How to activate “Hey Siri” on macOS Sierra

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Mac Siri dock

Whether it’s on your iPhone, Apple Watch or iPad, you can activate and use Siri using a simple “Hey Siri” command, however the Mac didn’t get native “Hey Siri” support, which to us is rather surprising as it would have a ton of use case scenarios! But, their is a way, after some tinkering, to get Siri on your Mac to activate with either “Hey Siri” or anything you like, and here’s how.

siri-settings-sierra

Whilst it’s great to be able to hold CMD+SPACE (default) or any Keyboard command you wish, we still find it weird that the Mac would miss out on Hey Siri, especially as all Macs have a built in mic ready and waiting, but to get this working, we’re actually going to initialise an Accessibility shortcut.

1. Change / Stick with your chosen Siri keyboard shortcut

By selecting a Keyboard shortcut, we’d recommend changing it to either Option or FN as sticking with Command Space will launch Spotlight, what we’re going to do is tell your Mac to start listening to your voice, then once it picks it up initiate that very keyboard shortcut which in this case will launch Siri.

2. Create a Dictation Command

Open System Preferences and go to, ironically, Keyboard, then to Dictation. Whether your dictation is Off or On what we need to do is tick the box labelled “Use Enhanced Dictation”. This will require a download typically between 400-500MB depending on your Language settings, which can be changed accordingly.

If you have multiple Microphones, i.e a plugged in headset with Mic or generic Microphone you can select which you wish to use, otherwise chose Internal Microphone.

3. Go to Accessibility in System Preferences

In System Preferences, Accessibility, scroll down the left bar till you pass ‘Interacting’ and select ‘Dictation’. Once opened you will need to tick the box “Enable the dictation keyboard phrase:”.

By default, the word ‘Computer’ will be listed, in this case we’re going to replace it with “Hey”, but you can honestly choose whatever you like. For this example we’re going to initiate by saying Hey Siri.

4. Set voice command to Siri

Whilst still inside Accessibility, click ‘Dictation Commands…’. You will then be presented with a window with options for “When I say:”, “Whilst using:”, and “Perform:”. In our case we want to tell the Mac that when we say Hey Siri, we want Siri to open by;

When I say: Siri

Whilst using: Any Application

Perform: Press ^SPACE

When you click the pop-up menu for Perform it will ask you to “Press keys now”, in our case we pressed Control and Space. Control shows up as a ^ symbol.

Once you have the keyboard shortcut set and command, click Done.

5. Test and go (or Customise for better effect)

Now, when you say “Hey Siri”, your Mac will open Siri which will be listening straight away, and you can initiate as you would had you either tapped the Siri dock icon, or done the keyboard command.

However, if you have iOS devices or even the Apple Watch close by, naturally they will be listening for “Hey Siri” too, so it maybe worth changing your Mac to something slightly different by simply changing the “When I say:” box from Step 4.

6. Stop the initial swish sound

Just a final pointer, which is optional. Whenever you set an Accessibility shortcut, your Mac will make a swish sound to confirm it’s heard before performing the action. If you don’t wish this to happen and just want it to perform the given task;

Go to System Preferences > Accessibility > Dictation > and untick the box for “Play sound when command is recognized”

 


 

And there you have it, now you can Hey Siri, or Hey Arnold, or absolutely anything if you wish, to activate Siri from your Mac. It’s optional, but saves you a ton of time and hassle … ok not a lot, but it’s cool to use.

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