How to transcribe audio to text using Dictation on a Mac

You can use the Dictation feature built into your Mac to transcribe audio files, and in my experience, it's been about 98-99% accurate, so it saves a lot of time if you want to index your audio files, or you need a transcript for some other purpose.

These instructions were last updated for macOS Monterey 12.4.

First, open up System Preferences, go to Keyboard, then the 'Dictation' tab:

Apple Dictation System Preferences

Turn on Dictation, and when prompted, accept the terms for Apple's Dictation service. Also take note of the 'Shortcut' (e.g. 'press dictation key' or 'press control twice'. You'll use that to activate dictation later.

Make sure you have your Mac's microphone selected, then open up TextEdit and create a new document:

Untitled TextEdit document

Activate the dictation shortcut (e.g. press the dictation key), then start playing back your audio file through your Mac's speakers. The mic should pick up the audio and start transcribing live into the open document.

Bonus: Routing audio internally on the Mac with Loopback

If you have Rogue Amoeba's Loopback , you can also use it to route the audio signal internally , so you don't have to have audio playing out through the speakers.

After you have Loopback installed and running, create a new device called 'Transcription Device'. Delete the default Pass-thru source, and add in Quicktime Player as a new source:

Loopback for Mac Transcription Device

Quit Loopback (the device will still be present on the system after quitting), then go back to the Dictation settings in System Preferences. In there, choose the new 'Transcription Device' sound input:

Transcription Device in System Preferences Dictation

Then go back to TextEdit, and in a new document, activate Dictation using your configured shortcut (e.g. the dictation key). Pop over to QuickTime Player, and play your audio or video file, and watch as the words are transcribed as if by magic!

Live transcription using Loopback from QuickTime to TextEdit on the Mac

Alternative: Welder (or other online services)

As an alternative, you could use an online upload-to-transcribe service like Welder . I tested the same files on Welder that I used with Dictation, and Welder was better about adding punctuation and separating multi-person interviews.

Their transcription feature can be used for free; upload a video or audio file, and within a few minutes, you can read or download the transcribed text.

Further reading

  • Transcribing recorded audio and video to text using Whisper AI on a Mac
  • Recording multiple camera angles, full-size, simultaneously, on a Mac
  • Achieving Pro Zoom meeting quality on my Mac
  • Add new comment

This felt a little bit inefficient to me, so I did some digging and found that someone's made a command line tool for Apple's speech recognition API: https://github.com/sveinbjornt/hear

The real kicker here is that you can transcribe audio files, meaning that you don't have to wait for a video to play to get a transcript: hear -i /path/to/someone_speaking.mp3 > transcribed_text.txt

Oh nice, even better! I'll have to give it a try.

Thank you! :) Came here for this info.

Thanks for the link! I also found -d flag useful, forcing it to process video on a device. Otherwise, I got transcriptions only for the first minute of my mp3 file.

Yo when I try to follow your instructions without loopback, seems simple enough.. when i press play and go into TextEdit and begin dictation, macOS silences the audio output and this doesn’t work running macos 12.5.1 September 18 2022

When using Rogue Amoeba's loopback, you need to add a 'monitor device'. I just added the built-in speakers but you could use another audio device.

I have the same problem. How did you fix it?

This is now even easier with Whisper: https://github.com/openai/whisper

Thanks to this comment, I test drove Whisper yesterday, and wrote up this new blog post today: Transcribing recorded audio and video to text using Whisper AI on a Mac .

Thank you for the tutorial. I am trying to transcribe audio that is about a hour long. Once I start the transcribing process, the microphone stops working every 2-3 minutes. Is there a way I can make the microphone continue recording for longer periods of time? Thanks!

I would use the github suggestions, but am not familiar with using the files and have very little experience with Terminal. If anyone can direct me to some tutorials, I would appreciate that also.

When we try to do this, as soon as we start playing the audio file dictation turns off. Little microphone disappears and nothing is transcribed. There are two of us, both on Macs running Monterey. Mine's an M1 iMac, hers is a Mac Book Pro. Any ideas? She has Blackhole installed and I have SWB audio capture - will that mess it up?

I have the same issue of the audio silencing when I open the dictation on textedit. Any remedies to this without having to download another software?

same here. I'm on Monterey. As soon as I start playback, the dictation stops.

Ditto. Has anyone figured out how to keep the dictation microphone operational so that it transcribes audio files?

Is there a way to directly input a file from a digital voice recorder and have it transcribed? Or, do I have to save it as an audio file and follow one of the methods in this article? Thanks!

Can a previously recorded speech sound file be used for dictation? That is sound from a source other than a microphone. If so how is this done?

I could not install Loopback as it cannot add system items on my machine. Blackhole works as well.

I am on Sonoma. May I ask how you configured Blackhole? Based on your and another commentor I installed Blackhole, set up a multi-output profile, one of which is a Blackhole 2 channel device, then configured the system dictation source to the Blackhole device. When I activate dictation it stops the audio output and nothing happens. Thanks for any help you can offer.

Although the first solution would be great, I'm unfortunately now the 7th commenter reporting this problem:

-> "Start dictation" within TextEdit (..and Pages.app) seems to deactivate audio output from VoiceMemos. <-

Jeff Geerling or anyone else - Can you help us to somehow successfully use the 1st solution? Thank you!

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best dictation software mac - cover

Best Dictation Software For Mac of 2024 (Free & Paid)

Why spend hours typing when you can dictate text in less than half the time? Speech recognition technology can save you time, money and stress so we tested and reviewed the most accurate dictation apps for Mac of 2024.

Whether you’re a business report writer, lawyer, secretary, author, journalist, technical writer or medical professional you’ll find Mac compatible speech-to-text software here that saves you valuable time and fits your budget.

In our research and testing, we found that the best dictation software on a Mac is Otter (Free) which offers incredible levels of accuracy and speed especially for transcribing conversations or meetings.

Quick Navigation

1. Otter (Free)

2. dragon dictate (best for accuracy), 3. macos dictation (best apple app), 4. macwhisper (best for writers), 5. google voice typing (best google app), 6. microsoft word (best for microsoft office), 7. dictation.io (best free web app), 8. onenote for mac (best for note taking), 9. speechnotes (best for chrome), 10. deepscribe (best for medical dictation), what is dictation software, why use dictation software, do macs have a dictation tool, dictation microphones to enhance recognition, useful dictation tips.

otter dictation app

In our tests, we found Otter was the best dictation app for Macs overal l thanks to its impressive accuracy, ease of use on a Mac and generous free forever plan too .

Otter can be used for any kind of dictation although it has positioned itself more recently as an “AI meeting assistant” for transcribing meetings and sales meetings with tight integration with Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams.

Most importantly though, it was the only dictation tool that came close to the industry standard tool Dragon Dictate (see review below) in terms of accuracy and speech-to-text recognition.

It also works in any browser on a Mac whereas Dragon Dictate will only work on a Mac in a virtual machine running Windows since Nuance has discontinued the Mac desktop version.

Otter has many useful touches for meetings such as Speaker Identification which is ideal for transcribing Zoom meetings as it automatically detects different voices and transcribes them separately.

Otter also allows you to import audio and video files which it will then transcribe automatically.

It also includes a feature called “Otter AI chat” which allows you to chat within the app to other Otter meeting members and teammates to get instant answers to meeting questions.

Although there’s no desktop app, there is a Chrome extension for Otter which automatically detects if you’re about to enter a Zoom Meeting, Google Meet or Google Calendar appointment.

The Otter app also offers one of the best free plans with 300 minutes of dictation per month although there’s a limit of 30 minutes per session.

However, you’ll need to subscribe to Otter Pro starting at $10 per month for up to 1,200 minutes for transcription per month with a limit of 90 minutes per transcription.

The Otter Business Plan allows you to use Otter in multiple meetings at the same time for up to 6,000 minutes with a limit of 4 hours per conversation or meeting.

If you pay annually, the pricing plans are 40% cheaper so it’s well worth doing as you’re almost getting it for half price over paying monthly.

Enterprise plans are available on request for company wide deployments.

Our advice is to try the free version of Otter to see just how well it transcribes, meetings and just about anything you throw at it on your Mac.

Pricing: Free for 300 minutes/Plans starting from $10/month

Although Dragon Dictate is the industry standard when it comes to dictation, the reason it only comes second on our list is that Nuance discontinued the Mac version back in 2018.

However, you can still use the Windows version of Dragon Dictate on a Mac by running Windows on your Mac using a virtual machine.

Even though this adds an extra layer of software, we still think its worth doing because of the amazing accuracy and sophistication Dragon Dictate offers compared to any other dictation tool.

Dragon products use unique Deep Learning technology that actually learn your accent and speaking style to deliver accuracy rates of up to 99%.

In fact Microsoft was so impressed by Nuance’s range of products including Dragon Dictate that it bought Nuance for $16 billion in 2021.

The big downside for Mac users is that to use it, you need to run Windows on your Mac.

By far the easiest and best way to run Dragon Dictate on a Mac is by using Parallels which makes it simple to install Windows on a Mac.

In fact, one of the World’s leading Dragon Dictate teachers Scott Baker recommends using the Windows version of Dragon on a Mac because the Windows version of Dragon has more features anyway.

In particular, the Windows version gives you more control when tweaking and refining texts compared to on macOS.

Dragon Professional is ideal for office environments as it’s optimized for reducing background noise such as in cubicles. It also has Smart Format Rules which understand how you want phone numbers, dates, abbreviations and other data to appear.

dragon dictate for mac

Another nice touch is that you can import audio clips from a device such as your iPhone and Dragon Professional will transcribe it into text.

The accuracy isn’t quite as good as live dictation but it’s a lot faster than typing it out. This is especially useful for journalists who have to record and transcribe long interviews.

With Dragon Professional, there is also an option to listen to audio playback of your own dictation with the associated text highlighted on the screen making it easier than ever to proofread while supporting multi-tasking.

Dragon Dictate Professional also integrates with many word processing software on Mac too including Microsoft Word, Apple Pages, Scrivener and more.

Note that Nuance has discontinued the Home Edition of Dragon Dictate and you can now only get Dragon Professional Individual and Dragon Legal.

Unless you’re in the legal profession, we strongly recommend going with Dragon Professional Edition not least because it allows you to dictate directly in Microsoft Office and other apps.

There’s also Dragon Anywhere which is the mobile version of Dragon Dictate.

Pricing: $699

Dictation is Apple’s own free dictation app (and the equivalent of WSR – Windows Speech Recognition) that has been a feature since macOS Sierra.

Up until macOS Mojave, Dictation used it’s own voice recognition system but from macOS Catalina onwards, it now relies on Siri.

The good news for those concerned about privacy is that on Apple Silicon Macs with the M1, M2 and M3 chips, you can transcribe offline as long as your language is supported by Apple for offline dictation.

However, on older Intel Macs, anything you dictate in Apple Dictation is sent back to Apple’s servers so it may not be suitable if you want to dictate personal or confidential information.

Apple’s Dictation tool in macOS has improved significantly over the years and although it can’t compare to professional dictation apps, it’s free and works on your Mac desktop.

Dictation also works in many word processors on a Mac , messenger apps and just about any app that allows you to type.

By default it’s only suitable for dictations of 30 seconds or less but you can turn-on Enhanced Dictation for unlimited transcriptions.

To enable Apple Dictation in macOS Ventura and Sonoma:

  • Go to the Apple () logo in the top left of your screen and select > System Preferences > Keyboard
  • Click on the Dictation Tab
  • Switch Dictation “On”

apple dictation mac

In macOS Catalina, Big Sur and Monterey Enhanced Dictation has been removed by default because anything you dictate is now translated by Siri.

Siri is far more accurate than the old Enhanced Dictation engine in macOS and even allows you to dictate offline on a Mac for supported offline languages.

If you want to delete your dictation history in Siri at any time:

  • Go to the Apple Menu > System Preferences > Siri
  • Click Delete Siri and Dictation History

If you’re still using High Sierra or Mojave, you can also dictate offline without being connected to the internet by activating “Enhanced Dictation” in the Dictation tab.

Be aware though that this requires 422MB of disk space to download some additional tools before it can work on your Mac.

You then simply configure a language and hotkey to start dictation or you can even activate it with a keyword. You can use this to start dictation in any application.

apple dictate on mac

Dictation works with any app including Office applications (although not Google Docs which has its own voice recognition feature – see below).

What we also like in Apple Dictation is that the voice controlled formatting commands are quite extensive and you can even create your own customized commands.

mac dictation customize commands

Dictation also supports over 60 languages including English, Arabic, Chinese and Spanish.

If you’re looking for a free desktop dictation tool on your Mac that works offline for major languages, macOS Dictate is definitely worth trying.

Pricing: Free

macwhisper dictation app

MacWhisper is a free tool that uses the incredible power of OpenAI to quickly and accurately transcribe interviews, conversations, meetings and lectures on your Mac.

MacWhisper has a Mac desktop app and apart from the free version, is also available as a one off purchase for €29 for batch transcriptions and many other added features.

MacWhisper is very basic but supports dragging and dropping audio files for transcribing and can even export transcripts for subtitles in .srt and .vrt format.

The app also allows you to dictate offline – all transcription is done on your device using a local OpenAI model and nothing is sent to servers to protect your privacy.

MacWhisper supports over 100 languages and works on both Intel and Apple Silicon Macs. However, because the processing power required to transcribe is quite high, we recommend an Apple Silicon Mac with an M1, M2 or M3 chip.

If you want a free, offline app for basic dictation then MacWhisper is one of the best free dictation apps we’ve tried on a Mac.

You can buy MacWhisper direct from the developer Jordi Bruin or from the Mac App Store .

Pricing: Free/€29 one off purchase for Pro version

Not many people are aware that Google Docs has a surprisingly powerful free voice recognition engine which not only transcribes speech to text but also allows you to change the formatting of documents with voice commands.

Google Docs Voice typing is arguably even more accurate than Apple Dictation and it has now been updated to work with most browsers, such as the latest versions of Firefox, Edge and Safari.

To activate Google Docs Voice Typing, open any Google Doc and go to Tools > Voice typing… and click on the microphone that appears to start transcribing.

voice recognition mac - google voice typing

Google Docs Voice Typing is pretty accurate for a free online text-to-speech tool.

Probably the most impressive thing though is the an extensive list of commands for formatting text.

You can simply say things like “go to end of paragraph” or “create bulleted list” to perform formatting actions. Note that formatting commands are only available in English but the voice engine recognizes over 50 languages.

dictate in word for mac

If you’re a Microsoft 365 subscriber then did you know you can use the speech to text function in Microsoft Word for Mac?

Microsoft Word is surprisingly good at recognizing speech and transcribing text as it is continuously being improved by being trained with Microsoft’s huge user base and artificial neural networks.

MS Word’s in-built dictation tools are easy to use:

  • Go to Home > Dictate in Microsoft Word for Mac
  • Click on the Dictate button and wait for the red button to appear
  • Start talking and Word will transcribe your speech in real time

You can also use voice commands for punctuation and formatting.

Currently it only supports a few languages although Microsoft are adding to this all the time.

If you’re unsure about getting a Microsoft 365 subscription, check out our look at Microsoft 365 vs Office for Mac .

Pricing : Requires Microsoft 365 subscription

dictation.io for mac

Dictation.io is a web based dictation platform that works on any browser on a Mac and supports over 100 languages.

The service is based on Google Speech Recognition so the accuracy is very good and its very quick at transcribing text.

Because of this though, Dictation.io only works in Google Chrome – it’s not compatible with Safari or Firefox and it also does not work on mobile devices.

Dictation.io saves all of your transcriptions in the browser so nothing is saved online unless you click “Publish” in which case, your transcriptions will be available publicly.

Other options include the ability to save transcriptions in a text file, tweet them, play the audio of it, email it and print it.

You have to grant Dictation.io permission to use your Mac’s internal microphone in Chrome too although this is only activated when you’re using Dictation.io.

You can’t dictate offline with Dictation.io either so you need to be online all the time.

OneNote For Mac is Microsoft’s note taking software for Mac and Windows and the Mac version now supports dictation.

If you’ve already got Microsoft Office For Mac or Microsoft 365 account then you’ll already have OneNote on your Mac.

Of course, OneNote isn’t really suitable for dictating letters and essays but it’s ideal for jotting down notes, memos and conducting research for later.

dictate on mac - onenote

The dictate feature in OneNote for Mac allows you to format and organize text from speech and uses artifical intelligence (AI) to transcribe speech to text.

OneNote For Mac dictation also supports auto-punctuation although you can disable this.

OneNote for Mac dictation supports 50 languages and you can also filter out swear words or profanity.

To use dictation in OneNote for Mac follow these instructions:

  • Go to Home > Dictate while signed into Microsoft 365 on any Mac with a Microphone which includes MacBooks.
  • Wait for the Dictate button to activate.
  • Start speaking and you will see text appear in OneNote.

You can find more information on how to dictate in OneNote for Mac here .

You can also read about some excellent alternatives to OneNote for Mac here .

Speechnotes is a cheap and cheerful online speech-to-text service which works in Google Chrome and on Android devices.

Speechnotes actually uses Google’s own voice recognition engine so it’s basically just an enhanced version of Google Docs Voice Typing tool.

speechnotes

There’s also a Speechnotes Chrome extension which allows you to voice type directly into any website including Gmail, WordPress and most other text fields.

Speechnotes claims to be a free alternative to Dragon Naturally Speaking and although the accuracy can’t really compare with Dragons products, it’s pretty good. Unlike Dragon Dictate, Speechnotes also can’t be used to voice control your Mac either.

Speechless gives you the advantages of Google’s voice recognition engine but with the added advantage of things like an Android app although there’s no iPhone app.

Pricing: Free / Plans starting from $1.9/month

deepscribe medical dictation software mac

Medical professionals need specialist dictation tools and privacy protections and DeepScribe is the best medical dictation software for Mac users.

DeepScribe works via iOS apps for iPhone and iPad but anything that is recorded and transcribed on it is then available on your Mac.

DeepScribe uses AI to filter out small talk and irrelevant parts of conversations with patients, doctors, nurses and doesn’t require prompting when you want it to record.

The AI used by DeepScribe has been trained on more than 2 million patients as it has the biggest database of medical conversations in the world.

The aim of DeepScribe is to remove the administrative burden from Clinicians so that they can spend more time with patients and giving care.

DeepScribe also integrates with EHR solutions including AdvancedMD, AthenaHealth, ClaimPower and many others. The AI technology in DeepScribe is also HIPAA compliant and protected by multi factor authentication and user access restrictions.

Pricing: On Request

Dictation tools enable your Mac to translate spoken words into written text which enables you to write much more than typing alone.

The average person can only type anything up to 1,000 words in half an hour.

However, most people can speak up to 4,000 words in the same time period – that equals a massive potential increase in your productivity especially if you’re having to do tediously jobs like transcribing meetings or business conversations.

Text to speech is already in everything from Siri to Google Docs although professional dictation apps offer much greater accuracy as they actually learn how you talk.

There are many reasons to use dictation software on your Mac but some of the most important ones are:

  • It increases productivity as you can talk much faster than you can type.
  • It saves valuable time transcribing meetings and other tedious tasks.
  • Dictation is safer for you. Excessive typing is one of the most common reasons for repetitive strain injury on hands and the more people type on both keyboards and mobile phones, the bigger the problem is getting. Other keyboard related injuries on the rise include Tendonitis, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Quadriplegia.
  • You can note down things hands free (for example when cooking, eating, doing the laundry etc).
  • It prevents you forgetting ideas that you meant to type out later. It’s an especially good way for creative writers to get all their ideas down on paper without editing along the way.
  • It’s more confidential than dictating notes to a secretary or colleague.
  • Dictating cuts down on scribbled notes on pieces of paper if you want to go paperless .

Since macOS Catalina including Big Sur, Monterey, Ventura and Sonoma you can dictate on a Mac using macOS Dictation.

Dictation is based on the Siri personal assistant tool and although it doesn’t do a bad job of transcribing text, using macOS Dictation to dictate on a Mac is not as accurate as professional dictation software.

Because its based on Siri which is still mainly designed as a personal assistant to launch apps, answer questions and generally speed-up your workflow, Apple is slowly moving Siri closer towards being a more viable dictation option for Mac users.

macOS Dictation is now available in 64 languages although only major languages such as English, Spanish and Chinese work offline.

Note also that only Apple Silicon Macs can process data in macOS Dictation offline. Anything you dictate in macOS Dictation on Intel Macs is sent via Apple’s servers.

For more on this, check out our guide on how to dictate offline on a Mac .

In these reviews, we tested a combination of offline and online dictation programs that can be used on a Mac.

Note that web-based voice recognition and voice-to-text recognition apps all require a permanent internet connection in order to work and no not work for offline dictation

The in-built microphone on Macs is good but you’ll definitely get better results by using an external microphone or dictation headset.

External mics and headsets not only pick up your voice better because the microphone is closer to your mouth, but they’re better at reducing background noise.

You’ve got three different options when it comes to dictation devices: Wired Headsets , Wireless Headsets and Desktop Microphones .

The best option for you obviously depends on whether you want to wear something on your head, walk around, or just speak into a mic next to your Mac.

A good Wired Headset for dictation is the AAAPrice noise cancelling USB headset which is optimized for Dragon Dictate although works with any dictation program.

If you like to walk around, buy a Wireless Headset but just be careful with the range as it can vary wildly depending on the model. One of the best we’ve seen is the Logitech Wireless Headset which has an impressive Bluetooth range of up to 300 feet.

If you prefer not to wear something, Microphones deliver just as good results although you may find yourself craning over the desktop ones more than sitting up straight like you can with a headset.

Dictation microphones vary in price with basic ones like the FIFINE USB microphone going for around $20 ranging up to the professional handheld Nuance PowerMic microphone costing over $200.

Dictation in itself can be a strange experience if you’ve never done it before. It can feel strange at first talking to a computer and hearing the sound of your own voice constantly.

There’s a few other things to be aware of specifically related to the way dictation apps work too.

  • The most important thing in any dictation app is how accurate it is at recognizing your voice. You will inevitably have a certain amount of correction to do whichever app you choose but the more accurate it is, the less errors you’ll have to correct. Most apps require you to do a certain amount of speaking first before using it so it can familiarize itself with your voice and accent.
  • All dictation apps have their own commands and way of working. Some definitely feel easier to use than others and once you get used to the way one works, it’s a pain to switch software at a later date.
  • Dictation obviously limits when and where you can work. If you’re in a public space such as on a train or even in an open plan office, it’s less private to dictate not to mention more complicated due to background noise.
  • You’ll make more mistakes constructing sentences dictating rather than typing. On a keyboard, you have more time to think, go back and revise, delete etc. It’s harder to formulate sentences perfectly thinking off the top of your head but the advantage is your output is more “uncensored”.
  • Try to avoid filler words like “erm”, “so..” and “OK” because editing these out later is a real pain. It’s actually much harder than you think to avoid filler words as it’s such a natural part of most people’s speech. Try to just take a pause or be silent instead while you think what you’re going to say next. To help avoid filler words, before you start dictating, have a rough plan of what you’re going to say.

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MacBook tips: How to use speech-to-text to dictate in macOS

Take notes without a keyboard using this handy feature

MacBook tips: How to use speech-to-text to dictate in macOS

Speech-to-text is a handy tool for dictation available in macOS. Once you set it up, you can scribble words to a page using this tool anywhere you would otherwise type with a keyboard. In addition to typing text, you can also enter punctuation marks and formatting such as line breaks and special symbols by speaking the commands.  

While this feature was full of glitches and actually made typing more laborious in years past, Apple really has ironed out most of the wrinkles and made it fairly useful. If you find yourself needing a break from the keyboard, it’s definitely worth trying.

It is a handy tool when you need to work hands-free, or jot down a quick note before its lost forever. That said, it’s still not perfect, and I find that it works best when you speak slowly and accentuate bigger words.

MacBook tips: How to use speech-to-text to dictate in macOS

1) Click the Apple icon in the upper left corner.

2) In the menu that opens, select System Preferences .

MacBook tips: How to use speech-to-text to dictate in macOS

3) In System Preferences, select Keyboard .

MacBook tips: How to use speech-to-text to dictate in macOS

4) In the Keyboard window, go to the Dictation tab .

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MacBook tips: How to use speech-to-text to dictate in macOS

5) There, switch on the dictation option .

MacBook tips: How to use speech-to-text to dictate in macOS

6) Click Enable Dictation to allow Apple to use the recording.

MacBook tips: How to use speech-to-text to dictate in macOS

7) In any document processor, click the Dictate icon and start speaking.

MacBook tips: How to use speech-to-text to dictate in macOS

8) To change the default language, click the down arrow to open the language drop-down menu .

MacBook tips: How to use speech-to-text to dictate in macOS

9) Select a language you would like to convert from speech to text.

MacBook tips: How to use speech-to-text to dictate in macOS

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How to dictate on a Mac computer, using the voice-to-text dictation feature that can type out your speech

  • You can dictate on a Mac computer so that your computer types out your speech. 
  • But before you can start using dictation, you'll have to enable it via your Mac's System Preferences, and decide the shortcut you'll use to turn it on, as well as the language it will dictate in.
  • Here's how to set up and use the dictation feature on a Mac computer.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories .

Voice-to-text is a helpful feature for those who are often out and about.

And for those who have a Mac computer, you can take that feature and use it in your everyday workflow. The key is a built-in feature known as dictation. 

But before you can take advantage of dictation, you'll have to enable it. After that, it works similarly as any voice-to-text feature, any you may be able to access more in-depth voice commands to format your document.

Here's how to set it up and start using it.

Check out the products mentioned in this article:

Macbook pro (from $1,299.99 at best buy), how to set up dictation on a mac.

1. Click the Apple logo in the top-left toolbar, then choose "System Preferences."

2. Select "Keyboard."

3. Toggle over to "Dictation" in the menu at the top of the window.

4. Next to "Dictation" select "On" and if desired, turn on enhanced dictation by ticking the corresponding box — this allows you to use additional commands, like bold, italics, underline, copy, delete, and undo — and dictate without an internet connection (enhanced dictation is only available for those with OS X Mavericks v10.9 or later ).

5. Set the language and create the desired shortcut.

How to dictate on a Mac

Once you've enabled the dictation feature, here's how to use it:

1. Open a document.

2. Place your cursor to the desired location for your dictation.

3. Use the shortcut you established when setting up dictation; alternatively, you can also select "Edit" and then "Start Dictation."

4. Start talking.

You should see a microphone icon appear on the screen after you start the feature. 

As you speak, it's important to remember to say your desired punctuation out loud, otherwise you'll end up with a long, run-on sentence. To stop dictation, click "Done" below the microphone icon.

Related coverage from  How To Do Everything: Tech :

How to easily record audio on your mac using either of its 2 simple recording apps, how to uninstall apps on a mac computer in three different ways, how to create folders on a mac computer and organize your files, how to set an alarm or event reminder on a mac using the calendar app.

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  • Main content

How to Use Dictation in macOS: A Comprehensive Resource

Nick deCourville

  • Apple’s macOS includes speech recognition software baked right into the operating system.
  • You can select from multiple languages, with options varying by which version of macOS you are running.
  • Dictation is not only a handy speech tool, but it is also a fantastic Accessibility feature.

Use Dictation macOS August 2023 Featured

I’m taking a look at how to set up and use Dictation for macOS. For those that may not know, Apple includes voice recognition software within macOS that is capable of dictating your voice directly to any document that needs text. Dictation is not only useful as an Accessibility feature, but it can be pretty helpful for those that may simply prefer speaking their ideas rather than using their hands to type. This not only saves you from buying third-party dictation products, but Apple’s form of dictation software includes some additional handy tools as well.

Getting it all together, I’m going to take a look at how to use the Apple Dictation feature with macOS, as well as look at some of the advantages of Dictation. This includes setting up the built-in dictation software and then properly using it. I’ll also provide some dictation tips, while also covering additional dictation options as well. Considering this can be incredibly useful for those that need accessibility features, I break the steps down so that the average person can get an idea of what to do. I also go over the common commands you can implement with Dictation while covering additional commands as well.

Keyboard Dictation VS Voice Control: What’s the Difference?

Before starting, folks should be aware that two different Accessibility features on macOS involve speaking to your device . While both are extraordinarily helpful, they serve different functions. While macOS Dictation allows a voice-to-text option, there’s also Voice Control. The Voice Control feature provides voice-to-text options, but you can also control your Mac using voice commands.

Concerning Voice Control and Dictation, the most important thing to remember is that the Dictation feature is not going to work if Voice Control is enabled. You can check to see if Voice Control is active from the menu bar by navigating to  Apple > System Settings > Accessibility > Voice Control  and ensuring it is disabled.

How to Enable Dictation on macOS

If you need to know how to enable Dictation on your Mac, simply follow these steps. Remember that if you are using an Intel-based processor, you may need an internet connection to properly engage with the Dictation feature.

Time needed:  1 minute

To turn on Dictation on your Mac, follow this guide.

System Settings Use Dicatation macOS

From here, you’re all set to go! Dictation should be ready to go. Next, I will show you how to use Dictation on macOS.

How to Use Dictation on macOS

Now that Dictation is enabled, you can begin to dictate your text to your Mac, offering a great Accessibility feature for those that need it. Simply follow the steps below to begin a Dictation.

  • Using any app on your Mac, place the insertion point wherever you would like to add text.
  • Press and release the microphone button (which looks like a microphone) that is within your row of function keys.

Start Dictation Menu Bar Use macOS

  • You can finish your Dictation by pressing the Return key. Or you can also press your keyboard shortcut, or click Done from the feedback window. Dictation also ends when your Mac doesn’t detect any speech for 30 seconds.

Dictation Privacy: What You Need to Know

One should be aware that the first time they enable Dictation, there’s a chance your machine is going to ask you to share your audio recordings with Apple. Be aware that agreeing to this allows Apple to store copies of your inputs into Dictation. This also includes Siri commands if you agree. Agreeing also means that Apple can listen to portions of your recordings.

It’s up to you whether or not you want to share this information. Remember that regardless of what you choose when you first set up Dictation, you can always change this setting by going to  Apple > System Settings > Privacy & Security > Analytics & Improvement > Improve Siri & Dictation . This will prevent Apple from storing and reviewing your Dictations. However, if you use Dictation, Apple is going to be listening to help process your requests, so keep that in mind.

You should also be aware that if you want to remove your recordings from your disk drive, simply go to  Apple > System Settings > Siri & Spotlight > Siri & Dictation History > Delete Siri & Dictation History . Note that on anything before macOS Ventura, the Siri & Spotlight option will just be labeled Siri. Either way, this can be a good way to free up some disk space and remove your Dictation history.

Go Offline: Enhanced Dictation

Depending on what version of macOS you are running, you may have the option for Enhanced Dictation. You will know your Mac has this as an option, as it will simply be a checkbox that you need to click to enable from the Dictation Settings page. Also, be aware that if you are using a Mac with Apple silicon, you will not need an internet connection for Dictation anyway.

This can be extremely beneficial for those that do a lot of work offline. You can always check what processor you are using (Apple or Intel) by going to  Apple > About This Mac . If you see the word ‘Intel’ anywhere in the Processor section, you are running an Intel-based Mac.

Key Voice Commands for Dictation

While Apple’s Dictation feature does automatically include punctuation, knowing certain Voice Commands for each type of punctuation is still going to be rather useful, as it substitutes certain key combinations. Being aware of these advanced dictation commands can make the process faster for you. Additionally, there are several other Commands that one should familiarize themselves with as well. Take a look at the complete list below.

Punctuation

CommandResult
Apostrophe
Open bracket[
Close bracket]
Open parenthesis(
Close parenthesis)
Open brace{
Close brace}
Open-angle bracket<
Close angle bracket>
Colon:
Comma,
Dash
Ellipsis
Exclamation mark!
Hyphen
Period/point/dot/full stop.
Question mark?
Quote
End quote
Begin single quote
End single quote
Semicolon;

Special Characters

CommandResult
Ampersand&
Asterisk*
At sign@
Backslash\
Forward slash/
Caret^
Center dot
Large center dot
Degree sign°
Hashtag/pound sign#
Percent sign%
Underscore_
Vertical bar|

Codes for Formatting

CommandResult
New lineBegins a new line.
NumeralFormats the next phrase as a number.
Roman numeralMakes the next phrase a Roman numeral.
New paragraphStarts a new paragraph.
No space onFormats the next phrase without spaces.
No space offResumes default spacing.
Tab keyPlaces the cursor at the next tab stop.

Capitalization

CommandResult
Caps onFormats the next phrase in Title Case.
Caps offReturns you to the default case lettering.
All capsMakes the next word in ALL CAPS.
All caps onWill make your next phrase in ALL CAPS.
All caps offTurns off caps-lock.

Mathematical

CommandResult
Equal sign=
Greater than sign>
Less than sign<
Minus sign
Multiplication signx
Plus sign+

Intellectual Property

CommandResult
Copyright sign©
Registered sign®
Trademark sign
CommandResult
Dollar sign$
Cent sign¢
Pound sterling sign£
Euro sign
Yen sign¥
CommandResult
Smiling face🙂
Frowning face🙁
Winking face😉
Cross-eyed laughing faceXD

Tips for Effective Dictation on macOS

When using Dictation on Mac, you may need to familiarize yourself with the speech recognition software feature before diving into it fully. Extended use of this program can truly be a help, as it allows your Mac to get a better sense of your voice. The degree of accuracy within the program is only going to increase the more you engage with it.

Additionally, consider your voice and compatible speech when using Dictation. Accuracy rates will only continue to climb if you speak in a clear tone with a consistent pace. Remember to consider the punctuation rules at well. While it may take a bit of use to get the Dictation feature to 100% accuracy, taking extra time working with the program is only going to make things easier.

If you do find that you’re using Dictation for an extended period, or you’re not happy with the results, considering a more advanced microphone may be the way to go. You may also want to consider removing any background sounds or distractions.

Use Dictation with Different Languages

One nice thing about Apple Dictation is that it is available in a multitude of languages, though this is going to vary from Mac to Mac. For example, any Mac running Apple silicon is likely to have more language options than an Intel-based Mac. If you want to use Dictation with another language, you can select a different language from  Apple > System Settings > Keyboard > Dictation  and select the Language pop-up menu. Choose a language from the list, or select Customize or Add Language to add additional languages. English will more than likely be the default option. Though the default setting may also depend on what language you originally chose when setting up your Mac.

Select Languages Use Dication macOS

You can also remove languages by going to the Language pop-up menu, selecting Customize and deselecting any languages you do not want to use. It’s also important to note that you can switch languages while you are dictating. So long as you set the feature up for multiple languages, you can select a language from the feedback window and select the language you wish to use.

Dictation and App Compatibility

Concerning Apple Dictation for macOS, any program native to the company is going to work without issues. However, this might not be the case for third-party applications. While countless applications are likely to work, some are likely not, possibly common applications. If you find that Dictation simply isn’t working with a third-party app, remember that the program simply may not support this feature. It can also be a good idea to check an App’s page on the App Store to see if it offers any information in terms of this feature. While you may want to use your application of choice for a specific situation, remember that apps native to macOS may work better with the feature over third-party apps.

Dictation in Siri

In addition to Dictation implementing Apple’s voice recognition software, don’t forget that Siri can also be your handy virtual assistant. Arriving on the scene in Oct. 2011, Siri is Apple’s virtual assistant, and it can be quite powerful on its own. You can think of Siri as a nice combination of Voice Control and Dictation: while Siri is not able to do all of the things that these features can, it can  still perform many of them , and perform them well. For example, you can send messages with Siri by asking it “Hey Siri, send a message to. . .” It can also help set reminders and more.

Differences in Enabling Dictation on Different macOS Versions

While different versions of macOS may have different ways they word enabling Dictation, the instructions should be relatively the same. Simply go to  Apple > System Settings  from the menu bar and navigate to Keyboard. Look for Dictation, and ensure it is enabled. Different versions of macOS may prompt you differently, but the steps are the same. Whether you’re  using macOS High Sierra or Sonoma , just remember where the Dictation setting is located, and ensure that it is enabled.

Note that older versions of macOS may refer to System Settings as System Preferences. Essentially, be mindful of the language.

Troubleshooting Dictation: Problems and Solutions

One thing a user needs to remember is that Voice Control and Dictation will not operate at the same time. You can either have one, or the other. If you are enabling Dictation and it is not working for you, ensure that Voice Control is disabled by going to  Apple > System Settings > Accessibility > Voice Control  and ensuring that it is disabled. Be mindful of your Accessibility settings.

Another issue you may have is your machine picking up their speech. I discuss this elsewhere in this article, but it’s important to reiterate that you may need to spend some time with Dictation to get it exactly where you want it: it may take some practice before it is perfect. Also, be aware that Dictation will highlight ambiguous text with a blue line. If the program finds a statement unclear, you can click the text highlighted in blue and make the corrections suggested by Dictation. You can also dictate or type your corrections. If you have been using Dictation for a while and it is still making several mistakes, you may want to consider a different microphone.

You may also want to remember that you may not hear audio coming from other apps while you are using Dictation. However, this is an easy one to fix. If you are not hearing audio from any of your apps, simply wait 30 seconds without saying anything to get Dictation to close on its own, or have it stop listening for audio by pressing the Return key.

Apple’s built-in speech tool isn’t just powerful, it can be outright necessary for certain individuals. Of course, an important thing to remember is that macOS Dictation is going to work best as a digital assistant for official Apple apps. You may also want to remember the importance of clarity while recording your voice. I recommend giving Dictation a try and seeing if it works well for you, though be mindful of my recommendations as well. Experimentation is almost always a good thing. Of course, feel free to let us know in the comments what your experience was, or if there is anything that you would recommend.

3 thoughts on “ How to Use Dictation in macOS: A Comprehensive Resource ”

One warning about Mac speech dictation: it mutes the sound for other apps. You can get fooled by that if you accidentally leave speech dictation (the little mic icon) on. Then, if you attempt to watch or listen to something somewhere else, you will not have sound. It took me a few minutes to figure out why I had no sound in a different app – I had previously left speech dictation on in a previously used app and it was on another one of my Mac’s 3 displays.

I’m trying to convert a lecture from an MP3 file into text using Pages. Is this possible? Have tried without any luck. Thank you very much for your help.

To do it manually, you would be able to use dictation on the Mac if you spoke what the lecturer was saying. For audio transcription you would need specialized software. One example I found is called Descript .

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  • Nick deCourville

speech to text macbook pro

Dictation on Mac: How to Use Voice-to-Text Typing

Get your mac to type for you.

In case you are unaware, Apple provides a range of Accessibility features on Mac — especially with the recent versions of macOS. Accessibility features, essentially, are features that aid people with disabilities to better use certain functionalities to allow them to operate their devices independently. However, that is not to say that normal users cannot benefit from these features. Since some of the Accessibility features on Mac, such as Voice Over, Zoom, Voice Control, and Speech can also come in handy for those looking to get more out of their actions, and in turn, their device.

dictation (voice-to-text) typing on mac

If you have been a Mac user for some time, you would be aware (or might have stumbled upon) the Dictation feature. Dictation, again, is an Accessibility feature on Mac. It allows you to speak text (instead of typing) and leverages the power of voice-to-text transcription to get the output in the form of text. Thus, allowing you to type-in text, without having to, well, actually type text. Since the feature can be used by anyone, for any of their use-cases, here’s a guide, with everything about the feature, including the steps on how to use Dictation (voice-to-text typing) on Mac.

What is Dictation and how does it work?

As already mentioned, Dictation is an Accessibility feature on Mac that allows you to speak text and get an equivalent output for the same in the form of text across any input field. You can use it anywhere on your Mac to enter your input using voice. Most importantly, it is not to be confused with Voice Control, which is another Accessibility feature, which allows you to control your Mac using commands.

When you initiate Dictation and speak text, the same is processed by Apple and sent to their servers, where it is analyzed using language data and converted into text in real-time.

How to enable and set up Dictation?

Before you can use Dictation to enter text using voice, the first thing you need to do is enable Dictation from the Settings. Here’s how –

1. Head over to the System Preferences , and select Keyboard .

enable dictation on mac

2. In the Keyboard settings tab, tap on Dictation and select the On radio button next to Dictation.

enable dictation on mac

Once enabled, you can further change related settings for the same, like the input language, shortcut to initiate Dictation, and the input microphone.

1. Change input language – hit the dropdown button next to Language to choose your preferred input language. In case you do not see your language in the list, tap the Add Language button to search and add the language.

set up dictation on mac

2. Set shortcut to trigger Dictation – to set the trigger shortcut to initiate Dictate, tap the dropdown button next to Shortcut and select a trigger option from the list. Alternatively, you can also set a custom key as the trigger for Dictation.

set up dictation on mac

3. Set input microphone – tap on the dropdown button below the microphone (on the left) to select the input microphone.

set up dictation on mac

How to use Dictate to input text?

Once you have set the shortcut to trigger Dictation, in the previous point, you are ready to use the feature to dictate text.

1. Open the app/website/service where you want to enter text and place the cursor in the input field.

2. Double-tap the trigger key you set for Dictation, and in the two prompts that appear, hit Ok and Enable Dictation , respectively. [ Note – you are only required to perform this step when you are using the feature for the first time ].

3. Once you tap the trigger shortcut, you should see a microphone icon, indicating that your Mac is ready to accept dictation. Start dictating your text now. Apple recommends no longer than 40-second dictations for best results.

use dictation on mac

4. When you are done dictating your text, tap the Done button, or hit the return key to stop Dictation.

use dictation on mac

Since a lot of the text we type involves the use of various punctuations make the text easier to comprehend and better convey the message, Apple also allows you to input punctuation marks using voice with Dictation. For instance, if you need to enter a comma (,), you can simply speak ‘comma’ in your dictation to include the same in your writing. Similarly, there are a bunch of other punctuation marks that you can use with Dictation, the commands for which you can learn here .

Now that you have discovered Dictation and how to use it to input text without having to actually type it, on your Mac, you can use the same to input text under different circumstances — like when your keyboard is broken, or you do not feel like typing. Not to mention, it can also be of help to those having disabilities, as they can now input text efficiently without having to be completely reliant on someone’s assistance.

speech to text macbook pro

How to Use Dictation on a Mac for Voice-to-Text Typing

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Typing isn't for everyone. If you have clumsy fingers or difficulty spelling, typing might be your least favorite part of using a computer. Fortunately, you can use the built-in dictation software on your Mac to speak what you want to type instead.

Unlike Voice Control---which is Apple's fully-featured accessibility tool---dictation is easy to use. It's also so accurate at translating your voice that some of the best dictation software developers, like Dragon Dictate, stopped making their own dictation apps for Mac to compete with it.

How to Use Dictation on a Mac

Popup window for enabling Dictation on a Mac

Double-press the Fn button to start dictating on your Mac. You should see a microphone icon appear or hear a macOS confirmation tone. If this is your first time using Dictation, click OK in the popup window to confirm you want to use it.

After activating Dictation, start saying what you want to type to see it appear on screen. Dictation ignores pauses in your speech, allowing you to take a moment to compose your thoughts. However, this does mean you need to dictate your own punctuation, which we explain below.

Dictation microphone icon on Mac

Apple suggests you dictate in short bursts of 40 seconds or less. This keeps your Mac from falling behind, since you can speak much faster than it can process what you say.

You can dictate text anywhere you'd usually type on your Mac. That includes writing documents, using Spotlight or search bars, entering web addresses, and composing emails. If that sounds useful, you might want to take a look at these dictation apps for your Android phone as well.

Use any of the following methods to stop dictating:

  • Press Fn again
  • Click Done beneath the microphone

Your dictated words appear underlined while your Mac is processing them. After you stop dictating, they'll reformat themselves, and any words your Mac was unsure of appear underlined in blue. Click these words to pick an alternative option or type it out manually if it was wrong.

The more you use Dictation, the better your Mac gets at understanding your voice. This means you'll see fewer mistakes and words underlined in blue less often.

How to Add Punctuation and Format Your Dictation

Chances are that you need to add punctuation to your dictation to make sure it's formatted correctly. This is easy to do while dictating your text by saying the particular punctuation marks you want to add.

For example, to dictate the following text:

Hello, my name is Dan. How are you?

You need to say:

Hello comma my name is Dan period how are you question mark

Dictation on a Mac with punctuation

Apple includes a long list of over 50 punctuation marks, typography symbols, currency signs, mathematical signs, and voice commands you can use with Dictation in the macOS user guide. Visit Apple's voice dictation commands page to take a look at the list yourself.

Along with adding punctuation, you can also use a small set of voice commands to change the formatting of dictated text on your Mac. These commands include capitalization, line breaks, and even typing without spaces.

Say the following voice commands to format text with Dictation:

  • New Line: Equivalent to pressing the Return key once
  • New Paragraph: Equivalent to pressing the Return key twice
  • Caps On/Off: Types the following words in "Title Case"
  • All Caps On/Off: Types the following words in "ALL CAPS"
  • No Space On/Off: Types the following words "withoutspaces" (useful for website URLs)

Troubleshoot Dictation Problems on Your Mac

Dictation is a fairly simple tool, but it doesn't work all the time. There are a few different problems that might stop you from being able to use Dictation on your Mac. Here's what they are and how to fix them.

Change the Dictation Shortcut

If nothing happens when you double-press the Fn button, you might have changed the Dictation shortcut on your Mac. You can change this shortcut to whatever you like, or check what the new shortcut is and use that instead.

To do so, open System Preferences and go to Keyboard > Dictation . Open the Shortcut dropdown menu and choose the dictation shortcut you want to use. To create your own, click Customize , then press the keyboard shortcut you'd like.

Dictation shortcut dropdown menu in System Preferences

Test Your Internet Connection

Your Mac requires an active internet connection to use Dictation. This is because Apple processes your voice on its servers---using the latest language data---rather than locally on your Mac.

Without an internet connection, the microphone icon appears with three dots in it, but vanishes before you can start dictating.

To make sure your internet connection is working, try streaming a video on YouTube. To fix problems with your connection, restart your Wi-Fi router and follow our steps to get your Mac connected to Wi-Fi again . Contact your internet service provider for more help.

Choose a Different Microphone to Use

As you dictate, you should see a white bar in the microphone icon that fluctuates with the loudness of your voice. This shows the microphone input on your Mac. If nothing appears in the microphone, your Mac can't hear you. You need to use a different microphone to fix it.

Go to System Preferences > Keyboard > Dictation . Open the dropdown menu beneath the microphone at the left of the window to choose a different microphone. If you can't see your microphone, make sure it's connected with the latest drivers installed.

Microphone selection from Dictation System Preferences

Change the Dictation Language

To dictate in a different language, you need to add that language in System Preferences and select it from the Dictation icon. Using the wrong language results in a lot of mistakes, as Dictation will use regional spellings or replace what you said with similar-sounding words from another language.

In System Preferences , go to Keyboard > Dictation and open the Language dropdown menu. Click Add Language and check the box next to whichever languages you want to use. Make sure you choose the appropriate region if your language is used in multiple countries.

The next time you activate Dictation, you should see the current language displayed beneath the microphone icon. Click it to change to another dictation language instead.

Dictation microphone with language options

How to Make Dictation as Private as Possible

Dictation communicates with Apple's servers to convert your speech to text. This means it's never completely private, as explained by the popup message that appears when you enable Dictation for the first time. That said, there are still steps you can take to reclaim as much Dictation privacy as possible.

To change the data Dictation uses, open System Preferences and click on Security & Privacy . Go to the Privacy tab and scroll down to select Analytics & Improvements in the sidebar. Disable the option to Improve Siri & Dictation to stop Apple from storing or reviewing your future Dictation recordings.

Improve Siri & Dictation option in Privacy System Preferences

Apple usually does this to help improve Dictation. Even with this option disabled, you still need to delete existing recordings from Apple's servers. Go to System Preferences > Siri and click Delete Siri & Dictation History to do so.

Do More With Your Voice Using Voice Control

Although many people confuse the two, Dictation and Voice Control are two separate features on your Mac. As we've explained, Dictation allows you to convert your speech to text, adding punctuation and line breaks where necessary. But Voice Control unlocks an entire world of voice commands that control your Mac.

If you want to save documents, switch applications, open menus, and do much more with your voice, you need to use Voice Control. This is primarily an accessibility tool; it lets anyone control a Mac using nothing but their voice. Take a look at our Mac Voice Control guide to learn how it works.

  • Speech Recognition
  • Speech to Text

How to Use Speech to Text On Mac?

speech to text macbook pro

Finding ways to streamline our daily tasks has become significant in recent times. Imagine if you could effortlessly transform your thoughts into words without the constraints of manual typing. Say hello to MacBook’s speech to text functionality , which enables you to effortlessly convert spoken words into written text!

Speech recognition on your MacBook opens up a new dimension of efficiency and convenience. From drafting emails to crafting elaborate documents, the power of your voice becomes the catalyst for productivity, saving your valuable time and sparing your fingertips from the monotony of keystrokes.

speech to text macbook pro

Table of Contents

Boosted productivity, accessibility, multitasking , enable voice dictation, how to dictate text, customize and manage, using voice command to perform different actions, disabling mac dictation software, benefits of mac speech to text.

speech to text macbook pro

As time is a precious commodity and accessibility is a cornerstone of technology, the ability to convert spoken words into text on your MacBook is more than just a feature it’s a game-changer. Here are the key benefits of speech to text on Mac:

Whether you are composing emails, drafting reports, or brainstorming ideas, the accelerated pace at which MacBook seamlessly transcribes your thoughts into text on the screen empowers you to conquer tasks with unparalleled speed.

For those who may face challenges in typing, this feature becomes an invaluable lifeline, offering a means to communicate and interact with their Apple devices effortlessly. By bridging the accessibility gap, Apple’s commitment to inclusivity shines through, making the MacBook a device that caters to diverse user needs.

The hands-free nature of this feature allows you to articulate your thoughts into text while concurrently tackling other responsibilities. Whether you are engaged in a video conference, researching online, or managing multiple applications, the ability to seamlessly integrate speech into your workflow ensures that no moment goes underutilized. MacBook’s speech to text is a dynamic facilitator of efficiency in the complex dance of multitasking.

Steps to Enable Voice Dictation on a MacBook

MacBook’s Voice Dictation, also known as speech to text, is a powerful tool that promises to redefine your interaction with your MacBook. Here are the steps to enable voice dictation on a MacBook and how to use it:

Step 1: Access System Settings

Click on the Apple menu in the top-left corner of your screen and select “System Settings.” Then, navigate to “Keyboard” in the sidebar. 

Step 2: Enable Dictation: Within the Keyboard settings, find and click on “Dictation” on the right. Turn it on, and if prompted, click “Enable.”

Step 3: Configure Siri and Dictation Settings

When asked if you want to improve Siri and Dictation, choose whether to share audio recordings with Apple by clicking “Share Audio Recordings” or “Not Now.”

Step 4: Language Settings

To dictate using a specific language, click the “Edit” button next to Languages, then select your desired language and dialect.

Step 5: Privacy Settings

To manage privacy settings related to Siri and Dictation, go to “Privacy & Security” in System Settings and adjust the “Improve Siri & Dictation” option under Analytics & Improvements.

Position Cursor: Place the insertion point in the application where you want to dictate text.

Initiate Dictation: Press the Microphone key (if available), use the keyboard dictation shortcut, or choose “Edit > Start Dictation.”

Start Dictating: When the microphone icon appears, start speaking. On Apple silicon Macs, you can even type while dictating.

Perform Commands: To insert emojis, punctuation, or perform simple formatting tasks, use voice commands like “heart emoji,” “exclamation mark,” or “new paragraph.”

Language Switching: If using multiple languages, click the language next to the microphone or the Globe key to switch languages.

End Dictation: Press the Dictation keyboard shortcut or the Escape key when finished. Dictation stops automatically after 30 seconds of no speech.

There are various customization options in a Mac to help you get the most out of the dictation function. Here are some of the key customization functions you can use to manage it better:

1. Set Keyboard Shortcut: Choose a specific Dictation keyboard shortcut or create a custom one in Keyboard settings.

2. Change Microphone Source: In Keyboard settings, adjust the microphone source for dictation based on your preference.

3. Turn Off Dictation: To disable dictation, go to System Settings, click “Keyboard,” find “Dictation,” and turn it off.

Embracing the power of voice commands on your MacBook elevates the user experience by enabling seamless interaction with your device. Here are various actions you can effortlessly perform using voice commands:

Opening Applications: Instantly open your preferred applications with a simple voice command, eliminating the need for manual navigation.

Creating and Editing Documents: Initiate the creation of new documents with voice commands, streamlining your workflow without touching the keyboard with Apple dictation. Edit text and make revisions hands-free, making the document editing process more dynamic and efficient.

Searching the Web: Conduct web searches effortlessly by vocalizing your queries and letting your MacBook fetch the necessary information without typing under Apple’s dictation.

Sending Messages: Dictate and send messages easily, making communication a breeze while multitasking on your MacBook.

While the dictation functionality on your Mac computer proves to be a valuable asset in boosting productivity, there may be instances where you prefer to turn it off. Whether for privacy concerns or personal preferences, turning off speech to text is straightforward. Follow these steps in system preferences under the Apple menu bar to disable dictation on your Mac:

Click on the Apple menu in the top-left corner of your screen and select “System Settings” to set the system preferences for the voice to text feature.

Step 2: Navigate to Keyboard Settings

Within System preferences, click on “Keyboard” in the sidebar.

Step 3: Turn Off Dictation

Locate the “Dictation” tab on the right-hand side of the Keyboard settings. Toggle the switch to turn dictation off.

The Last Word

With the seamless integration and diverse applications of speech to text, the benefits of free dictation software extend beyond mere convenience. Experiment with different dictation tool and settings, tailoring them to your unique needs and preferences. The ability to enable dictation, create documents, and perform various tasks with the dictation feature empowers you to navigate the digital ecosystem with unprecedented ease. Embrace the liberating potential of speech to text on your MacBook. Break free from the confines of traditional typing and let your words flow effortlessly.

speech to text macbook pro

Is speech to text available in all MacBook models?

Yes, the dictation feature is available on most recent MacBook models. However, it may also vary depending on the macOS version and the specific MacBook model.

Can I use voice commands to control other aspects of my MacBook?

Yes, you can use the Voice Control feature on your MacBook to control different aspects. For instance, users can say commands like “Open Mail” to open an email on their phone, or “Scroll down” to navigate the display screen, and so on.

Are there any voice typing apps for Mac that offer additional features?

While macOS includes a free dictation feature, third-party apps like Dragon Professional Individual for Mac offer advanced features like voice commands, transcription, and customization.

Is my voice data secure when using speech to text technology on my MacBook?

Apple prioritizes user privacy in the dictation software. When using Mac speech to text, your voice data is anonymized, associated with a random identifier, and subject to Apple’s stringent privacy policies.

How can I improve the accuracy of speech to text on my MacBook?

To enhance accuracy in the dictation software, speak clearly after tapping the microphone icon, use a quality microphone, and ensure a quiet environment. Additionally, regularly update your macOS to access improvements in speech recognition technology.

You should also read:

speech to text macbook pro

How Speech Recognition is Changing Language Learning

speech to text macbook pro

Future of AI in Speech Recognition 

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From Talk to Tech: Exploring the World of Speech Recognition

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Is there a way of converting voice memos to text?

I would like to record some notes with Voice Memos and transcribe that to text when the time comes.

It seems that since both are part of macOS, there must be a way of linking the two. Failing that is there an open source solution?

Using an M1 Mac Mini with macOS Ventura.

  • voice-dictation

Manngo's user avatar

3 Answers 3

There are many services, my favorite being Otter.ai .

You can use Apple Dictation to perform this task. Here is the great and detailed article on the subject:

How to transcribe audio to text using Dictation on a Mac .

Use Google Docs if you have [free] Google account.

Just open Google Docs and select Voice Typing, then start your Voice Memo. Google shall transcribe everything into text.

Official Google Docs Help for Voice Typing

enter image description here

I've used Just Press Record in the past on iOS, although it's also the recording app, not just for transcription. They have a macOS version too. The transcription is good.

It will import audio files from other applications also (not mp3 for some reason), and will automatically transcribe them. It records to wav, aiff or m4a, so I assume the import formats are also the same, though I can't find any docs on that.

It has a neat trick of highlighting each word as the audio plays back.

Overall a nice app!

Andy Griffiths's user avatar

I use Textify for this. Does the job reasonably well, but the result usually needs editing.

nohillside's user avatar

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speech to text macbook pro

A row of empty desks and computer monitors.

Jan 24, 2020

Dictate your documents in Word on Mac

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My name is Emily Tran, and I’m a Program Manager on the Office Voice team.

I’m excited to share the news that Dictation is now available in Word for Mac. This feature enables you to save time and stay in flow by using speech-to-text to quickly get your thoughts into your document.

Prerequisites

In order to use the Dictate feature, you need:

  • A microphone-enabled device or an external microphone
  • Insider build 16.32 (19120802) or later installed
  • To be logged into an account associated with an Office 365 subscription
  • A stable internet connection

For best results, use a headset or microphone recommended for dictating. Also try eliminating background noise from your environment.

Configuration

Make sure your microphone-enabled device is on and confirm that the language is set to the one you’d like to dictate by clicking the down arrow on the Dictate button. We currently do not auto-detect the language you’re speaking.

If you have problems with your microphone-enabled device, check the sound input settings in System Preferences or dictation troubleshooting instructions.

Start Dictation

1. To turn on Dictation, click Home > Dictate .

Dictate icon on the ribbon

2. Click on the Dictate button and wait for the red dot to appear.

3. Start talking and notice that the spoken text appears on your screen. If you see a mistake, simply move your cursor to fix it and move it back to continue dictating. You do not need to toggle off the Dictate button while making corrections.

4. When you’re done, click the Dictate button.

Tips & Tricks

  • Speak clearly and conversationally, but feel free to pause in between thoughts.
  • Question mark
  • Exclamation point/mark
  • Open quote(s)
  • Close quote(s)
  • To turn the microphone on without having to always go to the Home tab, you can add the microphone button to your Quick Access Toolbar .
  • This feature is powered by the Microsoft Azure Speech Services and built-in directly to Word.
  • Word Dictation is separate from Apple Dictation on Mac.

Supported Languages

Below are the currently supported languages:

  • Chinese (China)
  • English (Canada)
  • English (United Kingdom)
  • English (United States)
  • French (France)
  • German (Germany)
  • Italian (Italy)
  • Spanish (Spain)
  • English (Australia)
  • English (India)
  • French (Canada)
  • Norwegian (Bokmal)
  • Portuguese (Brazil)

*Preview languages may have lower accuracy or less punctuation available. Improvements will happen over time.

We do not store your speech data. Your speech utterances will be sent to Microsoft only to provide you with this service. When the transcription is done your audio and transcription results are not stored by our service. For more information see, Connected Experiences in Office .

Availability 

We typically release features over some time to ensure that things are working smoothly. This is true for Insiders as well. We highlight features that you may not have because they’re slowly releasing to larger numbers of Insiders. Sometimes we remove elements to further improve them based on your feedback. Though this is rare, we also reserve the option to pull a feature entirely out of the product, even if you, as Insiders, have had the opportunity to try them.

If you have any feedback or suggestions, you can submit them by clicking Help > Feedback in Word.

Learn what other information you should include in your feedback  to ensure  it’s actionable and reaches the right people. We’re excited to hear from you! 

Sign up for the  Office Insider newsletter  and get the latest information about Insider features in your inbox once a month!

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How to Easily Transcribe Audio and Video on Your Mac

Daniel Chang

Audio to text transcription is something that we generally don’t think about until we need to do it. Whether you have a video that you need a text transcription for, an audiobook, or just some voice notes, the question is the same. How can you quickly get the audio recording into a text format, without pulling your hair out in frustration?

Have no fear! There’s an easy way to transcribe audio recording to text on Mac. Follow these simple instructions to get the job done. Your hair will thank you!

Easy Audio and Video Recording Transcription on Mac

Audio to text transcription on a mac can take many forms, and your success rate will ultimately depend upon the quality of your source recording. If your source material has a lot of distortion or garbled speech, obviously automatic transcription will be less effective. For most purposes, you can achieve satisfactory results using your Mac’s built-in functionality without investing in additional hardware or human transcription services.

Here’s the Prescription for Automatic Transcription

1. On your Mac, open  System Preferences .   

speech to text macbook pro

2. In the System Preferences window, select  Dictation and Speech .

speech to text macbook pro

3. In the Dictation and Speech window, select the option to turn dictation on, and make sure to select the appropriate microphone input. On most systems, the  Internal Microphone  will be the default choice. If you have a separate microphone or input source, you can choose it here.

speech to text macbook pro

4. While still in the Dictation and Speech   window, you can also check the  Enhanced Dictation  option, which will show you real-time results of transcribed audio to text. Real-time transcription helps correct any mistakes in automatic transcription.  Note: This may require a relatively large download on some systems. Though this only needs to happen the first time.

5. Make a note of what the  Shortcut   key is listed, and change it if you wish. The default is pressing the  Function (Fn)  key twice.

6. Lastly, if you will be transcribing a language other than your default system language, select that appropriate language from the  Language  drop-down list.

7. After you have selected all the options in the Dictation and Speech window, you can click out of the window. Your changes save automatically.

Once your settings are in place, it’s time to begin the transcription. For this purpose, you need some kind of text editor. You can use anything from  TextEdit ,  Apple Pages ,  Microsoft Word , or  Google Docs . 

Simply open a new document, and press the shortcut key that you selected from the Dictation and Speech window. The Speech Dictation icon will popup indicating that your computer is now listening for speech audio.

speech to text macbook pro

From here, it’s as simple as playing the audio that you want to transcribe into your computer’s microphone. If the sound is already on your computer, you can play it in the background using any installed audio player app. As long as your computer can “hear” the audio clearly, that’s the only thing that matters.

If you’ve selected the  Enhanced Dictation , you will see real-type transcription results as the audio is recognized. Otherwise, the results will appear after you click  Done . For transcriptions longer than a few sentences, it is highly recommended to use  Enhanced Dictation .

Expect Imperfection in Each Section

Automated transcription certainly has its benefits. Just be prepared for some hiccups here and there. For one, the computer will not automatically know where to place punctuation. Full stops, commas, and paragraphs will need to manually inserted unless they are spoken in the audio. Also, the computer will not distinguish between different speakers or voices, so you'll have to add speaker labels on your own.

Still, automated conversion of audio to text on Mac will save you the time of typing everything out yourself, and every bit of time saved is a bonus.

The Final Word on Transcribing What’s Heard

We hope that these instructions have helped you transcribe audio record to text on Mac. For the everyday use scenario, your Mac’s built-in function can undoubtedly get the job done. If you are looking for something more foolproof, GoTranscript offers 99% accurate transcriptions performed by real humans at affordable prices. If speed and accuracy are your main concerns, GoTranscript is your go-to source for transforming spoken audio into top-notch text.

Transcriptions

How to Transcribe Audio to Text on Mac

speech to text macbook pro

Apple products have long been used by creatives in many industries and students. As of 2018, there were 100,000 Mac users , and numbers have only grown since then.

Regardless of why you use a Mac, one task you may need to do is convert audio to text. For example, creators who want to publish their content in various formats across multiple platforms have to make their content as accessible as possible. One effective way is to transcribe audio to text to produce captions and transcripts for a variety of users. This text content can also be repurposed into blog content and social media posts.

Transcribing audio to text can seem like a lot of work at first. You could hire one of many transcription services or transcribe your content yourself.

Manually transcribing your own content is a huge feat, but fortunately, you can use automated transcription tools to easily and quickly transform your audio recordings into text files.

When you learn how to transcribe audio to text on Mac, you can expand your brand’s reach to connect with a wider audience.

Keep reading to learn the ways to transcribe audio to text on Mac.

Mac Dictation Feature

Mac users have access to internal voice recognition software that can dictate text. Perhaps the easiest way to transcribe audio to text on Mac is to use the built-in Dictation function .

Although instructions might change with each Mac update, the basic strategy for transcribing audio files with dictation include:

  • Open System Preferences.
  • Go to Keyboard
  • Go to the Dictation tab.
  • Turn on Dictation.
  • Accept the terms of the Dictation service.
  • Note the Dictation shortcut.
  • Select your Mac’s microphone via the microphone icon.
  • Open TextEdit.
  • Create a new document.
  • Use the Dictation shortcut.
  • Begin playing your audio or video file through your Mac’s speakers. You can use Quicktime player or any application that can play such a file.
  • The audio should be transcribed in the text editor.

You can stop and start Dictation if you need to fix a mistake or make a note. Be sure to occasionally save your file.

While this strategy is very simple and does not require external tools, it is also nowhere near 100% accurate. It’s certainly a good place to start, but it may not be the best solution for those looking to transcribe a lot of content without extensive editing.

YouTube’s Free Video Transcript Tool

You can publish your video and audio content on YouTube and use their free automatic video transcription tool.

If you turn your audio content into a video file format and then upload it as a YouTube video, you can utilize the free automatic video transcript tool. This tool converts videos to text. Although the tool automatically transcribes audio to text, the format requires a lot of proofreading and editing. However, you can not beat the price.

  • You can use video editing software to convert your audio file to a video. Many free options exist.
  • Upload your video to YouTube. You do not have to make your video public. You can also delete your video once you finish transcribing it.
  • Go to the video that you would like to transcribe.
  • Find the three horizontal dots underneath the video on the right.
  • Select the three horizontal dots.
  • Select Show transcript.
  • The transcript should appear to the right of the video.
  • You can remove the timestamps by clicking the three vertical dots on the top right of the Transcript window. Select Toggle timestamps to turn timestamps on and off.
  • Select the text from the Transcript window.
  • Copy and paste the text into your text editor of choice.

This free tool from YouTube is very helpful. Of course, it does require you to upload your audio to the platform, which is time-consuming.

Google Docs Audio Transcription

Google Docs is another free alternative that almost anyone can easily use. If you have a Google account, then you already have access to Google Docs. If you do not have a Google account, you can sign up for one for free.

  • Sign into Google.
  • Go to the Google Docs website.
  • Start a new document.
  • Click on Tools.
  • Click Voice Typing.
  • Click the Microphone icon on the left.
  • Play your video or audio file.

Much like Apple’s dictation, Google docs voice typing is not the most accurate solution. It’s very accessible, but you can count on needing to edit and re-format the transcription extensively.

Use a Smartphone

If you have a smartphone, you can use its microphone, speakers, and a word processing app to transcribe audio. Although it can be a bit cumbersome, this method can get the job done.

  • Open a word processing app on your smartphone.
  • Select the Microphone button on your smartphone’s keyboard.
  • Hold your smartphone to the speakers where your audio will play.
  • Your smartphone should automatically transcribe the audio to text.

Maestra’s Automated Audio Transcription Programs

The above options are easy and inexpensive, but they are not extremely accurate. The good news is that there are audio transcription programs that directly transcribe audio to text in a few steps.

Maestra uses artificial intelligence to provide high-quality transcriptions. You can save hours of time with our automated audio-to-text transcription software . Try out our online transcription service for free.

The process is simple:

  • Upload your audio files.
  • Choose your audio language.
  • Our transcription tool automatically converts your audio file to text.
  • Download your transcription within minutes in the format of your choice.

With Maestra, you enjoy quick turnaround time and highly accurate audio-to-text transcription. While we offer a paid service, you can count on its quality for this reason. For content creators, students, or anyone else looking to frequently change audio to text on Mac, our AI-powered solution is a lifesaver.

Audio Transcription on Mac Made Easy

The choice to transcribe video and audio to text is up to you. Do you have the time to manually type all of your video transcriptions? Would you rather leverage speech recognition software to deliver accurate transcriptions in less time?

Maestra’s online audio transcription tool will save you a ton of time with audio transcription. Convert your audio files to text documents within minutes using our interactive text editor. Enjoy incredibly high accuracy and easy editing for anything you do want to change. Try us out for free now or request your demo  today!

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Tutorial: How to enable the Speech to Text Mac shortcut in macOS.

How To Enable The Speech To Text Mac Shortcut In macOS

Here’s how to enable a speech to text Mac shortcut in MacOS.

zack applegate

Want to talk to your computer and have it type for you? Setting up a speech to text Mac shortcut is easy to do and doesn’t require any additional Mac dictation software. The macOS already has voice to text natively built into the operating system. Here’s an easy speech to text Mac shortcut tutorial for beginners.

Open System Preferences

Keyboard options, dictation & language selection, enhanced dication & offline access, setup a speech to text mac shortcut, place your mouse where you want to start dictating text, press your assigned function key or sequence, start talking, macos speech to text tips, how to use speech to text on macos.

To use speech to text on macOS, you first need to turn it on. This is a very easy tutorial. If you are very Mac savvy, then just enable the Dication feature under the Keyboard setting in System Preferences . Or follow the steps below. Let’s begin!

Macos System Preferences

On your Mac, choose the Apple menu in the top left of your menu bar and select System Preferences from the drop-down menu.

  • Apple > System Preferences

Enable Speech To Text Mac Shortcut In Macos - The Keyboard Settings Under The Macos System Preferences

After you open the System Preferences panel, you’ll see a collection of preference icons. Select Keyboard .

  • System Preferences > Keyboard

Speech-To-Text Dictation Options Under The Macos'S Keyboard System Preferences

There are several sub-options under the Keyboard ‘s Dictation submenu: Keyboard, Text, Shortcuts, Input Sources, Dictation.

  • Click on the Dictation sub menu.
  • Turn on Dictation .
  • If you’re asked if you want to improve Siri and Dictation, click Not Now .
  • Choose a Language . To dictate using another language besides English, click the Language pop-up menu, then choose a language and dialect.
  • Apple > System Preferences > Keyboard > Dictation > On

Screenshot Of The Macos Enhanced Dictation Option

Enhanced Dictation is optional. You can skip to the next step if you want.

Do you want the ability to dictate speech to text without an Internet connection? Depending on your installed version of the macOS, you might be presented with an option to enable offline dictation. This could be useful if you are in an area with limited connectivity or want to use this feature while on an airplane.

Just be aware that this feature requires at least a gigabyte of hard drive storage. Make sure you have extra space for these files before trying to install.

  • Apple > System Preferences > Keyboard > Dictation > Use Enhanced Dictation

Setup A Speech To Text Mac Shortcut

How do you want to tell your Mac to start listening for your speech to text input? The default Mac speech to text shortcut for dictation is to press the Function key twice. But you can use the Command, Control, or whatever keys you want. Just select Customize to change to the keyboard shortcut of your choice.

  • Apple > System Preferences > Keyboard > Dictation > Shortcut

How To Dictate Text

Man Casually Dictating A Speech To His Macbook Laptop

Once you’ve enabled the Dictation feature and selected your keyboard shortcut, you can now start speaking into your computer and letting it type for you. Try using this speech-to-text feature to compose an email . You’ll be surprised how much time this feature can save you on a daily basis!

  • Open a document or locate a text field where you want to start dictating text.
  • Click your mouse in the place where you want to start dictating.
  • Press the Function key twice (or whatever keyboard shortcut you previously selected).
  • A microphone icon should appear with a fluctuating loudness indicator and make a chirp sound.

Once the microphone is active, your computer will start to turn your voice into text.

  • Start talking. Speak clearly and only try to dictate in short bursts. Try one or two sentences at a time.
  • When you’re finished dictating, press your keyboard shortcut key again.

Here are some tips for using the speech to text feature on macOS:

  • Speak clearly and slowly. If you speak too fast, or mumble, your dictation results will be bad. Going back to re-edit everything isn’t worth the time. Just do it right the first time.
  • Speak in smaller chunks. Don’t try dictating a college commencement speech in one try. The Mac speech to text function isn’t made to listen for long periods of time. Smaller sections that are 60 seconds are less work best.
  • Avoid background noise. If possible, move to a quiet area. Background noise can cause unpredictable results with the Mac dictation software.
  • Speak punctuation marks as needed. If you want to end a sentence, then just say “period” or “questions mark” and the dictation software will add that punctuation for you.
  • Create new lines or paragraphs. To create a new line or a paragraph break, just say “new line “ or “new paragraph “.
  • Use a professional external microphone. The default microphone on your MacBook will work fine for most users. However, if you are having issues with your dictation results, you can try using an external microphone like the(Amazon link) Blue Yeti ($99+) .

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How to get your Mac to read text out loud to you

Malcolm Owen's Avatar

Last updated 2 years ago

While monitors are the primary way for people to get information from their Mac, not everyone has that luxury. For those who are visually impaired, they cannot rely on what is shown on the screen as a source of information, and so require alternative methods.

Apple has a solution to this, buried in its Accessibility settings, titled Spoken Content. The feature effectively allows you to set macOS to use Siri to read out text that appears onscreen.

While intended as an accessibility feature, it can also be useful for those with complete sight, as a way to enhance their computing experience.

For example, Siri could read text aloud while looking away from the screen, or to check a typed-out speech sounds fine when actually read aloud. You can also set Siri up to speak announcements.

Getting started with Spoken Content

The majority of Spoken Content's controls reside within the Accessibility menu.

How to enable Spoken Content in macOS

  • Click the Apple icon in the menu.
  • Click System Preferences .
  • Click Accessibility .
  • In the left-hand panel, select Spoken Content .
  • Click the tickboxes next to the options you want enabled.

Spoken Content is divided into four general sections, with each having its own personalization options. They cover spoken announcements, selected text, items being pointed at with the mouse, and for typing feedback.

Depending on what you need enabled, simply click the option next to the specific feature.

The Spoken Content menu is within Accessibility in System Preferences.

At the top of the screen are the main voice settings, where you can select the voice Siri will use, test out the voice, and affect the rate of speech. In the System Voice dropdown, you can also select to Customize the voice, allowing you to select and download new voices, including those for other languages.

Next to the System Voice dropdown, the Play button can be used to hear a sample of the speech that will be used, allowing you to change the voice or the speaking rate before you leave the menu.

Speak announcements

If you select to enable Speak announcements, macOS will read out any notifications or alerts that pop up.

The Options button for the feature allows you to set a specific voice to be used for announcements, as well as to set a delay for when the announcement will be said after it appears on screen.

You can set system announcements to use a different voice, and to say what application an alert is from.

You can even set the phrase that can be said before the announcement itself. You can set it to be the application name, or an interruption from an editable phrase list, such as "Excuse me" and "Alert!"

Again, you are offered a play button to test out your settings.

Speak selection

Probably the most useful option on the list, Speak selection will read aloud any text that has been selected, after pressing a keyboard shortcut.

The Options button starts off by allowing you to set a specific keyboard shortcut for the feature. By default, it's Option and Escape pressed together, which works quite well.

You can control how being-spoken text appears onscreen.

Highlight content refers to macOS highlighting the part of a selected stretch of text being read at that moment. This can be set to words, sentences, words and sentences, or off.

Word color relates to the Highlight content feature, to determine what color the currently-said word will be highlighted by. Sentence color is the same thing, but for the current sentence, and can be set to a different color than the word version.

An example of highlighted text and the word being spoken at that moment.

Sentence style lets you choose between the highlighting consisting of an underline or a change in background color.

Show Controller will determine whether the user will be able to see an extra controller window when text is being read aloud. The controller can be used to stop, play, and pause speech, skip forward and back in the text, and to speed up or slow down the speaking rate using the turtle and rabbit icons.

Speech of stretches of text can be controlled like a video from this panel.

Speak items under the pointer

As the name suggests, it's a feature that will say what is currently under the pointer within macOS. This is intended to help visually impaired users identify what they are pointed at when using the mouse.

The feature can be set to run at all times, or when the macOS Zoom accessibility function is engaged, so that it isn't always active.

You can tell macOS to tell you what's under the pointer all the time, or only if you're zoomed in.

You can set the Speech verbosity to low, medium, or high, and for there to be a short or long delay before macOS says what is under the cursor.

Speech typing feedback

Ideally for those who need to be able to know what they are typing Speech typing feedback will tell users what they are typing. This can be set to run in a couple of ways.

Under Options, Echo characters will say each character on the keyboard the user has typed, including punctuation. Echo words does the same, but after the user has completed a word.

You can tell macOS to say when you're pressing modifier keys, like Command or Shift.

Echo selection changes will make macOS speak each time you select something on screen. This can include the contents of a webpage you've just clicked on, or text in a document.

The Echo selection changes also reads out highlighted text, in case you don't want to hear an entire page.

Echo modifier keys will speak out the name of each modifier key, which can help both people who cannot see the keyboard fully, and those who are not quite familiar with the keyboard's layout. When selected, it will say "Shift," "Control," "Command," and "Option" whenever they are pressed.

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ElevenLabs Blog

How to Do Text to Speech on Mac

Learn how to set up and customize your Mac's text-to-speech feature.

Text-to speech technology is transforming how we communicate and consume content—but did you know that your Mac has in-built text-to-speech capabilities?

Imagine your computer reading out documents, emails, or even your favorite web articles with just a simple command. This is the power of text-to-speech on macOS.

Let’s delve into what text-to-speech is and how to use it on your Mac. Whether you're a professional seeking efficiency, a student aiming for a better learning experience, or someone exploring accessibility options, this guide’s for you. 

speech to text macbook pro

Setting Up Text to Speech on Your Mac

Enabling text-to-speech on your Macbook or Apple desktop is a straightforward process. Here's how you can set it up and customize it to fit your needs:

Enabling Speak Selection

  • First, access your Mac's System Settings and click on 'Accessibility' in the sidebar.
  • Within the Accessibility settings, select 'Spoken Content'.
  • Turn on the 'Speak selection' option. This feature allows your Mac to read out selected text or, in its absence, any text items in the current window, such as an email in Mail.

speech to text macbook pro

Customizing Keyboard Shortcuts

  • To personalize your experience, you can set a custom keyboard shortcut for Speak selection.
  • Go to System Settings, then click 'Keyboard' in the sidebar.
  • Under Keyboard Shortcuts, choose 'Accessibility' to modify the shortcut for Speak selection. The default combination is Option-Esc, but you can change it to something that suits your workflow better.

speech to text macbook pro

Using the Onscreen Controller

  • When Speak selection is active, you have the option to display an onscreen controller.
  • This controller includes buttons for adjusting the speaking rate, skipping sentences, playing/pausing, and stopping the speech.
  • The controller is particularly handy for managing the speech in longer texts, allowing you to easily navigate and control the playback.

speech to text macbook pro

Highlighting Spoken Content

  • For visual tracking, you can set your Mac to highlight words or sentences as they are spoken.
  • In the Spoken Content settings, choose your preferred highlighting style and colors for both words and sentences.
  • This feature enhances comprehension and is useful for following along with the spoken text.

speech to text macbook pro

Customizing Sentence Style

  • You can also customize how spoken sentences are indicated, either by underlining or background color, enhancing the readability and understanding of the text.

Controller Visibility Options

  • Decide when the controller appears: automatically with the shortcut, always, or never. This customization ensures the controller is available according to your preference and usage patterns.

Advanced Features and Customization

Now you’ve enabled text-to-speech on your Mac, here’s how you can customize it according to your unique preferences.

Accessing Customization Options

To begin customizing text-to-speech on your Mac, open 'System Preferences' from the Apple menu and navigate to 'Accessibility.' From there, select 'Spoken Content' in the sidebar. This section houses a variety of settings that allow you to tailor the text-to-speech functionality to your specific needs.

speech to text macbook pro

Choosing the Right Voice

MacOS offers an extensive selection of voices, varying in gender, accents, and languages—meaning you don’t just have to settle for the default voice. Some of these voices are even available for additional download from the App Store. Use the play button to preview different voices and select the one that resonates best with you.

speech to text macbook pro

Adjusting Speaking Rate

The speaking rate of the text-to-speech feature is fully adjustable. You have the option to slow down the speech for clearer comprehension or speed it up to quickly absorb information. This level of control ensures the spoken content is delivered at a pace that suits your listening preferences.

speech to text macbook pro

Enjoying the Benefits

Customizing text-to-speech on your Mac enhances the overall user experience, whether for educational, professional, or leisure activities. By experimenting with the various settings available, you can discover the full potential of text-to-speech, making information more accessible and enjoyable for your specific needs and lifestyle.

With these customization features, your Mac becomes a more powerful and accommodating tool, bringing written content to life in a way that best suits your individual preferences and requirements.

Reasons to Choose Dedicated Text-to-Speech Software Over Mac's Built-In Functionality

While Macs have in-built text-to-speech capabilities, that doesn’t mean they’re best suited for all needs. If you’re a serious content creator looking for natural-sounding voices (e.g. if you create podcasts or Youtube videos), then you should use dedicated text-to-speech software like ElevenLabs.

Here’s why. 

Advanced Voice Quality and Naturalness

Dedicated text-to-speech software, such as ElevenLabs , offers voices that are remarkably natural and human-like. This advanced voice quality and speech options significantly surpasses the often mechanical-sounding tones of Mac's built-in system voices. Users experience a more engaging and pleasant listening experience, making the software ideal for a wide range of applications.

Greater Customization and Control

Specialized text-to-speech programs provide extensive customization options. Users can choose from a diverse array of voice types and have greater control over speech modulation and patterns. This level of customization, which is not available in Mac’s in-built functionality, allows for a tailored auditory experience to suit specific preferences and needs.

Enhanced Language and Accent Options

Unlike the limited language and accent options in Mac's system, dedicated text-to-speech software offers a broad selection. This variety caters to a global audience, making it an invaluable tool for users who require content in multiple languages and dialects. Whether you’re looking for English, Spanish, or Arabic text-to-speech options, ElevenLabs has you covered.

Superior Contextual Understanding

The advanced algorithms in specialized text-to-speech software result in a superior understanding of context and nuances in text. This leads to more accurate and contextually appropriate speech output, ensuring that the synthesized voice conveys the intended message effectively and accurately.

Reliability and Support

Dedicated text-to-speech software providers typically offer reliable performance and robust customer support—a key combination. This level of service ensures users have assistance readily available, a benefit not always matched by built-in operating system features. Some providers even have dedicated how-to tutorials. The reliability and support offered make these programs a dependable choice for professional voiceovers and personal use.

Ongoing Development and Innovation

Specialized text-to-speech (TTS) software is often at the cutting edge of technology, with ongoing development and innovation. These continuous improvements ensure users have access to the latest advancements in speech synthesis, a level of innovation that built-in systems like Mac’s may not regularly receive.

In conclusion, dedicated text-to-speech software offers numerous advantages over Mac's built-in functionality, including superior voice quality, extensive customization, diverse language options, constantly updated new voices, enhanced contextual understanding, reliable performance, and continuous innovation. These benefits make it an ideal choice for users seeking an advanced, adaptable, and high-quality text-to-speech experience.

Final Thoughts

Choosing ElevenLabs' dedicated text-to-speech software over Mac's built-in functionality offers a vastly superior experience. 

ElevenLabs provides exceptionally natural and engaging voices, extensive customization options, and a broad range of languages and accents. Its advanced algorithms ensure accurate contextual understanding and pronunciation, enhancing the effectiveness of the spoken word. 

Coupled with reliable performance, continuous innovation, and strong customer support, ElevenLabs represents a significant upgrade in quality and versatility. It’s the ideal choice for those seeking a more immersive, personalized, and sophisticated text-to-speech experience.

Try ElevenLabs today

macOS User Guide

  • What’s in the menu bar?
  • Work on the desktop
  • Search with Spotlight
  • Quickly change settings
  • Get notifications
  • Open apps from the Dock
  • Organize your files in the Finder
  • Connect to the internet
  • Browse the web
  • Preview a file
  • Take a screenshot
  • Change your display’s brightness
  • Adjust the volume
  • Use trackpad and mouse gestures
  • Use Touch ID
  • Print documents
  • Keyboard shortcuts
  • Apps on your Mac
  • Work with app windows
  • Use apps in full screen
  • Use apps in Split View
  • Use Stage Manager
  • Get apps from the App Store
  • Install and reinstall apps from the App Store
  • Install and uninstall other apps
  • Create and work with documents
  • Open documents
  • Mark up files
  • Combine files into a PDF
  • Organize files on your desktop
  • Organize files with folders
  • Tag files and folders
  • Back up files
  • Restore files
  • Change System Settings
  • Choose your desktop wallpaper
  • Add and customize widgets
  • Use a screen saver
  • Add a user or group
  • Add your email and other accounts
  • Automate tasks with Shortcuts
  • Create Memoji
  • Change your login picture
  • Change the system language
  • Make text and other items on the screen bigger
  • Set up a Focus to stay on task
  • Set up Screen Time for yourself
  • Use Dictation
  • Send emails
  • Send text messages
  • Make a FaceTime video call
  • Edit photos and videos
  • Use Live Text to interact with text in a photo
  • Start a Quick Note
  • Get directions
  • Work across devices using Continuity
  • Use iPhone as a webcam
  • Use iPhone with Desk View
  • Stream audio and video with AirPlay
  • Use one keyboard and mouse to control Mac and iPad
  • Hand off between devices
  • Unlock your Mac with Apple Watch
  • Make and receive phone calls on your Mac
  • Sync music, books, and more between devices
  • Manage Apple ID settings
  • Set your Apple ID picture
  • What is iCloud?
  • What is iCloud+?
  • Store files in iCloud Drive
  • Share and collaborate on files and folders
  • Manage iCloud storage
  • Use iCloud Photos
  • What is Family Sharing?
  • Set up Family Sharing
  • Set up Screen Time for a child
  • Share purchases with your family
  • Watch and listen together with SharePlay
  • Share a Photo Library
  • Collaborate on projects
  • Find content shared with you
  • Find your family and friends
  • Play games with your friends
  • Listen to podcasts
  • Watch TV shows and movies
  • Read and listen to books
  • Read the news
  • Track stocks and the market
  • Apple Music
  • Apple Arcade
  • Apple News+
  • Podcast shows and channels
  • Manage subscriptions in the App Store
  • View Apple family subscriptions
  • Guard your privacy
  • Use Mail Privacy Protection
  • Control access to your camera
  • Use Sign in with Apple for apps and websites
  • Set up your Mac to be secure
  • Keep your data safe
  • Create a passkey
  • Understand passwords
  • Keep your Apple ID secure
  • Find a missing device
  • Get started with accessibility features
  • Connect an external display
  • Use the built-in camera
  • Connect a Bluetooth device
  • Use AirPods with your Mac
  • Optimize your Mac battery life
  • Optimize storage space
  • Burn CDs and DVDs
  • Control accessories in your home
  • Use Windows on your Mac
  • Resources for your Mac
  • Resources for your Apple devices

speech to text macbook pro

Change the voice your Mac uses to speak text

You can change the voice your Mac uses to speak text in a window or in alert messages.

Choose a voice

speech to text macbook pro

Click Spoken Content on the right.

Open Spoken Content settings for me

Click the “System voice” pop-up menu, then choose a voice.

To adjust how fast the voice speaks, drag the “Speaking rate” slider.

Click Play Sample to test the voice and speaking rate.

Add a new voice

You can add voices to the “System voice” pop-up menu. If you add a voice that’s not on your Mac, it’s automatically downloaded from Apple (you must be connected to the internet).

Click the “System voice” pop-up menu, then choose Manage Voices.

Do any of the following:

speech to text macbook pro

Find a voice for another language: Click the name of the language in the sidebar. (You may need to scroll down on the left.)

To show more voices for the current language, such as for another country or region, you may need to scroll down on the right.

When you’re done adding voices, click OK.

Click the “System voice” pop-up menu, then choose a voice you added.

Voices that are downloaded aren’t available until the download is complete.

Delete a downloaded voice

You can delete a voice that you downloaded to your Mac.

speech to text macbook pro

If your computer is speaking and you want it to stop, try one of these solutions:

In the menu bar of the app you’re using, choose Edit > Speech > Stop Speaking.

If VoiceOver (the built-in screen reader) is speaking, press Command-F5 to turn it off. If your Mac or Magic Keyboard has Touch ID , you can also press and hold the Command key while you quickly press Touch ID three times.

COMMENTS

  1. Dictate messages and documents on Mac

    In an app on your Mac, place the insertion point where you want the dictated text to appear. Press if available in the row of function keys, use the Dictation keyboard shortcut, or choose Edit > Start Dictation. Note: Press and release to start Dictation; press and hold to activate Siri (Siri must be enabled).

  2. How to transcribe audio to text using Dictation on a Mac

    You'll use that to activate dictation later. Make sure you have your Mac's microphone selected, then open up TextEdit and create a new document: Activate the dictation shortcut (e.g. press the dictation key), then start playing back your audio file through your Mac's speakers. The mic should pick up the audio and start transcribing live into ...

  3. Best Dictation Software For Mac of 2024 (Free & Paid)

    In our research and testing, we found that the best dictation software on a Mac is Otter (Free) which offers incredible levels of accuracy and speed especially for transcribing conversations or meetings. Quick Navigation [ hide] 1. Otter (Free) 2. Dragon Dictate (Best For Accuracy) 3. macOS Dictation (Best Apple App) 4.

  4. MacBook tips: How to use speech-to-text to dictate in macOS

    6) Click Enable Dictation to allow Apple to use the recording. 7) In any document processor, click the Dictate icon and start speaking. 8) To change the default language, click the down arrow to ...

  5. How to Dictate on a Mac so It Types Out Your Speech

    How to set up dictation on a Mac. 1. Click the Apple logo in the top-left toolbar, then choose "System Preferences." 2. Select "Keyboard." Click on Keyboard in System Preferences. Devon Delfino ...

  6. How to Use Dictation in macOS: A Comprehensive Resource

    From your Mac, go to Apple > System Settings from the menu bar. Scroll down to the bottom and select Keyboard from the sidebar. On the right, select Dictation and ensure it is enabled. You may be ...

  7. Dictation on Mac: How to Use Voice-to-Text Typing

    Here's how -. 1. Head over to the System Preferences, and select Keyboard. 2. In the Keyboard settings tab, tap on Dictation and select the On radio button next to Dictation. Once enabled, you ...

  8. Commands for dictating text on Mac

    For supported languages, Dictation also adds certain punctuation automatically as you dictate text. If you need additional commands to edit and format text and to control your Mac, use Voice Control. For example, you can speak commands to select or delete text, capitalize or italicize words, or press the Return key. See Use Voice Control commands.

  9. How to Use Dictation on a Mac for Voice-to-Text Typing

    Double-press the Fn button to start dictating on your Mac. You should see a microphone icon appear or hear a macOS confirmation tone. If this is your first time using Dictation, click OK in the popup window to confirm you want to use it. After activating Dictation, start saying what you want to type to see it appear on screen.

  10. Use dictation to enter text in Pages on Mac

    Use dictation to enter text in Pages on Mac. Place the insertion point where you want to begin dictating, or select the text you want to replace (to select placeholder text, click it). Choose Edit > Start Dictation (from the Edit menu at the top of your screen). If you haven't used dictation before, follow the guided setup instructions that ...

  11. MacBook Speech to Text: How to Dictate Text on MacBook

    Step 1: Access System Settings. Click on the Apple menu in the top-left corner of your screen and select "System Settings" to set the system preferences for the voice to text feature. Step 2: Navigate to Keyboard Settings. Within System preferences, click on "Keyboard" in the sidebar. Step 3: Turn Off Dictation.

  12. How to use Dictation on macOS Ventura

    In an app on your Mac, click where you would like to insert your text. Turn on dictation by either pressing the dictation button on your keyboard or clicking Start Dictation under the Edit menu ...

  13. Is there a way of converting voice memos to text?

    Here is the great and detailed article on the subject: How to transcribe audio to text using Dictation on a Mac. Google Way. Use Google Docs if you have [free] Google account. Just open Google Docs and select Voice Typing, then start your Voice Memo. Google shall transcribe everything into text. Official Google Docs Help for Voice Typing.

  14. Dictate your documents in Word on Mac

    Start Dictation. 1. To turn on Dictation, click Home > Dictate. 2. Click on the Dictate button and wait for the red dot to appear. 3. Start talking and notice that the spoken text appears on your screen. If you see a mistake, simply move your cursor to fix it and move it back to continue dictating. You do not need to toggle off the Dictate ...

  15. How to Easily Transcribe Audio and Video on Your Mac

    Here's the Prescription for Automatic Transcription. 1. On your Mac, open System Preferences. 2. In the System Preferences window, select Dictation and Speech. 3. In the Dictation and Speech window, select the option to turn dictation on, and make sure to select the appropriate microphone input. On most systems, the Internal Microphone will ...

  16. How to Transcribe Audio to Text on Mac

    Go to the Dictation tab. Turn on Dictation. Accept the terms of the Dictation service. Note the Dictation shortcut. Select your Mac's microphone via the microphone icon. Open TextEdit. Create a new document. Use the Dictation shortcut. Begin playing your audio or video file through your Mac's speakers.

  17. How To Enable The Speech To Text Mac Shortcut In macOS

    Click on the Dictation sub menu. Turn on Dictation. If you're asked if you want to improve Siri and Dictation, click Not Now. Choose a Language. To dictate using another language besides English, click the Language pop-up menu, then choose a language and dialect. Apple > System Preferences > Keyboard > Dictation > On.

  18. Have your Mac speak text that's on the screen

    Customize how spoken text appears on the screen. On your Mac, choose Apple menu > System Settings, then click Accessibility in the sidebar. (You may need to scroll down.) Click Spoken Content on the right. Open Spoken Content settings for me. By default, your Mac speaks text when you press the keyboard shortcut Option-Esc.

  19. How to get your Mac to read text out loud to you

    Click the Apple icon in the menu. Click System Preferences. Click Accessibility. In the left-hand panel, select Spoken Content. Click the tickboxes next to the options you want enabled. Spoken ...

  20. How to Do Text to Speech on Mac

    Setting Up Text to Speech on Your Mac. Enabling text-to-speech on your Macbook or Apple desktop is a straightforward process. Here's how you can set it up and customize it to fit your needs: Enabling Speak Selection. First, access your Mac's System Settings and click on 'Accessibility' in the sidebar.

  21. Hear your Mac read documents

    In an app on your Mac, do any of the following: Hear an entire document: Choose Edit > Speech > Start Speaking. Hear part of a document: In a document, select the text you want to hear, then choose Edit > Speech > Start Speaking. Stop the speaking: Choose Edit > Speech > Stop Speaking. Your Mac can read aloud documents, webpages, messages, and ...

  22. Is there a way to do Speech-to-Text? : r/macbook

    Absolutely! If you're looking for a versatile and powerful speech-to-text app that's available for your MacBook Pro as well as your iPhone and iPad, you might want to try Transcription - speech to text. It offers an impressive range of features to make transcription efficient and user-friendly: Available for iPhone, iPad, Mac.

  23. Change the voice your Mac uses to speak text

    On your Mac, choose Apple menu > System Settings, then click Accessibility in the sidebar. (You may need to scroll down.) Click Spoken Content on the right. Click the "System voice" pop-up menu, then choose a voice. To adjust how fast the voice speaks, drag the "Speaking rate" slider. Click Play Sample to test the voice and speaking rate.