With the latest release of Mac OS X, 10.8 Mountain Lion you can now dictate short pieces of text. Anywhere you can enter text on your Mac, you can now dictate it. In this article I will show you how to enable dictation in Mountain Lion and show some ways in which I think it can be useful and hopefully enable you to be more productive.
By default Dictation is turned off, so you first have to enable it. You can do this in System Preferences > Dictation & Speech>Dictation. Click the ‘on’ button to turn dictation on.
When you turn Dictation on, OS X gives you a further confirmation box asking for your permission to send the audio and your contact details to Apple. This is because The speech to text conversion takes place on Apple’s remote servers rather than on your Mac. This means your Mac must be connected to the Internet, otherwise dictation will not work.
Here, you can also select the Shortcut key that you wish to use to activate Dictation. By default, Dictation can be activated by pressing the Function (fn) key twice. While in the Dictation preference pane, you can also select the language that you will be speaking.
To use Dictation, open any application that has a text input area and position your cursor in that text area. Press the shortcut key twice (by default, the fn key).
A small microphone icon will appear below the cursor. Begin talking. When you have finished talking, either press the shortcut key again, or click the “Done” button below the microphone. After a few seconds, your voice will be transcribed into text. Note there is a maximum audio capture time of 30 Seconds with dictation which limits how long you can talk without pressing the function key again to stop.
The 30 second dictation limit means that the built in dictation facility is not ideal for creating long word processing documents, but I have come up with a number of ideas which makes dictation useful.
Mountain Lion has built-in support for Twitter and Facebook. You can post updates to your social media sites using the new notification center in OS X 10.8. As you can only post 140 character updates in Twitter, it makes it ideal for Mountain Lion Dictation. You can access the notification centre by either clicking on the icon at the top left of the menu bar. If you have a laptop or magic trackpad you can also access the notification centre by using a two finger swipe from the right of the trackpad, moving to the left. Just click in the ‘click to tweet box’ and press the shortcut key (by default the function fn key) twice to start capturing your dictation. When finished, press the shortcut key again. The sound file will be processed by Apple and the text will be placed at the cursor.
Creating New Reminders
The new Reminders Application included with Mac OS X Mountain Lion is a great place to store all your reminders. Any reminders entered into the Mac Application can be synced through to your iOS devices as well. Using the dictation facility in Mountain Lion is an easy and quick way to enter your reminders.
Project ideas or meeting agenda items in Omnioutliner
Omnioutliner from the Omni Group is a simple but brilliant outlining application. It is a very flexible program for creating, collecting, and organising information. Using dictation you can use it to quickly get your thoughts down for a project or meeting agenda, and then use the drag and drop tools to re-order your thoughts and even nest them into a hierarchical structure.
I am sure you can think of more great uses for the new dictation tool, for example drafting quick replies to emails.