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Talking to your computer and having it recognise your speech used to be a technology that only appeared in science fiction movies, but since Apple’s introduction of their voice activated personal assistant Siri verbally commanding your way around iOS has become common place. In this article I’ll show you how to add voice-recognition to your Mac so that you can enjoy a similar hands-free experience on your desktop.
Dragon Express is one of the easiest ways to enable voice recognition on your Mac. The package is currently available on Mac App Store for only £34.99. After a brief install and 1.21GB of space the app with give you access to a robust and simple array of voice-recognition features. It’s recommended that you use an external microphone headset, but after ensuring that there was minimal ambient noise the internal microphone on my MacBook Air worked without a hitch.
After a quick training process, in which you read a piece of text to the App so that it can become accustomed to your voice, you are greeted by the main window of Dragon Express. Unlike it’s pricier sibling Dragon Dictate, which allows you to dictate text directly in most Mac applications, you’ll be using this window to process voice-to-text and then using the commands in the above image to send the processed text to a variety of sources. This minor inconvenience does make the transition form keyboard to voice input a little jarring, but unless you’re prepared to pay up to four times as much for full integration it’s worth working around this small issue.
Once you get used to the set of verbal commands used to access the features of Dragon Express the process of diction becomes a breeze. The program sits in the menu bar of your Mac and is easily accessible from most everyday work situations. You can also assign your own hotkeys so that you can bring up the Dragon Express window when using apps in full-screen modes.
Word recognition seemed to work with very few mistakes and, as long as I had my word processor of choice open before I began using Dragon Express it was a cinch to move dictated text into a different app.
Whilst multiple users is formally supported by Dragon Express I also found that it’s voice-recognition was robust enough to pick up the words spoken by other users who haven’t spent the time training the programe to their own voice.
As an extra bonus Dragon Express also provides some shortcuts to posting dictated text to Facebook, Twitter or as an email (using Apple’s own Mail app). A small feature but certainly one that would be useful to social-media obsessed fans who want to quickly and easily update their statuses whilst in the middle of other activities.
Overall Dragon Express is the cheapest, simplest and easiest way to add voice-recognition to you Mac. It doesn’t have the same features as Apple’s own Siri, and lacks full integration with pre-existing Mac Apps, but if you’re looking for a way to transform spoken language into text on your Mac Dragon Express seems to be the way to go.