Using Digital Assistants on your Mac or Windows Device

June 2, 2024 | Blog
Hands holding iPhone with voice assist.

Tracking to-do lists, scheduling appointments, and setting alarms can feel overwhelming when busy. For many busy people, there is just not enough time in the day to do it all. Fortunately, there is a solution to this problem. You can utilize your digital assistants on your Mac or Windows device. 

Many people don’t utilize these tools, but they have been proven to help the able-bodied and disabled get through their day-to-day tasks. But what is a digital assistant? Well, the team at My Computer Works has discussed everything you need to know about the most popular digital assistant you can use. By the end of this blog, you’ll be able to easily use your digital assistants to make your life easier.

What Is Assistive Technology – Digital Assistants

So, what exactly is a digital assistant? You may not be familiar with it if we call it a digital assistant, but you may be familiar with the other names they go by, such as Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant. 

Assistive technology like Google Voice Assistant, Siri, and Alexa are designed not only to aid the everyday user but can also be a useful tool for those with disabilities, such as those with speech difficulties and vision problems. 

This technology provides voice-activated support for various activities. These virtual assistants can help users manage schedules, control smart home devices, access information, and communicate more efficiently. Essentially, by enhancing accessibility and independence, digital assistants significantly improve the quality of life for people with disabilities. 

What Are The Common Digital Assistants Used On Windows Or Mac Devices? 

  • Siri

Multiple popular voice assistants are available, but a few stand above the rest in terms of popularity and familiarity. Apple owns the copyrights to one of these popular assistants, Siri, which was released in 2011.

Siri is the name Apple gave to the digital assistants installed in their products. This assistant offers voice activation and has been incorporated into every iPhone through a mobile operating system known as iOS 5 since 2011. It is also a feature on iPads and Macbooks. 

Siri has been designed to aid Apple users with playing media, such as music or videos, making phone calls, sending text messages, and arranging their schedules. It can even tell jokes and give travel directions on request, making it a well-rounded and efficient digital assistant. 

  • Alexa

Alexa is an impressive digital assistant developed by Amazon in November 2014. Alexa is available on multiple devices and has a voice activation feature. It is known for its ability to control other compatible devices by utilizing an automation hub. This means that users can fully operate a Smart home through Alexa.

This digital assistant by Amazon can perform the basic tasks expected of a digital assistant, such as scheduling, setting alarms, and playing music. Yet, it differs from most digital assistants in that it can also order items for you on the Amazon website, stream podcasts, and provide weather updates.

  • Google Now

Google Now was launched by Google in 2012 and has since been included freely on any Android device. It is an intelligent AI assistant that is made to be compatible with Android handsets by using Google Now on Tap. However, handset compatibility is only available on the latest versions of Android.

Google wanted to ensure that its user base had every opportunity to gain the same benefits as the other more well-known digital assistants offered. For this reason, Google’s assistant is now programmed to assist with directions, calendar management, appointment scheduling, sending messages, and more. 

  • Cortana

Cortana is a useful digital assistant developed by Microsoft. It was released in early April 2014 with the release of the Windows 8.1 Phone. It is not as popular as other digital assistants like Google Now and Siri, but it is one of the best for those who want to use a digital assistant on their Windows computer. 

According to the application features, Cortana can create and manage to-do lists, set reminders or alarms, open applications, and conduct searches.

Close up of digital assistant on iPhone

What Are The Actual Benefits Of Using Digital Assistants

Digital accessibility is a key focal point for AI assistants, and it should cater to both the everyday user and users with disabilities. 

Most digital voice assistants, like Siri, Alexa, and Google Now, have multiple benefits that can serve and improve accessibility for those with disabilities and those seeking to streamline day-to-day tasks. 

Here are some of the benefits of using digital assistants:

  • Some users with disabilities experience limited ability to utilize the touch screen or keyboard on devices. Thus, voice-activated digital assistants offer a hands-free mode that allows users to perform various important tasks using simple voice commands. This feature makes completing tasks that would have usually been challenging easy, increasing the opportunity for disabled users to gain independence.
  • Digital assistants can help visually impaired users access information by reading out the content of a website or email.  On the other hand, hearing-impaired users can use the assistant to transcribe spoken content into text.
  • Voice digital assistants provide users with an intuitive and natural experience when interacting with their Mac or Windows devices, universally improving usability. 

What Are The Disadvantages Of Using Digital Assistants? 

While there are some good benefits to using digital assistants, there are also some limits and challenges users may experience when using them. Some of these limits and challenges often include the following:

  • Accuracy and reliability issues: Digital assistants often struggle to follow the commands of people with heavy accents, as they are not native speakers and have speech impairments. This is because the voice assistant relies on machine learning and specific natural language processing to complete instructions.
  • Security and privacy issues: Since digital assistants need access to personal information, users face bigger security risks and are more vulnerable to privacy breaches.
  • Language limitations: Even the top digital assistants have a short list of available languages, which limits the accessibility of some users.

How To Turn Digital Assistants On Or Off 

If you need to turn off digital assistants such as Alexa, Google Assistant, Cortana, or Siri or want to manage digital assistants across multiple operating systems, then you can use the following steps:



If you want to know how to turn Siri off, here’s what you can do:

  • Navigate to the Disable/Enable option: Select Apple Menu, then System Preferences, and select Siri. Thereafter, you can Check or uncheck “Enable Ask Siri.”
  • Navigate to the Voice Activation feature: Select Apple Menu, then System Preferences, and select “Listen for ‘Hey Siri.'” After that, you can Check or uncheck to enable or disable the feature.



To disable digital assistant Cortana, you will need to take the following steps:

  • Navigate to the Disable/Enable option: Open the Settings menu and select Cortana. Thereafter, you can use the slider to disable the “Let Cortana respond to ‘Cortana’ keyword.”
  • Navigate to the Voice Activation feature: Select Cortana settings in the Settings menu, then use the slider to activate or deactivate “Hey Cortana.”

Google Assistant

To turn off Google Assistant, you can take the following steps:

  • Navigate to the Disable/Enable option: Disabling requires controlling a third-party app via the app’s settings, as Google Assistant isn’t supported on Windows. Use the third-party app to turn off Google Assistant or get a professional IT technician to assist you. 


  • Navigate to the Disable/Enable option: Open your Alexa app, go to the Settings options, and select Alexa on this PC or device. Then, use the slider to disable or enable Alexa.

Wrap-Up On Using Digital Assistants On Your Mac Or Windows Device

Whether you are abled or disabled, a digital assistant could be the key to tackling those ever-growing mundane tasks or at least helping you organize and manage them. Fortunately, there are many different kinds you can use with varying features that can help make your life easier. 

If you need assistance setting up or using a digital assistant or are simply looking for answers about these assistants from a professional you can trust, the team at My Computer Works is ready to help. Simply contact our team here, and we’ll work alongside you to streamline the digital assistant process. 


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