Set up Hey Siri on your Mac

Siri has been the personal assistant for iOS since it was first seen on the iPhone 4S in October 2011. Helping it's users find out information by using voice dictation was certainly a great aid to personal productivity (when Siri understood the question correctly of course, which is a whole different conversation!). When iOS 8 was released in September 2014, we gained the ability to activate Siri by speech, as opposed to pressing the Home button. When connected to a charger, Siri would respond to a "Hey Siri" command. Handy.

With the introduction of macOS Sierra, Siri finally found it's way onto our desktops, however minus the ability to invoke Siri with your voice.

The good news is that with a bit of trickery, you can bypass this and shout "Hey Siri" to your heart's content, whilst getting frustrated with the results and fighting the urge to throw your device at the nearest wall. Although maybe that's just me and my strange English accent.

Let's run through the process:

1 - Turn on Enhanced Dication

Go to System Preferences -> Keyboard -> Dictation and select the Use Enhanced Dictation check box. You will be told that this will allow offline use of Voice Dictation resulting in a download being required.

2 - Enable the Dictation Keyword Phrase

Here we are going to set the phrase that your Mac will listen out for to enable Voice Dictation. I wonder if you can guess what it is...

Go to System Preference -> Accessibility -> Dictation

Select Enable the Dictation Keywork Phrase and type in the word hey

3 - Enable Advanced Dictation Commands to invoke Siri

From the same window, select Dictation Commands. Check the Enable advanced commands box and then click the plus button to add a new command.

In the When I Say box, type Siri. Keep While using set to Any Application In the Perform drop down box, select Open Finder Items and navigate to the Siri application.

Click Done.

Now that you know how to complete this to activate Siri, just think of the other potential uses for Voice Dictation that you may not otherwise have known about....

Siri's Hidden Talents

We all know that Siri can be a powerful assistant on our iOS devices. I frequently leverage her power to schedule meetings, set reminders, make calls and send messages. Yet a small amount of web trawling showed me some other use cases that I simply wasn't aware of.

Here are some of my favourites:

Post To Twitter

If you are a social media user, activate Siri and say "Post To Twitter (or Facebook)". Siri will then ask you exactly what you would like to post. So far, this only works for Twitter and Facebook, given the fact you can configure these account settings within your iOS device directly.

Calculating Tips

Not just tips of course, but any complex math question. "Hey Siri, what is 20% of £39.75?" will yield the correct answer very quickly.

Making Decisions

I hate decision fatigue. Tires my brain out and there are times when I feel as though I don't have enough brain power as it is!

"Hey Siri, can you flip a coin?"
"Hey Siri, roll a dice for me?"

Putting the responsibilty for decisions onto anything that isn't me makes me smile.

Converting Measurements

This seems to come up a lot for me, especially when completing forms that ask for my height and weight, yet I still insist on only knowing my mass in stones/pounds rather than kilograms.

"Hey Siri, whats 13 stones in kilograms?" saves me a lot of time, often when I need it.


Settings Access

"Hey Siri, open Bluetooth"
"Hey Siri, open Personal Hotspot"
"Hey Siri, open Wifi"

You know where I'm going with this one. No more thumbing through the Settings app to get to these.

Email Management

I like using Siri to find emails from certain contacts about a given subject. "Hey Siri, show me emails about my new timetable" or "Hey Siri, do I have any emails from (NAME)" are handy commands. You can also use Siri to reply to an email. Whilst reading, activate Siri and say "Reply Dear Mike, I'm sorry, I'm not free to take over the world this week, try me again in a month's time"

Register Relationships

As long as your own contact information is entered (Settings -> General -> Siri), then you can tell Siri to remember certain contacts as family members.

"Joseph Bloggs is my son"
"Tubs Lardy is my boss"

When Siri asks if you would like the relationship saved, say Yes and in the future, you can say "Hey Siri, call my boss" and you don't need to say the name.

Save To Evernote

Fits in with the email management side to a point, however if you have your Evernote email address saved as a contact (which I'm sure you have - It's not like it's an easy one to remember!) then you can say:
"Hey Siri - send an email to Evernote Upload" (that's the name I have assigned in Contacts to my Evernote address)


Setting Location Reminders

You need to make sure that Location Services are activated for Reminders to make this work. Then, you will need to configure some locations in your Contact card. This is easily done by opening Contacts and clicking on My Card. Add addresses for Home and Work as a useful start.

"Hey Siri, remind me to peel the spuds when I get home"

It doesn't have to be locations tied to your contact card. If you want, Siri can create reminders based on points of interest that have appeared through Internet searches.

"Hey Siri, remind me to try the new sub when I get to Subway"

This prompts a response that involves choosing from a list of restaurants and you simply choose the one you want. Other examples would include reminding you to get nails at the Hardware store, collect a form from your childs school when you arrive, pick up fruit from the Supermarket etc.


There are so many more uses for Siri that I've outlines above, these are just some of my favourites that aren't widely adopted. Look for more and see how Siri can help make you a tiny bit more productive.

Siri - Apple TV Commands

I don't know about you, but I feel like I should be using Siri an awful lot more than I do. That goes for all my devices that are Siri-capable, however none more-so than the Apple TV. One of the major selling points is that you can hold down the Siri button on the remote and bark out some commands and, like the (mostly) obedient pup that it is, Siri responds with what you were looking for.


I just need to practice more and every time I do something manually on either my Apple TV or iOS device, I'm going to check myself and ask "Can Siri do this for me quicker?"

One way to help me with this is to use this short post that David Sparks (MacSparky) has diligently created. I've added this to my Daily Reading List and I'm sure that it will all become muscle memory soon enough (repetition is one of the key methods I use to retain information).

Updating Calendar Events with Siri

If you follow David Allen's Getting Things Done methodology, then your Calendar is the most important system you look at during the day. Please follow this link to an excellent Apple Insider article that covers how to use Siri to help you manage your Calendar on the move when manual typing isn't an option. You can save a lot of time with dictation and I must admit, I love having a Personal Assistant.