Typing is not for everyone. If you have clumsy fingers or have difficulty spelling, typing may be the least preferred part of using a computer. Fortunately, you can use the dictation software built into your Mac to speak what you want to type instead.
In contrast to voice control, Apple's fully functional accessibility tool, dictation is easy to use. It's also so accurate in translating your voice that some of the best dictation software developers, like Dragon Dictate, have stopped developing their own dictation apps for Mac to compete with.
How to use dictation on a Mac
Press the button twice Fn Button to start dictating on your Mac. You should see a microphone icon or hear a MacOS confirmation tone. If this is your first time using Dictation, click OK in the pop-up window to confirm that you want to use it.
After activating dictation, say what you want to enter so that it appears on the screen. The dictation ignores pauses in your speech, so you can take a moment to grasp your thoughts. However, this means that you have to dictate your own punctuation, which we explain below.
Apple suggests that you dictate in short bursts of 40 seconds or less. This prevents your Mac from falling behind because you can speak much faster than it can process your statements.
You can dictate text wherever you normally type on your Mac. This includes writing documents, using Spotlight or search bars, entering web addresses and composing emails. If that sounds useful, you should check out these dictation apps for your Android phone too.
Use one of the following methods to stop dictating:
- Press Fn again
- Beat return
- click Done under the microphone
Your dictated words are underlined as your Mac processes them. After you stop dictating, they will reformat and any words your Mac wasn't sure about will be underlined in blue. Click on these words to select an alternative option, or enter them manually if it was incorrect.
The more you use dictation, the better your Mac can understand your voice. This means that you will see fewer errors and words underlined in blue less frequently.
How to add punctuation and format your dictation
You may need to add punctuation marks to your dictation to ensure that it is formatted correctly. This is easy if you dictate your text by specifying the specific punctuation marks you want to add.
For example, to dictate the following text:
Hello, my name is Dan. How are you?
You have to say:
Hi comma my name is dan Period how are you Question mark
Apple has a long list of over 50 punctuation marks, typography symbols, currency symbols, math symbols, and voice commands that you can use with Dictation in the macOS User Guide. Visit Apple's voice dictation command page to see the list for yourself.
In addition to adding punctuation, you can also use a small set of voice commands to change the formatting of dictated text on your Mac. These commands include upper and lower case, line breaks, and even typing without spaces.
Say the following voice commands to format text with dictation:
- New line: Corresponds to pressing the return Key once
- New paragraph: Corresponds to pressing the return press twice
- Caps On / Off: Enter the following words in upper and lower case.
- All caps on / off: Enter the following words in "ALL CAPS".
- No space on / off: Enter the following words "without spaces" (useful for website URLs).
Fix dictation issues on your Mac
Dictation is a fairly simple tool, but it doesn't always work. There are several issues that may prevent you from using Dictation on your Mac. Here's what they are and how to fix them.
Change the dictation link
If nothing happens when you press the button twice Fn This button may have changed the dictation link on your Mac. You can change this link as you like, or you can review the new link and use it instead.
To do this, open System settings and go to Keyboard> dictation. Open that abbreviation Drop-down menu and select the dictation link you want to use. Click to create your own To adjustThen press the desired key combination.
Test your internet connection
Your Mac needs an active internet connection to use dictation. This is because Apple processes your voice on its servers – using the latest voice data – and not locally on your Mac.
Without an internet connection, the microphone icon appears with three dots, but disappears before you can start dictating.
Try streaming a video on YouTube to make sure your internet connection is working. To fix problems with your connection, restart your WiFi router and follow our steps to reconnect your Mac to WiFi
Mac not connecting to Wi-Fi? 9 steps to get online again
. Contact your ISP for further help.
Choose a different microphone
As you dictate, a white bar should appear in the microphone icon that fluctuates with the volume of your voice. This shows the microphone input on your Mac. If nothing appears in the microphone, your Mac can't hear you. You need to use a different microphone to fix the problem.
Go to System Settings> Keyboard> Dictation. Open the drop-down menu under the microphone on the left of the window to select a different microphone. If you can't see your microphone, make sure it's connected to the latest drivers installed.
Change the dictation language
To dictate in another language, you must add this language in the system settings and select it using the dictation icon. Using the wrong language leads to many errors because the dictation uses regional spellings or replaces what you said with words that sound similar from another language.
in the System settings, go to Keyboard> dictation and open the language Dropdown menu. click add language and check the box next to the languages you want to use. Make sure you select the appropriate region if your language is used in multiple countries.
The next time you activate dictation, the current language should be displayed under the microphone symbol. Click to switch to another dictation language instead.
How to make the dictation as private as possible
Dictation communicates with Apple's servers to convert your language into text. This means that it is never completely private, as can be seen from the pop-up message that appears when you activate dictation for the first time. However, there are still steps you can take to regain as much privacy as possible for dictations.
Open to change the data used by Dictation System settings and click safety. Go to privacy Tab and scroll down to select Analytics & improvements in the sidebar. Deactivate the option on Improve Siri & dictation to prevent Apple from saving or reviewing your future dictation recordings.
Apple usually does this to improve the dictation. Even if this option is deactivated, you must delete existing recordings from the Apple servers. Go to System settings> Siri and click Delete Siri & dictation history in order to do this.
Do more with your voice using voice control
Although many people confuse the two, dictation and voice control are separate functions on your Mac. As already explained, you can use dictation to convert your language into text and, if necessary, add punctuation marks and line breaks. However, voice control unlocks a whole world of voice commands that control your Mac.
If you want to save documents, switch applications, open menus and do a lot more with your voice, you need to use voice control. This is primarily an accessibility tool. So everyone can control a Mac only with their voice. Check out our Mac Voice Control guide
You can do the following with Mac voice control:
to learn how it works.