How to use speech recognition in Windows 7

Voice commands aren't just for smartphone users; they're for PC users, too. We'll show you how to use speech recognition so you can launch programs, dictate text, scroll Web pages, and more, all by voice.

Voice commands and speech recognition aren't just for smartphone users; they're for PC users, too.

Speech recognition can help you avoid repetitive stress injuries, increase efficiency, and even be fun. You can launch programs, dictate text, scroll Web pages, and more, all by voice. Here's how:

Step 1: Go to Start > Control Panel > Ease of Access > Speech Recognition, and click on "Start Speech Recognition."

Start speech recognition.
Screenshot by Ed Rhee

Step 2: Run through the Speech Recognition Wizard by selecting the type of microphone you'll be using and by reading a sample line aloud.

Speech recognition wizard
Screenshot by Ed Rhee

Step 3: Once you've completed the Wizard, take the tutorial. We highly recommend going through the entire tutorial. It's a little long, but it will help you learn how to use speech recognition, while training your computer to learn the way you speak. It will teach you the basics, dictation, commanding, and working with Windows.

Speech recognition tutorial
Screenshot by Ed Rhee

Step 4: After the tutorial, you'll see a speech recognition status window at the top of your screen. During your session, helpful information will display in the status window. You can also mouse-click on the microphone icon to enable or disable speech recognition.

Speech recognition status bar
Screenshot by Ed Rhee

Step 5: To further train your computer to learn your voice, click on the "Train your computer to better understand you." This will run through another series of sentences to read aloud.

Train your computer to better understand you.
Screenshot by Ed Rhee

Step 6: If you forget how to use parts of speech recognition, refer to the Speech Reference Card for help.

Speech recognition reference card
Screenshot by Ed Rhee

Tip: It's helpful to memorize keyboard shortcuts for actions you perform frequently. For example, you can say, "press F5" to refresh your browser or "press Control Tab" to switch tabs.

That's it. Now you know how to control your computer and dictate documents by voice. It might take a little time to get used to using voice commands, but hopefully it'll pay off in the end. And if you have an OS X machine, here's how to enable speech commands on your Mac.

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Tech Culture
About the author

Ed Rhee, a freelance writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area, is an IT veteran turned stay-at-home-dad of two girls. He focuses on Android devices and applications while maintaining a review blog at techdadreview.com.

 

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