Dragon Dictate for Scrivener

I use the dictation system included in Mavericks (offline). In Spanish. It works really well with my Mac Mini late 2012 and Samson Meteor Mic (USB).

I use it often (and have for a while), but I don’t think it’s really at 99.9%. But its accuracy is pretty high! The trick is to train it to the way you pronounce words, as well as your syntax. It’s supposed to be able to figure out which homonym is correct by context. It usually does pretty well.

I use DD for dictating dialog, which for some reason I find easier to do via voce than by typing it. YMMV. I pause way too much while writing descriptive text for DD to be happy with me. DD wants to type something, apparently, even if it head only pauses…

Also, train it in the environment you use. Noisy v. quiet, even repeating noises. It works pretty well at picking out my words even in an environment where multiple tv’s are on in the background.

Another trick I use is to dictate into an empty Scrivener project, rather than the main one. (set up as a copy of whatever project you’re dictating into). Go along, finish your dictation, edit it (by hand), drag the new stuff into your old project. That’s what works for me.

All my projects are multiple kilowords, and I get annoyed by DD’s odd habit of jumping around within paragraphs in response to what it thinks are my text commands. (I like “strike that” (I’ve also trained DD to acknowledge “stet” as an equivalent. You can train DD to most anything, keyed by nearly any voice command, you want it to do.) enough that I haven’t tried turning the feature off…though it may come to that.)

Other than those minor annoyances, I think DD plays pretty well with Scrivener for Mac.


I used to use DD a fair amount. Eventually I gave up on it because so much of the writing I do involves neologisms that no speech rec software will know until you train it. Also I have a breathy voice that is hard for DD to pick up on.

If you try it, my big advice is to proof every section of writing as soon as you are done with a DD session. Do not wait, do it immediately.

DD will produce nice text, good text, text with no mis-spellings, and maybe even no grammatical errors – but the text will not be what you said or meant to say. For example, recently using DD my text contained the sky' which DD thought was this guy.’

For these reasons I restricted DD to writing emails, journal entries, and notes, and outlawed it from real writing where accuracy was crucial. (Also my older version of DD does not work with 10.9.) Even there, I have had experience in the past where I gained too much confidence in DD and dictated some notes without proofing them. Months later, going over the notes, I found nonsense phrases, and could not remember what I had actually said or meant to say.

Remember also, that 99% accuracy sounds good, until you remember that in the old typescript days, one page held ~250 words. This means that if DD were transcribing what you said word for word, there would be 2 mistakes on every page. (But since DD transcribes phrase for phrase rather than word for word, it is hard to quantify it in this way – it only gives you an example of how a high percentage really means less than you would think.)

Many people use Nuance software (the windows version is a lot better than the mac version – more mature and plays nicer with the OS and various programs), and they like it a lot, and sure, once you get going, dictating is a lot faster than typing. Plus there are various notions of how speaking your prose makes it more conversational or alters your style from keyboarding in other ways, and these differences might be just what you want. I do not mean to dissuade anyone from using it: if you can get it to work for you, it can be very powerful.

– asotir

FWIW - I see the latest version of DD for Mac 6(?) now specifically mentions Scrivener, as one of the applications it works in. Not sure if that has always been the case?

Regardless - I took the plunge on v5 several months ago - even with the major discount, it is not cheap. Was toying with upgrading to v6 - again, NOT cheap - even with the discount option, but have decided to hold off. V5 is not exactly the world’s most stable piece of software. Judging by the reactions of people on their forum to V6, one would be inclined to think the V6 is even worse. That said, there were as many complaining about V5 (and many still are), so that is something to take into account.

I gave up trying to use it in Word or Outlook. It’s simply too unstable. The Dragon scratchpad wasn’t much better. I now simply use it in Textedit, and transfer across afterwards. A bit of a kludge, but works quite well.

I’ve yet to do anything heavy-duty in Scrivener. To be honest, I’m too nervous. But it certainly saves me plenty of time when I’m taking down notes following a consultation - far quicker than typing. So I’m happy with the purchase.

Should anyone here have been brave enough to take the plunge on V6, AND have been using it with Scrivener - please pop up some thoughts!

The thing that bugs the heck out of me about Dragon – which for me is only a convenience tool – is that you cannot turn OFF the voice editing functions. These are the functions that when they misfire will move your cursor up and select some text and then you will be overwriting your writing until whenever you notice. You lose text 100% of the time when this happens – not to mention end up with some amount of displaced text. This has been complained about so many times, yet the software has gone through endless iterations without adding a setting to switch that stuff off.

Sorry, Dragon. Not infrequently erasing my text while I am writing is an obvious deal breaker. (This has nothing to do with Scrivener, of course, it happens anywhere you use Dragon.


P.S. And yes, I did look into hacking it off, but couldn’t figure out how it might be done.

In the Windows version you work in different modes, e.g., Dictation Mode, Editing Mode, etc., so that if you’re in Dictation Mode and you speak a sentence containing “select X” Dragon doesn’t interrupt your dictation to hunt down the last instance of “X” in your document. The Mac version doesn’t work this way?

That sounds very sensible. No it does not have this division between Dictation and Editing modes.* The Dictation mode on the Mac would appear to be a fusion of your Dictation and Editing modes. So, you are never safe from your words being taken for editing instructions.

Even more mysterious then that Dragon still lacks this crucial distinction on the Mac side!


  • The modes on the mac are these: Dictation mode, Spelling mode, Command mode, Numbers mode, Sleep mode. (Command mode is not Editing mode.)