Mac Basics: Dictation
Learn about Dictation in Mountain Lion.
With Dictation, you can use your voice instead of typing text. No setup or special training is required.
Turning Dictation on or off; setting Dictation preferences
- Choose Apple () > System Preferences.
- From the View menu, choose Dictation & Speech.
- Click "On" to turn Dictation on, or "Off" to turn it off.
In Dictation preferences, you can also choose a shortcut key, choose the language, and change the input source if desired.
Tip: You can also enable Dictation in an application by choosing Edit > Start Dictation.
How to use Dictation in an application
To use Dictation in an OS X app, simply follow these steps:
- Select a text field.
- Press the fn (Function) key twice, or choose Edit > Start Dictation.
- Speak what you want to have dictated into the text field.
- When finished, click Done or press the fn key twice again. Your spoken words will then appear in the text field.
- You may speak continuously for up to 30 seconds at a time.
- The purple input meter indicates how loud your voice is. If it is too low, try moving closer to your microphone or speaking louder.
Dictating textual commands, punctuation, and emoticons
Dictation understands basic text-related commands such as “all caps,” “new paragraph,” and “new line.”
When you say “period,” “comma,” “question mark,” or “exclamation point,” Dictation adds that punctuation in the current text field. When speaking a calendar date, you do not need to say "comma" as it's automatically detected and entered for you.
You can insert emoticons into a text field by saying "smiley" or "frown," for example.
Detailed list of Dictation commands
|inverted question mark||¿|
|open square bracket||[|
|close square bracket||]|
|end single quote||’|
|Pound sterling sign||£|
|smiley face (or "smiley")||:-)|
|frowny face (or "sad face", "frown")||:-(|
|winky face (or "winky")||;-)|
|cap (for example, "this is a cap Test")||Capitalize next word|
|all caps (for example, "this is a all caps TEST")||Type in all caps|
|caps on||Caps lock on|
|caps off (for example, "this is caps on A VERY IMPORTANT TEST caps off tomorrow")||Caps lock off|
|no caps(for example, "what time is my meeting in no caps boston today")||All lowercase|
|new line||Insert new text line|
|next line||Go to the next text line|
|new paragraph||Begin new paragraph|
|next paragraph||Go to the next paragraph|
|no space||Do not insert a space after the next word|
|no space on (for example, "the new car is no space on reallyreallyexpensive")||Do not insert any spaces between words|
|no space off||Resume inserting spaces between words|
|space bar (for example, "this restaurant is first space bar class")||Type a space|
|numeral (for example, "he starts from position numeral 5")||Type the numeral, such as 5 instead of "five"|
|Roman numeral (for example, "in January it's Roman numeral MMXIII")||Type the spoken as a Roman number|
You can use the built-in microphone in your Mac, or connect an external third-party microphone using any of the connection types supported by OS X. If you use a different microphone than the one built-in to your Mac, you may need to change the input device in the Dictation & Speech preference pane. If Dictation isn't using the microphone you want, check your settings in Dictation preferences, in System Preferences.
If your computer or display does not have a built-in microphone, you will need to connect an external microphone in order to use Dictation.
The more you use Dictation, the better it understands you. Dictation learns the characteristics of your voice and adapts to your accent.
Using Dictation with Parental Controls
Dictation is disabled by default in accounts that are managed by Parental Controls. You can enable Dictation via Parental Controls by following the steps in this article.
Changing the shortcut key
Dictation uses the Function (fn) key by default as the shortcut key to start and stop Dictation, but you can easily change it to a different key. Open System Preferences, click Dictation and Speech, then use the Shortcut pop-up menu. You can press two (or more) keys to create a new shortcut key.
Changing the language
You can select which language to use for Dictation in the Dictation and Speech pane of System Preferences. When your system is set to one of these languages, it automatically enters the right text.
Dictation supports English (U.S., UK, and Australia), French, German, Japanese, Mandarin*, Cantonese*, Spanish*, Korean*, Canadian English*, Canadian French*, and Italian*.
* Requires OS X Mountain Lion v10.8.2 or later.
Dictation needs an Internet connection
Dictation requires an active Internet connection. If you have a proxy server on your network, at your workplace for example, Dictation may appear to have no Internet connection. In rare circumstances, a very slow connection may cause delays between when you speak a word and when it then appears in a text field when finished. To learn what network ports Dictation uses, please refer to this article.
About Dictation and privacy
When you use the keyboard dictation feature on your computer, the things you dictate will be recorded and sent to Apple to convert what you say into text. Your computer will also send Apple other information, such as your first name and nickname; and the names, nicknames, and relationship with you (for example, “my dad”) of your address book contacts. All of this data is used to help the dictation feature understand you better and recognize what you say. Your User Data is not linked to other data that Apple may have from your use of other Apple services.
You can choose to turn off the dictation feature at any time. To do so, open System Preferences, click Dictation & Speech, and then click Off in the Dictation section. If you turn off Dictation, Apple will delete your User Data, as well as your recent voice input data. Older voice input data that has been disassociated from you may be retained for a period of time to generally improve Dictation and other Apple products and services. This voice input data may include audio files and transcripts of what you said and related diagnostic data, such as hardware and operating system specifications and performance statistics.
You can restrict access to the Dictation feature on your computer in the Parental Controls pane of System Preferences.