Siri for Apple Mac: A complete guide

Everything you need to know about Siri on your Mac

Siri for Mac: A complete guide
The Ambient is reader-powered. If you click through using links on the site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

We’re used to having Siri on our iPhones and it’s now reached the home by way of the HomePod – but it’s also included on the Mac as well, after being introduced in MacOS Sierra.

If there’s one advantage the likes of Apple and Google have over Amazon it's the prevalence of their devices, enabling them to put voice assistants closer to us. While Amazon’s strategy involves achieving that voice assistant ubiquity via Alexa-enabled light switches, mirrors, speakers and other devices, the chances are you’ll already have Siri within reach.

We’ve already covered using Siri on the Apple TV, but here’s how to make the most of it on your Mac as well.

How to turn on Siri on your Mac

If you can’t see Siri on your Mac’s taskbar, you will need to enable it. Just follow the simple steps below to enable Siri on your Mac:

  1. Click Apple > System Preferences
  2. Select Siri
  3. Ensure Enable Siri is ticked
  4. If you don't want Siri talking back to you, turn off Voice Feedback.
  5. Ensure microphone is set to your Mac’s internal speaker
  6. Assign a different wake shortcut if desired.

Siri for Apple Mac: A complete guide

How to wake Siri

You might be surprised that there’s no “Hey Siri” wake-word for the Mac, and instead you’ll have to do things manually. Apple hasn’t really mastered the art of multiple iDevice wake-ups, so “Hey Siri” is likely disabled so the command doesn’t play havoc on your iPhone. It is possible to get it working though, by way of a workaround. If you’re so inclined, it’s worth checking out the guide below.

By default there are actually a few ways to wake Siri on your Mac – you can choose which way works best for you. A keyboard shortcut is the default, and works by holding Command + Space together. You can change that to whatever you wish in the Siri System Preferences menu.

Alternatively, once Siri is enabled you can also click the Siri icon on the toolbar in the top right-hand corner of your Mac’s screen.

How to add ‘Hey Siri’ wake word to your Mac

This isn’t an official way of adding a voice activated wake-word for Siri, but you can make it work. It’s far from seamless, however. It could also be worth changing the “Hey Siri” listed below to something different, to ensure your iPhone doesn’t wake at the same time.

  • Head to System Preferences > Siri
  • Ensure Siri is enabled
  • Set a new custom shortcut for Siri
  • System Preferences > Keyboard > Dictation and check Enhanced Dictation
  • Go to System Preferences > Accessibility > Dictation
  • Check box for Enable dictationkeyword and change to “Hey”
  • Go to Accessibility > Dictation commands > and check Enable advanced comments
  • Press + and create a command for:
    When I say: Siri
    While using: Any Application
    Perform: Add your Siri keyboard shortcut
  • Press Done. You may need to return to System Preferences > Siri and turn off, and back on again.
  • Say “Hey Siri” to wake your Mac.

Siri for Apple Mac: A complete guide

What can Siri do?

You don’t get a standard Siri experience across all devices, and some commands you might have got used to on your iPhone or Apple TV won’t necessarily work on your Mac. However, in turn there are tonnes of Siri commands that are Mac specific, and we’ve focused on those below. They’re heavily contextual, so change up the examples and see how they work for you.

Siri for Mac files commands

  • "Find files I worked on yesterday."
  • "Show me just the ones from Monday."
  • "Show Pages documents."
  • "Do I have any new emails?"
  • "What's on my schedule today?"
  • "Find [name] Note."

Siri for Mac social Commands

  • "Tweet, [message]'"
  • "What are people saying about [hashtag keyword] on Twitter?"
  • "What's trending on Twitter?"
  • "Post to Facebook [message]."

Siri for Mac Photos commands

  • “Show me my photos of [tag]”
  • “Find my photos taken this summer”
  • “Find my photos from [place]”
  • “Create a slideshow of my photos from [time period]”

Siri for Mac settings commands

  • “Put computer to sleep”
  • “Turn on the screen saver”
  • “Turn brightness up/down”
  • “Is Bluetooth on?”
  • “Turn Bluetooth off/on”
  • “Volume up/down”

Siri for Mac music control

  • “Play”
  • “Pause”
  • “Stop”
  • “Skip forward/Back”
  • “Shuffle this album/shuffle off”
  • “What is this track”
  • “Add this track to my [playlist name] playlist”

How to pin a Siri result

You can pin Siri results to your taskbar for later. When you ask Siri for information just click the plus icon at the top right of the grey box displaying the result of a Siri query.

Taking screenshots of Siri

When Siri shows you results, you can just drag that screen to your desktop or Finder window. This will create an automatic screenshot of the results, which is handy for future reference, rather than re-running the command, and perhaps getting different information.

TAGGED    apple home

Related stories

smart home Aqara smart home kit hits UK and European Apple Stores
apple home The best Apple HomeKit devices: Compatible smart lights, plugs, thermostats, cameras, sensors and more
apple home The ultimate guide to Apple CarPlay
apple home ​Apple HomeKit: Everything you need to know about living in an Apple Home
apple home How to stream and control Spotify on your Apple HomePod
apple home How to play podcasts on the HomePod with Siri and AirPlay 2