Free Dictation using your PC or Mac

Dictation has been an essential tool for many professionals looking to turn their thoughts into text and saving their fingers all that work. The power of modern devices means you are probably already carrying around a dictation application in your pocket already but did you know that your computer also includes a free dictation system that lets you talk and it will type? Here were introduce you to three free dictation applications.

06 August 2015 Discovery  Apple Macs, Microsoft Word, Windows PCs

Dictation has been an essential tool for many professionals looking to turn their thoughts into text and saving their fingers all that work.The power of modern devices means you are probably already carrying around a dictation service in your pocket already but did you know that your computer also includes a free dictation system that lets you talk and it will type?  Here were introduce you to three free dictation applications.

Windows Speech Recognition

Microsoft doesn’t highlight the fact but all recent versions of Windows include Speech Recognition software and reviewers have been generally impressed with its capabilities.

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To activate the Windows Speech Recognition, go to your Start menu and in the search box at the bottom, type speech recognition. Click the option that pops up, and a window will open where you can enable the feature, as well as giving you a short text to read, Windows gives an idea of what your voice is like. Features can also be accessed through the Control Panel. Once everything is set up, a small status box will pop up. This will be used to switch Speech Recognition on and off.

To begin, just say clearly into your microphone “start listening.” The app then beeps and springs into life, ready to begin. You can instruct Windows Speech Recognition to pretty much do anything on your PC. It can open browsers (including new tabs), apps, as well as Microsoft Office documents. Once you have a document open, you can dictate text and it will instantly appear.

You can also tell the computer to shut down or restart, as well as call up the start menu or a command line box. When you are finished, just say “stop listening” and it will go to sleep, waiting for you to wake it up again.

It’s easy to use, and the free price is just right, but users of Windows Speech Recognition’s say performance could improve. They found the accuracy level dropped when they dictated long documents for MS Office. Neither did it respond very well to strong accents.

Mac Speech Recognition

Included with later versions of Apple's OS X is their dication system which is very easy to set up and use and the accuracy was very impressive.  Guidance on how to get started with it can be found in their article Mac Basics: Dictation lets you speak text instead of typing

To get the most out of the this, make sure you use the "Use Enhanced Dictation" option.  This will need do download around 1GB of information on to your Mac but lets you dictate offline and recognition is much quicker.

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Google Chrome

Whether you use a PC or Mac there is another option.  If you use Google Chrome as your web browser of choice you might have noticed the little microphone at the far right of the search bar in Google, this is Google’s free voice search.

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Google’s voice recognition currently include the search engine and a translation service however if you want to talk and have Google type out the text for you to use in an Email or document you will need to visit the website https://dictation.io/.

Using Chrome and a microphone set up on your PC (either in a headset or webcam form), click the microphone icon. The first time, it asks you to grant Google permission to access your microphone. When that's complete, it invites you to speak your request. It recognizes speech almost instantly, and translates what you've said (which is very reliable) on the screen. Your search results also appear quickly and you don't have to use a mouse.

The application is integrated with Dropbox and Google Drive to help you easily export your transcribed text to your various online accounts. Alternatively, your can send the dictated text to any email address.

You can also use a few voice commands like:

  • Say "new sentence" to begin a new sentence. Dictation will automatically add a period to the previous sentence and capitalizes the first letter of your new sentence.
  • Say "new paragraph" to move the cursor to the next paragraph.
  • Say "stop listening" to exit the dictation mode. If you wish to resume recording, hit the “Start” button again.

If you realise a mistake has been made, or if Chrome's interpretation is wrong, simple click the incorrect word and edit the inline notepad.

Round-up

To conclude, after looking at the free applications, it’s obvious that Dragon NaturallySpeaking is far better than its competitors but then it does come at a cost. Windows and Mac basics provide a very strong rival with the added bonus of being free, but their speech recognition isn’t as strong. If you are going to use speech recognition on a frequent basis, it would be worth investing in Dragon.

Try out speech recognition now with the built-in Windows and Mac apps, you’ll be surprised at how much you enjoy dispensing with the keyboard.

We would appreciate your feedback about software mentioned in the this article.

Tags  dictation

Corrections or suggestions

Office for Mac

Microsoft Office for Mac Home & Business 2011

Office for PC

Microsoft Office Home & Business 2013

Office Subscription

Microsoft Office 365