How to Use Speech Recognition in Mac OS X Lion - dummies

How to Use Speech Recognition in Mac OS X Lion

By Bob LeVitus

Speech Recognition in Mac OS X Lion enables your Mac to recognize and respond to human speech. It lets you issue verbal commands to your Mac and have it actually perform the commanded tasks.

When Speech Recognition is turned on, a round feedback window appears on-screen.


Now, here’s how to actually use Speech Recognition:

  1. To see what commands are available, click the little triangle at the bottom of the feedback window, and select Open Speech Commands Window.

    As you might expect, selecting Speech Preferences from this menu opens the Speech System Preferences pane for you.


  2. Peruse the Speech Commands window, and find a command you’d like to execute by speaking its name.

  3. Speak that command exactly as written.

    At this point, several things happen:

    • In the feedback window, Esc disappears, and the microphone lights up to subtly indicate that your Mac is waiting for speech input.

    • The command and my Mac’s response appear in little boxes above and below the Feedback window.

    • The Speech Commands window changes to reflect the command you’ve spoken.


This technology is clever and kind of fun, but it can also be somewhat frustrating when it doesn’t recognize what you say. And it requires a decent microphone — although the mic built into most Macs sometimes works okay. You might not be able to get Speech Recognition to work well enough to continue using it beyond a few hours at best. Still, it’s kind of cool (and it’s free), and some users profess love for it.