How to Enable & Use Dictation on Mac OS
Dictation is available to the Mac with newer versions of system software, but despite being one of the major features of Mac OS you may find that it’s not enabled by default on some Macs.
It’s easy to enable Dictation on a Mac though and it’s even easier to use, let’s get started to learn how to enable this handy voice-to-text feature and then how to use it in Mac OS.
Dictation is available on any modern Mac OS release, including MacOS Mojave, High Sierra, Sierra, El Capitan, Yosemite, Mavericks, and Mac OS X Mountain Lion.
How to Turn On Dictation in Mac OS
- Open System Preferences from the Apple menu and click the “Dictation & Speech” panel
- From the “Dictation” tab, click the ON radiobox next to “Dictation” to enable the feature
- At the confirmation dialog, choose “Enable Dictation”
The confirmation dialog tells you that anything you say is sent to Apple in order to be converted to text, that’s because the speech-to-text conversion is done remotely through Apple’s cloud servers and then transmitted back to your Mac. In order to be accurate with peoples names and addresses, the Contacts list is also transferred to Apple. If you’re at all worried about security you can avoid the Dictation feature, or click on the little privacy button in the pref panel and read about Apple’s policies. Personally I think unless you’re in the NSA or some other highly secretive organization, there’s nothing to worry about with Dictation, because Apple is interested in selling you software and hardware not listening in on your conversations.
How to Use Dictation in Mac OS X
The default Dictation button is the “fn” (function) key, that can be changed within the Dictation options but it’s a good default choice so there isn’t much reason to switch it.
- Open any writing app or go to a text input field and double-tap the “fn” key to bring up Dictation
- As soon as the little microphone popup appears, start talking and when finished either hit the “fn” key again or click the “Done” button
- Wait a second or two and your speech should be written out exactly in text
Dictation works very well, though some unusual words and phrases it seems to have a hard time with but annunciation can help in much the same way that typing things how they sound rather than are spelled can help with text-to-speech. Background noise can easily mess up the conversions too, so it’s best to use in an otherwise quiet environment.
Overall Dictation is a great feature, and if you haven’t enabled it yet or had a chance to type with it on the iPad or iPhone, do yourself a favor and try it out on the Mac if it’s running with a modern system software version too.
For some reference and version support, Dictation first appeared on the Mac with Mac OS X Mountain Lion, and is also available in Mac OS Mavericks, Yosemite, El Capitan, Sierra, macOS High Sierra, and MacOS Mojave, and presumably onward.
If you have any additional tips or helpful information about Dictation on Mac, share with us in the comments below.