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Speech recognition for Mac users

By January 8, 2009apple, web-tech

A few months ago, I decided to try out a new speech recognition program for the Mac. The program is called MacSpeech Dictate. It retails for $199, and comes complete with a USB microphone that works great. (In fact, I am using it to dictate this blog post).

Back when I first decided to try it, I found that worked fine as far as set up and basic dictation went. Unfortunately, I don't think my computer had enough RAM, or the program itself was not quite adept at capturing all of my dictation. Recently, MacSpeech Dictate was upgraded. I can say after trying the upgraded version for just a few hours that I will now be using it regularly. The new version includes spelling and phrase training, which are welcome additions.

One thing that held me back before, is that I type pretty well. So, unless a dictation program can help me output text faster than I can type, it would actually be a hindrance. Part of using a dictation program like MacSpeech, involves getting used to the process of dictating. Obviously, you can't do it in a noisy environment. But, assuming you are working in an office with privacy and minimal noise, dictating is much faster than typing—even if you are a very fast typist.  

On the Windows side, I have heard that Dragon NaturallySpeaking works extremely well (much better than MacSpeech Dictate). David Pogue, the technology columnist for the New York Times, swears by Dragon NaturallySpeaking. I can now swear by MacSpeech Dictate. So, whether you're on the Windows side or the Mac side, if you've been tempted to try dictation software that time has come.  Especially if your typing skills are mediocre. 

P.S. If you appreciate these kinds of observations, you might want to read this as well.

3 Comments

  • David Eaton says:

    I have been trying out MacSpeech Dictate, and based on my experience so far would have to give it a thumbs down.

    The installation and voice training are no problem. But when I dictate, it goes no further than a few paragraphs and then hangs up. Tech support had me do a fresh re-install, but it didn’t help; we’ll see if they can provide a better solution, but I’m not holding my breath.

    I also have problems with their basic concept, that everything should be hands free. I just want to dictate into a mic and have my words turned into text. If I want to do anything else I can use the mouse and keyboard. Why should I have to memorize a bunch of voice commands when today’s technology can offer a visual interface and the ability to choose from a menu with a click of the mouse?

    That said, I can understand that some people would prefer, for whatever reason, the hands free method. But this ought to be something that can be set in the preferences.

  • I am a Mac user and I have been looking for a good speech recognition program for along time. It sounds like you have some great suggestions that I am going to investigate further. I just wish that the options were as plentiful as they are for PC users. Hopefully the future brings more options!

  • Good post. I think the big brand in text-to-speech technology will be native on the Macintosh this quarter, according to MacSpeech, the company that landed the licensing deal. It’s yet another hurdle overcome for switchers to the Mac.

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