Siri is best known as Apple’s voice-controlled digital personal assistant available on iOS devices like iPhone and iPad. It has been a useful and timesaving tool for getting things done and finding information. As time goes on, it found its way onto the Apple Watch and Apple TV. Now that macOS Sierra has Siri built directly into the Mac operating system, here we would like to go through some of the most useful things you can do with the handy virtual assistant on your computer.
Of course, nearly all of the traditional Siri commands from iOS work in macOS as well. But, it turns out that Siri has many abilities unique to the Mac, which you can’t perform on an iPhone or iPad with the virtual assistant.
Go through the things you can do with Siri on your Mac and you might be surprised at how versatile and useful it is!
Accessing Siri on the Mac
Siri isn’t just available on any Mac, however, you first need to be running macOS Sierra or higher. And you can enable Siri using the following instructions.
- Open System Preferences, and select Siri.
- Then check the Enable Siri option.
- From here, you can start issuing commands to Siri.
Before issuing commands to Siri, you will have to summon the virtual assistant. The easiest way to do this is by clicking on the menu bar item in the upper right corner (If you can’t find the Siri icon in the menu bar, you might not have the feature turned on), the Dock icon, or by pressing and holding the Option Key + Spacebar on your keyboard. You can also choose to invoke Siri by tapping the Fn and Space buttons.
When you click to activate Siri, it will stick around until you either click the icon again or close the Siri window in the corner of the display.
Control OS Settings
Siri gives you the ability to control your macOS with your voice. There are quite a number of things you can do here, like ask Siri to turn off Bluetooth, turn on WiFi, mute your computer or turn up the brightness bit, and more.
Find out What Time it is
You can ask Siri what time it is, either where you live, or somewhere more distant. It makes you easy to talk with people in three different time zones if you are the one who works remotely.
Perform Web and Image Searches
If you are looking for anything on the web, then Siri can search for it. Try asking questions such as – what the score of the game you were watching last night, what movie is released today, what’s the latest headline, etc. You can also discover random facts and figures like “How high is Mount Kilimanjaro?” “What’s the square root of 5462?” “How many seconds is equal to one hour?” etc.
You can also search for images on the web and you can find photos of just about anything. Just ask Siri to “Find photos of Cats on the Internet” and it will display a list of the top 12 Bing images results. If nothing from these results really strikes your fancy, you can click “See more images in Safari”. Not only do you get a nice thumbnail view of the top results, but you can even drag those results into other applications like a document you’re working on.
Find Photos and Create Slideshows
Siri can find photos for you and can create quick slideshows. Let’s say you want to create a quick slideshow of your recent vacation to Switzerland or from last winter or the past month. Just tell Siri to “Create a slideshow of my photos from the vacation to Switzerland.” Photos will open, gather together the necessary pictures, and start your slideshow.
There are quite a few interesting things you can have Siri do for you when it comes to music. You can ask it to play music by genre, play music by artist, play specific albums, and even control playback by telling Siri things like “Play,” “Pause,” or “Skip.” This is genuinely faster and easier than any other available methods like clicking through iTunes or searching with Spotlight.
You can also ask Siri to play the radio, or be more specific such as “Play the RadioMirchi station” or even let Siri know you approve (“I like this song”). If you don’t know what’s playing, then Siri can identify it for you. You just have to ask Siri, “What song is this?” or “Who is the artist of this song?” After you identify a song, Siri can add it to your wish list, if you needed.
Read and Compose Emails
Don’t want to search for a particular email? Just have Siri do it for you instead. You can have it search for email by subject, sender, date, etc. Thereafter, once Siri finds the emails, you can have it read them to you.
There are some variations to how Siri reads emails. If you ask it to simply read your emails (“Read my emails”), then it will go through and cover the basics: sender and subject line. You can, however, ask Siri to read a message from one specific sender and it will read the whole thing.
Beyond this, you can ask Siri to perform other email-related tasks, such as asking it to check your email, replying to an email, and of course, composing new emails. This is a pretty cool trick allowing you to continue working on something else without interrupting your flow.
Search for Stuff on Your Mac
Of course, Spotlight is great for searching anything on your mac, but if you don’t want to type, Siri can work just as well. You can ask Siri to search for all sorts of things: files, folders, documents, albums, photos, etc.
You can narrow down your search by asking Siri to only show files from Yesterday (“Find Word documents created Yesterday”), or the presentation you were working from last month (“Find Excel spreadsheets from last month”). Maybe you sent a file to a work colleague and you want to review it with them, simply ask Siri to “Show me the file I sent so-and-so” and it’s right there in front of you.
If the photo library in your mac is synced using the Photos app, you can even ask Siri to find you photos taken at a specific location.
You can even ask Siri for more hidden stuff like what’s your Mac’s serial number, or what OS version you have, or to show you your privacy or iCloud settings. Sure, you could run ‘System Report’ and search for the needed information, but this is much faster and easier.
Send a Message
If you use iMessage, you can ask Siri to transcribe and send a message to anyone in your contact list. This is not only a time saver but using Siri to do this also ensures you won’t forget about it by pushing it for later.
Why remember stuff yourself when Siri can remember it for you? Just tell Siri something like “remind me to buy vegetables tomorrow” and Siri will instantly add it to the Reminders app on your mac. If you have other iOS devices like iPhone and iPad, your reminders will be synced to those as well, so no matter where you are, where you go, or what Apple device you’re using, you can always access your reminders.
Further, you can have Siri give you more specific timely and location-oriented reminders, for example, “Hey Siri, remind me to buy vegetables tomorrow evening while I pass through Vegetable Market.” But to enable Siri to do so, you will have to add those addresses to your device.
Create Events, Appointments, and Notes
Need to add something to your calendar? Just tell Siri something like “Create an event on Wednesday for ‘Dinner at night with Friend’” and it will add it to your Calendar. And again, what you add on Mac will appear on your other Apple devices, so there’s no fear of missing out.
You can also move or reschedule your appointments like “Move my noon meeting to 5 pm”, add people to your meetings, or even ask about specific upcoming meetings like “What’s on my calendar for Wednesday?”.
On the Notes side of things, it’s very easy to make little notes about things such as “Note that I paid my electricity bill”, or “Find my College notes”, or “Show my notes from November 23rd.” If you have specific lists, you can tell Siri to add items to it like “add cucumbers to my grocery list” or “add ‘pay rent’ to my to-do list.” Additionally, you can ask Siri to read you your to-do list.
And like reminders and events, your Notes will be synced to iCloud so it will be available across all your devices.
Open Websites and Launch Applications
This is particularly useful if you just don’t feel like opening Safari and typing the same URL every single morning. Just say something like “open alltechbuzz.net” and that’s it. Siri will open the web page for you in your default browser.
And the same goes for apps. If you want to open an application, just tell Siri to do it. For example, “Open Dropbox” or “Open iTunes”. If you don’t have an application installed, you can also have Siri go and fetch apps from the app store, such as “download Twitter” or even have it search the app store for new apps.
Do Stuff with Twitter and Facebook
Some people are glued to their Twitter feeds all day long. For those, you can ask Siri to show you what’s trending, so that you can stay abreast of all the latest Twitter trends without even opening your Twitter client or a web browser.
You can even update your social media accounts with Siri. Just tell Siri to update Twitter or to post something on Facebook, and it will prompt you for your words of wisdom.
Just Ask about what You can Ask About
If you want to know more and dig further into all of Siri’s powers, simply activate it and say, “what can I ask you?”
Siri will give you a long list of categories, and when you tap on each one, it will give you further examples of all the things you can do with it.
Change Siri’s Voice
If you’re not fond of how your personal assistant talks to you, there are other alternatives you can try. From the Siri section in ‘System Preferences,’ click on the drop-down menu that is next to Siri Voice and you’ll be able to select between a male and female voice in an American, British or Australian accent.
Give Yourself a Nickname
If you don’t want Siri to refer to you by your name, you can tell it to call you by another. Of course, if you don’t like the new nickname, or you want a different one, you can change it at any time by simply asking Siri to call you something else.
Finally, when you’re finished using Siri, you can make it go away by saying something dismissive like “bye” or “see you later.”