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How to Use Siri: A Step-by-Step Guide for Seniors

The iPhone is the most popular smartphone today. Since its inception in 2007, the iPhone has gained many new tools to make everyday life easier and more convenient for seniors. One of these tools is the all-knowing Siri. This voice assistant offers a helping hand for navigating your phone. Siri can be beneficial for older adults who struggle with vision, have pain or trouble typing, or are looking to simplify using their smartphone. Seniors can use Siri to place calls, send text messages, and even set calendar reminders and alarms.

Rather than scrolling through your phone to find a contact and typing a lengthy text, Siri allows you to do it all with your voice in half the time. In fact, our editor's grandma is a big fan of using Siri, whether it's to send a quick message or call one of her grandkids. She uses this tool every day! We have found that Siri is fairly simple to use once the settings are correct. After a few commands, you will be a pro at using the tools that Siri offers. Let's dive into how to set up and get the most out of Siri.

Our editor showing her grandma new ways to use Siri

Our editor showing her grandma new ways to use Siri

Setting up Siri

If you have never used Siri, you will need to make sure the settings are set the way you want. Open up the “Settings” app and scroll down until you see “Siri & Search.” Once you’re there, you'll be able to set it up according to your preferences.

Select "Siri & Search"

Select “Siri & Search”

Settings for Summoning Siri

We recommend two ways for summoning Siri. The first allows you to simply say aloud “Hey Siri.” No touch necessary! The second allows you to press and hold the side button or home button for older models of iPhones.

Changing your settings for summoning Siri

Changing your settings for summoning Siri

Settings for Siri's Response

One of Siri's most helpful features is the ability to read captions. This is especially important if you have any hearing loss. You can set your settings to show captions of both Siri's responses and your commands to Siri. When Siri speaks, you can read the captions to make sure you are correctly hearing Siri. You will also be able to see the captioning of your own speech to make sure Siri understood you correctly when you give Siri commands. Under “Siri & Search,” just click on “Siri Responses.” Note: If you use hearing aids, they can also be connected to your iPhone.

Siri Responses Setting

Siri Responses Setting

Siri Responses

Siri Response Options

Settings for Siri's Voice

This one is a matter of personal preference. You can adjust Siri to have a male or female voice, and choose from a number of dialects. Want Siri to talk to you in a British or Irish accent? Go for it!

Did You Know: Nearly 500 million Apple customers use Siri, according to Business Insider.1

Changing Siri's voice

Changing Siri’s voice

How to Summon Siri

Once the settings are changed, you are ready to use your new assistant. If your settings are set to summon Siri with “Hey Siri,” you will simply say it aloud. You will hear and see Siri appear.

If Your iPhone Has a Home Button

In older iPhone models, you will press and hold the home button located at the bottom of the phone. Siri will appear and ask “How can I help you?” At this point, you can ask for assistance in sending a text, making a phone call, setting a reminder, and more.

If Your iPhone Has Face ID

For newer iPhone models, there is no home button on the screen. You will press and hold the button on the right-hand side of the phone until you see a lit-up ball at the bottom of your screen. As you ask your question, you should see captioning of your words show up on your screen.

Summoning Siri

Summoning Siri

Did You Know: Siri is convenient and helpful, but you might be surprised to learn that Siri has saved lives. Forbes reported that people trapped in dangerous situations were able to call 911 using Siri's voice command.2

Our Favorite Siri Commands for Seniors

Now that we know how to get Siri all set up and ready to go, let's check out some of the different ways that you can use Siri throughout the day! Whether you need to add a doctor's appointment to your calendar, ask for a recipe, or send a text to a friend, Siri is at your beck and call!

Ask Siri to Read and Send Emails or Texts

  • “Read my new text from Stacy.”
  • “Text Susan ‘When can I next babysit the kids for you?'”
  • “Email Rick.”
  • “Can you read my latest email from Amazon?”
Asking Siri to send a text message

Asking Siri to send a text message

Have Siri Make a Call

  • “Call Shelby's home phone.”
  • “Play my latest voicemail.”
  • Facetime Isabel.”
Calling home with Siri

Calling home with Siri

Tell Siri to Create Calendar Events, Alarms, and Reminders

  • “Can you add ‘gym' to my calendar for tomorrow at 9:00 a.m.?”
  • “Set my alarm for 5:30 a.m. tomorrow.”
  • “Remind me to go to the grocery store this weekend.”
Adding an event to your calendar with Siri

Adding an event to your calendar with Siri

Setting an alarm with Siri

Setting an alarm with Siri

Get Helpful Information from Siri

  • “What's a synonym for amazing?”
  • “What's the definition of …”
  • “What's the weather like in Phoenix right now?”
Asking Siri for a synonym

Asking Siri for a synonym

Interested in learning about other helpful iPhone tools? Check out Best Apps for Older Adults in 2021.

Written By

Taylor Shuman

Senior Tech Expert & Editor

For over five years, Taylor has been writing, editing, and researching products and services covering topics such as senior care and technology, Internet and the digital divide, TV, and entertainment, and education. Her research on media consumption and consumer behavior has been… Learn More About Taylor Shuman

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