This story has been updated. It was originally published on September 25, 2019.
Maybe you’re on a Monday morning, waiting for the train with your cup of coffee in one hand and your smartphone in the other. Perhaps it’s one those mornings where you need some help getting to work so you whisper to your phone “Hey Google! Show me GIFs cute puppies!” and your Google Assistant will shout out the results to everyone. Now the uncomfortable, crowded train will be even more awkward.
Or perhaps it’s Sunday and you are at the point in your extended family reunion where political conversation seems inevitable. So, you begin to plan your exit strategy. Alexa interrupts you and asks you to check the traffic for your impending disappearance. Your mom then hears it and you are stuck there until everyone leaves. You’ll probably also have to cook the meals. Thanks a lot, Alexa.
Many people are used to asking questions or requesting answers to their smart speakers and phones. However, this isn’t always possible. You can choose to change the behavior of your smart assistants so they don’t shout out your requests.
If you’re using the Google Assistant on your phone, you’ve got a few options besides simply muting all sounds on your device. First, type your question or command. Launch the Assistant on stock Android and tap the keyboard icon. Launch the Assistant app on iOS and then tap the keyboard icon. You can type whatever you wish to tell the Assistant and it will silently display the results.
If you want to speak out your requests and commands but get a silent response, open up the Assistant app on Android (this feature hasn’t made it to iOS yet), tap your profile picture (top right), then Settings > Google Assistant > Assistant Voice & Sounds. Under Speech output, tap Phone and change the option to Hands-free only.
With this setting enabled, the Assistant will not talk back to the user unless the headset is connected to the phone (in the car for example). This option is for you if you are happy to speak or whisper your commands but don’t know what the response might be.
As you might expect you can’t turn off the Assistant on a Google Home speaker because it has no other output options than to speak back. You can’t disable voice responses if you have a Google Nest smart device, but you can change their volume. Pick the device from the Google Home app on your phone, tap the cog icon, then select Night mode to turn it on. You can also adjust the volume using the Google Home app.
Finally, if you use the Assistant on Chromebook the app will follow your instructions. There is no way to alter this behavior for the time. The Assistant will respond to your questions in silence if you write them. However, if you speak loudly, the Assistant will answer you.
When it comes to interacting with Siri, you’re probably used to calling out commands and questions with your voice, but it is actually possible to type your requests as well. You can enable this in iOS by going into Settings, then choosing Accessibility > Siri, and enabling Type to Siri.
This doesn’t change the voice feedback setting. To do this, find the Spoken Responses heading and choose either When Silent Mode is Off or Only with “Hey Siri”. The former will make Siri silent until you turn off the silent mode. Selecting the latter will cause Siri to speak only if you are speaking to it. (You can also get to these options from Siri & Search > Siri Responses in Settings. )
You can either mute your macOS computer or type to Siri using your phone’s keyboard. Open System Preferences from the Apple menu, then pick Accessibility, Siri, and check the Enable Type to Siri box.
This will allow you to type your requests but won’t mut Siri’s replies. To do that, open System Preferences and choose Siri. Then, next to Voice Feedback, select Off. Siri won’t audibly respond to your voice, regardless of whether you speak or type.
If you have an Apple Watch Series 3 or later, you will be able to turn Siri’s voice responses on and off directly from your watch. Open Settings, then choose Siri and select either Control With Silent Mode or Headphones Only. These options work just like the iPhone options. Siri will speak only if your watch isn’t silent or you are wearing headphones.
The only other device Siri lives on is the discontinued Apple HomePod and its surviving spawn, th