How to Set Up Macintosh Voice Recognition with Speakables for Skype - dummies

How to Set Up Macintosh Voice Recognition with Speakables for Skype

By Loren Abdulezer, Susan Abdulezer, Howard Dammond, Niklas Zennstrom

After activating your speech recognition software, you can download and install Speakables for Skype. This liberating technology frees you from your keyboard by replacing keystrokes with vocal commands. You can extend your voice recognition software’s list of speakable items (words that your computer recognizes as input) by using Speakables for Skype commands that are scripted just for Skype.

Activating your Mac’s speech recognition

Before you install Speakables for Skype, or any other speech-recognition scripts, you must activate the speech-recognition feature on your Mac. To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Select the blue apple icon in the upperleft corner of your screen. From the drop-down list, choose System Preferences.

    The System Preferences window appears. This window displays all the system preferences as icons. Notice the microphone icon labeled Speech.

  2. Click the Speech icon (the microphone).

    The Speech dialog box pops up.

  3. Select On to activate Speakable Items.


  4. With your microphone of choice showing in the Microphone drop-down menu, click the Calibrate button.

  5. Calibrate your voice by speaking the provided phrases into the chosen microphone when prompted.

    Each phrase, when recognized, will flicker in acknowledgment. You can adjust a volume slider if the computer is not recognizing your speech.

  6. Select an option next to Listening Method.

You can activate speech recognition continuously or when a key is pressed. Letting the computer listen to everything — especially in a noisy environment — is probably not a good idea. You never know what sound will trigger a command, so you should set the default to where the computer listens only while the Esc key is pressed.

After speech recognition is up and running, you can test it. Press the Esc key and say one of the built-in commands out loud, for example, try “What time is it?”, “Tell me a joke,” or “Open iTunes.” If you’re not sure of what commands are available, you can:

  • Click the arrow at the bottom of the floating microphone icon that appears when you activate speech recognition: The floating icon is round and displays a microphone image, the name of the key you have to push to activate Speakable Items, and an arrow for additional speech commands.

  • Find more commands: Open the Speech preferences, choose Commands, and then click the Open Speakable Items Folder button.

  • Find all existing items the computer should recognize: If speech recognition is working properly, just press the Esc key and say, “Show me what to say.” This command brings up the window with all the existing items that the computer should recognize, and you don’t have to hunt for the right folder with the right commands.

  • Try some of the listed items: After you’ve found the Speakable Items list in the Speech folder, try some of the listed items.

Adding Skype’s speakable items

With speech recognition active, tested, and working, you are ready to download and install Speakables for Skype scripts. These scripts are available at Follow the directions on this Web site to download and then follow these steps to make the connection to Skype:

  1. Click the Speakables for Skype shortcut icon installed on your desktop.

    A Speakables for Skype dialog box containing a table for adding contacts and commands opens and Skype launches.


  2. If a security screen pops up to tell you that another application wants to use Skype, click OK.

  3. In the Speakables for Skype main menu, choose File→Refresh Contacts and then click Save to save your changes.

    All your contacts are now imported into a drop-down list in the Speakables for Skype program.

  4. Select a contact and type a voice command.

    In the Speakables for Skype window, note that you have two columns: Skype Contact on the left and Commands on the right. Select a contact from the Skype Contact list on the left and, under Command Phrase on the right, enter the voice command you want to say when you make a Skype call.

  5. Press Enter when your command is finished; then, start telling Skype what to do.

    After all, it’s nice to know someone is listening to you.

Making items speakable in Skype

You can make any phrase a speakable item in a snap. Try this:

  1. Highlight the URL

  2. Press the Esc key and say, “Make this item speakable.”

    A dialog box appears, saying, Go to “” When I say (fill in the speech prompt in the text field).

  3. Enter the word or phrase you want to say to go to this Web site in the text box provided.

    For example, enter the word skype.

  4. Press the Esc key to activate voice recognition.

  5. Hold down the Esc key and say “skype.”

    Your browser opens up to that Web site.

Congratulations, you’ve just added another voice command!