Mac Dictation


  • How do I set up and use Dictation on a Mac computer?
  • The Dictation Commands feature allows you to speak to your Mac to make it perform certain actions. 

Turning on Dictation Commands 

Turn on Enhanced Dictation

  1. Open the Apple Menu > System Preferences. Select Keyboard, then click Dictation
  2. Turn on Dictation, then select Use Enhanced Dictation

About Enhanced Dictation

Enhanced Dictation is available in MacOS Mavericks (10.9) or later. Enhanced Dictation allows the below functions and features:

  1. You can dictate continuously.
  2. You can dictate without being connected to the Internet.
  3. Your words might convert to text more quickly.
  4. You can use dictation commands to tell your Mac what to do.
  5. Without Enhanced Dictation, your spoken words and certain other data are sent to Apple to be converted into text and help your Mac understand what you mean. As a result, your Mac must be connected to the Internet, your words might not convert to text as quickly, and you can speak for no more than 40 seconds at a time

List and Select Commands

  1. Open the Apple Menu > System Preferences. Select Accessibility,  and then select Dictation from the list on the left, and click Dictation Commands.

  1. A list of dictation commands will open. Use the checkboxes to turn commands on or off. Click a command to see which phrases work with that command. For example, “Undo that” works with several phrases, including “Undo this" and “Scratch that.” 
    1. You can select Enable Advanced Commands to get additional commands and create your own.

Using Dictation Commands

To use Dictation Commands you have enabled, you must first make your Mac listen for Dictation Commands. This can be done in a few ways:

  • Press the keyboard shortcut for starting dictation. The default shortcut is Fn Fn (press the Fn key twice). 
  • You can turn on the option Enable the dictation keyword phrase in the Dictation menu (Apple Menu > System Preferences > Accessibility). This will allow you to speak to your Mac to begin Dictation. 

When your Mac is is listening a microphone will be displayed to the left or right of the page, aligned with the insertion point. The input meter will rise and fall as you speak.

You can then speak any of the Dictation Commands you have enabled, you can even say "Show Commands" to display a list of the commands available to you.

Dictation learns the characteristics of your voice and adapts to your accent, so the more you use it, the better it understands you. If it doesn't understand you, learn what to do with the following link: If your Mac can’t recognize dictated text

To stop dictating, click Done below the microphone icon, press Fn once, or switch to another window.

Create Your Own Commands

After you select Enable Advanced Commands, an Add (+) button appears beneath the list of commands.

  1. Click the "Add" (+) button to add Undefined Command to the list of commands
  2. Click the Undefined Command to select it, then configure the below options.
    1. When I say: Enter the word or phrase that you want to speak to perform the action
    2. While Using: Choose whether your Mac performs the action only when you're using a particular app
    3. Perform: Choose the action to perform. You can open a Finder item, open a URL, paste text, paste data from the clipboard, press a keyboard shortcut, select a menu item, or run an Automator workflow. 

About Dictation and Privacy

To learn about Dictation and privacy, choose Apple Menu > System Preferences, click Keyboard, click Dictation, then click the About Dictation & Privacy button. At all times, information collected by Apple is treated in accordance with Apple’s Privacy Policy.

Additional Information

  • To learn more about dictation, choose Help from the Finder menu bar, and search for "Dictation"
  • To use dictation on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, tap the microphone on the onscreen keyboard, then speak. Consult your iPhone or iPad user guide for details.
  • If the Slow Keys or Sticky Keys feature is turned on in the Accessibility pane of System Preferences, the default keyboard shortcuts for dictation might not work. If you need to use those accessibility features, create a custom dictation shortcut: Choose Apple menu > System Preferences, click Keyboard, click Dictation, then choose “Customize” from the Shortcut menu.
  • If you require assistance setting up Dictation, please feel free to call TechSupport at (909) 469-5432 or visit our HEC TechSupport office in HEC 1031. Our open hours are Monday - Thursday 7:30am-5:30pm and Fridays 10:00am-5:30pm.


Article ID: 87946
Fri 9/27/19 11:52 AM
Mon 5/9/22 12:53 PM