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How to set up continuous OS X Mavericks dictation

Steve Sande, @stevensande
August 8, 2014
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My fellow TUAW editor Dave Caolo got his right index finger pretty well mashed in a car door the other day, which is making it painfully difficult for him to type. Fortunately, he's been able to use dictation in OS X Mavericks to make up for his typing disability, but I've noticed that most of his dictation has been for short messages in our IRC chatroom. As a noble gesture to get Dave back up to top productivity as soon as possible, I'm showing him -- and you -- how you can bypass the usual 30-second dictation limit and also dictate offline.

I'm assuming at this point that you're somewhat familiar with OS X Mavericks' ability to let you dictate text into any text field on your Mac. That can be in Messages, the TUAW content management system, Pages, Mail, or anywhere else you'd normally type. If not, fire up System Preferences on your Mavericks machine and click on Dictation & Speech.

As you can see in the image at the top of this post, Dictation can be set up easily by just selecting a microphone (usually the built-in mic), clicking the On radio button next to Dictation, selecting a language, and setting up a keyboard shortcut to invoke Dictation.

You'll also notice a checkbox titled Use Enhanced Dictation. When checked, your Mac will download additional speech recognition software and install it behind the scenes. This not only gives you continuous dictation capability -- meaning you could talk for hours, and it will still be typing what you say -- but it also gives you live feedback. You'll see the words being typed as you speak and can jump in and fix 'em with the keyboard, although I prefer to just go back and fix the inevitable misunderstandings afterwards.

There's one other benefit to Enhanced Dictation -- the ability to use it when you're not connected to the Internet. That can be very useful if you want to use the feature while on an airplane without Wi-Fi service, although if you talk for very long, your fellow passengers might want to toss you bodily from the plane...

Have any OS X Dictation stories or tips you want to pass along? Let us know in the comments.

In this article: dictation, how-to, howto, Mac, os x, os x mavericks
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