Setting Up Speech Recognition in Mac OS X Lion

Speech Recognition in Mac OS X Lion enables your Mac to recognize and respond to human speech. The only thing you need to use it is a microphone, and all laptops and iMacs have a built-in mic these days, as does the Apple LED Cinema Display that you can (optionally) purchase for use with any (OS X Lion-capable) Mac.

Speech Recognition lets you issue verbal commands such as “Get my mail!” to your Mac and have it actually get your e-mail. You can also create AppleScripts and then trigger them by voice.

To start using Speech Recognition, launch System Preferences and follow these steps:

  1. Open the Speech System Preferences pane.

  2. Click the Speech Recognition tab, and click the Settings subtab.

  3. Click the On button for Speakable Items.

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  4. Choose the microphone you want to use from the Microphone pop-up menu.

  5. To test that microphone, click the Calibrate button, and follow the on-screen instructions.

    There are two ways (listening methods) you can use with Speech Recognition. The first listening method is to press a listening key when you want to talk to your Mac. The second listening method is to have your Mac listen continuously for you to say a special keyword when you want to talk to your Mac.

  6. (Optional) To change the listening key from Esc to a different key, click the Change Key button and then press the key you want to use as your listening key.

  7. (Optional) To change the listening method from Listening Key to Listening Continuously with Keyword, click the appropriate radio button.

  8. (Optional) You can have your commands acknowledged by your Mac, if you like, by selecting the Speak Command Acknowledgement check box.

  9. (Optional) You can choose a sound other than 'Whit' from the Play This Sound pop-up menu.

  10. Click the Commands subtab on the Speech System Preferences pane’s Speech Recognition tab, and select the check box for each command set you want to enable.

  11. Click the Helpful Tips button, and read the tips.

  12. Click each command-set name, and if the Configure button is enabled, click it and then follow the on-screen instructions.

  13. If you create an AppleScript you want to be speakable, click the Open Speakable Items Folder.

  14. Place the script in the folder.

    When you speak its name, the script is executed.

    If the Speech System Preferences pane isn’t open, and you want to open the Speakable Items folder, you can find it in your Home/Library/Speech folder.

  15. Close the Speech System Preferences pane when you’re done.

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