Use your voice to enter text on your Mac

The Dictation feature converts your spoken words into text.

Set up Dictation

Choose Apple () menu > System Preferences, click Keyboard, then click Dictation. Turn on Dictation and choose from these Dictation options:

  • Choose whether to use Enhanced Dictation, which lets you use dictation when you're not connected to the Internet.
  • Choose your language and dialect. Some languages, such as English, have multiple dialects.
  • Choose the keyboard shortcut you will use to start start dictating. 
  • Choose your preferred microphone from the pop-up menu below the microphone icon.

In macOS Sierra, you can ask Siri to “turn on Dictation” for you. Siri isn't the same as Dictation, but you can ask Siri to compose short messages, such as email and text messages.

Use Dictation

  1. Go to a document or other text field and place the insertion point where you want your dictated text to appear.
  2. Press the keyboard shortcut for starting dictation, or choose Edit > Start Dictation. The default shortcut is Fn Fn (press the Fn key twice). 

    When your Mac is listening, it displays a microphone to the left or right of the page, aligned with the insertion point. If you turn on advanced dictation commands, the microphone appears in the lower-right corner of your screen, and you can drag it to another position. When your Mac can hear you, the input meter inside the microphone rises and falls as you speak.

  3. Speak the words that you want your Mac to type. Dictation learns the characteristics of your voice and adapts to your accent, so the more you use it, the better it understands you. If it doesn't understand you, learn what to do.
  4. To stop dictating, click Done below the microphone icon, press Fn once, or switch to another window.

Speak the following words to enter punctuation or other characters. These may vary by language or dialect.

  • apostrophe  '
  • open bracket  [
  • close bracket  ]
  • open parenthesis  (
  • close parenthesis  )
  • open brace  {
  • close brace  }
  • open angle bracket  <
  • close angle bracket  >
  • colon  :
  • comma  ,
  • dash  -
  • ellipsis  …
  • exclamation mark  !
  • hyphen  -
  • period, point, dot, or full stop  .
  • question mark  ?
  • quote  ”
  • end quote  ”
  • begin single quote  '
  • end single quote  '
  • semicolon  ;
  • ampersand  &
  • asterisk  *
  • at sign  @
  • backslash  \
  • forward slash  /
  • caret  ^
  • center dot  ·
  • large center dot  •
  • degree sign  °
  • hashtag or pound sign  #
  • percent sign  %
  • underscore  _
  • vertical bar  |
  • dollar sign  $
  • cent sign  ¢
  • pound sterling sign  £
  • euro sign  €
  • yen sign  ¥
  • cross-eyed laughing face  XD
  • frowny face  :-(
  • smiley face  :-)
  • winky face  ;-)
  • copyright sign  ©
  • registered sign  ®
  • trademark sign  ™
  • equals sign  =
  • greater than sign  >
  • less than sign  <
  • minus sign  -
  • multiplication sign  x
  • plus sign  +

Speak these words to change text formatting:

  • caps on  (formats next phrase in title case)
  • caps off  (resumes default letter case)
  • all caps  (formats next word in ALL CAPS)
  • all caps on  (proceeds in ALL CAPS)
  • all caps off  (resumes default letter case)
  • new line  (adds line break)
  • numeral  (formats next phrase as number)
  • roman numeral  (formats next phrase as Roman numeral)
  • new paragraph  (adds paragraph break)
  • no space on  (formats next phrase without spaces)
  • no space off  (resumes default spacing)
  • tab key  (advances cursor to the next tab stop)

If you turned on Enhanced Dictation, you can also use dictation commands to bold, italicize, underline, select, copy, delete, undo, and perform other actions.

About Enhanced Dictation

Enhanced Dictation is available in OS X Mavericks v10.9 or later. With Enhanced Dictation:

  • You can dictate continuously.
  • You can dictate without being connected to the Internet.
  • Your words might convert to text more quickly.
  • You can use dictation commands to tell your Mac what to do.

Without Enhanced Dictation, your spoken words and certain other data are sent to Apple to be converted into text and help your Mac understand what you mean. As a result, your Mac must be connected to the Internet, your words might not convert to text as quickly, and you can speak for no more than 40 seconds at a time (30 seconds in OS X Yosemite or earlier).

If you're on a business or school network that uses a proxy server, Dictation might not be able to connect to the Internet. Have your network administrator refer to the list of network ports used by Apple software products.

About Dictation and privacy

To learn about Dictation and privacy, choose Apple () menu > System Preferences, click Keyboard, click Dictation, then click the About Dictation & Privacy button. At all times, information collected by Apple is treated in accordance with Apple’s Privacy Policy.

Learn more

  • To use dictation on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, tap the microphone  on the onscreen keyboard, then speak. Consult your iPhone or iPad user guide for details.
  • If the Slow Keys or Sticky Keys feature is turned on in the Accessibility pane of System Preferences, the default keyboard shortcuts for dictation might not work. If you need to use those accessibility features, create a custom dictation shortcut: Choose Apple menu > System Preferences, click Keyboard, click Dictation, then choose “Customize” from the Shortcut menu.
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