How do I set default voice assistant?

Virtual assistants or voice assistants are AI-powered software that can respond to voice commands through devices like smartphones, speakers, and computers. They provide access to a range of capabilities including reading and sending messages, playing music, asking questions, controlling smart home devices, and more by simply speaking commands.

Some of the major voice assistants include:

  • Amazon Alexa – Available via Amazon Echo smart speakers, Alexa provides shopping, music, news, and general information plus control of smart home devices.
  • Apple Siri – Siri comes built into iPhones and other Apple devices and can book meetings, answer questions, and execute commands.
  • Google Assistant – Google’s assistant is available on Android phones and Google Home speakers and helps with scheduling, answering questions, playing media, and more.
  • Microsoft Cortana – Cortana comes with Windows operating systems and can handle reminders, schedule meetings, and answer general questions.

Why Set a Default

Setting a default voice assistant provides convenience by allowing you to call upon it anytime, anywhere without needing to specify which one to use. This avoids potential confusion and accidental activations of multiple assistants. As reported, most voice assistants are configured to activate from wake words, so having a default prevents triggering the wrong one.

Additionally, setting a default allows personalization of the single assistant you use regularly. As noted in Google’s overview, voice recognition like Voice Match enables customized experiences suited to individuals. With a default set, this tailored service persists across devices without disruption.

Setting a Default on Android

On Android devices, you can set the default voice assistant in the Google app or the Settings app.

To set Google Assistant as the default:

  • Open the Google app and tap “More” then “Settings”
  • Go to “Voice” and tap on “Voice Match”
  • Toggle on “Hey Google” detection

This will make Google Assistant the default assistant that launches when you say “Hey Google” (1).

To set a different default like Bixby or Alexa:

  • Go to Settings and search for “Default apps”
  • Tap “Assist app”
  • Choose your preferred voice assistant app

This will change the default assistant that launches when you hold down the home button or perform other assistant actions (2).

Setting a Default on iOS

On iOS devices, including iPhones and iPads, Siri is the default voice assistant. However, you can change the default to Google Assistant if desired. According to this guide, you can replace Siri with Google Assistant by following these steps:

1. Download the Google Assistant app from the iOS App Store.

2. Open the Settings app and go to Siri & Search.

3. Under “Listen for ‘Hey Siri'”, turn off the toggle.

4. This will disable “Hey Siri” voice activation, allowing you to trigger Google Assistant instead by voice.

So by installing Google Assistant and disabling “Hey Siri” in iOS settings, you can effectively replace Siri with Google as your default voice assistant.

Setting a Default on Windows

Cortana is the default voice assistant built into Windows 10 and 11. To change the default to Alexa or another assistant, open the Settings app and go to Privacy & security > Voice activation. There you can choose Alexa or another assistant as the default.

According to Microsoft’s forums, Cortana cannot be fully replaced, but can be configured to work together with Alexa. So while you can set Alexa as the default for voice activation, Cortana will still be present on Windows.

To activate Alexa instead of Cortana, say “Open Alexa” or “Hey Alexa” after changing the default setting. You can also press Windows key + S to open search, type “Open Alexa” and select the Alexa app.

Setting a Default on Mac

On Mac computers, Apple’s Siri is set as the default voice assistant. Siri can be accessed by voice or by clicking on the Siri icon in the menu bar. However, Mac users have the option to change the default to another voice assistant like Google Assistant if desired.

To change the default voice assistant on a Mac, open System Preferences from the Apple menu. Under General settings, there will be an option to select your preferred voice assistant. Click on the dropdown menu to view your options, which may include Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa, or others if the apps are installed. Select your preferred assistant to set it as the new default.

According to this Apple Discussions thread, Google Assistant can be enabled by installing the app from the Mac App Store. Once installed and set as the default, Google Assistant should function the same as Siri – you can activate it by voice or by clicking the microphone icon.

Changing the default allows you to quickly access your preferred assistant for hands-free help and smart commands. Just make sure the app is downloaded first before setting it as the default in System Preferences.

Setting a Default on Smart Speakers

Smart speakers often have a default voice assistant, depending on the device:

  • Amazon Echo has Alexa as the default voice assistant (source).
  • Google Home has Google Assistant as the default (source).

In some cases, you can change the default assistant directly in the device settings, but options may be limited depending on the device model.

For example, Alexa device settings allow you to designate a “preferred speaker” which will be prioritized for music and other voice commands (source). However, you are still limited to Alexa as the assistant.

Before changing defaults, check your device documentation to understand the options available.

Controlling Multiple Assistants

When using more than one assistant in your home, distinguishing which one should respond to your voice commands can be tricky. To avoid confusion, you can use distinct wake words to call specific assistants. Google Assistant uses “Ok Google” or “Hey Google” while Alexa typically responds to “Amazon”, “Echo”, or “Computer.”

You can also adjust device settings so each one only listens for certain wake words. For Google Home devices, open the Google Home app > tap on your device name > Assistant > Responds to “Ok Google” and “Hey Google” > turn selected wake words on/off. On Echo devices, go to Settings > Wake Word > toggle the wake words on or off.

This allows you to have one assistant in the kitchen respond to “Hey Google” while the living room device answers “Alexa.” It prevents them from overlapping or both responding to general requests. Careful planning of wake words and device settings ensures you select the proper assistant for any given query.


When choosing a smart speaker or voice assistant, there are several factors to consider:

  • Platform: If you mostly use Apple products like iPhone or Mac, Apple’s Siri will provide the best integration. For those heavily invested in the Google ecosystem, the Google Assistant will provide seamless connectivity.
  • Privacy: Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant have faced privacy concerns over data collection, but both companies have added features to improve user control. Siri has stronger native privacy protections.
  • Audio quality: If music or multi-media playback is a priority, the Amazon Echo Studio and Google Nest Audio provide excellent sound quality.
  • Smart home control: Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri all offer skills, smart device integrations, and home automation features with varying degrees of support based on your needs. Alexa is the most developed ecosystem currently.

In the end, consider what features and devices matter most as you choose a default voice assistant. Testing multiple assistants can also help determine the right fit.


Setting a default voice assistant on your device can improve your experience and productivity by enabling quicker, hands-free access to information, device controls, and more. We walked through key steps for the most common platforms like Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, and smart speakers.

On mobile devices, the main choices are Google Assistant, Siri, or Bixby. Going into Settings and choosing your preferred assistant as the default means you can access it more easily just by voice or a long press of a hardware button. On PCs, Cortana is commonly the default but you may want to switch to Alexa or another assistant more convenient for you.

For Echo speakers from Amazon, Alexa will be the default but you can adjust the activation wake word. Likewise for Google Home devices and Google Assistant. Setting your preferred assistant across devices creates continuity. And don’t forget you can still access multiple assistants if you need to for specific use cases.

Taking the time to choose and customize your go-to voice assistant results in a simpler, more intuitive, and productive experience.

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