‘Hey Siri…’ has come to the Mac. Specifically, macOS Sierra, of course. Frankly, I like Siri on my Mac, but I find it rather odd to use. Maybe it has something to do with how I view Siri; mostly as an iPad or iPhone utility.
Still, Siri on the Mac works but oddly, it comes with a few caveats, not the least of which is invoking Siri to take a command. On iPhones prior to iPhone 6s, Siri came about with a long touch to the Home button. Newer iPhones have a ‘Hey Siri…’ that’s always on. What about the Mac?
iPhone 6s and iPhone 7 have an always on ‘Hey Siri…’ function. Siri just sits and listens for your voice and a ‘Hey Siri…’ shout out to spring into action (as much as a digital personal assistant can ‘spring’), ready for your command. What about the Mac? No such ‘Hey Siri…’ verbal command. Instead, you’re confined to a user configurable keyboard shortcut to invoke Siri to listen.
That just doesn’t seem right considering the Mac notebook line has very large batteries, and the Mac mini, MacPro and iMac all are plugin powered. As it turns out, there is a way to go ‘Hey Siri…’ on the Mac, and get it to respond just like it does on the iPhone.
Here are the steps. Follow them carefully to enable ‘Hey Siri…’
- Open System Preferences
- Click on Accessibility
- Click on Dictation
- Check ‘Enable the Dictation Keyword Phrase’
- Replace ‘Computer‘ with whatever word you want to invoke Siri; I use ‘Yo‘ because my iPhone usually is nearby and I don’t want ‘Hey Siri…’ on the Mac to conflict with the iPhone.
- Click ‘Dictation Commands…’ above that
- Enable Advanced Commands
- Create A Custom Command (click the Plus button)
- Name the Command (Siri is OK)
- Enter the Keyboard Shortcut that matches the Siri keyboard shortcut in System Preferences
- That’s it. You’re done.
Now, all you need to do is say ‘Hey Siri…’ in front of your Mac, the microphone picks it up, and Siri is invoked.
Here are the basic screenshots in order, starting first with the Siri preference pane in System Preferences. You need to enable Siri and give it a keyboard shortcut.
Then, in System Preferences, open the Accessibility panel and select the Diction button in the lefthand sidebar.
Follow the steps above.
You’re almost done.
Click the Dictation Commands button and you get a drop down pane. Click ‘Enable Advanced Commands’ then click the Plus button and create a new User command, and enter your ‘Hey Siri…’ command and the appropriate keyboard shortcut into Perform.
That’s it. ‘Hey Siri…’ now works on your Mac without the keyboard shortcuts, just as it does on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 7.
What Siri still cannot do is keep a context going. Each command needs to be preceded by the aforementioned ‘Hey Siri…’ What I would like is to have Siri continue listening for a few seconds after responding to a command; just in case I have something else. A good personal assistant would stand at the ready, and in some cases say, ‘Will that be all?‘ but still remain listening. Maybe we’ll see that in iOS 11 and macOS Bakersfield next year.