How to Enable Hands-Free ‘Hey Siri’ in macOS Sierra

macos sierra siri

For whatever reason, Apple seems to greatly prefer Siri on iOS over Siri for the Mac. The virtual assistant debuted all the way back in 2011 alongside the iPhone 4s and just this year it finally moved to the Mac with macOS Sierra. But Apple still left one feature of Siri behind: “Hey Siri” activation.

On a Mac, there is currently no way to flick a switch and have Siri automatically launch as soon as you say “Hey Siri” out loud. Siri instead relies on either a click or a keyboard shortcut to activate. Fortunately, there is a very clever workaround if you’re willing to play around in your Mac’s System Preferences.

Enable ‘Hey Siri’ for Mac

The first step toward enabling Hey Siri on your Mac is to change the keyboard shortcut. Open System Preferences and click Siri.

Locate the Keyboard Shortcut dropdown menu and choose Customize…

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Select Siri in System Preferences.
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Choose Customize… next to Keyboard Shortcut and enter your own.

You need to create your own keyboard shortcut to enable Siri, and you’ll see why a bit later. Choose any combination of keys you want that doesn’t interfere with a different shortcut. When you’re done, head back to the main System Preferences panel.

Now, click the Accessibility settings. Scroll down to Dictation on the left. That’s right, we’re going to use dictation to our advantage here.

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Go back and choose Accessibility in System Preferences.

Select where it says “Enable the dictation keyword phrase” and in the provided box, type the word “Hey”.

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Type in “Hey” for your dictation keyword phrase.

Above that, click Dictation Commands… and on the bottom left of the new panel, be sure to select “Enable advanced commands.”

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Add a new dictation command.

Now create a new command by clicking the + icon. In the box next to “When I say” type in “Siri”. For “While using” leave For Any Application selected. Lastly, choose Press Keyboard Shortcut… for the Perform option and type in the same custom keyboard shortcut you set previously to enable Siri.

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Type in “Siri” so this triggers your keyboard shortcut.

Click Done to confirm and close your System Preferences. You should now be able to call up Siri solely by speaking “Hey Siri” into your Mac’s microphone. Give it a test drive and Siri should pop up after a second or two ready to take your query.

Essentially, what we’ve done is enabled an accessibility feature that lets you activate a keyboard shortcut with a particular word. Saying “Hey” allows your Mac to begin listening, then saying “Siri” puts the keyboard shortcut into effect and launches the application.

Something important to note is that if you also occasionally want to launch Siri using a keyboard shortcut, you now have to do so with your custom shortcut, so don’t forget it.