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Have Your Mac Listen to You

Mac Mic Icon

Do you hate to type? Do you have a late-model Mac? Then you’ll love this tip!

Mac OS X Mountain Lion (10.8.x) has a surprisingly robust voice dictation engine built right in, but it’s not on my default. The only catch is that it requires an Internet connection.

So let’s enable it:

  1. Go to System Preferences.
  2. In the System category, click Dictation & Speech.
  3. For Dictation:, click the radio button for On.
  4. Review other settings to  further customize your experience if you wish (check the Text to Speech  tab, too*) and then close the Dictation & Speechwindow.

Listen Now

* In the Text to Speech tab, you can even have the system announce when you have an alert, and it might be cool once or twice before you turn it off.

Double tap the fn key (lower left of your keyboard) to begin the voice recognition. Press the Return key to end it.

Here are a few other tips to get more value from using this feature.

Remember to say punctuation like “comma” and “period” and “exclamation mark”. Say “new line” for a carriage return and “new paragraph” for (you guessed it) and new paragraph. For ALL CAPITAL LETTERS, say “all caps” before each word. The system supports names, proper pronouns, money, and dates, so speaking naturally should work fine. Apple has a resource that details all the supported commands.

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