Voice Recognition Typing

by Tom Mullaly on November 30, 2009


In this short series on voice-activated typing software, I started by going over my initial thoughts on whether or not I needed it, as well as my hesitation because of the price. I also had serious doubts about voice-recognition typing because “keyboard recognition typing” had worked for me for 20 years, albeit uncomfortably. As someone who does not touch type I had to ask myself if the neck and shoulder stiffness that I feel after half an hour of hunt-and-peck might go away if I simply decided to learn once and for all…

I did go ahead and buy MacSpeech Dictate despite my reservations and I’ve been very, very happy that I did. It was one of those things that, once I spent the money, all the abstract doubts about getting it in the first place faded away. It is just so much easier now to write. I find that banging out 500 or 1000 words is so painless and easy physically that I am able to explore thoughts verbally with ease, undistracted. I don’t know how much money that is worth to me, but I have a feeling that over the course of years it’s going to be a lot more than the $170 or so that I spent on the software.


I also cannot say honestly whether or not it’s improved the quality of my writing-in the end I seem to spend as much time as ever editing to make something with which I am happy. Even the editing process though is handled verbally (very well I might add), so that painstaking attention to detail doesn’t mean painful attention to detail in the form of back spaces, deletes and minor edits in a process that always seems to give me a headache after about an hour.

I had a small epiphany when I tried to use the software without the included headset as it was clumsy and a minor inconvenience, in my opinion. To my surprise, the results seem to be exactly the same, at least in the case of a voice-recognition typing software I’m using.

So I have one more thing to add now that I’ve had this dictation software for a few weeks. The method that I have found works best for me is to not look at the screen at all as I speak. I force myself to go for five or 10 minutes at a time just talking. Waiting for the text to catch up with your voice leads to going back and making small corrections and breaking the flow of your thoughts. Not only does this draw out the process, it’s not necessary. My fear initially that mis-typing by the software could leave me with a bunch of gibberish, unable to reconstruct my thoughts. I found that this is not a problem. Speaking whole sentences at a time actually leads to much better voice recognition by the software so that there are fewer corrections, and it also allows your thoughts to flow more naturally. So that’s the point this final little post on voice-recognition typing. In the end, simply trusting the software to follow you instead of making any allowances are all (except speaking reasonably clearly, of course) is both easier for you and helps the software achieve maximum accuracy.

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