Voice Recognition Software

Is there a “voice recognition software” compatible for use with Scrivener for Apple users? If so can you please tell me the name of it and any “.experience” you have in using it? Thank you !


There are at least four types of dictation software that one could use with Scrivener on an Apple Mac.

Two of them I haven’t used. They are Microsoft’s and Apple’s own dictation applications, supplied as part of the operating systems. The Windows system would have to be mounted as part of the functionality of the Windows 7 or 8 operating systems within Parallels or a similar ‘virtual machine’ environment on top of the Mac OS X platform. In other words, complicated, prone to problems and probably expensive if you have to buy extra RAM for your Mac to make it work (as you’d probably have to do).

The Apple system, of course, wouldn’t need all that software superstructure, just an appropriately decent microphone. And the programme itself is already accessible on your machine, at the foot of the Edit menu of (I think) every Mac application, including Scrivener. I believe one or two people have reported using it with Scrivener - worth searching the forum.

But the Big Daddy of voice recognition/dictation software is made by Nuance under the Dragon brand. The version for the Mac is called Dragon Dictate (DD), and for Windows, Dragon Naturally Speaking (DNS). DD and DNS share the same voice recognition engine and so are equally good at understanding dictation, but DNS is quite a lot better at also enabling you to use your voice to control your computer. For this reason, some Mac users install DNS using the paraphernalia I listed above (Parallels, Windows 7 or 8 ); of course you’d also have to install Scrivener for Windows. But DD is perfectly useable with Scrivener on your Mac without all that, if dictation is all you want.

Voice recognition is clearly a developing technology. It isn’t error-free yet, but as far as I can see it’s improved hugely in the last five or ten years. The two key things that experts say can really make a difference to the accuracy of your results are the quality of your hardware (lots of L3 Cache, whatever that is, and avoiding Bluetooth mikes are usually advised, for example), and your dictation technique (don’t imagine that you can dictate with all the um’s and ah’s of everyday speech - you won’t get an acceptable outcome).

The experts say that dictation is a skill that needs practice to make it successful. That’s my experience also.

Thank you Hugh ! This was extremely helpful. A friend in Colorado also suggested “Dragon” – I will check it out and also what “dictation app” my Mac Book Pro laptop can incorporate. I was advised that if I do go the “Dragon” route not to shortchange myself and take the TIME to do proper SETUP and TRAINING TUTORIALS. I think I get the picture now that two (2) of you have suggested becoming “technically sound” in “dictation software.” The nice feature about the Dragon v.4 is it’s Bluetooth capability. Being a Writer I like to “move around in my space” and not be tied to a chair. Physically, I’ve been diagnosed with “chronic disc degeneration” in my cervical, mid-thoracic and lumbar spine – too much bone on bone brings on the pain and too much time spent in one position is also “not good” – sitting, standing, laying flat on my Writing Den floor are “all in the mix” for me so “hands-free” would be nice. The only downside is cost; close to $300, BUT . . .

Thanks again – any other ideas, I’m open for business. Your response was thorough and helpful.


Enhanced Dictation in OS X Mavericks works very well. Worth trying before splashing out for additional software and the cost of future updates.

macobserver.com/tmo/article/ … -dictation

I assume, but don’t know, that it would work with a Bluetooth mic.


As I understand it, there are two potential problems with Bluetooth microphones and voice recognition. One is the need in speech-to-text for the microphone to ‘pair’ reliably and without interruption with your computer (or a receiving dongle plugged into one of the USB sockets on your computer). For some setups involving Bluetooth, this pairing can be unreliable; I’ve personal experience of this.

The other issue is possibly more fundamental: my understanding is that, despite what some brands may claim, the digital sampling rate or the frequency range of ordinary Bluetooth is too low to be ideal for voice recognition purposes - something like that, anyway (as you’ll have gathered, I’m not an expert). There’s an enhanced Bluetooth standard now being introduced, but I don’t know how widespread it is.

However… there are wireless microphones that use forms of radio that are not Bluetooth and do have the necessary technical specifications - this, for example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SpJj1SHZBqc

Dragon Dictate works well (I used to use it a few years, and a couple of versions, ago). They are about to release a brand new version - got the preview email about it yesterday.

The main problem I had with dictation was thinking my thoughts clearly and succinctly enough before saying them. I don’t think in complete, well-formed, sentences so I naturally had a little trouble dictating them. Hence I had frequent, and often overpowering, urges to edit the text I was creating as I created it. Given that Dragon Dictate (at least then, it may have changed by now) was not good at tracking text changes in software other than itself, this did not work well. I haven’t used it for at least 12 months, although keep promising myself I’ll retry it when I have (a) a new Mac with more memory and (b) DD’s editing abilities improve.

No problems whatsoever with using bluetooth with Dragon Dictate. They even provide their own (free) iOS app you can install on your iPhone in order to use it as a bluetooth microphone - it worked wonderfully (even better than the USB microphone that I originally bought to use with DD). You can also buy DD with a bluetooth microphone supplied.

Just to second this suggestion: Apple’s built-in works very well indeed, for free. I don’t use any extra mics, just the small built-in mic, and find that is sufficient. The pick-up on my new i-Pad mini is slightly better than on my MBA, which I put down to the 2nd noise-cancelling mic on the i-Pad. Although my early 2013 MBA doesn’t have that technology I understand that the newest MBA models do.

Nuance just-released Dragon Dictate 4. Every time there is a new release of Dragon Dictate I was hold my breath in anticipation. Mostly I wonder if this program will continue running and not have any serious hangups. It seems with each incarnation I expect less.

This version of Dragon Dictate is excellent. The speed of translation definitely makes this a worthwhile upgrade. H

I agree.

I have to admit that having posted above about the surprisingly abilities of the built-in Apple dictate feature I am now - as of this morning - a new convert to Dragon Dictate 4. I’m a rotten typist and I’ve a lot of writing to do at the moment and so I thought, given the recent vey positive reports, it was worth a £125 punt to try it.

It took forever to download (wonderful rural BT broadband) but much less time to complete the Voice Training preliminaries and the Interactive Tutorial and to get to work. Voice activated editing of the dictated text is going to be very useful, as is the ability to expand the vocabulary by feeding the Dragon a text document with all of the oddities in it, and as an added bonus - one I wasn’t expecting - whereas the Apple system only works on Cocoa applications, which excludes Tinderbox 5, Dragon works very nicely in it on my small tests so far.

I haven’t come across software that is reviled and admired to the extent that Dragon’s variants are, both Windows and OSX - though I suspect that differences between users in hardware choices and dictating style and competence have much to answer for.

I hope your use continues to come out on the plus side.

Dragon Dictate 4 is not yet localized in Italian, so it is very bad software. Here! :imp:

I’ve been using Dragon Dictate for years – first on a virtual PC running on my Macs, then (when the Italian version was finally released for Mac) right in its native version. The Mac version is great, much better than the PC version (that tended to become less reliable, under Win XP Pro, after half an hour of use).

I used it to dictate my dissertation, and this saved my academic career, since typing a long essay after my work hours as a technical writer had to be considered impossible. I also use it for occasional translations, and sometimes for dictating notes. I’ve good pronunciation, so Dragon Dictate has always been able to do a near-perfect transcription.

The Apple dictation service in both the Mac and iOS is good, but not nearly as accurate. Also, you have to dictate in chunks, and wait for transcription in the idle time – not too natural for me. Dragon lets me see the text appearing while dictating, letting me be aware of mistakes immediately after I do them.

So, I’m eagerly awaiting for the new version. It’s an essential tool for me.


Thats how I’m using it: I wrote an academic monograph which I am now using as the basis for a wider, more general non-fiction work. All of the research has been done and as the structure of the document is in place I essentially have a massive re-write on my hands (in addition to my daily business). Dictating to the Dragon in just the 8 hours I’ve used it since purchase at the week-end has been extremely productive.

I had worried that dictating so much instead of typing would change my `writing’ style and probably for the worse; but of course all I am dictating is Shitty First Drafts and so the self-editing stage brings my written voice back in. Henry James worked like this, and if it’s good enough for him …

I agree completely with the advance over the Mac, good though that is (I still use it on my iPad mini). I like the fact that there is no time-out on Dragon mic, which allows for a much more natural delivery, though I’ve not got used to putting it to sleep when the phone rings and so have accidentally fully transcribed my side of a few phone calls this week-end …

Henry James? Yes, indeed. But once he began using dictation (to a Scottish gentleman “type-writer”) he did become notably verbose. Rather, his native verbosity seemed to be given free rein and a new lease of life, and spread like a weed. So, beware!

I’m not in full agreement with the James I, James II and the Old Pretender view of him, nor the native verbosity bit (and there was none so scornful of his as his brother Willy - the subject of my writing). But I take your point …

Henry James not prolix?.. but there are anecdotes aplenty. For example… " Henry James (1843-1916)From Literary Anecdotes About 19th Century Authors Born After 1829…
JAMES, who was a frequent companion on our English motor-trips, was firmly convinced that, because he lived in England and our chauffeur (an American) did not, it was necessary that the latter should be guided by him through the intricacies of the English countryside. Signposts were rare in England in those days, and for many years afterwards …

It chanced however that Charles Cook, our faithful and skilful driver, was a born path-finder, while James’s sense of direction was non-existent, or rather actively but always erroneously alert; and the consequences of his intervention were always bewildering and sometimes extremely fatiguing. The first time that my husband and I went to Lamb House by motor (coming from France) James, who had travelled to Folkestone by train to meet us, insisted on seating himself next to Cook on the plea that the roads across Romney Marsh formed such a tangle that only an old inhabitant could guide us to Rye. The suggestion resulted in our turning around and around in our tracks till long after dark, though Rye, conspicuous on its conical hill, was just ahead of us and Cook could easily have landed us there in time for tea.

Another year we had been motoring in the West Country, and on the way back were to spend a night at Malvern. As we approached (at the close of a dark rainy afternoon) I saw James growing restless, and was not surprised to hear him say: My dear, I once spent a summer at Malvern and know it very well; and as it is rather difficult to find the way to the hotel, it might be well if Edward were to change places with me and let me sit beside Cook.' My husband of course acceded (though with doubts in his heart) and, James having taken his place, we awaited the result. Malvern, if I am not mistaken, is encircled by a sort of upper boulevard, of the kind called in Italy a strada di circonvallazione, and for an hour we circled about above the outspread city while James vainly tried to remember which particular street led down most directly to our hotel. At each corner (literally) he stopped the motor, and we heard a muttering, first confident and then anguished. 'This—this, my dear Cook, yes . . . this certainly is the right corner. But no; stay! A moment longer, please—in this light it's so difficult . . . appearances are so misleading ... It may be . . . yes! I think it is the next turn . . . a little farther lend thy guiding hand ... that is, drive on; but slowly, please, my dear Cook; very slowly!' And at the next corner the same agitated monologue would be repeated; till at length Cook, the mildest of men, interrupted gently: I guess any turn’ll get us down into the town, Mr. James, and after that I can ask’—and late, hungry and exhausted we arrived at length at our destination, James still convinced that the next turn would have been the right one if only we had been more patient.

The most absurd of these episodes occurred on another rainy evening when James and I chanced to arrive at Windsor long after dark. We must have been driven by a strange chauffeur—perhaps Cook was on holiday; at any rate, having fallen into the lazy habit of trusting him to know the way, I found myself at a loss to direct his substitute to the King’s Road. While I was hesitating and peering out into the darkness James spied an ancient doddering man who had stopped in the rain to gaze at us. `Wait a moment, my dear—I’ll ask him where we are’; and leaning out he signalled to the spectator.

My good man, if you'll be good enough to come here, please; a little nearer—so,' and as the old man came up: My friend, to put it to you in two words, this lady and I have just arrived here from Slough; that is to say, to be more strictly accurate, we have recently passed through Slough on our way here, having actually motored to Windsor from Rye, which was our point of departure; and the darkness having overtaken us, we should be much obliged if you would tell us where we now are in relation, say, to the High Street, which, as you of course know, leads to the Castle, after leaving on the left hand the turn down to the railway station.’

I was not surprised to have this extraordinary appeal met by silence, and a dazed expression on the old wrinkled face at the window; nor to have James go on: In short' (his invariable prelude to a fresh series of explanatory ramifications), in short, my good man, what I want to put to you in a word is this: supposing we have already (as I have reason to think we have) driven past the turn down to the railway station (which in that case, by the way, would probably not have been on our left hand, but on our right) where are we now in relation to . . . ’

Oh, please,' I interrupted, feeling myself utterly unable to sit through another parenthesis, do ask him where the King’s Road is.’

`Ah—? The King’s Road? Just so! Quite right! Can you, as a matter of fact, my good man, tell us where, in relation to our present position, the King’s Road exactly is?’

`Ye’re in it’, said the aged face at the window."

A typical L’n’L thread. From voice recognition software to Henry James and his wordiness in a single page.
What next?
(Well OK, it could have been Barbara Cartland.)


I win.

I was going to post a reply to John’s post, expressing my adoration of wordiness/verbosity. Such was my enjoyment from reading about Old Henry, and his command of the language, that I read it aloud to the good lady wife, explaining in great detail as I did, all the nitty-gritty -n- the ins-n-out of Dragon Dictate for Mac. As a consequence, Johns post has spread enlightenment and illumination into otherwise dark and gloomy areas. A positive step, I think.

As I’ve said, above. I was going to post, but I’ve since changed my mind, because of Numpty’s smartarsed remark, I’m not gonna bother!!
So pffffrrrttt!!! to numpty