How to Type A Request To Siri

Don't like talking to your assistant? Try this

A person holding an iPhone with Siri activated

Flickr / iphonedigital 

Siri is one of the most powerful tools on the iPhone and iPad, but what if you can't or don't want to talk to your device? No problem. You can also type to Siri, and just as if you'd used your voice, she will undertake complicated tasks or walk you through one of these tasks if you type a simple command like "set reminder."

So how does it work? The ability to type text to Siri is an accessibility feature designed for those who can't or would have difficulty using their voice to control Siri. This means it isn't quite as smooth as it could be if it were designed for everyone. But it really can be a great feature for anyone, especially if you have a Smart Keyboard or wireless keyboard connected to your device to make the typing portion even faster.

How to Enable Type to Siri

Enable Type to Siri
Follow these steps to enable Type to Siri.
  • First, launch the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad.
  • Tap General settings from the left-side menu.
  • Choose Accessibility. This will list out all of the accessibility features.  
  • The Siri setting is located in the middle of the Interaction settings, so you may have to scroll down.
  • Tap the on/off switch next to Type to Siri to turn on the feature.
  • You can choose to have voice feedback Always On or only for Hands-Free mode. If you are using an iPhone, you will also have an option to Control with Ring Switch. This is great if you don't always want to broadcast your Siri commands to those near you.

How to Use Type to Siri

You can both type and speak to Siri once you have Type to Siri turned on. By default, Siri will expect you to type text to her. This brings up the on-screen keyboard if you don't have a external keyboard connected to your iPhone or iPad. You can type in any command you might otherwise speak to Siri, such as, "hey Siri, text Dave I will be late" or "remind me to take out trash at 7 AM tomorrow."

Don't want to type it? You can enable voice dictation to speak commands to Siri. The Voice Dictation button appears as a microphone and is located to the left of the space bar. When you tap this button, Siri's voice recognition is activated. Once you finish speaking your command, tap the Keyboard button at the bottom of the screen.

Can You Use Type to Siri on Older Versions of iOS?

Yes and no. Type to Siri debuted with iOS 11, but you could actually type to Siri in previous versions. Sort of. 

When you speak a command to Siri, she displays the text of that command on the screen. Just below this text is an Edit button. Tapping the Edit button allows you to type any command to Siri, even a command unrelated to the one you originally gave.

This is fantastic if you have a thick accent that Siri finds difficult to understand. You can correct any miscommunication between you and your assistant. But using this as a permanent feature is cumbersome given that you must first speak a command to utilize it.

Don't Forget About Spotlight Search

Siri isn't the only way to control your iOS device using a keyboard. Spotlight Search may be one of the most underutilized features on the iPhone or iPad, but it can search for almost anything on your device, including items stored within your apps. How powerful is it? If you type in the name of a movie or TV show, it will show you which apps have it available, so it will tell you Thor: Ragnarok is available on Netflix and Doctor Who can be streamed through Amazon Prime.

Perhaps the best use of Spotlight Search is to quickly launch any app without searching for the actual icon. It can also play songs, search through email or even look for restaurants in Maps or on Yelp.