Use Voice Control on your Mac

With Voice Control, you can navigate and interact with your Mac using only your voice instead of a traditional input device.

How to turn on Voice Control

Requires macOS Catalina 10.15 or later

  1. Choose Apple menu  > System Settings (or System Preferences).
  2. Click Accessibility.
  3. In Accessibility settings, click Voice Control. 
  4. Turn on Voice Control. If you’re turning on Voice Control for the first time, your Mac may complete a one-time download from Apple.*

When Voice Control is enabled, you’ll see an onscreen microphone representing the mic selected in Voice Control preferences.

Microphone icon with Sleep button

To pause Voice Control and stop it from listening, say “Go to sleep” or click Sleep. To resume Voice Control, say or click “Wake up”.


How to use Voice Control

Get to know Voice Control by reviewing the list of voice commands available to you. Say “Show commands” or “Show me what I can say”. The list varies based on context, and you may discover variations not listed. To make it easier to know whether Voice Control heard your phrase as a command, you can turn on “Play sound when command is recognised” in Voice Control preferences.

Basic navigation

Voice Control recognises the names of many apps, labels, controls and other onscreen items, so you can navigate by combining those names with certain commands. Here are some examples:

  • Open Pages: “Open Pages”. Then create a new document: “Click New Document”. Then choose one of the letter templates: “Click Letter. Click Classic Letter.” Then save your document: “Save document”. 
  • Start a new message in Mail: “Click New Message”. Then address it: “John Appleseed”.
  • Restart your Mac: “Click Apple menu. Click Restart” (or use the number overlay and say “Click 8”). 

You can also create your own voice commands.

Number overlays

Use number overlays to quickly interact with parts of the screen that Voice Control recognises as clickable, such as menus, tickboxes and buttons. To turn on number overlays, say “Show numbers”. Then just say a number to click it.

Number overlays make it easy to interact with complex interfaces, such as web pages. For example, in your web browser you could say “Search for Apple stores near me”. Then use the number overlay to choose one of the results: “Show numbers. Click 64.” (If the name of the link is unique, you may also be able to click it without overlays by saying “Click” and the name of the link.)

Voice Control automatically shows numbers in menus and wherever you need to distinguish between items that have the same name.

Number overlays next to a menu

Grid overlays

Use grid overlays to interact with parts of the screen that don’t have a control, or that Voice Control doesn’t recognise as clickable.

Say “Show grid” to show a numbered grid on your screen or “Show window grid” to limit the grid to the active window. Say a grid number to subdivide that area of the grid and repeat as needed to continue refining your selection.

To click the item behind a grid number, say “Click” and the number. Or say “Zoom in” and the number to zoom in on that area of the grid, then hide the grid automatically. You can also use grid numbers to drag a selected item from one area of the grid to another: “Drag 3 to 14”.

To hide grid numbers, say “Hide numbers”. To hide both numbers and grid, say “Hide grid”. 

Grid overlays on a Photos window


When the cursor is in a document, email message, text message or other text field, you can dictate continuously. Dictation converts your spoken words into text.

  • To enter a punctuation mark, symbol or emoji, just say its name, such as “Question mark”, “Per cent sign” or “Happy emoji”. These may vary by language or dialect.
  • To move around and select text, you can use commands such as “Move up two sentences”, “Move forwards one paragraph”, “Select previous word” or “Select next paragraph”.
  • To format text, try “Bold that” or “Capitalise that”, for example. Say “Numeral” to format your next phrase as a number.
  • To delete text, you can choose from many delete commands. For example, say “Delete that” and Voice Control will know to delete what you’ve just typed. Or say “Delete all” to delete everything and start again.
  • To dictate character by character, say “Spelling Mode”, then speak each character. This feature requires macOS Ventura or later and isn’t available in all languages.

Voice Control understands contextual cues, so you can transition between text dictation and commands seamlessly. For example, to dictate and then send a birthday greeting in Messages, you could say “Happy Birthday. Click Send.” Or to replace a phrase, say “Replace I’m almost there with I’ve just arrived”.

To switch between modes manually, say:

  • “Command Mode”
  • “Dictation Mode”
  • “Spelling Mode”

You can also create your own vocabulary for use with dictation.


Create your own voice commands

  1. Open Voice Control preferences, such as by saying “Open Voice Control preferences”.
  2. Click Commands or say “Click Commands”. The complete list of all commands will open.
  3. To add a new command, click the add button (+) or say “Click add”. Then configure these options to define the command:
    • When I say: enter the word or phrase that you want to say to perform the action.
    • While using: choose whether your Mac only performs the action when you’re using a particular app.
    • Perform: choose the action to perform. You can open a Finder item, open a URL, paste text, paste data from the clipboard, press a keyboard shortcut, select a menu item or run an Automator workflow. 
  4. Use the tickboxes to turn commands on or off. You can also select a command to find out whether other phrases work with that command. For example, “Undo that” works with several phrases, including “Undo this” and “Scratch that”.

To add a new command quickly, you can say “Make this speakable”. Voice Control will help you configure the new command based on the context. For example, if you say this command while a menu item is selected, Voice Control will help you make a command for choosing that menu item. 

Starting with the latest version of macOS Monterey, you can also import or export voice commands.


Create your own dictation vocabulary

  1. Open Voice Control preferences, such as by saying “Open Voice Control preferences”. 
  2. Click Vocabulary, or say “Click Vocabulary”.
  3. Click the add button (+), or say “Click add”.
  4. Type a new word or phrase as you want it to be entered when spoken.

Starting with the latest version of macOS Monterey, you can also import or export vocabulary.


Learn more


* If you’re on a business or school network that uses a proxy server, you may not be able to download Voice Control. Have your network administrator refer to the network ports used by Apple software products.

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