Could a dictation app save you time? If you’ve
ever needed to write something in a hurry, the answer is “yes.”
Software with a good voice to text capability
allows you to capture your ideas as you think them, even if you don’t have a
pen, pencil, or keyboard handy. You could even use a voice to text app while
doing something else. Imagine using one while riding in a cab or even while
exercising. Many of them will work with your mobile device, meaning you can
basically use your dictation app anywhere.
Many personal assistant software tools include voice
recognition features, allowing them to double as a dictation app. (Personal
assistant software performs tasks for you on a mobile device or on your computer). We’ll
take a look at a few of those tools as well.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the best
dictation software for Macs and PCs. First, I’ll give you some tips on what to
look for in a dictation app. Then, I’ll provide a brief overview of some of the
best dictation software available.
What Is Voice Dictation Software?
You may be wondering, what is voice dictation
Basically, voice dictation software has speech
recognition capabilities that allows it to respond to the words you say. As you
speak, your works are converted to text. You can then edit and format that
text. Many dictation apps also serve as personal assistant software, which
means that the software can recognize and act upon verbal commands.
A personal assistant app is different from a voice
dictation app (also called a voice to text app). With a personal assistant app you can speak commands and the app
will perform certain predefined tasks.
Voice to text apps and personal assistant apps
are particularly handy if, for some reason, you’re unable to use your computer
keyboard. If you’re not particularly fast at typing, a voice app can also be
quicker than entering information using a keyboard or even a mouse.
Keep in mind that both voice dictation software
and personal assistant software require a microphone. In most cases, they also
require an internet connection. For some apps (especially the free tools), you may be limited in the amount of time you can speak.
What to Look For In Voice Dictation Software
If you’re considering a voice to text app, you want to make
sure you get a tool that you can use. Here are some common features that can be
found in many talk to text apps.
Accuracy. One of the key features you’ll want
in good voice dictation software is accuracy. The best text to speech software
will recognize and accurately transcribe the majority of words that you speak
Ease of Use. If your talk to text app has a
steep learning curve or if it’s too difficult to set up, you’re likely to give
up before you even get to use it. So, ease of use is an important consideration
when choosing a voice to text app.
Compatibility. Some dictation apps are designed
to work with a specific device, such as a particular smart phone. Others will
only work on a certain operating system. Make sure the app you choose is
compatible with your system.
Personal Assistant Features. Personal
assistant features are becoming more and more common with talk to text apps. A
personal assistant app can perform tasks for you such as reminding you of an
appointment, finding information online, and more.
Technical Support. Having good technical support
is always helpful when purchasing any software. It’s nice to be able to be able
to get your questions answered should you have any. Technical support can also
notify you if your app is down for a time or let you know if there are any updates.
Price. You’ve likely got a budget for your
dictation app. Or, if you’re just starting out, you may need to limit yourself
to the best free voice dictation software. So, the cost of the software you’re
considering is important.
course, you may have other criteria for your voice dictation software according
to your specific needs. These are just some of the features commonly found in
the best dictation software packages that you may want to consider as you look for your own talk to text app.
10 Of the Best Dictation Software and Personal
Assistant Software Tools
Now that you’ve learned what voice dictation
software is and what some common features are for this type of software, it’s
time to take a quick look at some of the best dictation software packages, both
free and premium.
Did you know that Google Docs includes a free speak-to-text
feature? To use it, you must be on a Chrome browser. Voice typing also supports
over 100 different languages or dialects. You can even use voice commands to do
some basic formatting of your text or (in certain languages) to add punctuation.
For more information on how to use the other Google Docs
features, study these tutorials:
Google DocsHow to Make a Survey With Google Docs Forms
Google DocsHow to Share Documents in Google Docs: Everything You Need to Know
Google DocsHow to Import and Export Documents in Google Drive
With the free Apple dictation feature, your
spoken words can become text. This tool is available for Apple devices. You can also use your voice to format the text
as you go. Plus, if you select the Enhanced
dictation option, you’ll be able to use dictation even if you’re not
connected to the internet. Also, with the Enhanced dictation option you can speak
for longer periods of time. Learn more about this Apple feature in our short video and
Windows (7 or later) also has free device-based speech
recognition software available. To turn this feature on, go to your Windows Control Panel and click the Settings icon. Click on the Ease of Access settings, the click the Speech menu option. Make sure that the
toggle button for Speech Recognition
is turned on. Press the Windows key + H
to start using the dictation app. Once the tool is turned on, use your voice to
“type” and format your document.
Dragon Speech Recognition software isn’t one
product, but many. These popular, premium dictation apps use AI technology to
provide some of the most accurate speech recognition tools available. Their speech recognition apps are specialized
by use. They’ve got dictation apps for:
- home use
- professional use
- legal use
- medical use
And those are just some of their speech
recognition tools. In fact, the specialized vocabulary available in certain
tools can be a major advantage of this app. Dragon also offers extensive
technical support including a knowledgebase and training.
Here’s a premium AI-based personal assistant app
that includes voice recognition features. In fact, you can convert speech to
text in over a hundred different languages. Braina can also answer questions,
search for information online, check the weather, and more. They’ve got an
active forum where you can discuss questions with other users. Although this is
premium software, a free lite version with more limited features is also
This free online dictation app works with a
Chrome operating system. You don’t need to download it onto your equipment. It
was created specifically to replace typing, so if you spend large parts of your
day typing this could be the speech recognition tool you need. Because it’s
free, Speechnotes has ads. Also be aware that any documents you create need to
be copied to your machine since Speechnotes won’t save them.
If you’ve got an iPhone, iPad, or Mac you’re
probably already familiar with Apple’s personal assistant software app. In
fact, you already have it free with your device. What most people don’t realize is that Siri
can also be used as a voice dictation app for shorter messages, or emails. For example, I
was able to create a short note using Siri. So, if you send a lot of email or text
messages, Siri could be helpful. Learn more about Siri in these tutorial guides:
iOSA Beginner’s Guide to Siri
macOSHow to Use Siri on a Mac
iOS SDKCreate SiriKit Extensions in iOS 10
Cortana is Microsoft’s personal assistant
app. And while it’s great for voice recognition and performing personal tasks,
if you need to type a long document, you’re better off using Windows Speech
Recognition tool (see #3 above), which is based on the same AI as Cortana.
Transcribe is a premium software dictation tool.
Record the information you want to convert to text. Then you can
auto-transcribe it (convert it to text). If the original recording isn’t clear
enough, re-speak the recording as you listen to it to create a clearer recording
before you transcribe it. This tool also works with a foot pedal, if you
desire. This tutorial contains information on Transcribe
and other transcription tools:
Here’s another inexpensive transcription tool
that gives you the capability for hands-free recording and text conversion. You
can use it on an iPhone, iPad, or even an Apple watch. This can be a handy way to get those all-important notes if you’ve got nothing on hand but your Apple watch.
5 Tips for Getting the Most From Your Talk to Text App
If you’ve invested in any type of voice recognition software such as a talk to text app you want to make sure that it works well for you. Here are some tips to help:
Use the Right App. Understand the difference between a
dictation app and a personal assistant app. The app that’s right for you
depends on how you intend to use it. If you want to use it to perform tasks and
check for information online, you need a personal assistant app. If you want to
create documents by speaking into your computer or device, you need a
Check Your Microphone. Your microphone must be
set up in your operating system and turned on to use this type of software. Also, make sure that the microphone volume is
set properly. You may want to test your microphone before using your dictation or personal assistant app.
Speak Clearly and Face the Microphone. The more
clearly you speak, the more accurate your dictation app will be. Also, be
careful to face the microphone as you speak so that it can pick up what you’re
saying. Other factors that can affect the accuracy of your transcription
include the volume at which you speak and the amount of background noise in your environment.
Punctuation. Without punctuation your
transcription will just be a long string of words. While you can go in and add
punctuation manually, it’s quicker to add it as you speak if your app offers
this capability. For most tools adding punctuation is as simple as saying the word
“period” when you want a sentence to end or saying the word
“comma” where you want a pause.
Formatting. Many voice to text apps also accept voice
formatting commands. If your speak to text app has this capability, take the time to learn which
commands your software accepts. Using voice formatting can be a real timesaver.
Consider Using a Dictation App to Save Time
You’ve just learned the what a dictation app is and how it can save you time.
We’ve also discussed the difference between dictation apps and personal
assistant apps. Plus, I’ve shared some common features to look for when
choosing dictation software.
Finally, I’ve provided an overview of ten of the
best dictation software packages available. I’ve also provided some tips to
help you get the most from your dictation app.
Do you already use a dictation app? If so, which one do
you use and do you think it saves you time? Leave your answers in the comments