We recently published an article on how to make text bigger in Windows 10, a very helpful option for users who might be sight-impaired. These types of assistance features/options are available via Windows 10’s Ease of Access settings. In this article, I’ll be showing you how to access and use Window 10’s “Dictation” feature which is a native speech to text tool designed to help users who have difficulty typing due to arthritis or some other impairment. Obviously, you will need to have a microphone connected– the microphones built into webcams will work fine.
Enable Dictation In Windows 10
First off, to use this feature you’ll need to make sure two settings are turned on:
- Go to Settings > Privacy – Speech and switch on speech recognition (if not already set to On).
- Still in Settings > Privacy scroll down and click on Microphone in the left-hand panel. If you see the message, Microphone access for this device is on, you’re good to go. If not, click the Change button and switch it to On.
Using Dictation In Windows 10
In this example, I’ll be using a Word document but it works with just about anything that will accept text — Facebook posts, comments, email, dialogue boxes, etc. — just place your mouse cursor where you want to start the text and dictate away.
To initiate the Dictation feature hold down the Windows key and tap the H key. A small window will open in the top center of the screen which includes a microphone icon:
At first, the associated message will say “Initializing” and a few seconds later it will change to “Listening”. When “Listening” appears, that means it is ready for dictation. During dictation, if you don’t say anything for a little while, the microphone icon will change to a gray color. When you’re ready to continue dictating again, all you need do is click on the microphone icon, “Listening” will reappear, and you are good to go again.
You have to be careful how you insert punctuation. The feature works best if you complete full sentences at a time including punctuation as you go. For example, if you want it to type All is well here thank you. with a full stop at the end, you must include “full stop” at the end of the sentence without pausing– All is well here thank you full stop. And, if you want to include a comma between the “here” and “thank you” you would say, All is well here comma thank you full stop. I found it to be fairly accurate, considering my broad Australian accent, and the feature does learn as you go along so the more you use it the more accurate it will get. Here is what I dictated into a Word document:
It did struggle with “arthritic” but got it right on the third attempt. As I said, my Australian accent is probably mostly to blame. Microsoft has published a list of verbal commands that supposedly work with the Dictation feature: Dictation Commands. However, I could not find a backspace command that worked and had to do that manually using the keyboard.
The Dictation feature in Windows 10 does take a bit of getting used to but I only dabbled and I believe with more consistent use, including a little trial and error, it can quite easily be mastered. It would certainly be a terrific help for anyone who struggles with typing.
Give it a try, even if you have no problem typing. It is a bit of fun, plus it sure is surreal watching the text automatically appearing on the page– like the invisible man is typing.