macOS: How to Start Using Mac Dictation

Mac Dictation is an Accessibility feature that lets you use your voice to interact with your computer. It’s similar to iOS Dictation, and you can enter text and use basic commands. Here’s how to get started.

Turn on Mac Dictation

To turn on Mac Dictation:

  1. Go to System Preferences.
  2. Click Keyboard.
  3. Click Dictation.

Here you’ll see various options. You can set up a Dictation keyboard shortcut, and the default is to press the Function (Fn) key twice.¬†Additionally, if you have macOS Sierra or later, you can use Siri to turn on Dictation.

Turning on Mac Dictation in System Preferences.
Turning on Dictation

The option to use Enhanced Dictation means that you can use Dictation even when you’re not connected to the internet. Pressing the Fn key twice will download Enhanced Dictation in your computer’s default language. Enhanced Dictation is available in OS X Mavericks 10.9 or later.

Clicking on the menu below the microphone will let you choose your input source. If you have AirPods, using that as a microphone is perfect.

To see a list of Mac dictation commands:

  1. Go to System Preferences.
  2. Click Accessibility.
  3. Click Dictation at the top of the Interacting section in the left menu.
List of Mac Dictation commands.
Dictation commands

Here you can get a list of commands you can use. You can also use Mac dictation to give your computer a hands-free Hey Siri command. Clicking on Dictation Commands will show you a list of default commands to use. If you click the box next to Enable Advanced Commands, you can edit the list to add custom commands or delete current ones.

3 thoughts on “macOS: How to Start Using Mac Dictation

  • 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.

    1. 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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