Post image for How to Use Speech-to-Text Software

How to Use Speech-to-Text Software

April 1, 2009

in applications,digital media,Vista

by David Hakala

Q: I think I have trained my Dell Vostro/Vista to recognise my voice, but how do I actually put it into practice? I will shortly be having to type a quite lengthy report and it would be really useful to merely speak to my laptop since my typing speed is bit tortoise-like! – Nigel

Speech-to-text, or speech recognition, is a feature built into the Vista operating system. Like all the many components of a general-purpose operating system, Vista’s speech recognition is not the best of its breed. Third-party speech recognition software such as Nuance’s Dragon NaturallySpeaking are more reliable than Vista’s built-in stuff. For a “quite lengthy report” and regular use, I would highly recommend investing in top-quality speech recognition software.

That said, there are steps you can take to get the most out of Vista’s built-in speech recognition:

Avoid Bluetooth microphones. Users report that Vista’s speech recognition does not play well with Bluetooth microphones. Transcription errors are common.

Use a USB microphone. A mic that plugs into your computer’s sound card port is not ideal. The sound cards on integrated motherboards are generally of mediocre quality. Get a USB mic such as a basic LogiTech model that costs around $40.

Use speech recognition in a quiet place. A good mic will pick up ambient sound and inject gibberish into your text. Find the quietest place you can in which to use this software.

Speak strongly and clearly. Pretend you are Abraham Lincoln delivering the Gettysburg Address.

“Spell it.” When you introduce a new word, the speech recognition software is likely to get it wrong. Just say “spell it” and then spell the word aloud, slowly and plainly, so the software can learn it.

Use spellcheck. No speech recognition software will transcribe everything perfectly. You will have to run spellcheck in your word processor and make corrections manually.

Nigel does not say what word processor he is using. Microsoft Word 2007 supports speech recognition with Vista. An extensive tutorial on using speech recognition with Windows XP and Word 2003 or earlier versions is available on the Microsoft Office support Web site.

David Hakala has perpetrated technology tutorials since 1988 in addition to committing tech journalism, documentation, Web sites, marketing collateral, and profitable prose in general. His complete rap sheet can be seen at


Karoly 04.01.09 at 4:12 pm

As a longtime user of DNS, I would advise any new user to use it only if necessary. I use it only because of repetitive motion trauma to my wrists. There’s a long learning curve of the user accomodating to DNS and DNS learning the user’s quirks and vocabulary and way of speaking. Learning to touch-type is much quicker. A lot quicker. I learned to touch-type the summer before I went to college and never looked back.

Nigel D Withyman 04.02.09 at 12:52 pm

Hi David,
Many thanks for your helpful, informative and interesting response to my query regarding ‘Voice recognition’.
I am in fact using ‘Sun Open Office’ 3.0 wordprocessing software which I understand bears some similarities with ‘Word 2003’. Is it possible to utilise VR in Open Office without purchasing more reliable (and I would imagine expensive) software in order to get a flavour for it? If so, how do I set about doing this?
Thanks again for producing such a helpful Newsletter!
Best wishes,
Nigel D Withyman
Ps Thanks also to ‘Karoly’ for that contribution!

Comments on this entry are closed.