Using Dictation in Mac (OS X Mountain Lion and later)

Ever wish you could just dictate to your Mac instead of type? Guess what . . . . You can!

Set up

  1. Click the Apple menu () and choose System Preferences.
  2. From the View menu, choose Dictation and Speech.
  3. Click "On" to enable dictation or "Off" to disable.

(optional) While you're there, I recommend checking the box to Use Enhanced Dictation (requires Mavericks). This may start a download of a rather sizeable file, but it's worth it because you won't have to be online for dictation to work, and your system will listen for longer than 30 seconds.

(optional) If you'd like, you can also change the shortcut that toggles dictation on/off.


To use dictation, with your cursor blinking in an appropriate context (i.e., in a place where you can type text), tap the function key twice (assuming you didn't change the shortcut). You'll hear a sound (like the sound when you wake up Siri on an iPad) to indicate that the system is listening for your speech. Start talking and watch the words appear on screen.

A few notes you need to be aware of:

  1. If you're not using enhanced dictation, your system will only listen for 30 seconds at a time.
  2. If you say the name of a punctuation mark (e.g., "period," "comma," "question mark") dictation will type those marks (but you don't need to say "comma" if you're speaking a date [e.g., "January 4, 1972"]).
  3. Other important commands include "new line," "new paragraph," "caps on," "caps off," "tab key."

You can get more details, including a detailed list of commands here:

An Example

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