Since the late 1990s, it has been possible to write text documents on your computer without using your voice. Who can forget the fanfare of the 1997 release of Dragon Naturally Speaking? With just a microphone, you could talk on your PC and do your best to recognize and write down what you said.
It sounded great on paper, but this first speech recognition technology proved more frustrating than useful. You had to speak at a snail’s pace, with the intonation of a robot. Still, you would be lucky enough to achieve even 70% accuracy.
While there was a lot of optimism that voice recognition would be the main way to use our equipment in the future, things haven’t really turned out that way. At least not yet.
While voice assistants like Siri and Google Assistant are used daily for quick searches, queries, or regular device functions, the physical interfaces remain where they are. When writing documents, it is almost unheard of for someone to prefer voice dictation.
It’s a shame, because without spending a dime, you have access to a voice dictation solution far away superior to what I was so excited about two decades ago. The free-to-use Google Docs cloud app has a robust and almost 100% accurate voice dictation solution.
Typing with your voice in Google Docs
The first thing you need to know is that proper voice dictation is only available in the Chrome browser. If you’re using the Google Docs app on a mobile device, you can use Google’s keyboard microphone to dictate text, but it doesn’t have the same features as the appropriate solution we’re discussing here.
Before we go to Google Docs and go, we need to make sure your microphone is working properly. In Windows 10, you can right-click the speaker icon in the notification area. Then click Open Sound Settings.
In this screen, below Entrance you should see the microphone level jump as you speak into the microphone.
If you use a laptop with a built-in microphone or a desktop webcam with it, you may not always get the results you want. While these microphones are pretty good today, a good condenser desktop microphone or a good quality headset microphone can make a dramatic difference in the degree of comprehension.
Now that we’ve verified that the microphone is working, we can go to any Google Docs document. Position the cursor where you want to insert the dictated text.
Now click on Tools and then Voice writing. You can also use the keyboard shortcut CTRL + SHIFT + S.
You will see a small pop-up window with the image of a microphone. Click on the microphone icon to start dictation. Everything you say will be recorded in real time.
Voice recognition occurs on powerful cloud systems, so you’ll need a working Internet connection.
From time to time, Google gets the words wrong. You don’t need to turn off voice dictation to fix it. Simply move the cursor with the mouse and correct the incorrect word as usual. Google will learn from your corrections.
In addition to writing sentences, you can also format and edit with voice controls. There is an extensive list of commands that allow you to (among other things) select text, apply formatting, crop, copy, paste, and more.
You can even navigate the page, move the cursor, or scroll through the entire document. If you learn enough commands, you may never have to touch the computer to type.