Tips and tricks: Wording and Siri commands

Welcome to another installment of Tips and Tricks, the series that aims to teach you something new about your Apple (s aapl) stuff. This time, we’ll be taking a look at Siri on the iPhone 4S and how changing one or two words in your query can produce completely different results.

Dateless reminders

Sometimes, you might want to use iOS 5’s new Reminders app as more of a checklist, rather than being reminded at a certain time for each item. Using the normal Siri query, Remind me to…, you’ll be asked to give a time or place to be reminded. In order to add a ‘dateless’ reminder, you can say one of two things. Either use Add … to my … list, which will add the item to the named list, if you have one set up, or you can use Remember to… to add the reminder to your default list without giving it a date.

Stop Siri tripping over words like Christmas

When setting up reminders, Siri can get a bit confused if your reminder contains words such as ‘Christmas’ or ‘Easter’. Instead of setting the reminder up for the date you say, it’ll ignore that date and set it up for 9 AM on the day you mentioned. However, after a bit of playing around with word order, it turns out that this only happens if you mention the holiday day before the date on which you want to be reminded.

Say Remind me to buy Christmas presents on December fifth, and Siri will create a reminder for Christmas day at 9 AM. However, say Remind me on December fifth to buy Christmas presents, and your reminder will be created exactly as intended. As long as you tell Siri the date for the reminder first, you should have no problems.

Distinguish between a text and an email

When using the syntax Send a message to…, Siri will send either an iMessage or an SMS (depending on whether the recipient has iMessage or not). However, if you start the sentence with Write a message instead of Send a message, then your message will be sent as an email instead.

Change spelling or find alternative interpretations

Perhaps when using Siri or when using the dictation feature, you may have noticed blue dotted lines under select words in the text. This means that either alternative spellings are available, or Siri thinks it’s possible you said something slightly different. Tap the underlined word, and a menu similar to the copy/paste menu will appear, allowing you to select the suggested alternatives.

Do you have any tips of your own for using Siri more effectively? Share them below in the comments.