In the early days of voice recognition, you would be lucky enough to recognize half of your words, even if you spoke slowly like a robot. Nowadays, all smartphones have some kind of voice assistant that can take notes quickly or perform tasks such as opening applications.
However, if you have a Windows 10 computer, you can also control Windows 10 with your voice. This is more than an interesting feature. It can be a real increase in productivity and, for people with certain disabilities, an effective way to control their computer.
Control vs. Dictation
Do you want to control Windows 10 with your voice or do you just want me to type what you say? Voice control is a different function from dictation and some users are often confused between the two concepts. If all you want to do is just talk and have your computer type what you say, you don’t have to worry about setting up voice recognition.
For example, Google Docs has an excellent voice dictation feature that uses the power of the cloud turn your speech into text. If you’re a macOS user, you can even use Apple’s built-in system.
This article is about voice control, rather than voice dictation. In other words, we want to use Windows and perform general tasks without using the keyboard or mouse.
Choose the right microphone
If you want to control Windows 10 with your voice, you’ll need to give your computer some way to listen to you. If you use a laptop or have a desktop webcam, you already have a basic microphone on hand, but it won’t always work well for voice recognition.
Since you already have these microphones, you can’t do anything to test voice control with them, but a microphone class will definitely make things better. We are using one Samson Go microphone here.
Windows explains which microphone to use
Before you can start giving commands to your computer, you must specify which microphone you should use. Because Windows supports multiple microphones at once, you can sometimes choose a default microphone that is not optimal for voice control.
Once you have the microphone plugged in (assuming it is an external microphone), it is quite easy to choose it as an active recording device. Simply right-click the speaker icon in the system tray.
Then click Open Sound Settings.
In the window that appears, under “Input,” select the microphone that you want the system to use from the drop-down list.
Voice recognition settings
To start the voice recognition activation process on your Windows 10 computer, open the Start menu and type Voice recognition. Then open it.
In the new window that appears, click Start voice recognition. You may get a pop-up warning window that voice recognition is optimized for American English speakers. Just click OK to ignore it.
Below you will see this wizard, which will guide you through the setup process.
Next, you need to choose what type of microphone to use. We are using a Samson Go microphone, which is on the desktop (or fixed on a screen), so we will choose Desktop microphone.
The following screen will show you how to set up the microphone. It differs for each type of microphone, so we won’t show it here.
Now read the sample text to help Windows calibrate your microphone.
If your computer understands you well enough, you can click Next.
You will now see an option to allow Windows to read your documents, to get an idea of your vocabulary and phrasing. It’s up to you if you want to do it. If you have documents with irrelevant content or have privacy issues, please feel free to turn it off.
Okay, we’re almost there. Now all you have to do is choose your activation mode.
Basically, you need to decide if you want voice recognition to be activated by speaking a keyword, which means you’re always listening, or using a keyboard shortcut.
You now have the opportunity to print a reference card with common commands.
Honestly, most people won’t need it, as you can always look for orders when you need them, but if you’re preparing your computer for a user with a disability or less tech experience, it’s helpful to print it out and put it on. lo near the computer as a reference.
Finally, after choosing whether to run voice recognition at startup, you have the option to do the tutorial. If you haven’t, you should! For those who have gone through the tutorial, just skip it.
When voice recognition is running, you’ll see it on the screen.
Enable voice recognition using the chosen activation method, although Windows Key + Ctrl will work as a switch independently. As proof, suffice it to say Start menu with the “listen” indicator enabled. The start menu should appear immediately. See the official reference card for more orders.
With the basic setup done, you’re practically ready to control your computer with just your voice. However, you may want to train Windows more to make voice recognition more accurate. You’ll find the training app in the voice recognition settings you first used to set up voice recognition.
The more voice samples Windows has, the better the system will work. That said, if you receive a lot of missed or heard commands, it takes a few minutes to train your voice recognition system.
Cortana and third party options
It’s okay for Windows 10 to include a built-in voice recognition app to control Windows 10 with your voice, but is there a better alternative? The truth is that desktop voice control is a pretty niche area. It is often relegated to being an accessibility feature. Therefore, there are not so many third-party options.
Interestingly, Windows 10 has a completely separate voice-activated system in the form of Cortana. As a voice assistant, Cortana isn’t designed to be a voice replacement for the keyboard and mouse, but there’s quite an overlap between the two systems. Take a look at what Cortana can do, perhaps it would be better suited to your specific needs than the general purpose voice recognition system.
As for third-party voice control, there isn’t much. The biggest name right now is Dragon speech recognition from Nuance. They were the first pioneers of computer voice recognition and probably had the most experience of any company in this field. This is an option worth exploring if you have complex speech recognition or mission critical needs.