The Ultimate Guide to set up and start using Siri

Siri logo

One of the coolest things about your new iOS device is that you can do so many things with it using just your voice, thanks to Siri. As a voice command-controlled personal assistant, Siri can quickly phone your contacts, send a text, tweet or email, search the web, tell you about the weather, launch your favorite apps, set alarms and organize your calendar, play music and even read you a book — and all you have to do is ask.


First things first

Let’s get started by enabling (or disabling) Siri:

  • On your iOS device, launch Settings from the home screen.
  • Tap General and then tap Siri.
  • Toggle Siri on or off and confirm your choice.

To get Siri to respond accurately, let’s configure Siri correctly.

  • Launch Settings from the home screen, tap General and then tap Siri.
  • Next, tap Language and select your preferred language. English speakers from the US, Australia and Canada should select the English version for their respective countries, while UK and international users will get better results with English (United Kingdom). Siri also works with several other international languages that you can choose from.
  • Tap Back, and then tap Voice Gender to indicate whether you want Siri to respond with a male or female voice.
  • Tap Voice Feedback to choose whether you’d like to Siri to talk back to you every time, or only when using hands-free mode.
  • Tap My Info and select your own contact information so Siri knows that you’re the primary user, and addresses you correctly.
  • Toggle Raise to Speak to activate Siri when you lift your phone to your ear — this consumes a bit more battery life than conventional use, so keep that in mind when enabling this option.
  • Tap Back to exit the menu and you’re done.
Configure Siri to work correctly
Configure Siri to work correctly

You can also restrict access to Siri. Siri can be launched by long-pressing the Home button anytime — even when your phone is locked. To allow access to Siri only with your personal Touch ID or passcode:

  • Launch Settings from your home screen, and then tap Touch ID & Passcode (or just Passcode on some devices).
  • Type in your passcode.
  • Scroll to the bottom, and under Allow Access When Locked, turn Off the option for Siri.
Restrict access to Siri
Restrict access to Siri

Now that we’re all set up, simply long-press the Home button to activate Siri and say your command.

Using Siri

There are three ways to use Siri:

  • Hold the physical Home button till Siri shows up and asks, “What can I help you with?”, release and then say your command.
  • Hold the physical Home button till Siri shows up and say your command; release the Home button only when you’ve finished saying your command (iOS 7.1).
  • Enable Raise to Speak in the Siri options menu under Settings, and simply lift your device to your ear to invoke Siri and say your command.

The Basics

The first thing you need to know about using voice commands with Siri is that you can be flexible (to a certain extent) with how you phrase your requests. For example, if you’d like to know what the weather is like, you can say, “Siri, show me today’s weather forecast” or “Will it rain today?”

Ask a question, and tap the question text to edit your query
Ask a question, and tap the question text to edit your query

Notice that you can make your request as a sentence or a question. This means that you don’t have to really memorize every command, and that help and information are just a voice command away.

If Siri gets your question wrong, simply scroll up to reveal the question text, and tap on it to edit your query by typing in your changes. And when you need to give an additional command while Siri is active, simply tap the microphone button at the bottom of the screen to do so.

One more thing: Some of Siri’s features (like sports information and movie showtimes) are only available in certain countries. Here’s a list of what’s available where.

Pronouncing your name

International users will know what I’m talking about: pronouncing Abhimanyu Ghoshal correctly on the first try isn’t easy for most people, and Siri is no exception.

  • Say ‘That’s not how you pronounce Firstname Lastname’. Siri will then ask you to pronounce the first name and last name individually, and present pronunciation options for you to choose from.
  • Tap Play option 1, 2 and 3, and then tap Select next to the one that works best, and Siri will get it right the next time.
  • You can also teach Siri to call you pretty much anything you want, like ‘Your Grace’ or ‘Sir Textalot’.
    Just say, “From now on, call me Your Grace”, reply “OK” when prompted and Siri will get with the program.

And don’t just stop there: have Siri learn your family members’ names too:

  • First, ask Siri, “Show me my contact info” and then tap on your details.
  • Tap Edit and then scroll down to Related Names, and add your parents, siblings, spouse and other relations: select a label, and then tap the i Icon alongside it to find the appropriate contact from your address book.
  • When you’re finished, tap Done to save your changes. You can tell Siri, “Text my mum” or “Call my brother” to connect to your loved ones quickly.

Connect with your contacts

Siri is great at putting you in touch with your contacts: you can make calls and send texts in a flash.

Text multiple contacts at once
Text multiple contacts at once
  • As described above, you can simply say, “Phone home” or “Call Jane on her work phone” to make a call.
  • Text messages are similar, but you can your message in the command too: “Text Jack that I’ll be there in 30 minutes.”
  • Want to text multiple contacts at once? Say “Text Adam and Joe saying that I’m coming to the show too.”
  • Prefer using FaceTime? “FaceTime Joe” or “Make a FaceTime audio call to Roy” will do the trick.
  • If you need to look up your contacts’ information, Siri’s got it all at the ready: “Show me John’s email address” or “What is Jack’s phone number?”, or if you’ve got your loved ones’ contacts set up correctly, “What’s my brother’s work address?”

Get things done

Siri can also help you be more productive by quickly launching tasks, setting reminders and handling appointments in your calendar.

Add appointments in a flash
Add appointments in a flash
  • For starters, you can launch any app, like Passbook, by saying “Open Passbook” or “Play QuizUp”.
  • Siri is deeply integrated with many core iOS apps, and can handle more complex instructions. For example, say “Set up a meeting at 9am next Tuesday with John at the office” and Siri will mark your calendar.
  • You can also move that appointment by saying “Reschedule my meeting with John to May 30 at 11am” or even skip it by saying “Cancel my meeting with John next week.”
  • If you want to see what you’ve got on your schedule, ask Siri, “What does the rest of my day look like?” or “What’s on my calendar for this Friday?”

Siri can also take notes by utilizing the Notes app, and even add to existing ones, so you never have to worry about forgetting a great idea.

  • Just say, “Note that John’s brother lives in Ohio” or “Note to self: a floor lamp would look great in the living room,” and Siri will create new notes with your input.
  • If you’ve already got a note in the works, you can add to it by mentioning any phrases in the existing note like so: “Add ‘chocolate fudge” to my mom’s brownie recipe note.”

If you’d rather set up reminders, the simplest way to do so is to say, “Remind me to pick up the dry cleaning tomorrow at 7pm” and Siri will add your command to the default list in Reminders.

Siri can list all your reminders so you can see your tasks at-a-glance
Siri can list all your reminders so you can see your tasks at-a-glance

If you’ve got your addresses saved in your contact information, take advantage of Reminders’ location-based alerts with a command like, “Remind me to buy flowers tomorrow when i leave work,” and you’ll be pinged when you step out of the office.

If you’ve got multiple lists set up in Reminders, you can have Siri create reminders and save them to specific lists.

  • For example, launch Reminders and tap the white bar at the bottom to create and name a new list, like Groceries.
  • Next, invoke Siri and say, “Add milk and chocolate to my Groceries list” and Siri will add them as two separate items.
  • You can also say, “Read me my Groceries list” when you’re in the store and hear Siri read your list to you.

Go places

Siri is also adept at handling maps and navigation — just say, “Give me walking directions to McDonald’s” or “Show me the way home” or “Directions from San Diego to San Francisco” for guidance.

Look up maps, businesses and prominent locations with Siri
Look up maps, businesses and prominent locations with Siri
  • Siri can also respond to commands like “Where’s my next turn?”, “What’s my ETA” and even “Find a gas station nearby.”
  • If you’d like to see a map, say “Show me a map of California.”
  • Not sure exactly which business or outlet you’re looking for? Pick Siri’s brain with commands like “Find a coffee shop close by”, “Find me a great Chinese restaurant in town” or “Where is the nearest subway station?”.
  • Siri can also book tables for you at restaurants listed on OpenTable; just say, “Table for two at Grub tonight at 8” or “Make a reservation at a great steakhouse in New York for four at 9pm tomorrow.”
  • If you want to look up a joint before booking, say “Show me reviews for Aged Steakhouse.”
  • Want to catch a movie before dinner? Just ask Siri, “What adventure movies are playing today?”, or “What’s playing at Galaxy Cinema?” for info on films currently in theaters.
  • US users can book tickets too, by saying “Three tickets for Fargo” or “Buy five tickets to see Godzilla tonight in New Jersey.”
  • Need to know if a film is worth watching before picking up tickets? Say these magic words: “Show me movie reviews for X-Men: Days of Future Past.”
  • If you’re trying to win an argument about the movie’s cast or other trivia before the show, Siri’s got your back: ask, “Who stars in Snowpiercer?” or “Which film won Best Picture last year?” and smile triumphantly as Siri relays the right answer (you were correct, weren’t you?).

Kick out the jams

In charge of tunes for the evening, but don’t want to hang around behind the DJ console? Let Siri take over and play music for you:

Name a song, album or artist from your library and Siri will play it
Name a song, album or artist from your library and Siri will play it
  • Standard commands like “Play,” “Pause,” and “Skip” work as expected with the Music app to control your music library.
  • “Shuffle all songs” works great in a pinch, as does “Play some dubstep,” if that’s your thing.  too.
  • If you can access iTunes Radio in your country, you can use commands like “Play iTunes Radio,” “Play my rock station,” or “Play more songs like this” to keep the party going.

Track your favorite sports

Sports fans will love using Siri to get scores, schedules, team and player information for Baseball, Basketball, Football, Soccer and Hockey quickly.

Check a team's standing with additional info
Check a team’s standing with additional info
  • From simple commands like “Show me the scores from yesterday’s football match” to “Did the Eagles win?”, to more complex queries like “What was the score the last time the Tigers played the Red Sox?”, Siri can handle it all.
  • You can also ask about upcoming games, with questions like “When do the Yankees play next?”and “When is the Cubs’ first game of the season?”, or even “Who is Manchester United playing right now?”

Siri can tell how teams in your favorite leagues are doing too.

Siri can tell you how a team is doing in its league
Siri can tell you how a team is doing in its league
  • Ask, “Who is the best NBA team?” or “What are the standings in the Spanish League?” or “How did Liverpool do last season?”
  • If you want the skinny on teams, Siri’s can field a whole bunch of questions like, “Who is on the roster for the Dodgers?”, “Who is pitching for the Mets this season?”, “Is anyone on the Brewers team injured?”, “Who has the highest slugging percentage?” and “Which quarterback has the most passing yards?” Yup, Siri says Manning is still #1.

Check and send email

If you’ve got the iOS Mail app set up, you can check and send emails with Siri in a flash.

Reply to an email with ease
Reply to an email with ease

To check your messages, say “Check email” or “Show new emails about the class reunion” or “Any new emails from John?”

Siri can also help you respond to emails.

  • For example, you can say, “Show me the last email Michael sent” and then say “Reply saying Thanks for this”.
  • You can also compose a new email by saying “Email Jack and Janeabout our trip next week, saying, Hope we’re still on for the hike, don’t forget your boots.”

Tweet, and post to Facebook

Siri plays nice with Twitter, and Facebook to a certain degree.

Tweet directly from Siri and add hashtags too
Tweet directly from Siri and add hashtags too
  • Say “Tweet, Having a blast at the game, hashtag Panthers” and Siri will let the world know what you’re up to.
  • “Post to Facebook, Can’t wait for the weekend,” works too.
  • Siri can also search Twitter and even fetch your latest tweets: just say “Search Twitter for travel tips” and “Show me my tweets.”

Be punctual

Siri can set and adjust alarms so you never have another excuse for being late.

Rise and shine on time with Siri
Rise and shine on time with Siri
  • Just say “Set an alarm for 7am”, “Wake me up tomorrow at 630am” or “Wake me up in 8 hours,” and get some rest.
  • If you need to make an adjustment, just say “Change my 6:30 alarm to 8am,” “Turn off my 6:30 alarm” or “Delete all my alarms.”
  • You can also use the timer by saying, “Set the timer for one hour” and not have to worry about dinner burning in the oven.

Configure settings

Want to change a setting or two? Siri can take care of that.

“Turn on Bluetooth,” “Disable Wi-Fi,” “Open Settings,” “Dim the screen” and “Do Not Disturb” are some of the most useful commands you can use — and variations on these for your frequently accessed settings like work just fine too.

Stay informed

Siri can tell you a lot about what’s going on in the world around you by searching the web.

Siri can find movie listings, info and trivia from the web
Siri can find movie listings, info and trivia from the web
  • For starters, “What’s the weather for today?”, “What’s the temperature outside?” and “Will it rain today?” will bring up weather info and forecasts.
  • If you’re the Wall Street sort, you can ask Siri, “What’s Facebook’s stock price?” or “What did Apple close at today?” or “How are the markets doing?” to get a quick overview of the stocks in your portfolio.

And that’s not all — you can search the web with Siri too.

Siri can answer all kinds of questions
Siri can answer all kinds of questions
  • “Search for easy pasta recipes,” “Google komodo dragons,” “Find pictures of Amsterdam,” “Show me videos of skateboarders” and “What’s the news for Denver?” are all in a day’s work for Siri to fetch.
  • You can also ask questions like, “How many calories in a doughnut?”, or “How long do elephants live?” or “How much is $50 in Euro?”, and Siri will look up WolframAlpha for the best answers.

That’s a wrap, folks! These are just some of the more common Siri commands — what are your favorites? Let us know in the comments!