How-To Geek

The How-To Geek Video Guide to Using Windows 7 Speech Recognition

Ever get the desire to control your computer, Star Trek-style? With Windows 7’s Speech Recognition, it’s easier than you might think.

Microsoft has been working on its voice command steadily over the years. XP introduced it, Vista smoothed it, and 7 has it polished. It’s strangely not advertised as a feature, even though other voice command and speech recognition programs are hundreds of dollars. It may not be as perfect as some of them, but there’s definitely something amazing about vocally telling your computer to do things and it actually working.

It’s simple to enable, easy to configure and use, and just plain fun. Watch our video below to see how to enable it and to see a demo of what it can do.

And of course, you can call up the cheat sheet found in the Help file at any time by asking “What can I say?”

Yatri Trivedi is a monk-like geek. When he's not overdosing on meditation and geek news of all kinds, he's hacking and tweaking something, often while mumbling in 4 or 5 other languages.

  • Published 01/27/11

Comments (18)

  1. Todd

    Interesting article and tutorial! I’ve been working witness windows 7 for quite some time now, and I didn’t know this feature was even available, aside from using a third parry product. Thanks for the great work!

  2. linc2

    Wow…! I paid over $200 on a program called Dragon Naturally Speaking when it first came out, years ago! I was NEVER able to train the program and grew frustrated reading all the passages required to sync with my voice.

    And now I can train and not buy another program, because it’s FREE on my Windows 7 ‘puter. Thanks! There’s so many options still to discover here in the comfort of my home. Btw, I just upgraded to Windows 7 this past December. Thanks for the informative article.

  3. Hatryst

    Wow, another video guide. Great !!
    Yatri Trivedi has a natural ‘teaching voice’, very essential for tutorials. You should make more tutorials :)

  4. jimc52

    I have used the voice recognition system in Windows 7 but find serious flaws in it. The interpreter is not able to pronounce words right, even when I have read and repeated them over and over and OVER again. I would say it understands and is able to enunciate correctly, somewhere around 50% of the time. Teaching it new words is a tremendous hassle, and pronouncing those words even more of a hassle. Reading sentences is an on-off, hit or miss thing. Sometimes it reads and enunciates sentences correctly and sometimes, its a bomb!. I am very disappointed with Microsoft and I can see how disabled people must feel frustrated and limited by this awful software. I consider the speech recognition tools to be primitive. They aren’t any more effective then under Windows XP or before! I think Microsoft considers speech recognition a still-borne technology they really do not want to invest in…who knows, maybe Dragon pays them to not develop anything further. Thre are TWO very seriously flawed areas of computers, which I would have thought by now, would have been an automatic no-brainer. These are: Artificial Intelligence Applications or AA apps, in which the user and the computer interact on an intelligent level and even undertake advanced computing technology, solving mathematics problems and puzzles, even undertaking advanced cosmological and relativistic paradoxes. I can certainly understand and feel the frustration that Stephen Hawking must feel when faced with these dilemmas…the other abortion is speech recognition. There really is no excuse!!! It should have come a hellava long way by now. We are now into our 30 year span with pc computing, but its like pre-1980 when it comes to AA and speech recognition. I have a feeling that the real reason why is because the military (Defense Department) has their hands deeply tied into AA and speech recognition for military control systems and they don’t want the technology released to the public…that is what I think – so we get this dinky, ill fitted, useless and worthless thing MS calls “speech recognition.” Let’s see, in the movie Firefox, our hero had to THINK in Russian to operate the MIG, let alone speak to it in Russian. Now if that idea has been out there this long, where is Microsoft at? Really!

  5. susrich

    @ jimc52… and you say that just for the english language…

  6. Rob Job

    …so what happens if somebody that has a heavy accent, tries to use the speech recognition? I think it’ll be funny as shiz!

  7. williamwclee

    how about its text-to-speech functionality?

    i always came across the error below no matter i am on xp or windows 7.

    “Speech Properties
    This voice cannot be played. Please try selecting another voice or selecting a different audio output device.”

    reinstallation of the speech engine won’t help.

    any idea what went wrong?



  8. williamwclee
  9. ricrom

    excelent tutorial. Thanks. I made it with “SR”.

  10. Adam A

    Excellent video tutorial. I am very surprised how easy This software can recognize my voice. It seems like it will take quite a while to use the software to get around on the computer With. However, I’ve been trying to think how this would come in handy, perhaps if I had no hands. It’s nice to see Microsoft making some usable accessibility tools. Using your tutorial I was able to write this whole comment without any problem.

  11. tyhfgh

    rty rt rty rty rt yrty

  12. Jack

    I’m a long time user of voice recognition….11 years this spring.
    L&H 5 was ok,
    Via Voice was a waste of time and money. Too many errors.
    Speech recognition in Win7 is barely OK for computer management but poor for voice to text, too many errors. It’s better since first introduced in Office XP, but error correction makes using it a more lengthy proposition than peck typing.
    Dragon Naturally Speaking is an obvious choice for those needing voice to text.

    I’ve seen the standard version on sale as low as $40 at retail stores.

    DNS isn’t perfect but it is far better than the Windows version.

  13. paulo

    who is this hell yatri trivedi?

  14. Hatryst

    An excellent writer for How-To Geek, the one who wrote this article.
    Be nice, man…

  15. Mastermind

    My firefox always starts to mess teh fuck uppa whenever I use this. Everything works perfectly except for firefox who then laggs a painfull death

  16. Daniel Cheng

    this may be useful for HTPC setups, where you don’t have a keyboard/mouse readily available.

  17. Susan Simmons

    The tutorial is easy to understand and makes the program appear functional. After running the tutorial several times to help train my computer to recognize my voice, it has not proved to be anything more than a toy to try and a challenge that thus far has resulted in frustration and futility. But, I’m not ready to give up yet. I’ll let you know if I ever get it to actually do anything useful.

  18. bob

    i have a question and not a question is can you use windows 7 voice recognition in chat while playing WOW game. and ty for the info

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