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Apple adds internet-free dictation to Mavericks

Mel Martin

There hasn't been any fanfare about this, but if you are using Mavericks, you now have a universal dictation feature that doesn't require an internet connection.

Dictation made its debut in Mountain Lion and required an internet connection so your speech could be processed on an Apple server and sent back to you as text. There were limits, and you had to pause to let your data get to Apple and back again. It worked, but it wasn't very effective.

Mavericks users will now find what Apple calls "enhanced dictation," and if you turn it on, you'll need to download about an 800 MB file that makes your speech recognition local rather than server based. No training is needed; once you have the files, it works right away, and I found the recognition quick and accurate. As you talk, you see your words appear on the screen in near real time, something not possible with the internet-based method. If you liked the old method, it still works, and you can choose to use enhanced dictation or not.

As a default, you start dictation by hitting the Fn key twice, but you can choose your own keys if you don't like that choice.

You don't have all the fancy commands and capabilities that you'd get in one of the Dragon products, but for a quick email or word processing, it works fine. You can edit your text normally with your mouse or trackpad.

This is a very nice feature that hasn't had much publicity, but it's free and works well. Give it a try if you have a need to dictate.

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