The top of an Apple HomePod.

The Apple HomePod smart speaker ($299, at this writing) brings Siri and Apple Music to your kitchen, living room, or wherever you want it. You can use the HomePod as a speaker, a smart-home hub, an assistant, and so much more.

Here’s how you can get the most out of your HomePod.

Rename and Customize Your HomePod

By default, your HomePod takes the label of the room to which you assign it when you first set it up. However, if you’d like to give it a specific name, you can do so via the Home app for iPhone and iPad.

To do so, download the Home app if you haven’t yet, and then launch it. Long-press the HomePod in question, and then tap the Settings button at the bottom right. Tap the title at the top of the list, and then type the name.

The title section in the Settings menu of the Home app.

You can further customize your HomePod here. If you want, you can change the default Apple ID account your HomePod uses or Siri’s language and accent. At the very bottom of the list, you find an option to reset the HomePod to factory defaults, as well.

How to Control Your HomePod

If you tap the touch screen interface at the top of the HomePod, you can control it with the following touch gestures:

  • Tap once: Play/Pause
  • Double-tap: Skip track
  • Triple-tap: Skip to the previous track
  • Touch and hold: Trigger Siri
  • Tap plus (+) or minus sign (-): Increase or decrease volume

You can use the following voice commands, too:

  • “Hey, Siri, turn it up.”
  • “Hey, Siri, turn the volume down to 20 percent.”
  • “Hey, Siri, stop.”
  • “Hey, Siri, skip forward 60 seconds.”
  • “Hey, Siri, play the previous track.”

Another handy way to control the speaker is from your iPhone or iPad. To do so, access the Control Center and long-press the “Now Playing” tile. Scroll down the list and tap your HomePod to take control of it.

On an iPhone X or later, you can swipe down from the top-right corner of the screen to activate the Control Center; on iPhone 8 or earlier, swipe up from the bottom of the screen.

The "Now Playing" Tile in the iOS Control Center.

Tap “Now Playing” to launch the Music app. The target HomePod should be clearly indicated on the “Now Playing” screen (and in the collapsed “Now Playing” section at the bottom of the screen).

This method of controlling the HomePod isn’t the same as using it as an AirPlay speaker. While controlling the HomePod directly, your iPhone will play all regular audio through its own speaker.

Use HomePod as an AirPlay Speaker

Using the HomePod as an AirPlay speaker (like you can with the Apple TV) is slightly different from controlling it directly, as described above. When you use the HomePod as an AirPlay speaker, all audio from your iPhone (or another device) is routed through the HomePod. This includes videos, game audio, and notification alerts.

List of devices in the "AirPlay" menu on iOS.

This also means you can use the HomePod to play music from streaming services other than Apple Music (Spotify, Amazon Music, Pandora, YouTube, and so on). To get started, you just have to connect via AirPlay.

Follow these steps to output audio from iOS to your HomePod:

  1. Launch Control Center on your iOS device.
  2. Tap the AirPlay icon in the top-right corner of the Music tile.
  3. Choose your HomePod from the list of devices.
  4. To stop streaming via AirPlay, head back to this menu and choose “iPhone” instead.

You can also use HomePod as the speaker for your Mac; follow these steps to set it up:

  1. Launch System Preferences > Sound on your Mac.
  2. Click the “Output” tab, and then select “HomePod.”
  3. To stop streaming via AirPlay, head back to the Sound > Output menu and choose “Internal Speakers” instead.

If you want to switch your Mac’s sound to HomePod quickly, click the sound icon in the menu bar at the top-right of the screen, and then click your HomePod in the list of available devices.

If you have an Apple TV, you can also use the HomePod as its speaker; follow these steps to enable it:

  1. Turn on your Apple TV, and then press and hold the Play/Pause button on the remote.
  2. Under “Apple TV,” scroll down and select your HomePod.
  3. To stop streaming via AirPlay, press and hold the Play/Pause button on the remote and choose “Apple TV” instead.

Transfer What’s Playing Between HomePod and Other Devices

If you’re ever playing Apple Music on your iPhone and want to transfer playback to your HomePod, simply hold your iPhone near the top of the HomePod’s touch interface.

A notification appears informing you that you can transfer what is currently playing to the speaker; tap it to do so.

An iPhone notification that playback is transferring from an iPhone to HomePod.

This also works in reverse; if your HomePod’s playing a song, you can place your iPhone near the top of it to transfer playback to your iPhone—just tap the notification that appears.

Use Siri to Control and Find Music and Podcasts

Siri knows a lot about music trivia and can be particularly useful on the HomePod. It can tell you more about the music you’re playing or even suggest similar artists.

You can ask Siri about the song or artist that’s currently playing or which album the song is on. You can also tell Siri to play music similar to the song that’s currently playing.

Siri also accepts commands, like “Play Aphex Twin,” or “Add this song to my library.” You can also tell Siri to add a song that’s playing to one of your playlists.

If you can’t remember what a song is called, but you know a lyric or two, Siri can help you find it. Just say, “Hey, Siri, what’s the song that goes like ‘they say jump, you say how high?'” to get suggestions.

Also, keep in mind you can refine your recommendations while you listen to music by simply saying, “Hey, Siri, I like this,” or “Hey, Siri, I don’t like this.”

One of the best features on the HomePod is its direct integration with the iTunes podcast directory. This means you can simply ask Siri to play you a specific podcast, and, usually, it plays the right one.

If you like to listen to your podcasts more quickly, simply say, “Hey, Siri, play this faster,” to speed up the playback.

Use HomePod to Make Calls or Send and Receive Messages

Provided you’ve enabled Personal Requests, you can use Siri on HomePod to make calls, dictate messages, and read your inbox aloud. To enable Personal Requests, launch the Home app on your iPhone or iPad, long-press the HomePod, and then tap the Settings button at the bottom right. Scroll down to “Personal Requests,” and then tap it to toggle it on.

Now, you can use Siri as if it were on your device. Just say, “Hey, Siri, call <name>,” to place a call, or “Hey, Siri, answer the phone,” or, “Hey, Siri, hang up” to control incoming calls.

If you want to transfer a call from your iPhone to your HomePod, you can do that, too! Just tap the “Audio” or “Speaker” button while the call is active, and then select your HomePod. You can even keep using your iPhone during an active call.

The Call screen on iOS 13.

Messages behave similarly—just speak to Siri the same as you would on your iPhone. For example, you can say something like, “Hey, Siri, tell Dad I’m running late.”

Add Notes, Alarms, Reminders, Timers, Calendar Events

After you enable Personal Requests, your HomePod can also interact with other apps. You can create notes, set alarms and timers, add reminders, and populate your calendar. If you have your HomePod in a communal area, you can also create lists in Reminders, and then tell Siri to add items to it.

Here are some commands you can try:

  • “Hey, Siri, add milk to my shopping list.”
  • “Hey, Siri, create a note called ‘Books to Read.'”
  • “Hey, Siri, add War and Peace to my ‘Books to Read’ note.”
  • “Hey, Siri, set an alarm for 9 a.m. every day.”
  • “Hey, Siri, remind me to cook rice in 10 minutes.”
  • “Hey, Siri, set a timer for 15 minutes.”
  • “Hey, Siri, set another timer for 30 minutes.”
  • “Hey, Siri, create a calendar event called ‘Doctors’ for 9 a.m. tomorrow.”

Ask Siri for News Headlines

Siri can also read news headlines to you from several sources, including CNN, NPR, or the BBC. Just ask Siri, “What’s the news today?” for a personal broadcast. If you want sports, just say, “Hey, Siri, what’s the sports news?” instead.

The Apple News logo.

Say, “Hey Siri, play news from <your preferred source>,” if you’d like to change it. Just like your podcasts, you can ask Siri to “read this faster” if you want to get through the news quickly.

Control Your Smart Home

You can also use HomePod as a smart-home hub for Apple HomeKit devices. In fact, when you first set up your HomePod, it automatically becomes a hub for your home. From there, you can use voice commands to control all sorts of HomeKit-enabled devices.

To take control of your hub, launch the Home app, and then tap the “house” icon in the top-left corner. Here, you can invite people to your hub, so they can also control your smart home. This is great for family members and guests, but be careful to whom you give access.

You can also change the “Allow Speaker and TV Access” setting to lock down your HomePod in case of abuse. If you choose “Everyone,” anyone in your home (regardless of whether they’re on the same Wi-Fi network) can control it.

 The "Allow Speaker and TV Access" menu in the Home app for iOS.

If you limit the setting to “Only People Sharing This Home,” you’ll need to manually add people to your Home hub before they can use the HomePod on their own devices.

Block Explicit Content

Not all music is appropriate for all audiences. Occasionally, you might want to tone things down if you have guests or children in your home. You can automatically skip explicit content thanks to Apple’s rating system, although this only affects music streamed via Apple Music.

To alter this setting, launch the Home app, and then tap and hold your HomePod. Tap the Settings icon at the bottom right, scroll down to “Allow Explicit Content,” and then tap to toggle it off.

Toggle-Off the "Allow Explicit Content" option.

Reset the HomePod’s Sound Calibration

The HomePod can calibrate itself to sound its best, given the current conditions. This happens every time the HomePod is moved, so if you want to force a manual recalibration, simply pick up the speaker and put it down again.

Disable Siri and Use HomePod as a Speaker

If you’re sick of Siri springing into action when no one asked it to, you can turn your smart speaker into a dumb speaker. Then, it will do what it does best: play music and other audio.

Disable Siri on HomePod for a Pure Audio Experience

To disable Siri, launch the Home app from your iPhone, and then long-press your HomePod. Tap the Settings button in the bottom-right corner and scroll down to the “Siri” section. Toggle-Off the “Listen for ‘Hey Siri,'” and/or “Touch and Hold for Siri” options.

By default, HomePod is always listening for “Hey Siri” commands, and it hears them under the most bizarre circumstances. Sometimes, HomePod might spring into action when you’re in another room or while people are having a conversation. It might even randomly start playing music no one requested.

If you have an iPhone in your pocket or you wear an Apple Watch, you likely won’t miss much functionality.

Prevent Others from Tainting Your Apple Music Recommendations

Your friends can ask Siri to play music, too. However, if their taste is wildly different from yours, your Apple Music recommendations will take a bashing. It might start recommending music you would never want to hear.

To avoid this problem, you can prevent HomePod from logging playback activity. Launch the Home app and long-press your HomePod. Tap the Settings button, and then tap the “Update Listening History” option to turn it off.

Tap "Update Listening History" to turn it off.

If it’s too late and your recommendations have already been impacted, launch Music on your iPhone. Next, long-press any artists, albums, or songs you don’t like, and then tap “Suggest Less Like This” from the context menu.

Pair Two HomePods for Stereo Sound

Sometimes, one HomePod just isn’t enough. If you introduce a second HomePod to your network, you’re asked if you want to create a stereo pair.

You can also do this manually at any time. To do so, launch the Home app on your iPhone and long-press one of your HomePods. Tap the Settings icon, tap “Create Stereo Pair,” and then choose your second HomePod. You can use the controls to switch between the left and right channels.

If you want to create two separate HomePod speakers, head back to this same menu, and then choose “Ungroup Accessories.” AirPlay 2 enables multiroom audio with two compatible speakers, which is (arguably) a better use for a pair of HomePods than stereo sound.

Protect Your Furniture

Last but not least, the silicon on the bottom of the HomePod (particularly on the white model) has been known to mark surfaces. You might want to consider either placing a mat under your HomePod or putting it on a surface that isn’t too precious or easily marked.

Still not sure if a HomePod is for you? Here are six things that might help you decide.

RELATED: 6 Things You Should Know About the HomePod

Profile Photo for Tim Brookes Tim Brookes
Tim Brookes is a technology writer with more than a decade of experience. He's invested in the Apple ecosystem, with experience covering Macs, iPhones, and iPads for publications like Zapier and MakeUseOf.
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