Since the late 90s, it has become possible to type text documents on your computer using only your voice. Who can forget the fanfare for the 1997 release of Dragon Naturally Speaking? With only a microphone, you can talk on your computer, and it will do its best to recognize and record what you said.
It sounded great on paper, but this early voice recognition technology was disappointing rather than helpful. You had to speak with the speed of a snail, with the intonation of a robot. Even so, you will be lucky with an accuracy of 70%.
While there has been a lot of optimism that voice recognition will become the main way of using computers in the future, things have actually changed. At least for now.
While voice assistants such as Siri and Google Assistant are used daily to quickly search, complete questions, or perform general device functions, physical interfaces remain where they are. When it comes to typing documents, it’s almost unheard of for anyone to prefer voice-over to dictation.
It’s a shame, because without spending a cent, you get access to a voice dictation solution far beyond what everyone was excited about two decades ago. The free cloud-based Google Docs app has a reliable and nearly 100% accurate voice dictation solution.
Write with your own voice in Google Docs
The first thing you should know is that correct voice dictation is only available in the Chrome browser. If you’re using the Google Docs app on a mobile device, you can still use the Google keyboard microphone to dictate text, but it doesn’t have the same feature set as the suitable solution we’re discussing here. P>
Before heading to Google Docs and chatting, we need to make sure your microphone is working properly. In Windows 10, you can do this by right-clicking the speaker icon in the notification area. Then click “Open Sound Settings”.
On this screen under the Input section, you should see a jump in the microphone level when you speak into the microphone.
If you are using a laptop with a built-in microphone or a desktop webcam with it, then you may not always get the results you want. While these microphones are pretty good these days, a good condenser desktop microphone or a quality headset microphone can make a big difference in how well you are understood.
Now that we’ve made sure the microphone is working, we can navigate to any Google Docs document. Place the cursor where you want to insert the dictated text.
Now click on “Tools” and then “Voice Dialing”. You can also use the keyboard shortcut CTRL + SHIFT + S.
You will see a small pop-up window with a microphone image. Click the microphone icon to start dictation. Everything you say will be recorded in real time.
Voice recognition takes place in powerful cloud systems, so you need a working internet connection for it to work.
Sometimes Google gets it wrong. You don’t need to turn off voice dictation to fix this. Just move the cursor with your mouse and correct the incorrect word as usual. Google will learn from your corrections.
Edit with your voice
In addition to entering sentences, you can also perform formatting and editing using voice control. There is an extensive list of commands that allow (among others) to highlight text, apply formatting, cut, copy, paste, etc.
You can even move around the page by moving the cursor or scrolling through the entire document. If you learn enough commands, you may not have to touch your computer at all to write.