If you’re tired of typing with a keyboard, entering text can be as easy as using your voice in Windows 10. The OS includes built-in speech recognition and dictation features. Here’s how to set them up.

How to Enable Dictation and Speech Recognition in Windows 10

Microsoft’s dictation software is a useful way to write text quickly in Windows 10 using the Windows+h keyboard shortcut. But it may not already be enabled by default on your system, so you may have to make a quick trip to settings to enable it.

Begin by opening Windows Settings. To do so, open your Start menu and click the gear icon. You can also get there by pressing Windows+i on your keyboard.

In Settings, click “Ease of Access.”

In Settings, click "Ease of Access."

On the left pane, scroll down and click “Speech” in the sidebar. Under Speech settings, click the switch located below “Turn on Speech Recognition.” It should switch over to the “On” position.

In Speech Settings, click "Turn on Speech Recognition."

Keep in mind speech recognition is only available in a few languages, including English, French, German, Spanish, Mandarin, and Japanese. To perform this action quickly, hit Windows+Ctrl+s to toggle speech recognition on or off instantly.

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When you toggle speech recognition on for the first time, you will need to set it up to recognize your voice.

In the Speech Recognition Setup Wizard, click "next" to start setting up your microphone.

To perform the initial microphone setup, hook up either a headset microphone, desktop microphone, or other peripheral mics. Then follow the on-screen prompt to choose and calibrate your microphone. We recommend using a headset mic for dictation software.

Select your microphone from the available options. Headset microphones are ideal for speech recognition.

Once the headset is connected, say the on-screen phrase into your microphone, so the system will capture your voice and be able to recognize it while using the program.

Say the on-screen text to set up your microphone.

Finish up by selecting whether or not you want to allow the computer to review documents and email to help it improve speech recognition accuracy.

Choose whether to enable or disable document review.

Once the setup is complete, you’re ready to begin typing with your voice!

RELATED: How to Set Up and Test Microphones in Windows 10

Typing With Your Voice In Windows 10

After you’ve successfully set up your microphone, you can start typing with your voice. The wizard will ask you to toggle run Speech Recognition every time you start up the computer. Answer appropriately according to your preferences, and you’re finally ready to start typing with your voice.

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If you want to use dictation, select a text field and call up the dictation bar with Windows+h. We’ll use a blank text document as an example. After hitting Windows+h, the dictation bar will pop up at the top of the screen:

An example of the Windows listening prompt.

Dictation will automatically turn on and prompt you to speak once you call up the dictation bar. If it doesn’t, simply click the microphone icon to enable it.

Begin speaking into your microphone. Speak in complete, deliberate sentences. You can say whatever you like, and you’ll see it typed on the screen as you go along. Here are some tips while you dictate:

  • Punctuation: To add punctuation, say the name of the punctuation mark you want to use as you work.  For example, say “period” to place a period at the end of a sentence, or say “comma,” “E-M dash,” “semicolon,” “exclamation point,” or “question mark” to add those punctuation makes to your document.
  • Parentheses: For parentheses, say “open parentheses” to start a parenthetical phrase and “close parenthesis” to end the phrase.
  • Numerical Values: Say “numerical” followed by a number to type out the numerical values.
  • Navigating Paragraphs: To move to the next paragraph, say “next line” or “next paragraph.”
  • Deleting Text: To delete words, say “delete,” followed by the word you want to delete. You can also say “delete previous sentence” to get rid of an entire sentence you no longer wish to keep in the document.
  • Selecting: To select a word, say “select,” followed by the word you wish to highlight.
  • Move to Beginning or End of Sentence: If you want to go to the beginning or end of a sentence, say “go to start of the sentence” or “go to the end of the sentence. This also works for navigating paragraphs and the start or end of a document.

Remember to speak clearly and avoid speaking too fast, as it can mess with your writing flow as the software tries to catch up your pace (When talking fast, we experienced some input lag until we slowed down a bit).

Stop dictating by say, “stop dictating.” To turn it back on—or if it cuts out unexpectedly—click the microphone on the dictation bar to re-enable it:

Dictation will allow you to use your voice to write things faster and easier than if you were typing them, and it’s pretty fun too.

How to Disable Dictation and Speech Recognition in Windows 10

Dictation software is ideal for a number of uses, but there you may decide to disable it at some point. If you accidentally enable dictation or simply no longer wish to use it, disabling it is fairly straightforward. All you need to do is hit Windows+h again to toggle it off.

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If you want to shut off speech recognition entirely, so you don’t accidentally start dictation, disable it by using Windows+Ctrl+s. This will completely disable speech recognition.

Alternatively, head back to Windows Settings. Click “Ease of Access” again, find “Speech,” and flip the switch beneath the words “Turn on Speech Recognition” to the “off” position.

Under Speech Recognition settings, slide the button to the off position.

Remember, you can always turn speech recognition back on and use the dictation feature any time with Windows+H. Happy writing!

David Buck
David Buck is a former radio guy/musician who researches and writes about all manner of strange and interesting music, tech, retro games, audio gear, and data.
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