1. Computer Skills

A Beginner's Guide to Siri

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Read Time: 6 min
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What You'll Be Creating

Debuting in 2011, Siri has grown in complexity and capability over the years to become a remarkably intelligent personal assistant.

In this tutorial, I'll show you how to get started with Siri on an iOS device, and provide hints and tips to help you get the most out of your new best friend.

Meet Siri

Siri is dedicated to helping you with everyday tasks, such as checking a to-do list or sending a message to a friend.

When enabled, activate Siri by pressing and holding the device’s Home or Side button, or by saying “Hey Siri”, followed by a question or command. 

Siri automatically detects when you’ve stopped speaking, to carry out your request, saving you time and energy to focus on what matters.

Fine Tuning 

Tap Settings > Siri & Search to enable Siri

Turn On the Listen for “Hey Siri” switch if you’d like to be able to activate Siri by saying “Hey Siri”, and follow the on-screen instructions to set up Siri’s voice recognition.

Unfortunately, however, unless you own an iPhone 6s or later, or an iPad Pro, you must be connected to a power source to use voice activation.

Change the Press Home for Siri switch to On to activate Siri by pressing the device’s Home button, and turn the Allow Siri from Locked switch to On, too, to activate Siri without having to first unlock the device.

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Adjust Siri's settings to suit

Siri speaks 20 languages, many of which include a selection of accents and dialects.

If you’re not happy with Siri’s default language, tap Language and then select the language you prefer. 

You can change Siri’s accent and gender, as well. Press Siri Voice and then choose either an American, Australian or British accent, followed by Male or Female

Finally, flip both the Suggestions in Search and Suggestions in Look Up switches to On to receive personalised suggestions and better search functionality.

Who’s Who

The more Siri knows about you and your life, the better. After you’ve set up Siri, tap Contacts, and then select your name from the left-hand sidebar. Check that your contact details are present and correct, or press Edit to amend them.

If you’d rather Siri call you by a nickname rather than your actual name, tap Add Field > Nickname, and then enter your chosen nickname.

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Ensure that your contact details are present and correct

Scroll through Contacts and ensure that your friends and family’s contact details are also correct. Again, press Edit to amend an existing contact, or tap the Add icon to add a new one.

Tap Settings > Siri & Search > My Information and select your name if it’s not already selected. Activate Siri by saying “Hey Siri” or by pressing and holding the device’s Home or Side button, and say “Who am I?” 

Siri will respond with your name or nickname.

Once you’ve updated the contacts, tell Siri what your relationship is with each person. 

Activate Siri, and say “[name] is my [relationship]”, replacing [name] with the contact's name, and [relationship] with their relationship to you. 

For example, “Adam Williams is my husband”. Siri asks you to confirm the relationship, and, once confirmed, you may add another relationship.

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Tell Siri about your relationships

Tomato, Tomato

Siri’s always learning, and, just like you and I, it can sometimes get things a bit wrong. Pronunciation can be especially tricky for Siri, so you may need to lend a helping hand.

You can teach Siri how to pronounce a name correctly by saying “You pronounced it wrong”.

The next time Siri mispronounces a name, it will ask how to pronounce it correctly, and generate a list of pronunciations complete with audio. Select the best pronunciation, or tap Tell Siri Again to repeat the correct pronunciation and generate a new list.

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Correct a mispronounced name

Siri’s pronunciation of names can also be corrected by editing contact’s details under Contacts

Scroll down until you reach Add New Field, and then select either Pronunciation First Name or Pronunciation Last Name, depending on which name Siri’s struggling with.

Return to the top of the screen, and then enter the correct pronunciation of the name in question.

Leave it to Siri 

Here are just a few of the many tasks you can leave in Siri's capable hands.

Remind Me to...

Siri can remind you to complete a specific task when you reach a certain place by setting a location-based reminder. Activate Siri and say “Remind me to call [name] when I get to work”, and Siri will do just that.

You’ll need to enable Location Services (Settings > Privacy > Location Services), and tell Siri where exactly work is by adding the address to your contact details before setting such a reminder, however.

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Siri can remind you to complete a specific task when you reach a certain place

Show Me Photos From...

Siri is an expert at locating photographs stored on your iOS device. 

Say something like “Show me photos from London”, or “Show me photos from last August”, and Siri will display every photo taken in that location or during that time period.

You can also get even more specific and narrow it down to a single date.

In iOS 10, Apple added the ability to search for things within photographs, like food, dogs, cars, and so on. 

Say “Show me photos of dogs”, for example, to view every photo you’ve ever taken that includes a dog. If Siri can’t find a photo containing your request, it will show you internet search results instead.


If Siri’s language is set to English (United States), Siri can translate from English to French, German, Spanish, Italian and Chinese. 

Ask Siri “What’s ‘where is the train station?’ in Spanish?”, and Siri provides you with both a text and audio translation.

Happily, Apple plans to expand Siri’s translating capabilities in a future update to include other languages, too.

Name That Tune

Siri has music recognition app Shazam integrated into it, and is therefore able to identify any song and artist that happens to be playing at that particular moment. 

Activate this feature by asking Siri “What song is this?", "What song currently playing?", or even “Name that tune”.

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Siri can identify any song that happens to be playing

What’s My ETA?

While travelling, Siri determines the estimated time of arrival to the destination. Ensure that Location Services is enabled and say “What’s my ETA?”. 

Siri will ask where you're going and provide you with an estimated time of arrival.


In this tutorial, I've shown you how to get started with Siri, and provided hints and tips to help you get the most out of your new best friend.

Once you've mastered the basics, feel free to get stuck in and experiment—you'll be surprised at just how many things Apple's intelligent personal assistant is capable of! 

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