Our guide to macOS Sierra tips, tricks and hidden features will turbocharge your Apple software experience. Whether you’re a pro user or a complete novice, here are nine secret Siri commands to try out today.
Siri has officially graduated. Everyone’s favourite pocket assistant is moving on from its smartphone roots, progressing to make its Mac-based debut aboard Apple’s latest desktop software rollout. While the full macOS Sierra release is still being fine-tuned ahead of a September release, the public beta is now available as a free download, giving you an early chance to try out many of the new features.
Chief among these, and lining up alongside improved Photos skills and picture-in-picture video viewing, is Siri. Instead of forcing the digital PA to drop the sass bombs by asking it to divide zero by zero, why not give these handy Siri for Mac commands a go instead?
Here are nine of the best things you can ask Siri to do in macOS Sierra.
1. FIND OUT WHAT FLICKS TO WATCH
Some of Siri’s Mac-based skills are exactly the same as its smartphone counterpart’s. That’s anything but an issue, though. Siri’s pretty handy on your pocket blower, so rejoice in being able to do things like checking football scores, finding your nearest coffee shop, and checking which movies are being shown at a cinema near you.
By asking “When’s Star Trek Beyond showing near me,” not only will Siri tell you when the film you’re interested in is scheduled at your local cinema, but it will also give you an insight as to how people are reacting to the film. Because maybe that latest Adam Sandler flick isn’t quite as hilarious as the well-edited 14-second trailer would lead you to believe.
2. ENJOY HANDS-FREE TWEETING
Handling social media accounts isn’t what big shots do, and just like any minor celebrity or mid-sized company with interns, you can get a taste of the high life by turning your back on manual Twitter updates. Assuming you’ve synced macOS Sierra to your social media accounts, here’s how to let Siri take the reigns.
Once you’re all hooked up, just tell Siri to “Tweet” followed by your sub-140-character message of choice, then your verbal commands will be transformed into a fully formed tweet. You can even throw in hashtags simply by saying the word “hashtag” – Siri’s now smart enough to sub out the word for the symbol.
It’s not just Twitter you can post to without lifting a finger, either. To get Siri doing your Facebook posts for you, simply say “Post to Facebook” followed by whatever social status you want to throw down.
3. FIND YOUR HOLIDAY PHOTOS WITHOUT THE FAFF
One of the coolest new macOS Sierra features is the Skynet-style Photos app. As well as keeping all your images safe and secure, Photos has added some AI-enhanced street smarts. Among these is the ability to work out not only where photos were taken, but what’s going on and even who is in them – creepy, but also cool.
This makes searching for specific snaps much easier. Commands such as “Show my photos from yesterday” or “Show me photos taken in Spain” will now utilise Photos’ enhanced smarts to do just that. With Photos also set to learn who’s in the snaps you’ve taken, you’ll soon be able to voice search for images of your mates or selfies of you and your bae too.
4. GET A LITTLE PEACE AND QUIET
Sometimes when you’re sat at the computer, you just want a little, well… alone time – for watching the latest Bond film or catching up on the day’s sporting action, obviously. With Siri’s skills at your disposal, you can kill all the distractions just by shouting, “Do not disturb.”
Customisable in Settings, this “Do not disturb” command can be used to curb all manner of annoyances, with everything from Calendar alerts and Messages notifications being turned off, allowing you to enjoy your film without your email inbox pinging every 12 minutes.
5. FIND YOUR DOCUMENTS THE EASY WAY
We’ve all been there. You know you looked at a specific document just a couple of days ago, but are unable to find the sodding thing in the mass of desktop clutter that you meant to sort out weeks ago. Thankfully, the days of mind-numbing manual searching are behind us – Siri for macOS is coming to your rescue.
Asking Siri to “Show me documents opened this week” will help narrow down your spreadsheet hunt massively – and it doesn’t stop there. Ask a follow-up query like “Only show ones with ‘accounts’ in the title” and your desired documents should spring forth, with no button presses or endless searches required.
6. GET REMINDERS BASED ON YOUR LOCATION
Location tracking is both sinister and handy in equal measure. Fortunately, this Siri-aiding enhancement falls on the useful side of the fence. Because your Mac knows where you are (and where you live and work), it can use its geo-smarts to give you prompts and reminders when you arrive at the office or return home after a busy day.
This can cover off pretty much anything from picking up something to eat, reminding you to wish your bezzie a happy birthday, or asking Siri to “Remind me to call Mum when I get home.” You’ll never be accused of forgetting your folks again.
7. MAKE FACETIME CALLS QUICKLY
So Siri’s reminded you you’ve got to call your mum, but that’s not a cue for your digital PA to clock off for the day – there’s more that it can help you with. Letting you leave your phone firmly in your pocket, Siri commands such as “FaceTime Mum” will get the call going without you having to lift a finger.
You don’t need to look someone in the eye to talk to them, either. If you own an iPhone as well as a Mac -– and your phone’s on the same Wi-Fi network as your laptop – you can use Siri to make an actual call by saying, “Call Mum, home.”
Phone in another room? Don’t worry about it – by syncing wirelessly with your computer, you can simply chat and listen using your Mac’s integrated mic and speakers.
8. MUTE THE VOLUME
Got a call incoming? You no longer need to worry about faffing around pausing tunes in Spotify or trying to remember which keyboard shortcut lets you mute the music – Siri can do it all for you.
Simply yell: “Mute the volume,” and Siri will do just that, culling the audio while keeping everything running in the background so you can answer your call in peace. Other commands such as “Pause my music” will also do the trick.
9. CHECK YOUR COMPUTER’S STORAGE
Beyond helping you find lost documents, Siri on Mac can serve up plenty more useful functions, too. Like what? Well, it can keep tabs on the state of your machine for a start. Calling out, “How much free space do I have on my Mac?” will save you much menu and settings hopping, presenting your device’s storage options front and centre.
It’s not just a passive experience, either. Commands such as “Adjust my brightness” and “Turn the volume up” can be used to tweak your system’s settings without all the usual faff and effort.