How to dictate to your Macintosh with good accuracy

I have  previously reviewed MacSpeech Dictate but here are some tips on how to use it well.


The software itself is fairly simple to use and it takes you through all the necessary setup,  but I found one of the most important things in achieving good recognition was to have a consistent microphone setup.  I have tried various microphones,  headset,  handheld,  and while there is some small difference between the microphones,  is more important that whatever the microphone you have, you use it consistently.

By consistently I mean  speak with the same tone of voice,  speak exactly the same distance from the microphone each time you use the software,  and speak using the same volume.

For  while I was using a handheld wireless SM58  to dictate into the computer and I found  that when I used it properly,  keeping it about 10 mm from my mouth, this achieved the greatest accuracy of any of the microphones I have used. But  it became a bit unusable in that I had to hold my hand up to my mouth all the time and keep my head exactly the right distance from it.  If I spoke a bit further away the accuracy would drop.

Now  I use a headset microphone – a Samson airline QV. The advantage  is that each time I clip it onto my head the microphone is exactly the same distance from my mouth.  I can walk around the room, tilt my head,  looked different directions, and the microphone stays consistently the same distance from my mouth,  resulting in excellent recognition.

I can now dictate as I walk around the room using my wireless headset. The accuracy with the SAMSON microphone is incredible. Note that you have to re-train the software if you change microphones.

My suggestion would be to buy the basic Macspeech dictate with the built in microphone and get used to using it.

Then if you decide you want to go hand-free, get a SAMSON QV headset and go wireless!


The  built-in training of Mac speech dictate is excellent.  You read into the computer  for about 5 to 10 minutes and it learns from your voice.

My first suggestion is to  discipline yourself to dictate into the Mac speech Dictate application itself  for a week or two,  taking the opportunity to train every word that the computer mis-recognises,  so that it learns from its mistakes.  After this  you can cut yourself loose and dictate straight into pages,  Safari,  iWeb and so on. But I find  that when I am dictating into these other programs,  I tend not to use  the built in correction – it’s faster just to go back and select a word and retype it in. When you are first training your computer it’s worth the effort to get it to retrain its mistakes.


Be aware that it does take a bit of training –  not of the computer but of yourself –  to get the full efficiency out of  Mac speech dictate.  You have to learn certain phrases like ‘scratch that’, ‘microphone off’, ‘cap’, ‘begin quote’, ‘end quote’, ‘full-stop’, ‘new-line’ and so on.   More importantly,  you have to train yourself to speak clearly.  Not slowly, but clearly.  Dictate  can process my speech no matter how quickly I speak,  problem is that when I speak fast I tend to speak less clearly. Quite often when the computer makes a mistake I playback what I spoke and the mistake was not the computer’s recognition but the fact that I did not speak clearly.  Training yourself to speak clearly is probably the most important element in achieving good speech recognition.


I found  that my dictation style changed over time, so after using Mac speech dictate for a few months, I went back and created  a new user and retrained  it from scratch –  giving be even better accuracy.  I think the main reason for this is that using Mac speech dictate has trained me to speak more clearly and pronounce my letters more accurately. The  problem was that when I first trained Mac speech dictate my speaking was a bit sloppy and I slurred some of my words.  So going back and retraining Mac speech dictate resulted in improved accuracy because I now speak more clearly.


I use Mac speech dictate all the time.  I am using it to write this article straight into  my web browser.  I use it to write my e-mails straight into Apple mail.  I use it for all my wordprocessing in pages.  Probably the limit for me  is that if I was doing less than one sentence I would type it by hand,  otherwise I will throw on the headset and dictate.

The accuracy  is not 100%.  In this particular article I have had to  edit about one word per sentence.  The  way I do it is that I speak a sentence,  then read over what I have spoken to make sure it makes sense,  editing any mistakes as I go.

Overall MacSpeech Dictate a great piece of software that has revolutionised the way I use my computer. If  you find yourself doing a lot of typing I would certainly recommend it!

You can buy Macspeech Dictate direct from Macspeech.

Other posts on Speech recognition:


16 responses to “How to dictate to your Macintosh with good accuracy”

  1. […] There is a newer article reviewing the latest version of Dictate here. (The problems mentioned in the article below have been […]

  2. Tim Saunig

    I am looking for a dicta phone that has the software to change voice to text on the computer.
    I have a mac, and your article sounds like this software is impressive.
    Do you know of anything to recommend?
    I was looking into the Olympus, Vn 550 p c dns but that software is not compatible with mac’s.


  3. Psy577

    One thing is not clear to me: does macspeech dictate INCLUDE macspeech scribe or not??

    1. No it’s a separate program.

  4. Josh

    I’m interested in installing dictate onto my laptop and using it in my car! If I used the headset as you’ve described, would it work in that environment?

    1. You’d need a real good noise cancelling headset – but worth a try! Let me know how it goes…

  5. EMMEE

    what type of samsung wireless headset do you use?

    1. It’s not Samsung, It’s a SAMSON – a drummers/singers headset mic. Samson QV.

  6. Kori

    My son was recently in an explosion and does not want to put off going to college because of the accident. He has very limited use of his hands. Can you give a list of everything he will need to be successful. I am a little confused on all the pieces he will need to be up and running. He will be using a Mac Book Pro.

    Thank you.

  7. Hi Kori,
    Pretty much the above article explains it. I’m sure the headset will be the best way to go.
    You’ll need:
    Macbook pro
    Macspeech dictate.
    Andrea pure audio usb audio interface (or a Griffin iMic would do a similar job)
    6.5mm (female) to 3.5mm (male) mono adapter – radioshack
    6.5mm short mono guitar lead
    Samson QV headset microphone and receiver with power supply.
    I’ll post a picture of the adapter setup on the post above.
    You could buy all these in one go from including the adapter plugs, you’ll pay a bit more but get good help and service. Or else you can source all the parts from amazon and radioshack and do it yourself.

  8. scott

    I would love to see Apple take over the engineering and improvement of the Dragon Speach technology and share in the profit from marketing the new version. I have been using a PC for 5 months now and can’t wait to get another Mac. There’s a good reason why a Mac costs more on average then the PC — it’s the same reason that a Mercedes costs more than a Volks Wagen — it’s better.

  9. Kevin

    You do appear to have quite a few double spaces in your post. This issue is a concern when writing articles without sophisticated editing facilities. In word I can search and replace double spaces, but in a text editing program I cannot.

    1. Yep, Dragon inserts a lot of double spaces. :-(
      You can see them in lots of the posts here. Very frustrating!
      I should really search and replace every article – what a pain!!!!

  10. Is there a way to increase the pause delay before Dictation inserts a capitalization?

    I pause several times, just very briefly when I dictate, and I find I am constantly spending time, going back and editing out the caps and spaces that it automatically inserts.

    1. Here is an example of what I mean,It seems thatWhen IPause just a little bit, ItEntersThe next word withCapitalization after the previous word. So, I find that I and spending more timeGoing back and editingAfter a dictation.

      1. That is definitely a bug – I would contact support.

        You could also follow the instructions here:

        to make sure you have done a fresh installation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.