OS X Mavericks: Using Enhanced Dictation

| TMO Quick Tip

Have you checked out Mavericks’ new Enhanced Dictation? No? Well, then, I am sad, and so are the poor, pitiful engineers at Apple who slaved over a hot keyboard making that feature for you. (Geez, my writing is weird. You’d think I was getting paid by the word or something. Blearghity blah blah blah Mac iOS words more words more words even more words.)

Anyway, you wanna check it out now, right? Right. So first, you’ll visit System Preferences> Dictation & Speech, select the Dictation tab, and make sure that the feature is toggled on. Then click the checkbox for “Use Enhanced Dictation.”

If you don’t see any indication that your language data is downloading immediately, go to a program like TextEdit or Mail, place your cursor in a new document or message, and double-tap the Function key as if you’re going to start dictating. That should force the Enhanced Dictation stuff to download if it didn’t do so when you turned it on.

(If that still didn’t work, check to make sure you haven’t changed the default “start dictation” shortcut under that same System Preferences> Dictation & Speech> Dictation tab.)

After the new content downloads and installs, try it out! It’s pretty cool in that you no longer have to have an Internet connection to use it—Enhanced Dictation relies on what Apple calls “Mac-based dictation” rather than “server-based dictation,” so your speech isn’t being translated by an off-site server. Also, you’re no longer constrained to only thirty seconds of speech, and because of that, you can go in and live-edit the dictated text. It’s pretty neat to watch the text change as your Mac analyzes what you say, and it sure makes dictation a more useful tool.

Or you could just be like me and use it for playing around. It’s amazing that anything ever gets done in my house.

Popular TMO Stories


Lee Dronick

Thanks! I am going to give it a try.

Frank Lowney 1

This is great but I’d like to be able to use this to create a text transcript of speech that I have already recorded.  Is there a way to re-rout recorded audio to this?  Maybe something like WireTap?


Yes, I want to know that answer as well!
I want a text transcript of previously recorded speech/audio.

Bonnie Harris

I need to use this for doing a lot of writing.  Is it better than dragon for Mac? And can anyone recommend a mic suitable for this and podcasting.

Raymond G. Whitham

For those who are multilingual, you can download more than 1 geographic sensitive language for dictation (i.e. English - United States & French - France or Canada).

Raymond G. Whitham

The language choice is in the same dialogue box as illustrated above, just under Use Enhanced Dictation.

Warren Jones

It doesn’t work for me. The closest I got to Enhanced Dictation was the first time I tried to use it.  I downloaded about half of the 785 MB in the program but that was as far as I got. It may be that my computer was temporarily disconnected during the download, but I can’t be sure about that. What I am sure about is that no subsequent attempt to download Enhanced Dictation got that far; in fact, every time since then that I’ve tried to use it, the “download"was only a mock download that lasted only a few seconds.

Melissa Holt

Hey Warren,

I haven’t seen that problem, but someone online was apparently having the same issue and was able to fix it by turning Dictation off, restarting the machine, and then turning it back on again. I’d try that and see if it works for you.


Log in to comment (TMO, Twitter or Facebook) or Register for a TMO account