Use voice control to take screenshots and access Siri on the Mac

Control your Mac using your voice - take screenshots and activate Siri

Did you know you can take screenshots on the Mac just by saying “Hey, take a screenshot!” You can also access Siri by saying “Hey, Siri!” Here’s a guide to setting up these features.

Usually to access these features you would need to press certain combinations of keys or click icons, but by using shortcuts and accessibility features in macOS Sierra, you can simply say what you want and your Mac will do it.

You could say “Hey, Siri! What’s the weather forecast?”

Let’s see how to set this up.

1 Keyboard shortcuts

Open System Preferences and click Keyboard.

Select Screen Shots on the left and a list of the keyboard shortcuts is displayed. To save a picture of the screen as a file, you press Shift+Command+3. Remember this.

Keyboard shortcuts in System Preferences on the Apple Mac using macOS Sierra

2 Enable dictation

Select the Dictation tab and turn on dictation. You must also tick Use Enhanced Dictation.

Use dictation on the Apple Mac. Set it up in System Preferences

3 Accessibility options

Go to Accessibility in System Preferences and select Dictation on the left.

Tick Enable Dictation and enter the word you want to say to trigger dictation, such as “Hey” or “OK Mac

Set up dictation using the Accessibility features in macOS Sierra on the Apple Mac

4 Dictation commands

Click Dictation Commands. We need to add a command.

Tick Enable advanced commands in the bottom left corner.

Click the plus button bottom left to add a new command.

In the When I say box, enter “take a screenshot”. Select Any Application for While using. Where it says Perform, select Press Keyboard Shortcut.

Set up a keyboard shortcut to perform an action on the Apple Mac

5 Add a shortcut

Now press the shortcut to take a screenshot - Shift+Command+3.

What we have done is enable “Hey” then define “take a screenshot” to press Shift+Command+3, which saves the screen to disk.

Define a phrase to perform an action on the Apple Mac

Test it and you should find that it saves the screen.

For some reason my Mac doesn’t like this and Finder starts using 99% CPU. Force quitting on the Apple menu solves the problem. I hope this is just my Mac and not a general bug in macOS Sierra.

6 Siri shortcut

Return to System Preferences and select Siri. There is an option to set a keyboard shortcut. Click it, select Custom and then press whatever shortcut you want to use (avoiding shortcuts for any other function.) I used Ctrl+Shift+S.

Set a keyboard shortcut to access Siri in macOS Sierra on the Apple Mac

7 Add the dictation command

Go to Accessibility, Dictation again and click the plus to add a command.

In the When I say box, enter “Siri” and in the Perform box press Ctrl+Shift+S, our Siri shortcut.

Run Siri by saying Hey Siri on the Apple Mac

8 Talk to Siri

Now try it out. Say “Hey, Siri!” When Siri appears you can ask anything, issue commands and so on.

Siri on the Apple Mac using macOS Sierra

You can do other things with this technique and the accessibility feature adds a microphone icon to the menu bar to show that your Mac is listening to you, ready to spring into action when you say “Hey!”

 

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