Did you hear that? I’m sorry but I couldn’t quite catch it, could you repeat that? This is strange because you were speaking clearly just a moment ago. Whatever happened to your voice? And why didn’t my new speech-to-text software for Microsoft Word help me understand you better? Well, after some research I found out that there are indeed dozens of free dictation software for Microsoft Word which software can help almost anyone…
It’s not surprising that Microsoft Word is one of the most widely used word processing software. It lets you type documents fast and easily. But how about speech dictation? Can you dictate your articles to your computer using the dictation feature in Windows 10?
Despite boasting good performance, speech dictation in Word isn’t perfect. You might need some other voice recognition software instead. That’s why today, I will introduce to you three free voice dictation software for Word versions 2010, 2013 and 2016. We featured other dictation software in this article.
Free dictation software for Microsoft Word? Yes, there is! You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars to get dictation software. Say goodbye to tedious typing, if you want to convert your text into an audio file. There are free dictation programs out there, which will allow you to speak and/or dictate right into text documents. Here is how it works…
What is dictation software?
As you search online for dictation software, keep in mind that it can include all different types of apps and services. The terms dictation software, speech-to-text, voice recognition, voice-to-text, and speech recognition can all mean a program that converts your voice to text on a screen in real-time. But sometimes lumped into a search for these terms are products that provide something else entirely.
For example, some products will transcribe audio files to text, but they do not transcribe your voice to text in real-time. Others market themselves as personal AI assistants (performing all computer tasks using speech) and may include a dictation component. And you may run across companies that provide transcription services—using humans to transcribe your voice files to text.
Then there are those AI assistants built into many of the devices we use each day: Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Microsoft’s Cortana. These are fine for scheduling meetings, playing music, and finding a place to eat, but they aren’t designed to transcribe your articles, meetings, and other documents.
For this review, we’ve focused on software, whether standalone or embedded in a device, meant for transcribing speech to text.
Why would you want to do that? For starters, dictation software provides accessibility to those with disabilities—both physical and language-based—to access technologies and be more productive. For example, if you’re unable to use your hands, you can still operate a computer, create documents, and access the web with dictation technology. And those with chronic conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome can prevent the repetitive stresses that come with typing, simply by using their voice.
But as the technology has improved over the last 20 years and costs have come down, dictation software is now accessible to everyone as a tool to increase productivity almost instantly. Look no further than the changed working environment in the wake of COVID-19: more working from home means more opportunity to do things like dictate emails.
Students can write papers and transcribe lectures into notes depending on the software’s capabilities. And the casual user can dictate notes, a shopping list, a text, or a reminder while performing other tasks, making multi-tasking a reality. Think: taking a walk while “writing” your next novel.
Dictation lets you use speech-to-text to author content in Office with a microphone and reliable internet connection. It’s a quick and easy way to draft emails, send replies, and capture the tone you’re going for.
How to use Dictation
- Start a New Email and go to Message > Dictate while signed into Microsoft 365 on a mic-enabled device.
Note that there may be cases where the button is in the overflow menu (More commands) until you use it for the first time or if you’re using the simplified ribbon:
- Wait for the Dictation toolbar to appear and start listening.
- Move your cursor to the Subject line start dictating.
- Move your cursor to the body of the email and continue dictating your desired message. To tag a contact in the email, say “At mention <first name or full name>.” To add new recipients to the email, say “Add <first name or full name> to email.” You can find all the supported commands below.
- Insert punctuation at any time by saying them explicitly.
- Fix mistakes with your keyboard without having to toggle the mic icon off.
- When you’re ready, say “Send email” and the app will display a confirmation dialog. Say “Yes” to send the email or “Cancel” to go back.
Gboard (Android, iOS)
Google’s excellent Gboard app works with both Android and iOS—and includes dictation. To use it, go anywhere you can type (email, browser, text, document), and the keyboard will pop up. Tap the microphone icon at the top right of the keyboard, and start speaking when prompted. It will very quickly capture your voice into text as fast as you’re able to talk. It’s scary how fast it transcribes. Not only that, it’s highly accurate. If you stop speaking for about 10 seconds, the microphone turns off, so you’ll have to tap it again.
You have the option to personalize the app, which allows Gboard to recognize your voice usage patterns and improve on them, increasing accuracy over time. I’ve dictated texts in the car with the radio on, and it’s still nearly perfect. It’s also good at detecting and not including stammers, likely as a result of learning my speech patterns.
Note: I’ve been using Gboard for about five years, so it has learned my voice and speech patterns. It’s not surprising that it was the most accurate in my test.
Gboard price: Free
Gboard accuracy: In transcribing a 200-word passage, Gboard made just two errors.
Recommendation: Gboard spits out your words on screen as fast as you can say them. For faster talkers, that will feel just right, but for others, it may take getting used to. If you want to dictate texts, emails, or any other short note, use Gboard.
Gboard supported languages: Not counting different dialects separately, Gboard supports 47 languages: Afrikaans, Arabic, Azerbaijani, Belarusian, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hausa, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Macedonian, Malay, Maltese, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese, Welsh, and Zulu.
Best dictation software for typing in Google Docs
Google Docs voice typing (Web on Chrome)
Google Docs includes a dictation feature that’s both highly accurate and easy to use, called Google Docs voice typing—but you have to be using Chrome to access this feature. Just go to Tools > Voice typing, and a microphone icon will appear on the left. Click on it, and start talking. If you’re idle for about 30 seconds, the microphone automatically stops. Click on it again to resume.
If you need help or you want a list of commands, click on the question mark within the microphone icon. Help will pop up on the right where you can scroll or search to find voice commands such as punctuation, text formatting, editing, and even moving around your document.
Google Docs voice typing price: Free
Google Docs voice typing accuracy: Out of 200 words dictated, six words were incorrect. It incorrectly captured a few words that others also missed, but did correctly capitalize the name of a business.
Recommendation: If you’re a Google Docs power user and want dictation capability, voice typing is an excellent choice for its accuracy and many voice commands.
Google Docs voice typing supported languages: Voice typing works in these languages and includes many dialects: Afrikaans, Amharic, Arabic, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Bahasa Indonesia, Basque, Bengali, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Farsi, Filipino, Finnish, French, Galician, Georgian, German, Greek, Gujarati, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Italian, Japanese, Javanese, Kannada, Khmer, Korean, Laotian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Malayalam, Malaysian, Marathi, Nepali, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Slovenian, Serbian, Sinhala, Spanish, Spanish, Sundanese, Swahili, Swedish, Tamil, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Vietnamese, Zulu.
Google Docs integrates with Zapier, which means you can automatically do things like save form entries to Google Docs, create new documents whenever something happens in your other apps, or create project management tasks for each new document.
Braina is a personal virtual assistant. It’s powered by artificial intelligence. Braina works with over 100 different languages. It runs on Windows. There are mobile apps as well for Android and iOS.
Braina can be used as a solid dictation tool. It functions on any website and for many apps like Microsoft Word or Notepad. It also has dictionary and thesaurus features. Aside from dictation, you can use Braina for voice commands to control your computer. It can also read texts out loud.
There’s a free version of Braina. Braina Pro starts at $49 per year. Or you can buy it for life, for that see the vendor’s site for current prices and promotions.
Braina is best for:
- Virtual assistant
- Text to speech
Apple Dictation is one of the best free speech to text software that comes built-in with most Apple devices. It uses Siri’s servers to process up to 30 seconds of speech at a time (remember to connect to the internet). Apple Dictate is the ideal option for quickly getting your thoughts down on paper. Still, if you want to create content with longer for your voice and you’ve upgraded your Mac’s operating system to version 10.9 or later, then the better option would be Enhanced Dictation.
Furthermore, Apple Dictate helps you transcribe speech to text without an internet connection and is especially handy when faced with time constraints. With more than 70 voice commands, you can effectively control all your Mac’s actions, including typing, editing, and formatting for any document.
Get it from the Mac device’s Apple Menu by going to System Preferences, then click on keyboard and then go to dictation.
Voice Texting Pro
Voice Texting Pro is a professional app built by Sparking Apps with a 4+ rating App Store. It requires iOS version 5.1.1 or later since that app works best on the iPhone 5. Furthermore, much like most Apple software, the app prioritises the User Interface (UI) above all else, so it is effortless to use. All of its features are available from a single screen, and there are many in-app purchases available, including voice texting and adding languages.
Compatibility: Mac/iOS devices
Otter can be used for taking notes and as a collaboration app that records and transcribes any audio source as long as the speech is coherent. Common data sources include meetings, interview and other voice interactions with data processing in real-time. Created by AISense, Otter uses Ambient Voice Intelligence for some of the smartest and most accurate speech recognition tools out there. Transcriptions are available within minutes so you can share them with your team almost immediately.
Compatibility: Android and iOS
Price: Free 600 minutes/month; $9.99 for 6,000 minutes/month
Based on the Google speech-recognition engine, Speechnotes is a straightforward online tool for dictations and speech transcription. Since downloads, registrations or installations are unnecessary to use Speechnotes, so it is by far one of the more accessible dictation tools available on the internet.
Speechnotes is incredibly user-friendly too — it automatically capitalises the beginning of your sentence, AutoSaves your documents, and has the option for you to dictate and type all at the same time. You’re your work is complete; you can manage your documents in a multitude of ways. You can either send it out through email, print and file it, export it to Google Drive, or download the files onto your computer.
Compatibility: Any device with Google Chrome installed and a microphone
Price: Free with an option to donate and upgrade to premium
Microsoft Windows Speech Recognition Text-to-Speech Accuracy
Microsoft’s Windows Speech Recognition came in last. Its accuracy on Lovecraft was 84.3%, although it did not miscapitalize any words like GDVT. Brown’s speech, it got its highest accuracy rating of around 94.8%, making it equivalent to GDVT.
For Darwin’s book, it managed to get a similarly high score of 93.1%. Its average accuracy across all texts came out to 89%.
ListNote (Good dictation tool for writers)
ListNote, by Khymaera, is a free mobile app for Android devices. It is a pure speech to text platform, with ease of use as its top-selling point. This is a great tool for writers, bloggers, and journalists.
You can easily create notes with dictation. All notes and texts are searchable. Your notes can be easily shared in emails, text messages and even on Twitter. ListNote has some good organizational features. You can group notes into categories.
You will need Google Voice Search to use all of the features of ListNote.
ListNote name is best for:
- One-person business
- Android devices
- Voice to text
Transcribe is a light and simple platform. It’s great for simple dictation and transcription. There is no download necessary, but it also works without an internet connection.
Transcribe is more for transcribing video and audio files into text. But the platform has voice typing tools too. It can recognize many different languages. Some of these include most Asian and European languages. Transcribe also lets you define acronyms for your most common phrases.
Transcribe is priced at $20 per year.
Transcribe is best for:
- One-person business
- Small businesses
- Voice typing
e-Speaking aims to be one of the simplest speech recognition tools out there. It’s a cheap and simple download. It runs on various versions of Windows.
e-Speaking uses Microsoft’s Speech Application Program Interface. It can do basic dictation with decent accuracy. But not as great as apps like Dragon. e-Speaking can read texts from your computer out loud. For dictation, there are about 26 voice commands. These are for editing and navigating your text. You can teach e-Speaking new commands and train the app on new words.
e-Speaking is free for the first 30 days. After that it’s a very low price of $14.
e-Speaking is best for:
- One-person business
- Small businesses
- Text to speech
- Ease of use
Types of Dictation Technology
Dictation technology converts spoken words into digital text on a screen. With dictation, kids can write words by speaking them aloud. Kids can use dictation not only to write, but also to edit and revise their writing—all by using their voice.
There are several types of dictation technology kids can use.
- Built-in dictation technology: Today, many devices have built-in dictation tools. This includes desktop and laptop computers (Windows and macOS), smartphone and digital tablets (Android and iOS), and Chromebooks (Chrome OS). If you have any of these devices, you probably don’t need to buy special software. The microphone and the dictation tools come with the device, but you may need an Internet connection.
- Dictation apps: Along with using built-in dictation tools, your child can also download dictation apps on smartphones and digital tablets. One example is Dragon Dictation (iOS).
- Chrome tools: A number of tools for Chromebooks and the Chrome browser also offer dictation, like Co:Writer Universal, WordQ and Read&Write for Google Chrome. When used in the Chrome browser, Google Docs also has its own dictation tool called Voice Typing.
- Dictation software programs: The most full-featured dictation technology is found in software programs for desktop and laptop computers. These programs can adapt to how a child speaks, which makes them more accurate the more a child uses them. Some dictation programs can also convert audio recordings into digital text. Examples of dictation software include Dragon for PC, Dragon for Mac and WordQ+SpeakQ.
Thanks to a new dictation module, you can now speak into Microsoft Word and have your words translated into text for you! This is great news if you already use speech recognition software, but weren’t sure how to integrate it with Word. In this blog post, I’m going to show you how it works and cover any issues you might come across.