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You could type your documents the old-fashioned way in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, but why not dictate the text instead? Based on a Microsoft Garage project that was developed to test dictation in Office applications, Dictate has now been implemented across Microsoft Word for OfficePowerPoint for Officethe free Word for the webthe free OneNote for the web, and the free OneNote app for Windows If you have a subscription for Officelaunch Microsoft Word and open a document.

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Windows has long offered a screen reader and text-to-speech feature called Narrator. This tool can read web s, text documents, and other files aloud, as well as speak every action you take in Windows. Narrator is specifically deed for the visually impaired, but it can be used by anyone.

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When the first modern version of dictation software arrived on the scene, Titanic was the top-grossing movie. It wasand a Massachusetts company had released dictation software called Dragon NaturallySpeaking, a big improvement over their version where you had to pause after each word. Speak a message free home edition idea, as the name implied, was that you could speak naturally. But even this much-refined software left a lot to the imagination.

I was an early adopter, filled with hope that I could talk and let the software effortlessly capture my words. It didn't quite work out that way. I spent hours "training" my voice, only to still have every third or fourth word either missed or mistranscribed.

Fortunately, today's dictation software is more Tesla than Model T. The technology is so prevalent, it's even built into your favorite devices and apps. Here, I'll walk you through the different types of speech-to-text software, why you should give them a try, and provide tips on getting the best.

And, of course, I'll provide a detailed review of our top picks for the best dictation software.

Apple Dictation for a free app for Apple devices. Windows 10 Speech Recognition for a free app for Windows users. Dragon Anywhere by Nuance for a customizable dictation app.

Google Docs voice typing for dictating in Google Docs. Gboard for a free mobile dictation app. SpeechTexter for occasional use. As you search online for dictation software, keep in mind that it can include all different types of apps and services.

Dictate in powerpoint

The terms dictation software, speech-to-text, voice recognition, voice-to-text, and speech recognition can all mean a program that converts your voice to text on a screen in real-time. But sometimes lumped into a search for these terms are products that provide something else entirely. For example, some products will transcribe audio files to text, but they do not transcribe your voice to text in real-time. Others market themselves as personal AI assistants performing all computer tasks using speech and may include a dictation component. And you may run across companies that provide transcription services—using humans to transcribe your voice files to text.

Speak a message free home edition are fine for scheduling meetings, playing music, and finding a place to eat, but they aren't deed to transcribe your articles, meetings, and other documents. For this review, we've focused on software, whether standalone or embedded in a device, meant for transcribing speech to text.

Why would you want to do that?

The best dictation software

For starters, dictation software provides accessibility to those with disabilities—both physical and language-based—to access technologies and be more productive. For example, if you're unable to use your hands, you can still operate a computer, create documents, and access the web with dictation technology. And those with chronic conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome can prevent the repetitive stresses that come with typing, simply by using their voice.

But as the technology has improved over the last 20 years and costs have come down, dictation software is now accessible to everyone as a tool to increase productivity almost instantly. Look no further than the changed working environment in the wake of COVID more working from home means more opportunity to do things like dictate s.

How to use narrator

Students can write papers and transcribe lectures into notes depending on the software's capabilities. And the casual user can dictate notes, a shopping list, a text, or a reminder while performing other tasks, making multi-tasking a reality. Think: taking a walk while "writing" your next novel.

It's amazing how far dictation software has come in the plus years since I first tried it. I wouldn't have recommended it back then for the casual user—it was too much work for too little reward. But now, it's actually enjoyable to see your words skip across the screen like you're dictating to your own personal assistant.

What is dictation software?

And with the use of artificial intelligence that recognizes your speech with more accuracy the more the apps are used, it's hard to go wrong—no matter the platform. For my tests, accuracy was the first element I looked at when deciding which software to choose. This was followed by ease of use, including the availability of voice commands. For example, does the software require the user to say, "insert period" vs.

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The latter, while maybe less intuitive at first, soon becomes second nature and saves time in the long run. Other considerations were the of languages and dialects supported and the versatility of a given app e. Though dictation software is pretty good at recognizing different voices, it's not perfect. Speak naturally with caveats. Dictation apps learn your voice and speech patterns over time. And if you're going to spend any time with them, you want to be comfortable.

Speak naturally.

Record your messages using speech recognition

When you dictate, you have to say each period, comma, question mark, and so forth. The software isn't smart enough to figure it out on its own.

Learn a few commands. Take the time to learn a few simple commands, such as "new line" to enter a line break. There are different commands for composing, editing, and operating your device. Commands may differ from app to app, so learn the ones that apply to the tool you choose.

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Know your limits. Especially on mobile devices, some tools have a time limit for how long they can listen, usually around 30 to 45 seconds. Glance at the screen from time to time to make sure you haven't blown past the mark. It takes time to adjust to voice recognition software, but it gets easier the more you practice.

Some of the more sophisticated apps invite you to train by reading passages or doing other short drills. Don't shy away from tutorials, help menus, and on-screen cheat sheets. With dictation software, your voice is captured by a microphone, which is included on your device computer, tablet, mobile or as part of a specific software suite e. For the occasional dictation user capturing notes and shopping lists, the built-in microphone should work fine. But if you're using it more intensely—consistently writing content, dictating meetings, sending s—consider something that more effectively nabs the sound waves from your voice.

To be fair for determining accuracy, I used the same word script for all tests. It has a variety of sentence lengths, a few industry-specific words, and several business names. And as mentioned, I used a mid-priced heet as a microphone.

My testing space had very little background noise. In the initial evaluation of 14 apps, I dictated the script one time using punctuation commands, noted accuracy as a percent of words missed or mistranscribed, and recorded my thoughts on ease of use and versatility.

Once I narrowed the final list down, I retested each app with the same script, recorded accuracy, and tried out other features such as file sharing and using the same software in multiple places e.

Keep in mind that many of these apps will become more accurate the more times you use them, so the accuracy s mentioned will likely improve with continued use. Look no further than your Mac, iPhone, or iPad for one of the best dictation tools. Apple's built-in Dictation feature, powered by Siri we'd be unsurprised if the two merged one dayships as part of Apple's desktop and mobile operating systems.

On iOS devices, you use it by pressing the microphone icon on the stock keyboard.

By default, Apple Dictation requires the internet to work and has a time limit of about 30 seconds for each smattering of speech. Enhanced Dictation adds a local file to your device so that you can dictate offline.

You can format and edit your Speak a message free home edition using simple commands, such as "new paragraph" or "select word. Apple also offers advanced commands for creating custom ones. Apple Dictation accuracy: On the word test, 11 words were inaccurate. The standard version is a bit annoying and inconvenient for anything longer than 40 seconds. For short messages on mobile devices, it works fine.

Enhanced Dictation is the way to go for continuous dictating. Apple Dictation supported languages: Enhanced Dictation supports 20 languages. Windows 10 Speech Recognition Windows. If you're a Windows 10 user, included on your PC is Microsoft's Speech Recognition feature—nothing additional to install or download.

A microphone icon and gray box will appear at the top of your screen. Make sure your cursor is in the space where you want to dictate. When it's ready for your dictation, it will say Listening. You have about 10 seconds to start talking before the microphone turns off. If that happens, just click it again and wait for Listening to pop up. To stop the dictation, click the microphone icon again or say "stop talking. Included are about three dozen dictation commands, such as punctuation where you simply need to say "period," "exclamation point," and so on.