Typing with your voice – dictating text – has become an extremely popular way to communicate. Better yet, you don’t even need a stenographer. (now i’m dating myself)
I recently watched a friend mumbling softly into his iPhone while answering an email. He explained that he became incredibly precise and it was much easier to speak his responses than to reach for his glasses and fumble with a virtual keyboard.
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With modern features on both phones and websites, you can dictate your messages or documents. Whether you don’t have an extra free hand to type something, are on the run and need to respond quickly to a text, or find dictation useful for a personal reason, check out the helpful ways to use the speech-to-text features on different devices below.
Plus, we have one major caveat if you’re using spellcasting features in any technology right now.
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Dictate and speak to text on devices
You can use this feature in most apps that allow you to write — including Messages, Email, Safari, Docs, Pages, Notes, even dating apps, and more. Before you dictate to any of your devices, be sure to follow this helpful tip for writing the most accurate message.
How to use specific commands to include punctuation and formatting.
In the recent iOS 16 update, the iPhone now supports automatic punctuation if you have a more recent model which is the embedded A12 electronic chip. Even though I’ve got the latest model, I find myself dictating the old way because the new auto-numbering option doesn’t seem to work all the time.
Here’s the tried and true way to add punctuation on iPhone.
If you want to end your sentence with a period, exclamation mark, or question mark, you’ll want to include that in your spelling. For example, if I wanted to write this in a message:
I’m good. How are you all?
You can dictate:
“I’m fine how are you question mark”
You can also sometimes add formatting, including saying “new line” or “new paragraph.” I will provide some additional command examples later depending on the device at hand.
How to dictate on your iPhone
And aside from the unexciting auto-numbering feature on the newer iPhone, here’s what works really well. If you have an Apple iPhone or iPad, the on-screen keyboard will give you the option to dictate or “speak to text” with a simple tap. For iPhone 6s or later or iPad, you can even use this feature without the Internet.
Here’s how to use your voice to type on your iPhone or iPad:
Whenever you open an app and type something, this keyboard will appear:
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To dictate a message – skip the button with sound waves next to the text box. This will allow you to record your actual voice in a message.
Instead, click Microphone button at the bottom right of the keyboard
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Once you click on the microphone button, you can start dictating your message. You’ll see the text appear momentarily as you speak, and it will often correct itself as you continue speaking.
To change the dictated language, press and hold the microphone button and click another language if you have it set up in your keyboards. To add a new language keyboard, after holding down the microphone, tap Dictation settingsFaucet keyboard and click Add a new keyboard…
Additional iPhone commands to speak to text:
- “quote” and “end quote” when you want the text to appear in quotes
- “new paragraph”
- “new line”
- “Cap” to capitalize the following word
- Use “Caps on” and “Caps off” to capitalize the first letter of each word
- “Smiley” will add a smiley face
- The word “Frowny” will make a frowning face
- “Winky” will introduce a fuzzy face
- As with other dictations, always include punctuation such as period, exclamation mark, comma, question mark, etc.
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How to dictate on your Android device
Just like the iPhone, your Android phone or tablet keyboard will offer the option to dictate instead of typing in most apps where you can type. If your phone doesn’t have this, another option is to download and install the Gboard app from the Google Play Store and you’ll get more typing capabilities (including the quick text feature which is one of my five favorite Android tricks). You can learn more about other Android tips by typing in the CyberGuy.com web address and searching for the word “Android”.
Here’s how to use your voice to type on your Android phone or tablet:
Whenever you open an app and type something, the keyboard will usually appear in the upper-right part of the keyboard:
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When the words “speak now” appear, start dictating what you want to write. Your words will be converted into text and shown as you continue your message.
Additional Android commands for speaking to text:
- “Full stop” for a while
- “Enter” for a line space
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How to dictate on your computer or any device
If you want to create and dictate a document on any device, including Macs, PCs, iPhones, and Androids, we suggest you try Google Docs.
Google Docs is free to use with a Gmail or Google account. If you don’t use Gmail, you can use any email address to create a Google Account (which gives you access not only to Google Docs, but also to other Google programs and Youtube).
Follow these steps to dictate using Google Docs.
How to use Google Docs to dictate text with Google Chrome
1. Before using Google Docs in Chrome browser, make sure that your device’s microphone is turned on.
On a Mac, you’ll want to visit System Preferences and on a PC, you’ll visit Control Panel. When using this feature for the first time, you may want to make sure that your computer has granted Google Chrome access to the microphone. Follow the pop-ups on your screen to allow the microphone to be used in the app.
2. Open Google Docs in your Chrome browser, open a document you’re working on or create a new blank document.
3. Click tools Along the options at the top, then tap voice typing.
4. A popup with a microphone button will appear above the document. Click it to use your voice for dictation.
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5. When the microphone turns red, you can say anything you want to convert to text.
6. If you make a mistake, you can use the indicator to fix it without disabling the microphone. Then move the cursor back to where you want to continue speaking to text.
Additional commands for speaking to text in Google Docs on Chrome:
Google Docs has by far the longest list of commands you can use to edit text as you speak. These commands are only available if you are using the English language.
- Select Paragraph to select an entire paragraph
- “Select _____” You can select a word, multiple words, phrase, list, line, and more
- “Italic” or “Italic” to add an italic to the selected text
- Bold Adds bold to the selected text
- Strikethrough, Underline, Subscript, and Superscript are some of the other formatting options
- “Titlecase” or “Lowercase” to change the text case options
- highlight “text color” “highlight” [color]”remove highlight” are some color options
- “Increase font size”, “Decrease font size” or even select the font size you want between 6-400
- Format the paragraph using commands such as “Increase Indent” for the indented paragraph, “Double Line Spacing” or “Align Center” “Align Left” “Align Right”
- Create lists with Create Bulleted List or Create Numbered List and then update your list with Insert Bullet or Insert Number
How to dictate to Google Docs on other devices
If you are using Google Docs on an internet browser that is not Google Chrome on a computer, you will need to turn on the dictation function on your computer.
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1. Open System Preferences
2. Click keyboard
3. Click on filling tab
4. Next to Dictation: press on me
5. Use the default shortcut setting or choose your own
6. Now when you’re typing elsewhere, you can use this shortcut
on the computer
If you have Windows 10 or higher, you can use this.
Windows 10 operating system
1. When you go to type, tap on Windows logo key + h to open the Dictation toolbar
2. This will start the dictation function automatically, so speak as you normally would
3. Say “Stop Dictation” to disable the function
Windows 11 operating system
1. Press Windows logo key + h on the device keyboard. Click on Microphone key next to the spacebar on the touch keyboard
2. Either you click Microphone button to stop or say “stop listening” or “stop dictating” to stop dictating. You can also pause dictation by saying “Pause voice typing” or “Pause dictation.”
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on iPhone or Android
You can dictate in Google Docs just like any other app by following the same steps as you would on both iPhone and Android. While in Google Docs, use the keyboard’s built-in microphone to dictate as you please.
One major caveat to dictating speech to text
The first warning we can give you if you use these features is Look at your text before sending any messages. Whether you’re dictating a text, an email, or even a list – take a look at your text before you send it or use it anywhere! There are so many texts we’ve all received where the message just isn’t quite right.
The most common mistake in spelling features is related to autocorrect. While the speech-to-text technology is very accurate, errors do happen. Autocorrect has been known to abuse words and sometimes replace them with hilarious or inappropriate words. Checking the text you dictate is always the safest way to ensure the authenticity of a message.
Have you ever used the speech to text features on any of your devices and turned into a misunderstood train wreck? Keep it clean and comment below. 🙂
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