Note: This book has not yet been updated to cover changes to Siri in macOS 12 Monterey, iOS 15, iPadOS 15, or watchOS 8. We are hoping to update it at some point in 2022.
Siri, Apple’s voice-controlled digital assistant, has been around since 2011, when it debuted on the iPhone. But since then, it has become vastly more powerful and useful, and has spread across Apple’s entire ecosystem—it now runs on iOS, iPadOS, macOS, Apple Watch, Apple TV, and HomePod. Siri can listen and speak in a wide range of languages and accents, perform a long list of helpful day-to-day tasks, and keep you entertained in the process.
Although Siri is easy to use, it’s so multitalented that you might easily overlook some of its best features. In this book, former Macworld editor Scholle McFarland takes you deep into Siri’s capabilities. You’ll learn tons of tips and tricks about making the most of Siri. Discover how Siri can increase your efficiency and productivity, lend a hand when you’re in the car or out for a jog, and even make it simpler to play music or find movies and TV shows to watch.
Among many other things, this book teaches you:
- What hardware and software you need to use Siri
- How to change Siri’s language and voice
- Ways to personalize Siri by telling it about yourself, your contacts, and more
- The numerous ways to activate Siri (by touch or by voice)
- How to use Siri with AirPods, wired earbuds, or third-party headphones
- What to do if the wrong device answers your “Hey Siri” request
- How to ask Siri about sports, math and conversions, time, food, health, movies, people, stocks, the weather, jokes, real-world sounds, and random facts
- Tips for asking Siri follow-up questions
- How to control music (on any device, with or without an Apple Music subscription)
- Techniques for using Siri to get directions, set reminders and appointments, send messages and email, and take notes
- Ways to use Siri to search for files on your Mac
- What Siri can and can’t do for you on an Apple TV or HomePod
- How to make and use Shortcuts for use with Siri on an iOS/iPadOS device or Apple Watch
- How to get your HomePod to recognize different people’s voices
- Everything you need to know about your privacy where Siri is involved
Plus bonus videos! Since Siri is an audio-based, interactive tool, there are some things that are more readily demonstrated than written about. So Scholle has put together a series of videos that illustrate techniques from her book, allowing you to see and hear exactly what happens as you use Siri.
Whether you’re new to Siri or a seasoned pro, you’re sure to find lots of tricks and suggestions in this book to improve your experience of using Siri.
What’s New in the Second Edition
The second edition of Take Control of Siri is updated for iOS 14.3 and iPad OS 14.3, as well as macOS Big Sur and watchOS 7. (The Mac-specific instructions in this book should work for Catalina or later. Much of what I describe here also works in earlier versions of macOS, but somewhat differently than what you’ll read here.) Along with hundreds of small changes in the book, larger revisions include:
- Instead of taking over the whole screen of your mobile device, Siri now appears as a small widget at the bottom of the screen (iPhone) or bottom-right corner of the screen (iPad). This means you can keep an eye on other information while you make your query. The difference shows in screenshots throughout the book.
- If you have AirPods—or in some cases, Beats headphones—Siri can now announce incoming messages on AirPods (and more) and let you reply hands free.
- Tired of your Siri mixing up you and your teen or spouse’s music preferences? Teach HomePod to recognize different voices so it responds to each of you appropriately.
- Siri includes more ways to ask about health, including symptom-based coronavirus guidance.
- Siri now gathers knowledge from a variety of websites. The result is it can get answers to more questions without kicking you out to a general web search. See “Ask About Random Facts.”
- Whether you’d like to hear a collie or a cuckoo, now you can ask Siri for real-world sounds.
- If you need a little help relaxing, or like to fall asleep to white noise, you can use Siri to tap into the HomePod’s ambient sounds.
- Chained to Apple Maps no more, Siri now can use Google Maps for driving, cycling, walking, or transit directions. It can even access your contacts so you can get directions to a friend’s house by name. See “Use Google Maps Instead.”
- When your message requires some nuance, use Siri to send an audio message instead of a text one.
- You can still use Siri to translate a phrase, but you might want to use iOS 14’s new Translate app instead.
- If you’re tired of family members ignoring their phones, use Siri to turn your HomePod into an intercom to get their attention.
- In responses to issues with Siri recordings, Apple changed some of its privacy settings and policies. One result is that you can now delete your information. See “Understand Siri and Your Privacy.”
Posted by Joe Kissell on February 26, 2021
Scholle McFarland joined Chuck Joiner on MacVoices to discuss the new second edition of her book Take Control of Siri. She describes new features and capabilities in Siri across Apple’s operating systems.
Posted by Joe Kissell on March 9, 2019
Chuck Joiner of MacVoices interviewed Scholle McFarland about Take Control of Siri. Scholle and Chuck discuss her book, including some of Siri’s lesser-known features and how it can help in your home, car, and elsewhere.
Posted by Joe Kissell on February 19, 2019
These videos illustrate techniques for using Siri, based on Take Control of Siri by Scholle McFarland:
How to Change Siri’s Voice
How to Use Siri with Reminders
10 Types of Questions You Can Ask Siri
How to Use Siri in the Kitchen
10 Ways to Use Siri on the Mac
How to Get Help with Siri in an Emergency
How to Use Siri in the Car
Joking Around with Siri
6 Cool Things You Can Do with Siri
How to Control Your Music with Siri
November 23, 2021—This book has not yet been updated to cover changes to Siri in macOS 12 Monterey, iOS 15, iPadOS 15, or watchOS 8. We are hoping to update it at some point in 2022.