Now that Apple has added Siri in OS X 10 Sierra, it’s a good time to get acquainted with Siri for voice dictation. The average person can type around 40-50 words per minute on a keyboard and about 20-30 word per minute on an iPhone screen but we are able to speak at roughly 160 words per minute (or much faster if you practice).

That’s a 300-400% improvement just by using your voice to dictate. So, what can use you use Siri’s voice dictation commands for?

  1. Taking notes
  2. Writing emails.
  3. Blog posts.
  4. Word documents.
  5. Searching Google.

The problem is that without the right voice dictation commands for Siri, you’ll have a hard time dictating a full email, document or blog post. But with this Siri voice dictation guide handy, you’ll find that you can dictate much faster than you can type on your iPhone or Macbook.

Once I got the hang of voice dictation using Siri, I found that my thoughts often flow more freely when I’m speaking. I find it is much easier to get into a “stream of consciousness” flow state when I’m dictating emails and blog posts, which makes them sound less formal and more conversational.

If you want to become a Siri voice dictation “power user” then you need to get used to speaking your pronunciation and telling Siri exactly what you want her to do. For optimal productivity, it’s best to just stream your thoughts into words without pausing to make any edits. I recommend you go back after to proofread and make the necessary edits.

Here is a step-by-step guide for getting the most out of Siri’s voice dictation abilities using your iPhone or in Mac OS X 10 Sierra:

1. How To Activate Siri On iOS and Mac OS X Sierra

It’s a lot easier to get in the habit of using Siri when you start her up with a quick “Hey Siri”. To activate hands-free mode on your iPhone, go to the Settings, then Siri and then choose Allow “Hey Siri”.

On your Mac (only OS X 10 supports Siri) it’s a bit more complicated to set everything up, but here’s how to get started:

1. Choose Apple menu () > System Preferences and click on the Siri icon at the bottom.

2. Choose the Keyboard Shortcut that you want to use to activate Siri.

Siri Cuustomize Shortcuts

2. Activate Siri Enhanced Dictation Features

Next, you will want to activate the enhanced dictation features on Mac OS X, which allow you to dictate continuously and even use voice dictation when you’re offline:

1. Choose Apple menu () > System Preferences and click on the Keyboard icon and choose the Dictation option.

2. Activate“Enhanced Dictation” (this speeds up the dictation process) and then you will be prompted to download a 1.2 GB file.

Siri's Enhanced Dictation

3. How To Enable The Hands-Free “Hey Siri” Feature

If you don’t want to use the keyboard shortcuts to activate Siri, you can set up hands-free dictation mode on your Mac, here’s how to do that:

1. Choose Apple menu () > System Preferences and click on the Accessibility icon at the bottom and on the left menu scroll down to Dictation.

2. Click the checkbox next to “Enable the dictation keyword phrase” write the first part of the two-part phrase you want to launch Siri. For example, if you want to say, “Hey Siri,” just type in “Hey”.

Dictation Keyword Phrase

3. Next you should click on the Dictation Commands button.

4. Click the box next to “Enable Advanced Commands”.

5. Click the “+” button and you’ll see three sections. For “When I Say,” enter the second part of your command, like, “Siri” if you want to say “Hey Siri.” Leave “When using” as “Any Application.”

6. For Perform, select “Open Finder Items,” then select the file in your Applications folder and then click done.

Siri Advanced Commands

4. How to use Siri’s voice dictation commands.

During the dictation process your voice is sent to a remote server where it is recognized, transcribed and then sent back to your iPhone. Fortunately, on your Mac, you are able to download everything you need for offline use.

Here are the voice commands you can use to utilize Siri’s commands for voice dictation:

Command Action
New line Move to the next line
New paragraph Start a new paragraph
Cap Capitalise the next word
Caps on … caps off Capitalise a section of text
All caps Make the next word all uppercase
All caps on … all caps off Make part of what you say uppercase
No caps Make the next word lowercase
No caps on … no caps off Make sure part of what you say is all lowercase
Space bar Prevent a hyphen from appearing in a normally hyphenated word
No space Prevent a space between words
No space on … no space off Prevent a section of text from having spaces between words
“Period” or “full stop” Place a “.” at the end of a sentence
Dot .
Point .
“Ellipsis” or “dot dot dot”
Comma ,
Double comma ,,
“Quote” or “quotation mark”
“Quote … end quote” or “quote … close quote” Place quotes around a section of text
Exclamation point !
Inverted exclamation point ¡
Question mark ?
Inverted question mark ¿
Ampersand &
Asterisk *
Open parenthesis (
Close parenthesis )
Open bracket [
Close bracket ]
Open brace {
Close brace }
Em dash
Underscore _
Percent sign %
Copyright sign ©
Registered sign ®
Section sign
Dollar sign $
Cent sign ¢
Euro sign
Yen sign ¥
Degree sign
Caret ^
At sign @
Pound sterling sign £
Pound sign #
Greater than sign >
Less than sign <
Forward slash /
Back slash \
Vertical bar |
“Smiley” or “smiley face” or “smile face” :-)
“Frowny” or “frowny face” or “frown face” :-(
“Winky” or “winky face” or “wink face” ?
E.g. (pronounced as “e g”) e.g.
i.e. (pronounced as “i e”) i.e.

There you have the basic commands for voice dictation on using Siri. In a future post I’l cover more voice commands and quick tricks that will help you use Siri to boost your productivity.