Siri not fully accessible on macOS Sierra

macOS & Mac Apps

Hi all,

First of all, I am happy to have Siri on the Mac. Although, while VoiceOver reads everything in the Siri conversation window, it lacks in terms of interaction with the results in that window, for instance:

  • It's not possible to open found emails in the Mail app.
  • When you get results listing more Calendar events, you cannot open them in the Calendar app.
  • Mostly, there is no shortcuts menu (VO + Shift + M) for result items, which could offer some useful actions upon them. And if there is one, such as for found files, the menu items cannot be activated, e.g., you cannot reveal a found file in Finder.
  • If you pin file search results to Notification Center, the "Show all file results in Finder" button does not work. And the shortcuts menu cannot be popped up on the files.
  • All the above actions cannot be performed with any of the following: VO-Space bar, Return, Space bar only, and a mouse click (VO + Shift + Space bar) either, as the mouse pointer does not follow the VoiceOver cursor in the Siri or Notification Center interface.

Nevertheless, probably the most useful feature, which is not missing on iOS though, is that there is no fully working way how to have Siri read a dictated message or post back aloud so that you can verify she understood correctly, without you having to manually find the message in the Siri conversation window. Although you can say "review" when Siri asks you whether you are ready to send a message or post, it's not very intuitive and does not work for all types of messages:

  • If it's a post like tweet or Facebook status, Siri will reply, for example, "Your tweet says," and then read its text. That's okay.
  • If it's a message in the Messages app, Siri will reply Okay, or, in some cases, "Your message to <somebody> says," but will not actually read the message afterwards. Which is most probably a bug.
  • If it's an email message, Siri will not understand your request to review the message at all.

It would be best if Siri read the message back right after dictating it, with an option to interrupt her with the Siri shortcut (Command-Space bar), saying "send it" to quickly confirm the posting, just exactly like it works on iOS.

Also, I hope Siri will learn more as time will go on and updates arrive. It's a shame, though not that big, that:

  • Siri can only search an inbox, not sent mail, drafts or other mailboxes.
  • It's strange, though, that if you ask Siri for unread emails, it will search in all the mailboxes, not just in the inbox. It would be nice to have an option to get new mail from a chosen mailbox.
  • Only certain results can be pinned to Notification Center. For instance, it's not possible to pin Mail or Calendar searches. Although, from my perspective, this is a minor thing.

Maybe I am missing something, but I've not been able to work all these things out with VoiceOver. Have you been more successful?

At any rate, I understand that Apple is focusing on the accessibility of iOS devices rather than Mac computers, because there is not a lack of alternative accessible solutions for desktop computers. So it makes sense rather to invest in improvement of the accessibility of mobile devices to stay to be the driving force in this field.



Submitted by Paul Martin on Wednesday, October 12, 2016

This one might be interesting to figure out, but I wonder how much mail can be interacted with in Siri without the use of Voiceover? Sure you can't open the message in the full mail program, but you can say something like "reply to that message", and Siri will ask you what you'd like that email to say. I've not tried it with the trash thing or other actions, but wonder if anyone else has?