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16 things you should know how to do with Siri

Dan Miller | April 28, 2014
Siri is, of course, a marvel of modern technology. But it's also one of those things that a lot of us don't use as much as we could or should. So a couple of Macworld editors, particularly Senior Editor Dan Frakes, put together the following list of 16 things we think everybody should know how to do using Siri.

Siri is, of course, a marvel of modern technology. But it's also one of those things that a lot of us don't use as much as we could or should. So a couple of Macworld editors, particularly Senior Editor Dan Frakes, put together the following list of 16 things we think everybody should know how to do using Siri.

1. Search for stuff on the Web Siri can perform Web searches (using Google, Bing, or Yahoo), get answers to more specialized questions using Wolfram Alpha ("What's the square root of pi?"), find reviews of businesses (using Yelp), search Wikipedia, and so on. Just phrase your question in natural language, and then tap a search result to go to the source site (or app) for more information.

2. Control system settings: Siri's become a bit smarter across the board in iOS 7. One of its major improvements is in its ability to control your device's settings. You can ask Siri to turn Bluetooth on or off, open a specific Settings pane, and even turn on Airplane Mode (though Apple's voice assistant gets a little snarky if you ask for that last one). If you need to change a setting Siri doesn't directly support, and you can't quite remember how to get to that settings screen, you can also open many top-level settings groups, and some second-level screens, in the Settings app — for example, "Open Notification Center settings." This feature doesn't work for every section of the Settings app — especially those related to security — but it's worth trying when you need to quickly tweak the way your device works.

3. Teach Siri who's who If you've been saying the full name of your spouse, sibling, other family member, or boss, there's a better way: Say "your spouse's name is my spouse" and Siri will remember that designation in the future. You can then just say "Text my spouse" and Siri will know exactly whom to text. You can also add relationships by editing your own record in the Contacts apps: tap Add Related Name, then choose a relationship and a corresponding contact.

4. Send a text or email One of the most-convenient tasks Siri can perform is creating and sending text and email messages. Say, "Send my wife an email" or "Text my wife," and Siri will create a new message and ask you what you want the message to say. Dictate your message, Siri shows you a preview ("Read my message tells Siri to read it back to you), and then prompts you to send the message. Say, "Send," and it's sent.

You can make your Siri interactions more efficient by including as much info as possible in the initial command. For example, instead of saying, "Text my wife," waiting for Siri to ask you what you want your text message to say, and then dictating, "We need to pick up the kids from the party at 4pm," just say "Text my wife that we need to pick up the kids from the party at 4pm." (You can also use this trick for calendar events and reminders.)

 

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