In the June 3 meeting of the Project Cortex Office Hours series, we walked you through the administration and configuration experiences for Project Cortex and content connectors. We looked at the Zero Day experience for Project Cortex and the controls available to administrators. We also showed how content connectors to bring third-party data into Microsoft 365 and surface it through Microsoft Search.


View the recording, browse the deck, or explore the content connectors gallery to see how Project Cortex works across Microsoft 365 to empower people with knowledge and expertise.

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Recording - June 3: Administration and configuration

View the recording of the June 3 Project Cortex Office Hours meeting

View the Teams live event recording

Presentation - June 3: Administration and configuration

See what we presented in the June 3 Project Cortex Office Hours meeting

View the presentation

Content connectors gallery

See the content connectors currently available from Microsoft and our partners

View the gallery

Q & A

Thank you for all your questions during the Microsoft Teams live event. Even if we don’t answer them on the air, we use your questions to inform our Project Cortex FAQ and technical documentation.

A selection of questions and responses from the Q&A portion of the meeting follow.

Q: Do we need Project Cortex to use Microsoft Search?

A: No, Microsoft Search is built into Office 365 and Microsoft 365. It’s not required that you have Project Cortex to get Microsoft Search features.

There will be enhancements to Microsoft Search that will only be available with Project Cortex. One such enhancement would be the ability to see topic cards as part of the search results.

Q: How do we start using content connectors? Also, is it possible to build our own connectors?

A: Content connectors are in public preview and rolling out as part of Targeted release. If you’re part of the Targeted release, you should start seeing connectors soon.

To learn more about content connectors, visit To learn more about setting up the Targeted release options for users or tenants, see the Set up Targeted release documentation.

Yes, it is possible to build your own connectors. You can use the Microsoft Search indexing API to index data and add custom items to search results in the Microsoft Search experience. You can also use Microsoft Search API to query Office 365 data in your apps.

Check out the Sample CSV connector app to learn how to use the Microsoft Search indexing API to create a connection to the Microsoft Search service and index custom items.

Q: When I enable a new search vertical, how long will it take before the vertical shows in search results? Also, how does security trimming work for verticals?

A: After you enable the vertical, it might take a while before you can view it. If you don't want to wait after enabling it, you can append cacheClear=true to the URL in SharePoint and Office to view the vertical immediately. For more information, refer to the search results page documentation.

Security trimming is honored by the results shown on the vertical. Once added, the vertical is shown to all users in the given scope, i.e., at the organization or site level.

Q: Can the PnP search templates distributed last fall work with these connectors?

A: We expect the PnP Search WebParts to start supporting the connectors in the near future. Today this content is available through the Microsoft Search API (currently in beta). PnP Search Web Parts will start to use these as well. You can track the PnP Search updates on GitHub.

Q: What’s the difference between a Content Center and existing SharePoint sites?

A: Unlike other SharePoint site templates, Content Centers are the only site templates from which you can create the content understanding models. Content Centers add capabilities around AI modeling, integration of extended metadata handling, and the creation and publishing of enriched content types throughout the Project Cortex and SharePoint information architecture.

Learn more about Content Centers and content understanding models by viewing our May 20 Office Hours meeting on content understanding.

Q: Will we be able to exclude topic discovery based on site classification?

A: We are looking into excluding sites from indexing based off confidentiality tags. However, we currently don’t have plans to exclude sites from indexing based on private or general classifications. One thing to remember is that the admin can always manually exclude sites. We are looking into ways to make it easier for you to exclude a whole set of sites that match specific criteria.

In general, if you blocked a site from being indexed by Microsoft Search, which excludes it from the Microsoft Graph, then it will also be excluded from topic discovery. You can also further restrict which sites are available for Project Cortex. You can control how much you want to ratchet down the visibility of sites.