How to Start Programs with NaturallySpeaking

NaturallySpeaking lets you talk to your desktop and actually see results. Now your desktop responds to your commands by starting applications, opening windows, and giving you access to menus, including the Start menu.

You can start applications or open files or folders by saying, “Start <name of application, file, or folder>.” For example, say, “Start WordPad,” to open the WordPad application. You can also use voice commands to access anything on the Start menu — Pictures, Documents, the Control Panel, or anything else.

Operating tips for Windows 8

If Windows 8 is your operating system, fear not: Dragon 12 works right along with it. But, you will have to experiment a bit when you first get started. Nuance says that it will be adding more interface controls for Windows 8 in the coming months.

But until then, the key to making Windows 8 work is to bypass some of the new interface conventions, like the tiled Start screen — the Start menu is not available on Windows 8.

One quick way to work around this is to go back to the Desktop view and command the applications from there. Once you are in an application, use the usual commands. You can then say, “Open Microsoft Word.”

For changing settings and using the Control Panel, go to the Charms bar by moving your mouse to the lower-right corner of the Start screen, and then click Settings. Then use the regular commands.

How to start applications by voice

Dictating text is nice, but the first feeling of real power you get from NaturallySpeaking is when you say, “Open Microsoft Word.” The screen blinked, the hard drive ground, angels sang hosannas, and the Word window appeared in all its glory.

The Open” command opens any application whose name appears in one of the following places:

  • The desktop: For example, if a Microsoft Excel shortcut is on your desktop, you can start it up by saying, “Open Microsoft Excel.”

  • The top of the Start menu: If you see the name of an application when you click the Start button, you can run it with the “Open” command.

  • In the Programs folder on the Start menu, or in any of the subfolders of the Programs folder: For example, saying, “Open WordPad” opens it, even though it lies inside the Programs folder hierarchy (in Start/Accessories — unless you moved it).

In general, use whatever name is on the menu or shortcut. NaturallySpeaking does recognize a few nicknames, though. If you say, “Open Word,” for example, it runs Microsoft Word. Saying “Open Firefox” opens Mozilla Firefox. Try opening your programs with the name you use to see if a shortcut exists.

You also aren’t stuck with the names on the Programs menu. You probably didn’t create most of those entries yourself. Some of them have been there since you unpacked your computer, while others have been created by the setup wizards that installed your applications. Delete them.

If you have a long-winded, hard-to-remember entry on your Programs menu — something like “WinZip 15.0” — you can change it to something catchy, like “Zip.” Then you can start it by saying, “Start Zip.” Right-click any icon on your desktop, choose Rename, and give your program an easier moniker.

How to use the Start menu in Windows 7 or earlier

Anytime that NaturallySpeaking is running, you can say, “Click Start” to pull up the Start menu. You can then say the name of any object on the Start menu like: “Shut Down,” “Log Off,” "Restart,” “Help And Support,” or any individual applications, files, or folders that you have added to the menu. The resulting action is the same as if you had used the mouse in the Start menu:

  • If the object is itself a menu, it expands when you click it. (For example, Documents expands to a listing of the names of about the 15 most recent objects.) Select one of those objects by saying its name. If the object is another menu, it expands, and so on.

  • If the object is an application, it runs. (Run the application more easily by saying, “Start <application name>.”)

  • If the object is a file or folder, it opens. The files could be documents or even web pages.

For example, if Skype appears on your Start menu, then you can access your Skype account online by saying, “Click Start, Skype.” (The commas represent short pauses; don’t say, “comma.”) To open the Control Panel, say, “Click Start, Control Panel.”

In addition to using the Start command, you can use the Launch or Show commands. For example, instead of saying “Start Word,” you can say, “Launch Word” or “Show Word.”

Don't shut down the computer by voice, unless you have challenges that prevent you from doing it any other way. In general, shutting down Windows with a lot of applications running (especially robust applications like NaturallySpeaking) upsets the system.

At the very least, it causes an application to do something illegal that makes Windows shut it down in an unnatural way. Some data could be lost in the process. Of course, some Windows operating systems run better than others, and you may get lucky. But why take the chance?

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