Most Useful Siri Commands on macOS

Discussion in 'Guides, How Tos and Reviews' started by MacRumors, Apr 25, 2018.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Starting with macOS Sierra in 2016, Apple introduced support for Siri on the Mac, allowing you to access the personal assistant across all of your Apple devices for the first time.

    Siri on Mac can actually do quite a few useful things that aren't available on iOS devices, and because the technology is still rather new on Apple's desktop and laptop machines, we thought we'd highlight some of the most useful Siri commands on the Mac.

    Siri on Mac can be accessed from the menu bar, the dedicated Siri app that can be added to the dock, or through a keyboard shortcut like Command + Space. You can manage your Siri preferences and options by opening up System Preferences and choosing "Siri" from the options at the bottom of the window.


    One of the simplest and most useful ways to use Siri is to open apps without accessing the dock or finding the app in the applications folder. You can ask Siri to "open the Calendar app" or "open Evernote."

    Open works with any app on your Mac, and it also works with websites and files. Some sample commands:
    [*]Open the Applications Folder
    [*]Open the iCloud Drive folder

    Siri's "Show Me" command on macOS works hand in hand with the series of open commands. You can ask Siri to show you all kinds of files stored on your Mac, which makes it easier to search for specific content. You can also ask for files within apps like Photos. Some sample commands:

    [*]Show me my most recent files
    [*]Show me files from June 2017
    [*]Show me photos from April 2017
    [*]Show me photos from last week
    [*]Show me files from today
    [*]Show me privacy settings
    [*]Show me network settings

    Siri is also interactive and can be used to turn settings on your Mac on and off, just like on iOS devices. Siri can turn on Night Shift, activate Bluetooth, turn off Wi-Fi, and more. Some sample commands:
    [*]Turn off Wi-Fi
    [*]Turn on Bluetooth
    [*]Activate the screensaver
    [*]Turn up the volume
    [*]Turn down the brightness
    [*]Go to sleep
    [*]Change my wallpaper

    Another useful way to use Siri on the Mac is to get information about the Mac itself. You can ask Siri questions about the hardware installed on your Mac. Some sample commands:
    [*]How fast is my Mac?
    [*]What processor does my Mac have?
    [*]Tell me about my Mac
    [*]What is my Mac's serial number?
    [*]How much RAM does my Mac have?
    [*]How much storage do I have?

    Siri can, of course, answer simple queries and provide information, just like you can do on iOS. Commands like "What time is it?" and "What's the weather?" are available, as are more complicated requests like "Find me a good restaurant nearby" or "Get me directions to the mall."

    Do you use Siri for Mac? What are the most useful commands you've found? Let us know if we've missed any in the comments below.

    Article Link: Most Useful Siri Commands on macOS
  2. avanpelt macrumors 68030

    Jun 2, 2010
    I genuinely feel bad for the MR writers who have to write these articles touting 'useful' things that Siri can do. I used Siri on my Mac for about two minutes when it was first introduced. Haven't activated it a single time since then. In my opinion, Siri is even less helpful on the Mac than it is on iOS devices. I have a full-size keyboard and a mouse connected to my Mac. Usually, I can do just about anything Siri could do on a Mac just as fast or faster if I do it myself.
  3. trunten macrumors regular

    Feb 17, 2007
    Genuinely forgot I could use Siri. Looks pretty useful to be fair. May have to give it a go
  4. justperry macrumors G3


    Aug 10, 2007
    In the core of a black hole.
    Lots of reasons not to use Siri on a/my Mac, one major disadvantage is that if I/You talk to your Mac and others are nearby they might be disturbed cause I/You start to talk (to your Mac).
    Another one is that I don't really think it's that helpful.
  5. soupcan macrumors 6502a


    Nov 21, 2014
    I have it activated all the time, but no keyboard combination to activate it.

    Just so I can use my headset's pause button as a pause button and not as a "do you want to activate Siri" button because who thought that was a great idea?
  6. ignatius345 macrumors 68000

    Aug 20, 2015
    Obviously this is all a boon for anyone with accessibility issues, but if you've got a full-sized keyboard under your fingers Siri gets a whole lot less useful than it is on iOS.

    I can hit ⌘-space and open those URLs in Alfred or even Spotlight faster than you can say them and wait for them to be recognized (especially assuming Siri's less than stellar recognition rate). Hell, Alfred lets you just type a word and start a custom search immediately on any site you have it set up with.

    Also, in the Finder ⌘⇧A opens the Applications folder and ⌘⇧I opens the iCloud Drive folder -- both way faster and less irritating than trying to say all that and hope it's recognized.

    I guess they don't consider dictation part of Siri, but it can be pretty useful. It's gotten a lot better than it used to be. Again, on a full size keyboard it always seems a little more cumbersome than just typing but I suppose if you're a slow typist or just don't feel like it or have carpel tunnel or something then it's nice to have. (I just dictated this last paragraph and didn't make any manual correctons. Not bad!)
  7. Internet Enzyme macrumors 6502a

    Internet Enzyme

    Feb 21, 2016
    See, and this lies at the heart of the problem with Siri and other voice assistants. Physically, it’s lower effort to just talk to an assistant. But something about the psychology of it–that humans are tool-harnessing beings–makes it actually seem like more effort to talk to some assistant than to just move my mouse and type a few keys, not even mentioning the fact that it’s almost always the quickest solution, too. I have a light that’s plugged into an Alexa-controlled smart outlet, and I find it More intuitive to just turn the light on by walking over to the switch and turning it on rather than talking to my echo
  8. miniroll32 macrumors 65816


    Mar 28, 2010
  9. lec0rsaire macrumors 65816

    Feb 23, 2017
    I agree with what is said above. I thought I would use Siri more but I really only fooled around with it the first day I bought the machine. I use spotlight to launch everything. At first I would trigger Siri since it shares a very similar keyboard shortcut but this went away in a couple of days. Much quicker than even clicking icons on the dock. TouchID is really the most useful thing added to the mac. I hope iMac users eventually get it somehow. Typing the password is still required for some things but for the most part you won’t encounter thee situations on a daily basis.

    I even use the touchbar for some things that I’ve gotten used to. Emptying the trash, and some app specific things here and there.
  10. CmdrLaForge macrumors 601


    Feb 26, 2003
    around the world
    I have deactivated Siri on all my Apple devices. I cannot find it useful at all.
  11. CLS727 macrumors regular


    Feb 5, 2018
    most useful command for macOS is:

    settings > siri > disable

    The ONLY device I actually use voice commands on is the new Apple TV (easier than typing in search terms with that little remote)
  12. SBlue1 macrumors 65816


    Oct 17, 2008
    The one and only use it is capable of doing on my iPhone is missing entirely on the Mac: setting a timer. :(
  13. timsutcliffe macrumors 6502

    Jun 18, 2007
    Unfortunately the command ‘Go to sleep’ sometimes results in Siri saying ‘I never sleep’ which is not ideal.
  14. macduke macrumors G3


    Jun 27, 2007
    Central U.S.
    I forget Siri is on the Mac until I accidentally invoke it using a shortcut. I use Bartender to hide it and a bunch of other icons.
  15. supremedesigner macrumors 6502a


    Dec 9, 2005
    Gainesville, Fl
  16. ___joshuaturner macrumors member


    Dec 15, 2017
  17. lec0rsaire macrumors 65816

    Feb 23, 2017
    I should be a little more forgiving with Siri. While I use keyboard shortcuts/hot keys, the fact is that the average user probably doesn’t. People on these forums are much more likely to be enthusiasts than the average Mac or PC user. We have to keep that in mind when criticizing a feature that may be very useful to others while being unnecessary for us.
  18. ignatius345 macrumors 68000

    Aug 20, 2015
    I think the inherent doubt of talking to a machine with a low recognition or "understanding" rate makes it more of a cognitive chore. If I start asking Siri things, I know from experience that I may be subjecting myself to several rounds of frustration and repetition -- but I know that if I just type the damn thing, it's going to be right the first time. That, along with the awkardness of having to formulate my query in Siri's terms, makes me way less likely to use it.

    On a related note, I'd also argue that while dictation is not really a great way to write. The comparative slowness of typing (at least at the 50-100 wpm rate that I think many of us are at) forces you to slow down at least a little bit as you formulate sentences. Every time I try to "write something down" with dictation, it's even more wordy and sloppy than my regular writing.
  19. TaviDuprix macrumors member


    Mar 15, 2016
    I am surprised that, "Hey, Siri! Launch Google" is not one of them. I hate to admit it but I do this several times per month because of things Siri can't do.
  20. FloatingBones macrumors 65816


    Jul 19, 2006
    I find Siri quite useful for playing podcasts in iTunes: "Rewind 30 seconds" to play again something that I missed, or "skip 30 seconds" to skip... something. It is far faster and more accurate to do it this way. It's especially useful when I'm playing a podcast in bed: Command-SPACE is easy to do; futzing with the keyboard and trackpad is a pain.

    YMMV, but that cuts both ways. Simply because you don't experience an advantage using macos Siri doesn't mean that others won't.

    Just verb google. The "launch" is unnecessary.
  21. Dilster3k macrumors 6502a


    Jul 20, 2014
    Wow, not to join the bandwagon... but I genuinely forgot macOS had Siri until I read the title here.
  22. Macaholic868, Apr 25, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2018

    Macaholic868 macrumors 6502


    Feb 2, 2017
    Wouldn’t it be nice if any Siri command could be issued on any device so long as the device had the hardware based means to execute it and your Siri “profile” followed you no matter which device you were using? Wouldn’t it be nice if Siri knew what you’d just asked it so you could ask a follow up question?

    Siri is a joke. The wealthiest company in the USA can and should do better. Even if it means re-architecting it from the ground up. My 1Password “profile” stores safely in iCloud and can follow me between devices. Why can’t Siri?

    If iCloud isn’t secure enough then put a Secure Enclave in every device and have it sync across all of you devices. I don’t want to hear that it can’t be done when Google and Amazon have both figured it out. If they can do it by storing your data on a server then Apple can do it by storing data in a Secure Enclave and syncing those via iCloud. If it needs to have its own Secure Enclave separate from Touch ID and Face ID so be it. Give users the option anyway. I’d trade some security for a more functional Siri. The most profitable tech company in history should have a better alternative than Siri.
  23. PinkyMacGodess macrumors 601


    Mar 7, 2007
    Midwest America.
    Yeah, but people are already used to douche bags walking around with their Bluetooth ear growths trying to look cool, and people on speaker phone, trying to 'multitask', and failing...
    --- Post Merged, Apr 25, 2018 ---
    But, yeah, it can do basic stuff. What I want to know is, is it worth my time to add a mic to my Old Mac Pro just so I can talk to something that does 'basic stuff'.

    I'm thinking, no.

    Does Siri rock the Apple TV better than it doesn't the mac, and iPhone?
  24. saulinpa macrumors 6502a

    Jun 15, 2008
    Siri is one disappointment after another. It will do an "open calendar" but won't do a "close calendar" - "Sorry, I can't close an app" - WTF?
  25. avanpelt macrumors 68030

    Jun 2, 2010
    Apple probably did that intentionally because they know the error rate is high enough with what Siri “hears” that it would be possible for you to say something totally unrelated to closing but Siri would hear “close” and proceed to close an application on your Mac.

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