Learn From Guru: Easily Using Voice Dictation to Talk to Macs

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Did you know that Macs have built-in voice dictation that gives you the ability to talk commands instead of typing them? The feature works like the voice dictation feature on mobile devices rather than a Speech Recognition feature that can be complicated (Windows).

Additionally, an ‘Enhanced Dictation’ feature is provided for OS X Mavericks, allowing offline voice dictation that displays the text as you’re talking. This lets you view what your Mac interprets.

Setting up enhanced dictation feature

Siri Mac

To start you are going to need the feature enabled. Do this by clicking on the Apple menu located at the top of the screen, go to System Preferences. Look or and click the Dictation & Speech icon, and make sure the dictation is ‘On’.

By enabling Enhanced Dictation, you will download the dictionary that is appropriate directly from Apple servers. The Mac will then have the ability to interpret what you say, even offline. If this feature is not enabled, your speech is instead sent off to Apple’s servers, then interpreted.

You are able to customize the dictation shortcut as well, even determine the microphone that the feature uses. If your microphone is picking up your voice, the purple microphone lights up.

Using the voice dictation feature

Mac dictation settings

For using the voice dictation app on a Mac, choose a text field. Then, hit the Function (Fn) key two times, or click on the edit menu and choose Start Dictation.

Begin talking to your Mac and you will see what you say appear in the text field. If Enhanced Dictation is enabled, they will show up right away, otherwise you will need to click on Done or hit the Function key again. This sends the audio to Apple’s servers, then interprets it and converts it to text that appears in the field. Without Enhanced Dictation, you can record up to 30 seconds of audio at a time.

As you speak, the purple indicator should be moving. If it does not move, it means your Mac is not picking up your voice and the microphone will need to be repositioned or configured again in the Dictation pane.

Once you have finished your dictating, hit the Function key or click on Done to ensure the Mac is not listening anymore.

Various commands for dictating

How to use voice commands on Mac

Just like with alternative operating systems, the appropriate punctuation marks are not automatically applied when using Voice Dictation when normally speaking. For this, you are going to need to tell it what to do by speaking. For instance, if you want it to type “I’m okay, and you?”, you would speak “I’m doing well comma and you question mark.”

Overall, the Windows Speech Recognition feature is very powerful, with a feeling of an accessibility tool rather than for the masses. However, Mac’s Voice Dictation has been streamlined and simplified more too. It is much easier to get started and does not require a long learning curve or training. Those who use the feature on mobile devices will be very familiar with it as it’s nearly the same as Apples iOS.

One thought on “Learn From Guru: Easily Using Voice Dictation to Talk to Macs”

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