Dragon Naturally Speaking – keeping it going with Catalina

I am starting an FAQ about dragon for users who would like to keep their current version of Dragon going for as long as they can. (Dragon have closed down all their technical support, including their old forums.) Read on for details.

Ten years ago Dragon finally arrived on the Apple Macintosh platform. It was the first ever usable speech recognition engine for Macintosh and a very exciting day for those Who had struggled through the days of Philips dictate and IBM ViaVoice! Since then Dragon has slowly but surely improved, with better accuracy and better stability with every release.

In the last couple of years however, Dragon seemed to falter. It became harder and harder for them to develop on the Apple platform. Not long before they stopped developing their Apple product a senior developer from Nuance contacted me to speak about their growing frustration with Apple. He had two lawyers in the room and was very limited to what he could say, I assume it was because of fear of being sued by Apple. I have heard this story again and again from developers who are trying to work with active. And I have sadly watched Nuance’s growing frustration with Apple that finally led them to stop supporting the OSX version of Dragon last year.

This is indeed a sad say, not just because of the loss of speech recognition but because this goes against everything Apple stood for. Steve Jobs was an advocate for the advancement of all kinds of creative technologies. I do not believe he would have allowed this to happen under his watch without either buying Nuance out or developing their own version of Siri used for dictation. But as it stands, there is no longer a version of Dragon for OSX being developed. Given the level of difficulty that Apple have caused Nuance, it seems unlikely that it will return anytime soon. This is the end. All we have left is the possibility of keeping our current version going as long as we can. (Or switching to a PC so as to have access to Dragon again.)

Will Dragon work with Catalina?

Yes the latest version of Dragon is 64 bit and works fine with Catalina. In fact, ironically, Dragon 6.0.8 Running under Catalina is the most stable version of Dragon that I have ever owned! So if you already have Dragon installed you can upgrade to Catalina and it should keep working.

I currently have Dragon version 6 working on my 2015 MacBook Pro as well as my 2018 Mac Mini, both running Catalina.

Can I still install a new version of Dragon on my computer?

I was told by Dragon support that their registration database is broken and that they are unable to add new serial numbers. But according to the comments below people have been able to purchase a new version of Dragon (in Feb 2021) and still have it register via the Dragon database. So it appears that the registration of a newly purchased version of Dragon still works.

As of Fab 2021 can still purchase a new version of Dragon from here:


It will work on any OS including Big Sur on an intel Mac (i5, i7) but not on a newer M1 Mac.

I am running Dragon on a 2020 4 port thunderbolt i7 MacBook Pro.

If I buy a new computer can I transfer my version of Dragon across to it from my old computer?

The activation engine is still working in Catalina. Dragon technical support are saying that it no longer works in Catalina but I was able to verify that it does work (see the screenshot below that I just took today – June 2020).

This means that you can deactivate your version of Dragon on one computer and then activate it using the same serial number on a different computer. I have done this multiple times and can confirm that it works. If anyone finds that this stops working please let me know!

You can activate your version, but when you get to this screen below you will have to do skip because the registration does not work.

Dragon Registration is still working in Catalina

How many different computers can I have my version of Dragon activated on?

I have Dragon activated on 2 of my computers – my laptop and my desktop. I tried to install it on a new laptop that I purchased and it would not activate until I went into my old laptop and deactivated it there. This leads me to believe that you can have it running on up to 2 computers at once.

It is possible that I deleted Dragon from various computers and I forgot to deactivate them first. This means that my activation is lost forever – I cannot recover them. So it may work on 3 or more computers, but I could not activate it on a third computer I could only use two.

If I have lost my old computer – can I get my serial number reset?

No. If you happen to sell your computer with it still connected to your Dragon account or your computer dies and you are unable to de-activate it, it is stuck forever. This is even the case if you formatted the hard drive and deleted dragon from the computer. One of your Dragon activations is still locked to the serial number of that computer. Unless you go in and deactivate Dragon on that computer, it is locked to that computer forever.

I rang Dragon to talk to them about this. I accidentally reformatted my hard drive and sold my laptop without deactivating Dragon first. Dragon no longer have access to the registration database. When they were still operating they were able to go into the database and reset your number of activations to zero again so that Dragon would stop working on your old computers but work on your new ones. But Dragon technical support told me that their database is not accessible to them so if you happen to lose your computer your Dragon activation is gone with it.

For this reason, if you want to continue you to use Dragon, you need to be very careful about your activations. If your computer looks like it is dying or if you plan on selling it make sure you deactivate your Dragon first so that you can use it in another computer.

How do I deactivate my Dragon serial number?

The Dragon serial number is linked to the computer that you activated on. The only way that you can deactivate it is by opening Dragon on that computer and selecting ‘Licence’ then ‘Deactivate.’

Make sure you deactivate Dragon before you dispose of your computer or sell it.

How do I install Dragon onto to a new computer?

The best ways to make sure that you have a copy of your original Dragon installer. So the best way is just to run the installer.

If for any reason that does not work you can copy the files across manually and they still work.

  • The Dragon application is in the applications folder of your computer.
  • The Speech engine data and licence key is in
    Library/Application Suppport/Dragon
  • All your personal settings including commands and profiles are in
    ~Library/Application Support/Dragon

Whichever way you do it, using the installer or copying the files across manually, you will still need to activate the program when you first run it. This means you will need your serial number.

Is Siri or Google Dictate a good replacement for Dragon?

Siri and Google Dictate are remarkable pieces of software but they are not dictation software like Dragon was. This is because they do not adapt themselves personally to your voice. There is no way to correct their mistakes and train them to your own voice. Siri and Google Dictate are extremely versatile and have very high accuracy, in fact I would say that they are as good as Dragon is when Dragon first comes out of the box.

The problem is with Dragon, when it makes a mistake, if you correct it, it remembers that for ever and dictates it correctly the next time. Apple dictation (based on Siri) does not do this, nor does Google Dictate. They may adapt themselves to your voice, I am not sure, but they do not have their own trainable dictionaries based on your corrections and for this reason they continued to repeatedly make the same mistakes over and over again. There is no mechanism to correct them and train them like you do with Dragon.

Currently the only workable speech recognition for Apple is to run your old version of Dragon. I am so thankful that it was 64-bit compatible and continues to work with Catalina. Let’s hope that it keeps working for a little while longer.

If you have any further questions or comments or feedback please leave them in a comment below. It would be great to keep this document is updated for Dragon users.


33 responses to “Dragon Naturally Speaking – keeping it going with Catalina”

  1. Casper Badenhorst

    Thank u for the article. I needed the reassurance!

  2. G

    What is the title on your Dragon box/purchase order?
    The UPC code?
    Any other identifying information – could you provide a photo of the sides of the box with writing so I can validate that I am buying the proper copy?

  3. G

    I would like to purchase the same version you are using. Some are still selling a boxed version of 6. Can I update to the latest version?

    1. Just make sure you purchase the latest version of 6. Yes it still updates, or at least it did for me last week. Worst case, grab the 6.0.8 file from someone. The main thing is to make sure it’s already registered, and also has some spare activations. You can no longer register new purchases. The registration engine has been shut down by Nuance. But you can transfer existing registrations to other machines.

  4. Purplus website offers new copies of Dragon Professional 6 Mac. Both in retail box for physical shipment or download directly from Nuance.

    1. Nice – you sell version 6 still.
      Can you register it? Does Nuance still let you register a new version?

      1. Susan

        I purchased Dragon Professional Individual 6 for Mac from Purplus, and was able to register it and download the 6.0.8 update. I’m using it on Catalina and have not yet had any problems although I’ve just started to use it and have much to learn.

      2. Thanks for this reply Susan.

  5. Zach Zimmerman

    Thanks for the helpful article. If anyone is selling a used version of dragon dictate for Mac please comment here. Everything on eBay right now is old versions. One company is selling version 5 on eBay, but they are new retail boxes, which I believe would require a new serial number…? purplus.net/ has version 5 but it has a disclaimer that it doesn’t work with the latest version of Mac OS. Please help! thanks!

  6. Joe

    Hello, any suggestion on how to get Dragon 6 working in MS Catalina, MS Word 2019?
    Dragon will recognize my voice cmds – Go to sleep, Wake up, but will not type text in MS Word or Pages. Error msge says “Word failed to trigger this event.” It will enter in Text Edit.

  7. Peter Elias

    I have a registered copy of Dragon 5.0 working on Catalina. I know the serial number. Would I be able to install the 6.0 version and use that serial number?

    1. No the old 5 number will not work. Version 6 has different serial and registration.


    Hi, My version of Mac Dragon Dictate says Version 4.0.7 (13087). It fails when i check for updates, how can i update to version 6?

    1. You can’t upgrade from within the app, you need to purchase version 6 with a new serial number.


    I have Mojave currently installed. I have NOT moved to Catalina for fear that my Dragon Dictate 4.0 would stop working. I have ordered Dragon Dictate 6.0. A couple of questions:
    1) Can i have Dragon Dictate 6.0 use and build on my 4.0 speech training?
    2) Should i install Dragon Dictate 6.0 on my current OS THEN upgrade the OS to Catalina?
    3) Should I upgrade to Catalina and THEN install Dragon Dictate 6.0? Any Help is greatly appreciated! Russ

  10. I am running Dragon 5 on my lap top, upgraded from Dragon 4. I still have my Dragon 4 installation disc with its product key. Verskon 4 runs fine on my new 64bit iMac running Big Sur. When I try to upgrade to Dragon 5 on the new computer, it wants a different product key and I never wrote down the new number. Is it recoverable from my laptop or from Nuance?

    1. Yes you just open preferences, go to Licence and your serial number will be there!
      You should also inactivate it from old computers if you ar into using it anymore.
      I think you can have 3 activations.

  11. Susan Jormark

    Hi. One can purchase Dragon Professional from Purplus, but if it can’t be registered, will it work?

    1. I don’t think you can register new versions. You’ll need to but a 2nd hand version that’s already activated then deactivate it then reactivate it. I may be wrong…

      1. Susan Jormark

        I told Purplus that I understand that new copies can no longer be registered and asked them if it will work if not registered. they responded as follows: “That is not correct. It is a perpetual license that you can register and use the serial number to download the install file directly from esd.nuance.com.” I called Nuance and they told me that Purplus is incorrect. I cannot download the install file directly from esd.nuance.com, but his responses to my questions were somewhat fuzzy. He basically disapproved of buying from Purplus. I wanted version 6.0.8 and hoped it would work on Catalina. If you know anyone willing to let me use their licensed and registered app (I am willing to pay), please let me know.

  12. Susan Jormark

    As I indicated in the reply to Mari, I purchased Dragon Professional Individual 6 for Mac from Purplus, and was able to register it and download the 6.0.8 update. I’m using it on Catalina and have not yet had any problems although I’ve just started to use it and have much to learn.

    1. Well done Susan, this is great to know. Dragon is still alive and kicking!

      1. Susan Jormark

        Purplus has older versions of Dragon for Mac for purchase as well. Purchasers should be aware that Nuance no longer offers technical support for products for Mac. Hopefully technical support will not be needed.

  13. Ismail Soosiwala

    Good day. I have Dragon Nuance on a MacBook. I have lost the activation code. Is there anyway to
    Retrieve the activation code so I can install onto a newer MacBook? Thank you

    1. If you still have the only computer you can grab the activation code by running dragon and looking under account settings from the menu. Otherwise you may need to try emailing Dragon Support.

      1. Opening Dragon on the old computer and select ‘Licence’ then ‘Deactivate.’
        You can see the serial number there before you deactivate.
        Take a screenshot of it (shift-command-4).

  14. RUSS

    Thank you for your help, i upgraded to Catalina, and everything works! Has anyone gone further to later versions of Mac OS X?

  15. RUSS

    I know that this works on Catalina! Has anyone tried it with Big Sur?

  16. John Breda

    I have used Dragon Professional 6.0 on my MAC for several years. Last week I ran a program to remove some applications and it also changed how Dragon operates. I can no longer dictate into Pages, Google Chrome e-mail, Athena EMR, nor can I dictate this reply. It does respond when dictating into Microsoft Word, so I know that it can work. I recently purchased a new copy of Dragon Professional Individual for MAC. When I tried to install it, it loaded over the old version, in the same place, and used the old serial number. Nothing was fixed.

    Can you advise whether I should deactivate my old version and do a clean install. Please assist with how I might proceed. I do not want to uninstall my old version and not understand the consequences of doing so

  17. I’ve been moving Dragon Dictate from one Mac to another (High Sierra on iMac 2011 to new Mac Mini) but this method should work on any move.

    Reports have it that the Dragon licence information is in the user’s Library, but it isn’t. It is instead in the main Library: Macintosh HD > Library > Application Support > Dragon. In there are two files, the custom word dictionary file, and the licence.plist file. Open the licence file with Textedit and you will see the licence information at the top of the file after in the format XXXXX-XXX-XXXX-XXXX-XX.

    I applied this information into the licence box on the Mac Mini. After clicking to submit the information, I got a “submitting information” dialog and a progress bar which never completed. I force quitted the app and relaunched and hey presto it was registered. Unfortunately at this stage the app isn’t playing ball on the Mac Mini in Monterey in that a microphone setup dialog is giving me the beachball… I’ll post more if I resolve that.

    However, that apart, we now know how to get the serial number on a Mac, which will hopefully be helpful to some.

  18. Norman McFarlane

    I’ve just installed Dragon 6.0 for Mac on my new MacMini M1, running macOS Monterey 12.4. It starts and fails with a lengthy “Dragon quit unexpectedly” report which gets sent to Apple. Any thoughts on how to overcome this problem?

  19. Matthias

    Dragon for Mac 6.0.8 works fine on Big Sur, Monterey and even Ventura (just tested on beta release of macos Ventura).
    I upgraded my iMac i5 (2017) from one System to the next, and Dragon still works!
    (fresh installation on one of the mentioned OSes might fail – and Dragon requires Intel processors – doesn’ run on M1 or M2!)

  20. John Gironda

    A bit more history regarding Nuance/Dragon and speech to text for our Macs:

    — Dragon published Power Secretary for Macs back in the 1990s, and discontinued support abruptly in 1997. It was a several-hundred-dollar-program then ($599 or $499, I forget, but it was $100 more than the Windows version). I used speech to text in my business, so I wasn’t happy about it going away.

    — Several years after Dragon left us Mac users high and dry in 1997 (for the first time), a company produced “iListen” ($39.95) and then “iSpeech”. I bought my first copy in 2005. These were great programs, affordable, stable, and fairly easy to work with.

    — Then, I recall buying MacSpeech Dictate in 2009. I liked it, too.

    — Well, as many good things Mac go, iSpeech went away because Dragon bought them out….and then published the Dragon Dictate for Mac in 2013.

    — Then, as you know, Dragon stopped supporting Dragon Dictate for Mac in 2018 and leaving us Mac users high and dry a second time. And, as many people note/query about, what Dragon edition would work with which OSX edition seems to be a moving target. Sometimes Dragon would work with a subsequent OSX, then not.

    — Their restart of supporting Mac has been quiet (I was a registered owner and was never contacted about a new product. If you own Filemaker, you know about new products all the time. lol) which I thought was odd considering how strong Mac sales have been for several years. So, I can’t offer a “Seal of Trust” with Dragon.

    In the meantime, a work around I’ve used with success is my iPhone. It’s speech recognition is surprisingly good. Once I’ve completed dictation, I send it to my Mac for formatting (which, sometimes copy/paste/formatting was required for Dragon, too). Yes, I do miss the true dictation software.

    There are some other software, unfortunately, none that I’ve tried, at the following site. It lists nine versions compatible with Mac,

    This site shows two more speech/text software for Mac, one of which might be for call centers:

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