Hate typing? Let Dragon Dictate type for you

Hate typing? Let Dragon Dictate type for you
Quick Mac Tip, 06 November 2011

I’m a poor typist, so Dragon Dictate is very handy software for me — I speak, Dictate types, and more accurately than I do. For me, the key to using Dictate effectively is the Recognition window. Here’s how to use the Recognition window to fix errors.

Typing’s tedious

I type badly; Dictate does so much better.

I type badly; Dictate does so much better.

I’ve never officially learned to type. Over the decades though I’ve learned my way around a keyboard and can type reasonably quickly and efficiently, though I am likely to reverse letters, leave some out or just type the wrong one.

I deliberately made the typos in my screenshot, but they’re very typical. Usually when I write something it undergoes many edits to fix typos as well as for more general corrections.

The Mac makes it possible for me to compensate quite well for typing irregularities. For one thing I use TextExpander to automatically correct some routine typos I make and to enter some extended chunks of text for me via macros. [See Book Review: Take Control of TextExpander.]

But I still don’t really like typing.

You talk; Dragon Dictate types

Sometimes when I can’t be bothered typing and I just want to get my thoughts out quickly I turn to Dragon Dictate. I speak and Dragon Dictate types, it’s that easy.

This video shows me dictating a short paragraph of text. I’m speaking a bit slowly because I’m thinking as I go along of what I want to say. But you can see how accurately Dictate recognises and renders my words.


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The Recognition window shows alternatives

Sometimes, I confess, I mumble or speak too quietly and Dragon doesn’t quite get it right. What it does do though is show me a Recognition window that displays possible alternatives.

In the above sentence for example Dragon didn’t correctly recognise the word though. Instead it put in the word the. I didn’t notice at first, but after a few moments and dictating more text I spotted the error.

The Recognition window in Dictate.

The Recognition window in Dictate. [I didn't think quickly enough to capture a screenshot for the error I write about here. This shows a different piece of dictation. Item 8 shows I'd said 'this distance' where Dictate heard 'Mr Stubbs'. ]

I told Dictate to select the incorrect portion of text then the Recognition window displayed half a dozen alternatives for the phrase I’d spoken.

To replace the incorrect word with the correct one I simply identified it in the list and told Dragon which number item from the list to use.

My process was like this:

  1. Say Select What it does do the. Dictate selected that portion of my dictated text. It showed a number of possible alternatives in the Recognition window. The one numbered 5 was correct.
  2. Say Pick 5. Dictate replaced the incorrect the with the correct though.

And the correction was made. In my video you’ll see that the Recognition window didn’t offer any acceptable alternatives, so I just spoke the correct words instead and they replaced the selection.

Alternatives are still available later

If you keep an eye on the Recognition window as you dictate you can make these changes straight away. But even if you don’t notice something incorrect until later you can still tell Dictate to select a particular phrase or word. When it selects the phrase it shows possible alternatives in the Recognition window.

In each case you can just see which number alternative is the right one and tell Dictate to insert it.

Dictate saves me time and therefore money

I must say that even after quite a long time using Dragon Dictate off and on I still haven’t learned all the possible commands. That doesn’t stop it from working really well for me though and the Recognition window is the key to that.

I’m a writer. Dragon Dictate is one of my secret tools for increasing my income. If I have to write an article for a client I can type it slowly, because I’m not a fast typist, or I can dictate it quickly.

The more quickly I can produce an article the higher my effective income. Or another way to look at it is that if I produce an article quickly I have more time to play (or write MacTips) afterwards.

Speech recognition has come a very long way in the last decade. If you tried it a few years ago and were disappointed then try again. My video included here is very brief and only shows me dictating a couple of sentences but you can see the recognition was highly accurate.

Monitoring the Recognition window also highlights any consistent problems in your dictation so you can watch for them and avoid them.

Do you use Dragon Dictate on a Mac? What’s your favourite tip?

This Tip expresses my own honest opinions. I’ve been using Dragon Dictate, and its predecessor MacSpeech off and on for years now. When I was invited to write a paid article about Dictate I accepted. This post was sponsored by Dragon Dictate.

Tell us in the comments how this Tip helped you.

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  1. Yves said:

    Have you tried TextExpander? I’m trying to figure out which one would be best. Thank you for the great insights so far.

    • Miraz Jordan said:

      TextExpander and Dragon Dictate are entirely different apps. Dictate takes words you speak and renders them into editable text. TextExpander takes short strings you type and expands them into longer texts. I use both apps, but because of Dictate needing a microphone I don’t actually use it that often. TextExpander works with me every single time I write anything. For me TextExpander is more useful.

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