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Save typing and use speech recognition in Windows

Not everyone is an expert typist and some people struggle with the keyboard. Even if you can type at a reasonable speed, you probably won't find it as easy as speaking. If only we could speak to our computer just like they did in Star Trek. We could dictate our emails, documents and letters, and save the time and effort of typing them. You can. Windows 7 and Vista have speech recognition baked in to the operating system and it is something you should definitely try. Some people find speech recognition a fantastic time saver, so here's how to enable it and use it.

Go to the Control Panel and click Speech Recognition. Click the first item in the list, Start speech recognition. The first time you do this, it will lead you through a few simple steps to select the microphone and test it. You may have a separate microphone that plugs into the audio in socket on the computer, a webcam plugged into a USB socket or if it's a laptop then a microphone may be built in.

Speech recognition in Windows 7

There is a tutorial, which is very good and you will learn a lot because it's all carried out using voice commands. However, there is a lot in it, so do it when you have 20 minutes to spare. You can skip for now. The option to train the computer to recognise your voice only takes a couple of minutes and is worth doing. It displays a sentence on the screen and you speak it. It shows another and so on. It is easy and quick.

Using speech recognition is straightforward and it works with quite a few applications. They don't need to be ones that are adapted for speech in any way and any application that lets you type type text in, such as an email program, word processor, notepad and so on will work.

You can use Word of course, but WordPad in Accessories will do fine. Start the program and then click Start speech recognition. A little gadget is displayed at the top of the screen and if it isn't already listening, click the microphone button to turn it on. Then just speak. Stop at the end of the sentence and it is entered for you. Speak the next sentence, pause and it is entered, and so on. You can edit any mistakes using special editing voice commands, but you may find it easier to correct the odd mistake on the keyboard.

Speech recognition in Windows 7

Some people get on great with speech recognition, but others don't. It probably depends on your voice, your accent, how clearly you speak and so on. If the results are poor and there are a lot of recognition mistakes, don't immediately give up. Do the training and the tutorial. The computer uses both of them to learn to recognise your voice and it will be much better after you have completed them both.