5:00 am

Using Enhanced Dictation On Your Mac

The Enhanced Dictation feature in OS X allows you to dictate text anywhere you find a text cursor, like TextEdit, Pages or Mail. It is an offline version of OS X dictation that allows you to mix typing and speaking for a better experience. It uses context to figure out which words make the most sense in a given situation. You also have a variety of special commands.

Video Transcript (Click to Expand)
Hi, this is Gary with MacMost.com. Let's take a look at using Dictation in Mavericks.

To get started with Dictation the first thing you want to do is to go to System Preferences. Then you want to go to Dictation & Speech and select Dictation. Now you have several different options.

The main one, of course, is whether or not to turn Dictation on or off. But just as important as that is whether or not to Use Enhanced Dictation. Now, if you don't have that checked off that means that basically you speak short verse of text, I think you have about thirty seconds to speak, and that is sent to Apple servers. Probably the same servers that handle Siri. Then that is returned to you as text. So you need a constant internet connection and you can only speak in short bits. Then those are translated and returned to you. And it works fine. It doesn't take up any space on your drive.

But if you turn this on you have to do this large download. But once you do that it is done and then you have Use Enhanced Dictation which is done all locally and it works out much better.

Also notice here you can set the microphone and you can set the language. You can add additional languages. Then you can change the Shortcut key. I'm going to keep it at the default here which is Press Fn key twice.

So now let's go into TextEdit and give it a try. I'm going to speak some text after pressing the Fn key twice. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog period. You can see I hit Fn once and it was the same a pressing the Done button there. So I can basically hover my finger over the Fn key on my keyboard and use it that way.

Notice how it actually did all that. Not only was it doing it in real time but it was kind of adjusting things based on what I said. So as it kind of got the next word and the word after that it might go back and correct a previous word that made more sense.

Now it is not magic. It doesn't do everything quite right. You can see if I just talked normally it is going to get a few things wrong but it is generally going to do a good job. What really shines is if you both type and speak at the same time, because it is real time, you can kind of interact with your words.

So let's give this a try. I'm going to try speaking and typing at the same time. Like I added that period there by typing and I just made those corrections period.

So it makes ideal for doing messages. Like you can just use it here inside of Mail. You can use Dictation anywhere that the text cursor appears. So I'm going to use the Fn key twice here and start dictating a message. To Whom It May Concern I received the shipment of penguins comma but one of them was damaged period. Please send a replacement period. Thanks period.

So you may have noticed that I can speak things like comma and period and it understands those are punctuation. There is a whole list of different things that you can say. For instance, open parenthesis this close parenthesis. It figures it out. You can do some interesting things like some symbols. Dollar sign fifty. Smiley face. There is an entire list of all the different commands if you go to this page here at the Apple website. Scroll down and you will find a detailed list of commands here. You can see there is all sorts of different things that you can do.

Comments: 13 Responses to “Using Enhanced Dictation On Your Mac”

    7/17/14 @ 1:19 pm

    Got the download. Mic graphic shows response. Mothing types in Textedit or email. Thoughts?

      7/17/14 @ 3:25 pm

      Hard to say without a first-hand look. Maybe try the usual things: quit, restart, etc. If not, perhaps a visit to the Genius Bar.

    Ronnie Warren
    7/17/14 @ 3:03 pm

    Great to see the enhanced dictation and how after (Period) there is a (Capital letter) automatically commences the next sentence. Why can’t that happen with Pages app? How long do I have to ask and wait before something is done about it.
    Bring back the ink pot and pen app.

    Stuart J
    7/17/14 @ 9:27 pm

    Great, thanks for another great insight, Gary.
    I’ve seen Dictation in the apps but never really understood how it worked, or if it could work for me.
    Now I’m dictating half of my daily output!

    7/18/14 @ 11:48 am

    Been playing with it this week, and one limitation I can’t find a fix for is being unable to “spell” words. I use a lot of Chinese names when I write, and boy would it be great to dictate “spell: X-i-a-n” for example. Any idea if this type thing is possible?

    Love your work.

      7/18/14 @ 4:20 pm

      For situations like that, I find it is best to combine speaking and typing. Speak what you can and type other things. Mac Dictation can work great like that. It goes for difficult-to-spell names, technical terms, etc. Even if you could spell out the letters with speech, it is easier to type.

    7/26/14 @ 10:24 am

    Brilliant… thank you Gary. Seems to work equally well in Pages 4.3 and 5.2. I am also delighted that it can cope with more than one language in the same document.

    Deb Truskey
    7/27/14 @ 12:38 pm

    Did I hear you say that dictation takes up space on your hard drive? I have a MacBook Air & space is of the essence. If that’s the case where do I go to clear it?

      7/27/14 @ 12:56 pm

      Enhanced dictation does, yes. It needs to download the software and data to support it. You get a warning when you attempt to turn enhanced dictation on. But you can still use normal dictation (similar to Siri, where it sends short bits of audio to the server) without downloading all of that.

    7/29/14 @ 3:53 pm

    Too bad dictation doesn’t work with the calculator. It would be handy adding long lists of numbers.

      7/29/14 @ 3:55 pm

      Works in Numbers, though. Try it.

        7/29/14 @ 4:13 pm

        It’s would just be so much simpler to use the calculator. No preparation. Just open and say 253 plus sign 153.

          7/29/14 @ 4:24 pm

          I tried it with the Spotlight menu and it worked there, but it was a little awkward. I said “5 3 plus 1 2” and it started to spell out the letters. But in the end it put up “53+12” with the answer. So try that.

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