Use Voice Recognition – For Mac OS

How To Set Up And Customise The Speech-Recognition Feature On Your Operating System.

If you are a slow typist, or have difficulty or discomfort when using a keyboard, software that allows you to enter text and interact with your computer by talking to it might help. Some people who have difficulty with words – with conditions such as dyslexia – can also find it helpful. These guides explain how to run and customise the voice-recognition feature of your operating system (Windows or Mac ) to better suit your needs. There are also third-party software applications available.

Here’s how to do this…

  • Run voice recognition on your computer

Set up the speech-recognition feature on your operating system and customise it to suit your needs.

  1. Windows 7
  2. Mac OS X

How To Use Voice Recognition In Mac OS X

This page explains step-by-step how to set up and use Speakable Items, the built-in voice-recognition function in Mac OS X. This provides voice recognition for hands-free control of a computer. However, it is not for speech dictation and lacks the advanced functionality and integration that commercial software can offer.

Note: The following abbreviations for keys on the Mac are used: Ctrl is used for the Control key, Apple is used for the Command key, and Alt is used for the Option key. For keyboard access, make sure ‘Full keyboard access’ is turned on – you can turn it on or off by pressing Ctrl + F1 at any time.

Step 1: Open the ‘Speech’ window

Make sure you are in ‘Finder’. If necessary, press Apple + Tab to cycle through the open applications until you return to ‘Finder’.

Click on the ‘Apple‘ icon on the menu bar or press Ctrl + F2.

Click on ‘System Preferences‘, as shown in Fig 1, or press the down arrow key to highlight it and then press Enter.

Fig 1

In the ‘System Preferences’ window (shown in Fig 2), click on the ‘Speech‘ icon, or press Tab repeatedly (you might need to press Ctrl + F7first) to cycle through the icons until the ‘Speech‘ icon is highlighted and then press the Spacebar.

Fig 2

Step 2: Turn on and use Speakable Items

In the ‘Speech’ window, make sure the ‘Speech Recognition‘ tab is selected, as shown in Fig 3. If it is not, click on it, or press Ctrl + F7 to highlight one of the tabs and then press the left or right arrow key to select it.

Fig 3

Click the ‘On‘ radio button next to ‘Speakable Items‘, or press Tab to highlight the ‘Off’ radio button and then press the left arrow key to switch Speakable Items on. This will open the Speakable Items window, which looks like a round microphone (shown in Fig 4).

By default, you need to press and hold the Esc key while speaking. However, you can change this by clicking on the ‘Change Key‘ button, or press Tab until it is highlighted and then press the Spacebar. If you’d rather not use the keyboard, select the radio button beside ‘Listen continuously with keyword‘ and change the settings below to customise this feature.

Speakable Items can recognise a number of commands, which are listed in the ‘Speakable Items’ folder. To look at them, click on the bottom of the small, round Speakable Items window, as shown in Fig 4, and select ‘Open Speech Commands window‘ from the drop-down menu.

Fig 4

When you are happy with your settings click the red close button at the top of the ‘Speech’ window, or press Apple + W to close the window and return to the desktop.

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