows 10 and its privacy settings. There's nowhere explicitly written they will send screenshots of your computer to their headquarters (However, I didn't read the full T&Cs, I'm too lazy for this), but yeah, that might be a thing, I mean, it's not ridiculous.


The Game Bar can take screenshots.

Windows 10 Game barIf you played a game with Windows 10, you maybe tried to open the "Game Bar" (press Win + G). It allows you to actually take screenshots and records on-screen video.

So here might be the missing link to somehow take a screenshot from Windows without pressing neither the PrintScreen key neither actually any key (let's say you're as lazy as me). However, if you ask Cortana to open the Game bar, it will simply answer you...


So yes... maybe it's easier to write down an answer for Cortana instead of coding the related action, unless everything is a privacy or security problem.

Aurelien Jacquot

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