Dictation or voice typing is the speech to text technology to convert audio input to readable text. Applications like Microsoft Word offers in-built dictation feature which you can use for typing with voice inputs/commands. However, this is not a common feature in other apps like Apple Pages. Good thing is that both Windows and macOS comes with a system wide dictation feature. You can use this on any text box or text area to speak and convert your voice inputs to text content.
Dictation in Windows and Mac
Before using dictation feature in Windows or Mac, make sure to understand the followings.
- There are no setup or configuration required for using voice inputs. It works by listening your voice using system’s microphone.
- However, your voice inputs will be sent to Apple and Microsoft for processing. So, dictation may not be the option for you if you are concerning about privacy.
- The function needs stable internet connection for converting your voice online using AI. This means you can’t use dictation without internet connection.
- Dictation works in English and most other popular languages like Chinese, German, Spanish, French, etc. On Mac, you can switch the language while using the function. Windows will use the default system language. If you have multiple input language packs installed, then you can switch the language from taskbar or use “Win + Space” keys.
Using Dictation (Voice Typing) in Windows 11
The speech to text conversion is called voice typing in Windows OS. Windows 11 shows an information about “Voice typing” option in “Settings > Accessibility > Speech” section.
However, there are no setup or configuration required and you can simply use the function whenever needed.
- Keep your cursor in a text box like WhatsApp chat, Microsoft Word or in a Notepad.
- Press “Win + H” keys to enable voice typing. If you are using touch keyboard then tap on the microphone button to activate voice typing.
- This will open a small pop-up toolbar showing a microphone, gear icon and a help icon. You can toggle through these icons using “Win + Alt + H” keyboard shortcuts.
- Press the microphone icon to toggle listening and start talking.
- You can see the voice is automatically converted into text input.
If required, click the gear icon to enable voice typing launcher and auto punctuation. Voice type launcher helps to quickly open the feature when you are in a text box.
Note: As you can see in the accessibility settings page, Windows also has a feature called “Windows Speech Recognition”. This helps to control your device with voice inputs. However, you need to use external microphone and activate this function using a setup wizard.
Using Dictation in Mac
Follow the below instructions to enable dictation in Mac.
- Click the Apple logo showing on the top left corner of the screen.
- Select “System Preferences…” from the menu list and click on “Keyboard” preferences icon.
- When you are in “Keyboard” section go to “Dictation” tab.
- Enable “Dictation” and choose your language.
- By default, dictation in Mac works when you press the function key two times. However, you can click on the “Shortcut” dropdown and select from other available options like pressing twice control, right command, left command or either side command key.
- If you do not like any of the default shortcuts, then select “Custom” option. this will open a text box against “Shortcut” option, press the key combinations to set a new shortcut like Alt + Q or anything you like. However, make sure the shortcut are not conflicting with other macOS system shortcuts like “Command + A”. In such a case, only dictation will work and the system shortcut will be disabled.
After setting up the language, place your cursor in any text input area like Pages or Word document. Press the shortcut you have setup or function key twice if you did not change the default settings. You can see a microphone appears and listening to your voice inputs. Start talking and see the voice input is automatically converted to text.
Note: Similar to Windows Speech Recognition, Mac also has a “Voice Control” feature to control the system with your voice inputs. You can enable “Voice Control” by navigating to “Apple logo menu > System Preferences… > Accessibility > Voice Control” section. After enabling, you can find a microphone icon along with a list of voice commands you can use. Though “Voice Control” also allows you to type with your voice in text boxes, we recommend using “Dictation” feature as explained above.
Dictation Commands for Voice Input
Dictation is super easy to use on chat and instant messaging apps. However, you need to know some basic voice commands to create a full-fledged document only by speaking. For example, ending a sentence with full stop, starting a new line, starting a new paragraph, deleting a word, etc. Below table shows the basic voice commands that you need in Windows and Mac. Remember, there are also multiple voice commands for single output like period or full stop both will add a dot and end your sentence.
|Windows Command||Mac Command||Result|
|Period or full stop||Period or dot or point or full stop||.|
|Delete that||Delete that||Delete last spoken word or phrase|
|New line or next line||New line|
|New paragraph||New paragraph|
|Close quotes||End quotes||”|
|Open single quote||Begin single quote||‘|
|Close single quote||End single quote||’|
|Forward slash||Forward slash||/|
|Question mark||Question mark||?|
Dictation works nicely with auto formatting options like starting new sentence with a space and capitalize first letter when you end previous sentence with full stop command. You can check out the official dictation documentation from Microsoft and Apple for getting the complete voice commands to manage dictation like a pro.