You probably already know a few commands for controlling music playing on a HomePod or iOS device with Apple’s Siri voice assistant. Whether you’re soothing a baby, washing the dishes, or dancing wildly in your living room, saying “Hey Siri, volume 42 percent” or “Hey Siri, next track” is a convenient way to make your music work for you.
Siri works on most Apple devices these days. From largest to smallest, options include the Mac, HomePod, Apple TV, iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, and Apple Watch. You can even trigger Siri from an AirPod earbud (see our article Make the Most of Your AirPods). (Some commands mentioned in this article work only with an Apple Music subscription.)
Siri Music Basics
To play a specific tune or album, ask for it by name, as in “play David Bowie’s Space Oddity” or “play the album Let’s Dance.” To listen to a mix of songs by a particular artist, try “play Miles Davis.” For music related to an artist or song, say something like “play Beyoncé radio” or “plays songs like Margaritaville.” You can even say “play more songs like this” to get a radio station of songs like what’s currently playing.
Of course, you can control basic playback, with commands like “pause” and “play,” or “previous song” and “next song,” as well as “skip back ten seconds” or “skip ahead ten seconds.” For variety, try “shuffle.”
You can also control the volume with your voice, using commands like “turn it down” or “turn it up,” and “quieter” or “louder,” and “set the volume to 30 percent.” (If you try these on the Apple TV, you’ll be told to use the volume buttons on the Siri Remote.)
If you’ve created your own playlists, you can ask for one by name, as in “play my Workout Tunes playlist” or “shuffle my Dinner Music.” If you subscribe to Apple Music, saying “my” is important so Siri knows you mean a playlist from your library instead of one from Apple Music.
Playing Genres and Hits
Siri is great when you have only a general idea of what you want to hear, like this:
- Play rock
- Play rock from the 1990s
- Play 70s dance music
- Play romantic jazz
- Play music for meditation
- Play New Music list
- Play music that’s popular this week
You can rate the currently playing song by saying “I love this song” or “I don’t like this song.” Rating songs helps Apple Music understand what you like so it can do a better job of playing songs that you’ll enjoy. You can also ask Siri to “play songs that I love.”
Naming That Tune with Shazam
We’ve saved the best Siri command for last. If music is playing nearby, you can ask Siri on your Mac or iOS device to identify it by saying “what song is playing?” “Shazam this song,” or “name that tune.” Siri responds with the name of the song and performer.
This feature, which is based on music-identification technology from a company Apple bought called Shazam, is brilliant when you’re listening to someone else’s music and a song comes on that you want to hear again. Once Siri has identified the song, you can follow up with commands like “add this song to my library,” “I love this song,” and “add this song to my Workout Tunes playlist.”
Apple may add ambient music identification capabilities to the HomePod and Apple TV in the future, but for now they can tell you the name of a tune only if they are already playing it.
Songs that Siri has identified on your iOS devices are also listed in the iTunes Store app in iOS; in the app, tap the menu icon at the upper right and then tap Siri.
With these Siri commands in mind, you can kick off your music with a simple request and find great tunes without a fuss. Rock on!