Ten Time-Saving Tips for NaturallySpeaking

Sometimes the difference between doing well and just getting by when using new software is a well-placed piece of advice from a wiser and more experienced mentor. Here are ten things you may wish somebody had told you before.

Using hotkeys in dialog boxes

The varied features of dialog boxes, the radio buttons, check boxes, and so on, respond unevenly to voice commands. In some dialog boxes, you can say, “Click Never Ask Me This Question Againand have a check mark show up in the Never Ask Me This Question Again check box. In other dialog boxes, it doesn’t work. But saying, “Press Alt S” works every time.

Positioning the microphone the same way every time

Misplaced microphones are the number one cause of error. NaturallySpeaking learns best when you sound the same way every time you say a word. And even if you actually say the word the same way every time, it sounds different if your microphone isn’t in quite the same location.

Changing your mouse habits

These are all those things that you might be in the habit of doing with your computer’s mouse: clicking toolbar buttons, using scroll bars, dragging and dropping, clicking links on web pages, and relocating the cursor.

Also, learn to do the same actions with other commands. Use the web commands with Internet Explorer or Firefox. Say, “Press Page Down” or “Press Page Up” instead of clicking the scroll bar. Use menu commands instead of toolbar buttons. Cut and paste with hotkeys instead of dragging and dropping. Use the Move and Go commands to put the cursor where you want. You can also try the ‘scroll down’ commands to navigate.

Drinking with a straw

Dictating is thirsty work. You can maintain a clear, steady tone of voice and avoid doing damage to your throat if you keep something to drink close at hand and sip it occasionally. But there is no way to raise a cup to your lips without moving the microphone. The solution is to drink through a straw!

Turning off automatic spell checking in word processors

NaturallySpeaking is incapable of making a spelling error. So spell-checking is a waste of your computer’s resources. If NaturallySpeaking seems a bit sluggish when you’re using a word processor, turn off that word processor’s spell checker.

In Word, choose Tools→Options from the menu, and then click the Spelling and Grammar tab. Make sure the Check Spelling As You Type check box isn’t selected.

Working on small pieces of large documents

This tip is another RAM-saver. Large documents take up a lot of your computer’s memory, memory that could be better applied to improving the performance of NaturallySpeaking. Don’t make your computer keep your whole novel in memory if you really only need to work on one scene. Put the scene in a separate file and work on that file instead.

Using dictation shortcuts

You can save a lot of time by teaching NaturallySpeaking some shortcuts. Teach your NaturallySpeaking assistant to type “the Honorable Judge James J. Wackelgoober” when you say “the boss,” or to reproduce your full street address when you say “my address.”

Turning the microphone off when you stop dictating

NaturallySpeaking and the microphone that comes with it are usually good enough that they don’t pay attention to random noises. The microphone doesn’t, however, know that you have just picked up the phone or are talking to the person who just came into your office. It's good to get in the habit of pressing the + key on the keyboard (or clicking the microphone icon) when you are interrupted or otherwise done dictating.

Selecting or correcting longer phrases

When you dictate “a hippopotamus” and NaturallySpeaking types “the hippopotamus,” don’t just say, “Correct the.” NaturallySpeaking may mishear it again, and there’s bound to be a "the" in your document somewhere else that it will try to correct instead.

Speak the command, “Correct the hippopotamus.” Chances are good that only one occurrence of “the hippopotamus” is currently displayed and that NaturallySpeaking will pick it out for you right away.

Using the physical mouse and keyboard

In theory, you can do just about anything with the NaturallySpeaking voice commands. Voice commands like MouseGrid and Click give you a virtual mouse. Sometimes, however, doing something by voice is simply a pain. If you know that you can do it in three clicks of a mouse’s tail, do it. You’ll have better days, and you can figure out how to handle the situation with voice commands then. Meanwhile, you stay productive.

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