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How to Enable Dictation: Convert Spoken Words into Text [macOS, iOS, iPadOS]

Learn how to enable dictation on macOS, iOS and iPadOS to convert spoken words into text — speech to text.

The Apple logo.

It might happen when I’m shopping, exercising or even reading in bed. Ideas arrive at inconvenient times.

In order to capture and elaborate on these ideas, I could type them in one of my favorite writing apps, but if I’m on the move or simply don’t feel like typing, I use dictation.

Dictation converts spoken words to text. Some people use dictation because they prefer speaking more than typing, some people use it because they have carpal tunnel and others, like me, use it when it’s more convenient than typing.

In this post, I’m going to show you how to enable dictation on macOS and iOS and convert spoken words into text.

Dictation (macOS)

Text to speech on macOS, using Coda

To use dictation well, you have to train yourself to speak as if you were typing. For example, compare the following typed and dictated sentences:

Typed
 Sentence
“The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”

Dictated Sentence

open quote the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog period close quote

As you can see, it might take time to train yourself to say words like open quote, close quote and period, but it can be much easier to record speech to text. In addition, dictation is also far more efficient than using voice memos since you’d still have to listen to the memos and transcribe them into text.

To enable dictation, do the following:

1. Click the Apple menu > System Preferences

Step 1: The Apple Menu > System Preferences

2. Click Keyboard

The macOS System Preferences' screen with Keyboard highlighted

3. Click Dictation

The macOS System Preferences' screen with Dictation highlighted

4. Turn on Dictation

The macOS System Preferences' screen with Dictation > On highlighted

5. Click Enable Dictation

The macOS System Preferences' screen with Enable Dictation highlighted

After enabling dictation on macOS, open your favorite writing app and click the fn key twice to start dictating. You’ll see a microphone icon. Start speaking.

To stop dictating, click Done or enter the shortcut again. If you prefer a different shortcut, you can customize this in settings.

Dictation (iOS, iPadOS)

Four iPhones with screenshots that show how to setup Dictation on iOS

I don’t use Siri very often on mobile, but I use dictation all the time. While dictation is very good, it’s not always perfect. Therefore, you'll want to review what you've dictated. For that, I use Text to Speech on macOS and Speak Selection on iOS.

To enable and use dictation on iOS, do the following (see images):

  1. Tap Settings
  2. Tap General
  3. Tap Keyboard
  4. Turn on Dictation. Tap Enable Dictation.

After enabling dictation on iOS, open your favorite writing app and tap the page to activate the keyboard. Then, tap the microphone that’s located next to the spacebar and start speaking.

Wrap Up

You just learned how to enable dictation on macOS and iOS. Give it a try! You might find it to be more convenient than typing.

How to Enable Dictation: Convert Spoken Words into Text [macOS, iOS, iPadOS] first appeared on the Bento Sites Blog by Jeff Shibasaki.

Close-up of Jeff Shibasaki wearing a black hat.

Jeff Shibasaki

I’m an Atlanta web designer that specializes in website design and development on Webflow and Squarespace.

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