14 Siri Tricks You Can Use Right Now

Originally published at: https://tidbits.com/2019/03/07/15-siri-tricks-you-can-use-right-now/

Siri takes a lot of flak, but it’s a lot more powerful than many people realize. If you haven’t been using Siri for much, these tips from “Take Control of Siri” author Scholle McFarland will expand your conversations with Apple’s digital assistant—and hopefully get Siri to do more for you.

Not mentioned, but the one I use the most: Add items to your Reminders. I have a Grocery Reminders, and if I see I’m running low on something, I say “Add (whatever) to my grocery list”. When I go shopping, I have all the items I need to buy.

Another Siri feature I use are the alarms when I am cooking a big meal and lots of various items need to go into and out of the oven:

  • Hey Siri, set my Start Cooking Turkey alarm at 2:00pm
  • Hey Siri, set my cake alarm for 30 minutes.
  • Hey Siri, set my roast alarm for 90 minutes.
  • &Hey Siri, set my vegetables alarm for 7 minutes.*

If you just give the length, Siri figures out the end time of the alarm, and when an alarm goes off. I can then say Delete all my alarms to get rid of them all.


I use “set timer” a lot, but I find the most helpful Siri feature is “remind me to xx when I get to work”, or “when I get home”.



I use Siri extensively for messaging, whether texts or WhatsApp, when I’m in the car.
“messages” will read them
“Send a text to my wife” will compose
“Change it” will reset your composition
“Add to it” will allow extending it.
“Read the last message from my daughter”

I also like using it for directions “Take me home”.


Here’s one I use a lot:
“Remind me to (do whatever) when I (leave, get home, get to work, etc)”

Here’s one that should have been working for the last 5 years and still doesn’t work, in spite of my emailing Tim Cook about it.
“Give me directions to my next appointment.”


If I have a list of long numbers to add and don’t feel like going into a spreadsheet, you can ask Siri to add it up. Avoids accidentally mistyping on a calculator and she shows the list at the end so I can proof it.

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Yes! I use Siri for calculations too, and I also use it to dictate numbers:


I do that to read in shipping numbers into Deliveries on my iPhone. reading the numbers distinctly and steadily (not slowly) works every time. I only do this as the keyboard in iOS does not have a proper numeric keyboard (like on the right side of extended keyboards) only the right to left version that is on the top of keyboards and is more difficult to use for me.

One thing I’d really like to see added to Siri is multilingual support. Obviously Siri can already work in different languages (Hey Siri, how do you say I have a peanut allergy in Japanese ?), and Siri speaks the requested translation in arguably well pronounced language requested, so why can’t I activate Siri in the multiple languages I speak in order to more easily do things like respond to an SMS with a French speaker or define a German word ? Logically, one could just use the specific activation command for Siri in French (Dit Siri,) or whatever language and continue in that language.



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I use Siri for messages often. But lately I’ve said “Read the last message from Bob” and Siri tells me there are no messages from Bob (even though one just came in).

I’ll then ask her to read my most current messages, and she says “Here’s a recent message from Bob” :woman_facepalming:

I recently discovered “Hey Siri, remind me to do X when I leave the car.”

When I shut the car off and my iPhone has noticed that my car’s Bluetooth has been disconnected, it’ll issue the reminder. Useful when you’re suppose to take something out of the car when you leave.


I continue to be disappointed with Siri’s relative stupidity compared to Alexa. It’s embarrassing!

nis: Agreed!

I guess I don’t know enough about the merits of the other offerings from Amazon and Google. I’m just not willing to have either of those companies process any more of my data than I have to. Neither have my trust tbh.

One thing that baffles me is the range of experience I have with Siri, works fine on my phone generally for the limited set of tasks I do with it, works really well on my watch, and pretty badly on my Mac. It’s as if a more capable machine which surely would have better options for on-board processing does a worse job than the less capable one.

It was interesting in the WWDC keynote the one Siri mention with the biker and the AirPods appeared to have some ‘follow on’ capabilities.

I’m trying to figure out if this is a bug or a feature. I use “Hey Siri” with my iPhone. If I say, “Hey Siri, send an email to my wife.” it seems to work fine. But if I say, “Hey Siri, send and email to Alice.” it asks me which of several people named Alice I mean. I tell it which one and it asks me to confirm. Good so far, but after I confirm it says, “You’ll have to unlock your iPhone first.” I swear this used to work, but I could be wrong about that…

It is normal for Siri to ask “which Alice” if you have more than one Alice in your Contacts app. As for it stopping to ask you to unlock your iPhone, that could be a couple of things: 1) If you have Face ID, your iPhone can unlock without you noticing, which could be why you’re surprised when it doesn’t. Try making sure you’re facing the screen when you make Siri requests; 2) Take a look at Settings > Siri & Search. If you want Siri to carry out your commands without asking you to unlock the phone, set “Allow Siri When Locked” to on. Good luck!

Try sharing your Siri data between your devices to see if that improves performance. On your iPhone, go to your name > iCloud. Under the “Apps Using iCloud” header, set Siri to On.

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There’s actually a Siri Shortcut that can get you directions to your next event in Calendar. In the Shortcuts app, search for the “Where Next?” shortcut. (Here’s a Shortcuts primer: https://support.apple.com/guide/shortcuts/shortcuts-at-a-glance-apdf22b0444c/ios)

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Thanks for the reply. Of course I know asking to resolve an ambiguous name is normal… but see final note below.


  1. I don’t have FaceID. I have an iPhone SE. The two situations where I have observed this behavior are when I am using double-tap on my airpods or when I am using “Hey Siri”. In both cases the phone remains locked in my pocket or nearby. I don’t touch it.

  2. I have “Allow Siri When Locked” enabled and I can send emails when the name I use as the recipient is not ambiguous. It seems to be only in the case of the ambiguous name that it leads to the thing about needing to unlock the phone. This makes me suspect it is just a bug in the software.

One more thing: I can say, “Call Alice at work” and it just works even if the phone is locked. I do it all the time. Somehow it seems to have learned that when I say “Alice” without a last name it knows which Alice I mean. But it does not do that when I try to email Alice. Perhaps it’s just because I have not done it often enough… but I cannot due to the above mentioned problem!

I have had Siri give me directions without unlocking my phone. I’ve also had her insist I unlock the phone before she continues. There is no rhyme or reason to her.

Also on an SE,