Dragon Naturally Speaking arrives on the Macintosh!

[This article was written in 2010. For a more recent of Dragon click here.]

I’ve been waiting for almost 10 years for Dragon Naturally Speaking to arrive on the Macintosh!  And finally it’s here –  Dragon Dictate.


Despite being a long time Apple user user, in 1999 I purchased a PC (yes that’s right!) just to run Dragon Naturally Speaking. I would dictate to the PC and then copy files to my Mac on a thumb drive!
Dragon Naturally Speaking was by far the best voice recognition software – but sadly it was not available for the Apple platform.

Not long after that, IBM releasedViavoice for the Mac. Viavoice wasn’t as good as Dragon Naturally Speaking but it did the job (and meant I could get rid of the PC!)  I used ViaVoice for the next 6 years.

So personally it’s been a 10 year wait  for Dragon Naturally Speaking to arrive on the Macintosh – but finally it’s here! After using Macspeech Dictate since it’s release 2 years ago,  I can say Macspeech Dictate is far and away the best dictation software for the Mac. It is now up to version 2.0 which has been renamed ‘Dragon Dictate’.

‘At the core of MacSpeech Dictate is the world-renowned speech recognition engine, Dragon NaturallySpeaking.’

For those who have been limping along with iListen or Via Voice – you won’t believe the difference! The latest version – Dragon Dictate 2.0 – achieves almost full accuracy with just 5-6 minutes of training.

There are a few (small) weaknesses, the main one being that the correction and editing is not quite as good as with the PC version.  With Dragon Naturally Speaking  if I retrained a word it would never mistake it again.  Not so with Dragon Dictate.  There must be some difference between the way Dragon Naturally Speaking and Macspeech Dictate handle the retraining of words. Dragon Dictate is in my opinion still slightly behind the PC version.

That said,  it’s a fantastic product. I use it every day,  and I’d totally recommend that you try it out if you do a lot of typing or transcription work.  At the very least find a friend who has a copy and give it a trial! That’s what I did and I was hooked.

If you live in the USA it is available directly from Nuance (Macspeech):

Dragon Dictate for Mac 2.0


Click here to go to the Official Dragon site.

There is a ‘download only’ option which is great for international customers but you’ll need to find your own microphone.

Note to Australian Customers: you don’t need to select the ‘international language version’,  just the normal US version comes with Australian and UK speech files.

STOP PRESS:  I’ve made some videos here.

Other posts on Speech recognition:



86 responses to “Dragon Naturally Speaking arrives on the Macintosh!”

  1. Sam

    True, Dictate is a major improvement over iListen but that is because it is a port of the Windows based Dragon Dictate speech technology. Because iListen never really worked as promised, Dictate should have been offered as a free upgrade to all iListen users.

    It seems MacSpeech is getting a great deal of heat over customer service issues, product crashes and defective install disks. One attorney was suggesting a class action suite be considered in the MacWorld forum.

    MacSpeech has an opportunity to finally offer Mac users a speech to text product close to that available to Windows users for the last several years. Lets hope their limited staff and resources don’t cause them to drop the ball.

  2. paul

    Given the news stories circulating at the moment concerning the concentration of seriously dangerous bacteria living on our keyboards… business should boom!

    I’m going to disinfect my hands now.

  3. […] this previous review  of MacSpeech Dictate  I mentioned that as good as MacSpeech Dictate was, there were still a few […]

  4. brettbum

    Just curious if the updates every came? I’ve been using Dragon on the PC for a couple years now. There’s a long over due update for version 10 coming this week for Dragon (Version 10 of Dragon is the equivalent of MacSpeech Dictate which deubted about 8 months earlier).

    Anyway, there have been complaints from PC users that the updates weren’t fast enough on this one, and I’m curious how it feels in the Mac community…. :)

  5. Yep updates coming every few months.

  6. Dieter

    Do you mean there is now a McSpeech Dictate version 1.3 available?
    Is this version available in German language, for use on Mac OSX, version 10.5.5?

  7. mary

    I am working on a book and interview many people for an hour each. I am a Mac user and do not want to buy a pc just for a good solid speech recognition software.

    It has been a while since this post was created – a year and some change. What program do you suggest I purchase and why.

    Is the Dragon speak on PC that much better than anything I can get on a mac. I don’t want to spend many hours tweaking text. Thanks M

    1. Macspeech dictate is very good, but it won’t recognise their speech, only yours. It needs to be trained to the voice it is recognising, and requires you to speak clearly. I think it’s as good as the PC version now in terms of accuracy.

  8. dennis

    does anyone know if dictate will transcribe prerecorded files like dragon does?

  9. Anne J Robinson

    +1 for dennis’ question.

    Curiosity is burning a hole in my brain on this one, and it doesn’t say anywhere on the MacSpeech site that it handles pre-recorded interviews.

    I have a thick stack of reels to transcribe, and I would FAR prefer training a robot to handle the transcription than I would training (and paying) a bubblegum popping employee.

    $200 one-time up front is a far better value equation to me than a recurring bill for $25.00/audio hour * hundreds of hours of audio hours.

    Keep me posted, Gents and ladies!

  10. There is no ability to open an audio file and have macspeech dictate recognise it.

    You can’t open a file off your portable recorder and have Mac speech dictate transcribe it like what would happen with Dragon NaturallySpeaking on the PC.

    The only way that I can see around this would be to play an audio file from your Mac and then feed it back into the input of Mac speech dictate, perhaps with some software like sound flower, or the old-fashioned way with an audio lead connected from your mac’s sound out to the sound in connector.

    But keep in mind that the audio quality has to be very good and it have to be speaking straight into the microphone, and it certainly would not be able to do two voices like in an interview.

  11. Jean Williams

    Have they worked out the bug in Dictate, such as you described here?: “So why is it “not quite as good as Dragon NaturallySpeaking”? A few reasons. The most annoying is that there is a bug in it so that if you correct anything with your mouse and keyboard, it gets out of sync and loses it’s place, and you can’t keep dictating. So you must dictate by commands, which is tedious to say the least.”

    Also, have they added the “correction window” yet to Dictate?

    Please advise. I’m a Mac user, but I’m on the verge of buying a PC just to be able to use Dragon. Thoughts?

  12. Yes they have improved it dramatically form the first version, see the updates post here:

  13. Marti

    I have a Mac and work in pharmaceuticals. I travel from account to account long distances in my car and would like to use a handheld digital recording device that I could attach to my Mac and have it transcribe to text. Sounds to me that, unlike Dragon, one cannot use an external recording device with MacSpeech Dictate.

    If this is correct, would it be feasible to load a Windows Operating System and Microsoft Office on my Mac and just go ahead and use Dragon Naturally Speaking? Would this work correctly and would it allow me to use an external digital recorder?

    I am fairly new to the Mac world and don’t want to buy and be stuck with a whole bunch of Windows software that doesn’t work on my Mac. Any help would be greatly appreciated. :)

    1. NO NO NO don’t do that!
      Go for Macspeech Scribe.

  14. Dick

    Ditto the Q from Marti for me!
    I’m about 2/3 converted to my Mac, but still want assurance of best way to do speech recognition on the Mac (especially with digital recorder as the input source!!)
    Note: Currently quite happy with Dragon ver 9 on my PC Laptop.
    Waiting and hoping!!

    1. Macspeech scribe does this.

  15. Andrew

    I noticed this tonight, Aussie time, in The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW). It may be of interest to some recent questions!


    Dragon Dictation Comes To The iPhone – and TUAW seems quite impressed.

    1. It works OK as a proof of concept but IMHO not too useful. You still have to use your hands too much to paste the dictation into the app you want or to email it etc. It’s more of a text input for the iphone than a dictaphone for ideas.

  16. Wayne

    Mac-speech dictate is hands down the best dictation software for the Mac. The out-of-the-box Mac speech dictate does not transcribe from a recorder or audio file, but there is a separate version called ‘scribe’ that will take AIFF files, MP3 etc and convert them to text! ( you still need to train it beforehand with your voice).

  17. ML

    Marti, this should help:
    Unable to start Dragon Naturally Speaking 9.5 in Windows Vista virtual machine.
    Article ID: 4896
    Last Review: Sep,29 2009
    Author: Daria Taranova
    Last updated by: Ivan Chega APPLIES TO:
    • Parallels Desktop for Mac 3.0
    • Parallels Desktop for Mac 4.0
    • Parallels Desktop for Mac 2.0
    • Parallels Desktop for Windows & Linux
    Error message “This program should not be run in elevated mode” appears on Dragon Naturally Speaking startup.
    Microsoft User Account Control (UAC) doesn’t let you run Dragon Naturally Speaking Administrator when logged on as Administrator.
    There are two ways to solve the problem:

    1. Log on to some non-administrator account and run the program.

    2. In the Administrator account, Windows Vista will put the program into elevated mode automatically. So you will need to turn off the UAC, which can be done on the Control Panel. Also, be sure that in the preferences for the program the “Run as Administrator” option is not selected.

    I found it at: http://kb.parallels.com/en/4896

  18. […] my mac need more memory? Dragon Naturally Speaking arrives on the Macintosh! Apr […]

    1. I have been swayed not to go with the Mac version as bloggers report multiple problems from editing to a major slowdown over time to increased not decreased numbers of errors. I have gone and purchased parallels desktop 6 and athe home version of dragon. This will require a Microsoft OS download that will not only eat up my hard drive on my Mac book Pro but use up a lot of RAM.

      Now you are tempting me to not go through this huge hassle and just go for Dragon 2 Dictate. But for MP3 recording you also say that as second program Macspeech is required. Appreciate your input. Peter

      1. No, I would definitely go for the Mac version rather than running parallels.
        Editing is not really a problem at all. It’s only a problem if you’re used to doing one particular way. You have to change the way you talk to use speech recognition anyway, yet train yourself to say ‘comma’ for example, it’s much easier to train yourself how to edit.
        I haven’t noticed a slowdown overtime problem at all. I was having some issues and I sent a message to the support team and I they got back to me rather quickly telling me to delete some preference files which I did and it fixed everything up, and they got back to me within 24 hours.
        To me, the worst problem is that sometimes Dragon dictate loses audio after the computer sleeps and wakes up. But having to boot Windows every time you wanted to run Mac speech would be a far bigger hassle then that.
        There is no doubt that the current Dragon dictate is behind the PC version, maybe five or 10 years, but the PC version was pretty darn good five or 10 years ago, and the Mac version will keep getting better – the upgrades so far have shown this.

      2. There is a totally separate program called transcribe which is for taking notes from an MP3 file and transcribing them, I don’t own it and I have not tried it. I have only tried Dragon Dictate where you speak directly into the computer.

  19. john

    I have been using Dragon for years. I have 10 and 11 is out. I understand that you don’t suggest using Naturally Speaking on a Mac, but since I have a desktop PC, it would be a lot easier and less expensive to just use Dragon Naturally Speaking on both the PC and a Mac laptop I travel with. Have you tried Dragon with the Mac windows app and it did not work, or do you just not like the idea?

    1. I have not tried that – not because it didn’t worn, just I prefer to stay in mac mode. You could check out the dragon forums to see if people have been successful in doing it, I heard there were some problems with the audio quality but there may be a way round that.

  20. Mike Buckland

    As a Dragon Naturally Speaking User and long-time Windows user about to buy an Apple iMac for the first time, your article was invaluable – thank you. At last a independent review from someone who knows what he’s talking about – something I could not find on the Nuance or Apple Store web sites. I now just need to find out if I’ll be able to copy the DNS user files from my Windows laptop to the new iMac or whether I’ll need to train it from scratch. Does MacSpeech Dictate have those book extracts that get you up and running on a PC after a few hours?

    1. I’ll confidently say you can’t copy the user files – it uses the same recognition engine but it’ a different company that makes Macspeech dictate. I haven’t tried but I’d be almost certain it wouldn’t work. Yes it has the readings, probably about 20 minutes worth to get you going, then extras to improve accuracy.

  21. Mike Buckland

    Oh – and I too want to know if Dragon (which I already have) will work in a Mac Windows partition, or whether MacSpeech (which I would have to buy) is my only option. I also notice that Apple have a “Magic Trackpad” which avoids the use of mouse or keyboard, thereby minimising repetitive hand movement, the reason why I and many people have to use Dragon.

    1. Yes I understand that Dragon will work on a Mac Windows partition, it’s not the way I recommend though. It would be a hassle to have to boot your computer into windows every time you wanted to use speech recognition. Even if you use something like virtual box where you can have it running inside the Mac OS it won’t be that good because it will pretty much sit in a window all by itself and not interact with the rest of your computer. You would probably lose things like being able to dictate directly into all your applications, having hot keys to turn the microphone on and off and so on. I’d go for Macspeech dictate, it is a bit more pricey Then Dragon NaturallySpeaking but you can get it on Amazon quite cheaply.

  22. Stephen

    I have been using DNS via Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion on my Mac for over three years. I write reports for a living and It works well. I hope DNS comes out natively for Mac someday, because Macspeech Dictate doesn’t get the job done for me. Yes, it has the DNS engine, so it’s accurate. But the biggest drawback is that the program still depends on the cursor to know it’s location in the document. In DNS you can open a previously saved document, jump around with voice and trackpad/mouse at the same time, all over the document, changing data or names, dates, etc., at will. With Dictate, if you move the cursor around within the document with a trackpad/mouse, it loses it’s place. You’re supposed to do everything by voice. It’s awful, and really only works well if you’re starting a document from scratch. Doctors, lawyers, and other professionals that write for a living often use pre-existing documents then change certain items, jumping around with a hybrid of voice and trackpad/mouse. This can’t be done with Dictate, and until it can, Dictate is nothing but a toy and can’t really get work done for me.

    1. This seems to be getting better though. And there is the ‘cache document’ command that fixed it if you get out of sync. Hopefully the new ‘Dragon Dictate’ version will address this?

  23. […] this means the problems I describe here regarding learning as you dictate have been addressed. It will be nice if it boots up straight away […]

  24. Stephen

    Dragon Dictate 2 is now available for download. Unfortunately, the “Golden Rule” still applies: when you’re working with text, don’t mix your voice with your hands. Bummer, the program remains fatally crippled.

  25. Golden Rule does not apply in the Notepad app, only in other apps.

  26. Phil

    Reading above, in the new Dragon for Mac 10.6, editing using a mix of voice and keyboard text entry doesn’t work, is that right? Could you elaborate a bit, please? E.g in the phrase “Now is x made glorious summer by this son of York”, if I want to select the x and replace it, either by dictating ‘the winter of our discontent’ or by typing it in, what happens? Having loved DNS on the PC some years ago, I would like it now I’m a Mac man – and I want to be sure it will do what I want. Thanks

    1. Well, if you use the built in text editor, it works fine to do both.
      “select x, the winter of our discontent, go to end” will work
      or select x with cursor, and say ‘the winter of our discontent’ then click at end of document will work, that’s the way I do it.
      I pretty much dictate everything by microphone but do all my corrections by clicking, so that I’m using the microphone as a keyboard, but still using the mouse to move around document and select things and correct them. This works fine.
      if you click on ‘is’ and delete it, then say ‘select x’ it will be confused as to where x is, and may for example select ‘with’
      you can reset this bay saying ‘cache document’ then it will be OK again.

      So it seems to me that the problem lies if you edit manually and then try to select with speech.
      If you always select by hand it won’t be a problem, or if you always correct by Speech, or if you cache the document, it won’t be a problem.

  27. Carole

    Why is the Mac version so much more expensive? QVC has Dragon 11 for $55.12, and the Mac version is $179????

    1. Yes I have no idea why that is. I guess the PC is a bigger market?

  28. John

    It’s a bigger market because it works – you can also transcribe without adding more additional and exspensive programs (MaSpeech Scribe) – to be honest you spend twice as much on a Mac for a lot less functionality. Hell you have to keep ‘toggling’ between command and dictation which you have not had to do with a pc since the 90’s – one day Mac might catch up but if you are a serious dictation and hands free user – buy a pc.

  29. Loz Mack

    Install windoze on a Mac partition.
    Buy the cheap PC version.
    Run it.


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.