MacMost Now 635: Dictating Text With Siri

One feature of Siri is the ability to dictate text instead of typing on your iPhone. Siri recognizes words and needs no special training. You can also type punctation and special symbols and commands.

Video Transcript
Hi, this is Gary with MacMost Now. On today's episode, let's look at using the dictation feature in Siri.
So thanks to Siri you can dictate text now on your iPhone. You can do it in any application that accepts text, anything that has the keyboard. So you can do it in mail, and you can do it for text messages and you can do it in word processors. Let's take a look.
So to use Siri's dictation feature all you need to do is be in an app where you can type text, like here I am in pages. Then bring up the keyboard. Then you see the microphone to the left of the space, tap it then speak what you want to be converted to text, and then tap done.
Testing, 1, 2, 3.
Now, you can say certain commands that make the dictation do something
besides just translate the words. For instance, you can say all caps to make the next word all capital letters. Let me demonstrate. I, all caps, really want a cheeseburger.
For most punctuation you just speak the punctuation. This is a test, period.
It doesn't always get everything perfect, you're right. For instance, quote, I love my new iPhone, comma, quote, he said, period. Now you can see it put a space between the comma and the second quote and no space between that and the h. So, it didn't get it quite right, but you see how to add basic punctuation.
Here are examples of some other basic punctuation. Question mark, exclamation point, ampersand, open parentheses, close parentheses, dash, m dash. And you have tons of other symbols you can say as well. For instance, asterisk, underscore, dollar sign, Euro sign, at sign, pound sign, less than sign, forward slash, back slash. There are even a few emoticons you can do, smiley, frowny, winky.
When you want to produce separate lines of text, you can use new line or new paragraph. This is line one, period. New line. This is line two, period. New line. This is line three, exclamation point. New paragraph. And this is line four, period.
You can use the word point in a number. Six point six two six zero six eight.
Now it's very difficult to type words saying them letter by letter in Siri, so you have to use some tricks. One thing is to turn of caps and the other is turn off spaces otherwise it will have everything uppercase and put spaces whenever you pause spelling the word out. Let's try it with my last name and see if we can get it to work. No caps on, no space on. R-O-S-E-N-Z-W-E-I-G. No space off, no caps off. It worked that time.
Now interestingly enough, if you've ever used Dragon Dictation software by Nuance, you'll find that this works very similar to how Siri works. It's because the engine is almost certainly the Nuance engine which Apple has licensed for use. That's why a lot of these commands seem about the same.
One big difference between the more expensive Dragon Dictation software for Mac is that you can train it to recognize your voice and you have a ton of different commands. For instance, you can say strike that to go back a little bit and all these different commands to manipulate what you've said so you don't ever have to actually go and physically edit the text.
So this is kind of a subset of it, but it's kind of neat that it works just with your voice without any training.
So I hope you found this look at Siri dictation useful. 'Til next time, this is Gary with MacMost Now.

Comments: 20 Responses to “MacMost Now 635: Dictating Text With Siri”

    Kika Wai'Alae
    11/23/11 @ 4:11 pm

    Is there a siri app that can be used on iPhone 3 and or the iMac?

      11/23/11 @ 8:51 pm

      Which part of Siri? If you are talking about just the dictation portion, like in this video, then the Dragon app on either Mac or on the iPhone is a good one. If you mean the assistant part of Siri, then there is really not much you can do on an earlier iPhone But on a Mac, you can use the speech recognition built into your Mac to do some things Siri does, and some things it doesn’t do as well. See episode 622:

    sherry howard
    11/24/11 @ 1:42 pm

    I am very hard of hearing and have a friend who is deaf. We need to be able to understand the speech at meetings, ind of like we need closed captioning of some type to help supplement what I can hear. Will siri take notes from a speaker over p.a. system? Do you know of anything that will yet? This is the closest I’ve seen so far for my needs.

      11/24/11 @ 1:53 pm

      Not really. It is not meant for that. You would need to speak directly into your iPhone and speak clearly. I can imagine that a product like what you are thinking of is close, but this isn’t it.

    Tom B
    12/6/11 @ 2:07 pm

    In the example where Siri places a space before the ending quote, and doesn’t leave a space before the next word, you can say “close quote” for the ending quote and it will work correctly.

    12/16/11 @ 10:09 pm

    I have tried repeatedly to speak individual letters in a manner that Siri can understand. Unfortunately, It has unfailingly fallen short each and every time. I was a speech communications major in college so I do not have a thick accent. the approach shown on this website didn’t help either.

    12/30/11 @ 9:11 pm

    When I am I’m my car and my phone is bluetoothed Siri doesn’t understand much of what I said and when I ask her to call she MAY try to call and then disconnects phone

    12/30/11 @ 9:24 pm

    Also she cannot anything on the hand free thing in my car when I ask her to text. She gets about every other word and when its over bluetoothed it hangs up

    1/2/12 @ 10:32 pm

    The misplaced quote was the command you gave and not Siri getting it right. If you say

    “Quote” I love my new iPhone “comma” “unquote” he said

    you get: “I love my new iPhone,” he said

    which is correct. When you say “quote” the quote mark starts before the work and when you say “unquote” the quote mark comes after the word (or punctation).

    1/2/12 @ 10:33 pm

    The misplaced quote was the command you gave and not Siri getting it wrong. If you say

    “Quote” I love my new iPhone “comma” “unquote” he said

    you get: “I love my new iPhone,” he said

    which is correct. When you say “quote” the quote mark starts before the word, and when you say “unquote” the quote mark comes after the word (or punctation).

    1/15/12 @ 11:26 am

    I have the iphone 4s and like siri. but i would like to be able to dictate longer documents in a word processor. this means correcting errors, being able to pause before going on, etc. Can siri do that or can i use the free dragon app even though siri is on the phone?
    And btw, i will want to download the result to my own MS word on a computer after. Can i do that with any iphone word processor app?

      1/15/12 @ 12:03 pm

      Try the Dragon app. See if it fits your needs.
      You can always email yourself the text and paste it into any word processor.

      Martin Margulis
      2/20/12 @ 2:19 pm

      I use Siri in Notes, do minor corrections by selecting the mistake and correcting either manually or by dictating. I then email the note to myself, copy and paste into Word if more corrections are necessary.

    Carlos Rivera
    2/4/13 @ 5:16 pm

    Is there a time / word limit to how much you can dictate to Siri?

    2/28/13 @ 1:35 am

    How do i get Siri to write ‘one’ and not ‘1’ when I dictate ‘one of my friends’?

      2/28/13 @ 6:57 am

      In my tests, and it seems with everyone else, SIri will write “one” when you say “one of my friends.” What are you saying before the “one?”

        2/28/13 @ 7:47 am

        Could be ‘eating with’ or happily married to’, but generally speaking I often have to key in ‘one’ to replace 1.

          2/28/13 @ 8:13 am

          Interesting. I tried both of those and got “one” each time. Maybe it is a language difference? I am using U.S. English.

    2/28/13 @ 8:21 am

    Will test again and get back to you. Just something that’s been puzzling me for a while and I happened on your page so I asked. Thanks!

Comments Closed.