macOS High Sierra

If your Mac can’t recognize dictated text

If you’re having trouble using dictation, you may be speaking too loudly or quietly, or there may be too much background noise. Here are some solutions to try:

  • Be sure to turn on dictation in the Dictation pane of Keyboard preferences and choose the correct language and dialect. For more information, see Dictate your messages and documents.

  • If you can’t turn on dictation, parental controls may be preventing you from using dictation. Only an administrator can set and remove parental controls for you. For more information, see Set up parental controls.

  • Be sure your Mac has a microphone. If you’re using an external microphone, make sure it’s connected to your Mac and selected in the Dictation pane of Keyboard preferences (choose Apple menu > System Preferences, click Keyboard, then click Dictation). To choose a different microphone, click the pop-up menu below the microphone icon.

    Open the Dictation pane for me

  • Position yourself as you would normally use your Mac, then speak in a calm voice that’s not too quiet or too loud. As you speak, the dictation feedback window gauges your speaking volume.

  • Avoid background noise. If you use dictation in a noisy environment or a room with excessive echo, it may help to use a headset microphone.

  • Be sure the microphone is not obstructed by objects, such as clothing or your body, while you’re speaking. Check the user guide that came with your Mac to locate the built-in microphone. For more information, see Find the manual for your Mac.

  • Be sure the input volume of an external microphone is sufficient. If you’re using an external microphone and the meter doesn’t respond to your voice, select the microphone in the Input pane of Sound preferences and adjust its input volume higher (choose Apple menu > System Preferences, click Sound, then click Input).

    Open the Input pane for me

  • If you didn’t turn on Enhanced Dictation in the Dictation pane of Keyboard preferences, dictation requires an Internet connection. To make sure your Mac has a valid Internet connection, choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Network.

    Open Network preferences for me

    If you want to use dictation without an Internet connection, select Enhanced Dictation in the Dictation pane of Keyboard preferences. For more information, see Dictate your messages and documents.