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How to Turn On Voice Control in iOS 13, and Why You’d Want To

Voice Control is a powerful new Accessibility feature introduced in iOS 13. With Voice Control enabled, you can operate your iPhone almost entirely through voice commands. 

Voice Controls in iOS 13

Among other capabilities, Voice Control adds numbers to items on the screen for easier selection with your voice.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)


That might sound a lot like Siri, the voice-controlled digital assistant, but this new feature is actually very different. Voice Control is more like a substitute for touching the iPhone’s screen, so anything you’d normally have to physically interact with the device to do, you can now accomplish just by speaking.

Simple commands, like “go home” or “go back,” are allowed. But you can also instruct your iPhone to open specific apps, enteer words in a text field and edit them after the fact, zoom in and out, drag and drop and even invoke 3D Touch, all using your voice. And if you’re in a situation where you must interact with an on-screen button that isn’t clearly labeled or obvious, you can instruct iOS to number all the actionable elements on your phone’s screen, allowing you to say a specific number to trigger that particular function.

The feature's not perfect as we found out in our iOS 13 review, and there's a bit of a learning curve on mastering those commands. But you can't master a feature you haven't enabled. Here’s how to start using Voice Control:

Turn on Voice Control in iOS 13

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

1. Open Settings.

Turn on Voice Control in iOS 13

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

2. Tap Accessibility.

Turn on Voice Control in iOS 13

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

3. Tap Voice Control.

Turn on Voice Control in iOS 13

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

4. Toggle Voice Control on. Now that Voice Control is active, you’ll see a blue microphone icon appear next to the clock in the upper-left corner of the display. The appearance of this icon means Voice Control is on and always listening for commands.

Turn on Voice Control in iOS 13

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

5. At this point, you can start using Voice Control, but you probably don’t know what commands are available to you. For an overview of what you can say and do, tap Customize Commands. There are many, many commands, and they’re each broken up into categories. Tapping one will show you all of the different accepted phrases that will trigger a specific action.

Turn on Voice Control in iOS 13

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

6. You can also add commands, using the Create New Commands option within the Customize Commands page. To create a command Voice Control will recognize, you’ll have to specify the nature of the action and the application where it is relevant before you write out the command itself.

Turn on Voice Control in iOS 13

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

7. If you only want Voice Control to listen when you’re looking at your iPhone, toggle on the Attention Aware setting on the main Voice Control screen. When your device notices you’re not looking at it (using the front-facing TrueDepth camera), Voice Control will automatically sleep; to use Voice Control without looking at your iPhone, you’ll have to preface your next command by saying “Wake Up.”

Voice Control is incredibly capable, so you’ll likely have to use it for a while to understand how to get the most out of it. That said, there are two commands in particular you should get comfortable using: “Show Grid” and Show Numbers.” These commands will allow you to interact with any item on your iPhone’s screen, even if there’s no default phrase for what you’re trying to do built into Voice Control.

Also be mindful of the fact that having Voice Control on means your iPhone really is always listening. And because it’s not personalized to your voice (unlike iOS’s Hey Siri feature), your iPhone will automatically respond to phrases it recognizes, regardless of who says them. To that end, Voice Control probably isn’t a feature you’ll want to use in public very often, though it can be very beneficial for certain situations, like when you’re cooking and need your hands free, for example.