AHEAD: Association for Higher Education Access & Disability
Creating inclusive environments in education & employment for people with disabilities.


Mac Laptop/Desktop– Dictation (Speech to Text).

Cost: Free | Platforms: Built in tool in a Mac Laptop / Desktop.

Mac Laptops and Desktops have an in-built tool called Dictation that allows you to write up documents with your voice.

Its key feature is: You can generate text from your voice easily on a Mac laptop or Desktop. When you switch this feature, you can speak out your written notes and convert them into a document. If you think your typing speed is slower than expected then maybe dictation would be a new option.

Most useful for: Get the first version of your hand written assignment typed up fast using this dictation tool. Then you can start to edit and proofread your assignment.

How do I switch on dictation on my Mac?

  1. On your Mac, choose Apple menu > ‘System Preferences’, click Keyboard, then click ‘Dictation’.

  1. Click On. If a prompt appears, click ‘Enable Dictation’.

How do I begin to dictate?

  1. In an app on your Mac, place the insertion point where you want the dictated text to appear.

  1. Press the dictation keyboard shortcut or choose Edit > Start Dictation.

  1. When the feedback window shows a microphone icon with a fluctuating loudness indicator, or you hear the tone that signals your Mac is ready for keyboard dictation, dictate your text.

  1. Note: For best results, speak for no more than 40 seconds at a time.

  1. To insert a punctuation mark or perform simple formatting tasks, do any of the following:

  1. Say the name of the punctuation mark, such as “exclamation mark”.

  1. Say “new line” (equivalent to pressing the Return key once) or “new paragraph” (equivalent to pressing the Return key twice). After you say “new line”, the dictated text appears when you’ve finished dictating.

  1. For a list of the commands, you can use while dictating, see Commands for dictating text.

mac dictation options found in system preferences. Options include language and shortcut keys.

Our Top Tip:

If you find it challenging to write your ideas on paper then maybe speaking out your ideas will suit you better.

Demonstration of Dictation on a Mac in Action

Video source: Tech Talk America YouTube channel

Go to the Mac website for more information>

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Advice about Dictation Tools:

  • If you are a student in Higher Education, speak to your Assistive Technology Officer or Disability Officer /Learning Support Officer.

  • If you are a Student in the FET/ETB then it may be possible to speak to an Educational Needs Coordinator, Learning Support Coordinator, Student Access Officer, Student Support Coordinator or a Disability Support Officer for more information about assistive technology.

  • If you are an Employee and are interested in this technology then speak to your Disability Liaison Officer (public service) or your Line Manager to start the conversation.

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Creating Inclusive Environments in Education and Employment for People with Disabilities

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