In a recent post I wrote about ten things I would like Siri for Mac to be able to do for me, I noted that I would like to be able to type in my requests instead of voicing them, because there are times when speaking to it isn’t appropriate (i.e. if you’re at the library), or even socially acceptable quite yet. I can already type basic queries into Spotlight on Mac, so why not bake Siri into Spotlight to supercharge both features?
There is already a workaround to type in your questions to Siri on iOS, and even though it’s not perfect, it’s sometimes handy to be able to write exactly what you mean and leave no room for misunderstanding. It doesn’t come without its fair share of limitations though, but it’s still pretty handy.
It’s just a workaround
Clearly, what we’re about to tinker with is just a workaround that Apple developed to allow the user to correct his/her query in case of misunderstanding. This is not meant to be a tool allowing you to have a written conversation with Siri, although it can be used for this purpose.
The main limitation here is that Siri will still speak her responses to you, so if you were hoping to have a quiet chat with Siri, you have to be aware that the assistant will still be talking back to you, although this can be tweaked in your iPhone or iPad settings, as we will see later.
Ask Siri anything in writing
Now that we’ve got the basic disclaimer out of the way, let’s see how you can go about writing to Siri.
1) Invoke Siri on your iPhone, and just say one word to it. I like to just say “hey.” Depending on what you said to Siri, it will reply back.
2) At the top of the screen, right below what you just said to Siri, you will see an option that says Tap to Edit. Tap on it.
3) You will now be able to edit your initial query. From there, you can type in anything you want. In our example, we’ll ask Siri to give us a definition. Tap Enter when done to submit your query.
4) Siri will provide an answer to your query or question. From there, you can keep the conversation going by pulling down on the screen to show your previous query and edit it by once again tapping on the Tap to Edit option.
5) Ask something else to Siri and hit Enter when done.
6) Once again, Siri will give you an answer.
7) You can repeat the process as many times as you want.
As you can see, it is not perfect yet, mainly because Siri will still provide voice feedback to you. However, there is an option to change this. You can go to Settings > General > Siri > Voice Feedback, and either select “Control with Ring Switch” or “Hands-Free Only.” The former option is controlled by the Mute switch on the side of your iPhone. The latter will only allow Siri to speak when invoked by using the Hey Siri voice command, or when it is connected to a Bluetooth device, headphones, or CarPlay.
I find the ability to type in my questions to Siri to be extremely useful. My first language is French and despite having lived in the US for a third of my life, I still have a strong French accent, which sometimes leads Siri to misunderstand me. This trick allows me to be very precise in what I say to Siri, leaving no room for error.
With the rumored improvements Apple might bring to Siri, I am hoping this will not just be a workaround, but rather one option to communicate with the assistant.